‘The Flash’ 5×11 Review: “Seeing Red” or Seeing Meh?

Do you ever come across an episode of television that is so “middle of the road” that you don’t really know what to say about it? Not so fantastic that you want to talk about its wonderful nuances. Not so bad that you’re filled with a rage that can only be expressed in meticulous detail in a review. The Flash‘s “Seeing Red” was like that for me.

However, my editor assures me that, “Some things were good and some things were not. A bunch of other things made no sense. Mostly this episode just happened” is not an acceptable review. So in this article, I will delve into the good that is having Barry back, the meh that is losing something that worked really well for them at the beginning of the season, and the utter ridiculousness of the writers confusing Killer Frost with sea turtles. For some reason.

The Good

Not explored enough this week: This family. (Gif courtesy of flashallens.)

Apparently, my hunch wasn’t too far off last week. Given Barry’s absence, I wondered if Grant Gustin had taken time off to do some wedding planning. In fact, he was off filming the remainder of the crossover.

Well, he was back this episode, which – as a fan of the Flash on The Flash – makes me a very happy fan.

The show is always at its best when it focuses on heart and on family. There was some wonderful emotion with the West-Allens, as Barry and Iris comforted Nora following a serious injury. I do wonder if there wasn’t perhaps a missed opportunity in having them talk about Barry’s recovery period after his own back injury. After all, the show was clearly paralleling that storyline. That said, I suppose as a parent, that would be a difficult line to toe. It might comfort Nora to know that Barry had recovered after a similar injury. On the other hand, it is unlikely that knowledge would be helpful if it turned out she wouldn’t recover.

The West-Allen plot in this episode allowed Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, and Jessica Parker Kennedy to really bring the emotion. And, as usual, they brought it. I may not enjoy every moment of every episode, but I am constantly in awe of the talent they bring to the scene.

The Meh

Not present in this episode: Cisco Ramon. (Gif courtesy of dailycisco.)

The last couple of episodes have had a different feel to me than the beginning of the season. For me, it is not to their benefit. It occurs to me that at the start of the season, the show attempted to set up distinct A plots and B plots in every episode. Different characters would team up for each plot every week. One week, the A plot might involve Barry, Iris, and Nora, with Cisco, Caitlin, and Ralph running the B plot. The next week, the A plot might revolve around Barry, Ralph, Cisco, and Caitlin, while the B plot might revolve around Iris, Sherloque, Joe, Cecile, and Nora.

It was refreshing to shuffle the teams up with solid B plots. In theory (if not necessarily in practice), it opened the door for everyone in the cast to get a character-focused mini-arc. It also allowed the writers to play with dynamics that may not otherwise be explored.

Since resolving the Caitlin versus Killer Frost storyline, that seems to have fallen by the wayside. There is a strong focus on the A plot, and any B plot is really just background A plot. There isn’t the same kind of dual team-up to resolve a major and minor conflict. There’s the major conflict, the development of supporting characters that happens only to the extent it resolves the short-term presentation of that major conflict (like Nora’s emotional journey this episode). And the development of supporting characters that happens only to the extent that it is setting up either a future major conflict or a future resolution of a major conflict (Sherloque and the speed force language, the cure).

The first part of the season may have struggled in making their transitions from one plot to the other feel natural and organic. But it was nice to have an episode where the A plot involved the threat of Cicada or the mysteries surrounding Nora, while the B plot allowed us some insight into Cisco’s character growth over the seasons or Cecile’s struggles as a new parent. Or Caitlin’s issues. Which, admittedly, this episode did address. But on that note…

The What, the What?

Not Pictured: Killer Frost. I promise you.


Last week, I wrote about how this subplot of Caitlin/Killer Frost not wanting to pursue Cisco’s cure doesn’t really make a lot of sense. They’ve just spent the last 8+ episodes (since there is spillover to last season) establishing that Caitlin is not a regular metahuman. She was not created via dark matter. She is not at all affected by Cicada’s dagger, which something something dark matter something TV science something. The fact of the matter is, they’ve bent over backwards to explain that she is their not-so-secret weapon against him because she’s not affected by him or his dagger. She laughs in the face of dark matter! Ha ha ha!

So why…the hell…is the show trying to sell this notion that Caitlin and/or Killer Frost is anxious about this cure? This cure that utilizes pieces of Cicada’s dagger (which doesn’t affect Caitlin/Killer Frost) to remove dark matter (which Caitlin/Killer Frost doesn’t have)?

Make. It. Make. Sense.


It is particularly maddening since the “Previously on” this week first established that Caitlin isn’t a regular meta and isn’t affected by Cicada’s dagger. And then immediately after established that the cure is based on the thing that affects her in absolutely no way. So even the “Previously on” segment recognized that this entire subplot is a ridiculously dumb waste of time.

It’s like if there was a disease that affected only sea turtles and zoologists were working on a cure for said disease. But the cure was liable to have some side effects for the poor turtles. And someone protested the cure because they were afraid the side effects would impact them if they accidentally took the cure.

Are you a sea turtle, Frost? Because we just established you are, in fact, not a sea turtle. So why do we have to spend twenty minutes of this episode emotionally coddling Killer Frost like she’s a sea turtle?

Why are we wasting all this time on getting her to accept that Caitlin will never get rid of her when 1) we just spent forty-seven freaking years with Caitlin trying to get her back (after spending a year trying to get rid of her and being willing to risk everyone else’s lives to do so, but I digress). And 2) CAITLIN COULDN’T USE THIS CURE TO GET RID OF YOU, EVEN IF SHE WANTED TO, AND YOU SHOULD KNOW SHE DOESN’T WANT TO BECAUSE YOU ARE AWARE THAT SHE JUST FOUGHT TO GET YOU BACK OH MY GOD WHY DID WE HAVE THIS NONSENSICAL, NARRATIVE-CONFLICTING PLOT FOR ONE EPISODE, LET ALONE TWO?????

Repeat after me, writers: Killer Frost is not a sea turtle. KILLER FROST IS NOT A SEA TURTLE! So give her a plot that makes sense, instead of having her whine for two episodes about something that would only ever impact sea turtles. Okay????

Other Points of Interest

Joe is in Tibet. Really? Really? Tibet? Tibet. Tibet??? Joe is in Tibet. Okay. Sure. Joe is in Tibet.

Iris is not in Tibet. That said, for all she’s been given a plot the last few episodes, she almost could be.

Also, every time I see Captain Singh on the show, I am reminded how he should have a greater presence than he has to date. More Barry Allen as a CSI, please and thank you!

Overall Impression

Some things were good and some things were not. A bunch of other things made no sense. But mostly this episode just happened.

(New) Questions of the Hour

How is it that the “Previously on” segment seemed to have a firmer grasp on Caitlin’s story than the episode?

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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