The Flash is back with one of the best criminal-of-the-week stories that we’ve seen in a long time, but there’s a lot of other hang-wringing about the future.
I don't really get what we're doing at this point in the show. The second half of this season has set up this big tentpole moment, yet the week-to-week episode adventures are meandering off a cliff. Is it because there's not enough time to setup interesting new characters? I don't think so, because we're still adding people to Team Flash, and some of the metas have been worthwhile additions to the universe. But a few episodes into this timeline issue and it all feels like we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
We continue to do this holding pattern around the inevitable future murder of Iris West, so Team Flash is focused on getting Kid Flash up to speed. There's a lot of inspirational talks, group cheering and it's a phase of the show I've lost all patience for. It's starting to feel like we are in a training montage inside a training montage. Last week, an assassin from another Earth was trying to kill Cisco while also shouting at him that he just doesn't believe in himself enough. This week, Barry is trying to explain how to phase through objects with weird new age platitudes.
No one seems to be getting better or any closer to solutions, but we're all celebrating everyone trying very hard. If this is some kind of parable about millennial participation trophies, well, bravo.
Past all the filler, there are three stand-out details from this week worth our time to talk about.
First, Clive Yorkin is a pretty cool baddie of the week. Not cool enough to get a nickname though, which is the lowest bar in this universe. His talent allows him to cause anyone he touches to decompose. It's a gross murder spree that recalls some of the better horror and sci-fi elements of previous season bad guys. We've got into such a cycle of needing to redeem all the villains that actual death has been off the table for a while, and this feels like basic storytelling stakes are coming back. Also, he's an Alchemy creation from Flashpoint, which really feels like Julian might be up to his old tricks.
Second, Iris almost dies this week. Oh my god, that's what happens when you got lulled into a false sense of security with all this future gazing. They won't try this again, but it was good while it lasted.
Third, Barry vibrates an entire train through a pile of debris. This is one of my favorite Flash moments in months and it sticks out like a sore thumb. It's a big crazy dumb fun moment, right at the end of an episode where nothing much happens. The team behind the show can still do these moments when they want to, and please guys, want this more.
The rest of the episode falls into familiar cycles of trying to change the future (bad), letting Killer Frost out (bad), trusting all the wrong people (bad), lies (bad), and eventually capturing a bad dude without killing him (morally acceptable). At least we've got Gorilla Grodd and a city of gorillas to look forward to next week? That can't possibly be as stuffy or stagnant as we've gotten used to, right?