The third season of The Flash has been painfully slow. For a show about a speedster, that's left a lot of us in a lurch. There's a new hipster version of Harrison Wells from an alternate dimension, there's been a pact to keep all the team's secrets in the dark and there's been a big bad who isn't necessarily big or bad.
Thankfully, that all changed this week.
[Warning: The following is a recap and contains detailed spoilers for last night's episode.]
With all the characters in the right place, last week ended with a weird plot nuke of introducing a Transformers-esque speed god named Savitar. This was at the same time that the team was introduced to Doctor Alchemy ... at the same time that Wally entered a cocoon. Picking up in that same moment, Flash and the invisible speed monster Savitar traveled across time and space, while Barry got the kind of ass-whopping he hasn't seen since Zoom dangled his broken body like a kitten on Broken Kitten Day. (It's a holiday in Canada, I've been reading up on the country.)
Thankfully, Cisco and Caitlin were able to teleport in and save the day. A single ice blast from Caitlin managed to scare away an unstoppable god, while Barry and Cisco required some healing back at base. Unfortunately, Caitlin's power use didn't resolve as neatly, as her abilities came with a horrific transformation into alternative universe baddy Killer Frost. At first she uses her powers seemingly for good, interrogating one of Alchemy's underlings ... and then brutally murders him. So her ability to not brutally murder goes out the window in less than 40 seconds of conversation. As a character transition that had been hinted at for the entire season, it felt weird to see the entire thing go down in less time than it takes Barry Allen to make a sandwich, but it wound out being a wonderful service to the pacing of the story.
Caitlin kidnaps Julian Albert and demands he create a stalking algorithm to hunt down Alchemy's team via search engine terms (flimsy) and then she betrays both Julian and the Flash with a mix of frostbite and good ol' fashioned stabbing (strong).
What ensues is a series of warring battles between friends as the team attempts to bring Caitlin to her senses. Wally emerges as an uncontrollable speedster and Cisco finds out that Barry's Flashpoint murdered his brother. Aside from the brutal opening fight, this episode manages to make its only true villains the members of Team Flash.
Kevin Smith returns to the directing chair, after having done one episode that was the highlight of the show's second season. This one isn't nearly as emotionally manipulative, but it is functionally elegant and easily the highlight of the season. Also, Smith's sense of humor is an excellent fit for chain-wallet hipster HR and of course for Cisco.
The intertwining relationship struggles highlight how the closeness the core Team Flash relies upon remain the most interesting, but characters like Joe and Iris are starting to drift into the unnecessary. In fact, these are the only two characters on the show yet to develop super powers or not be from elsewhere in time and space. That includes the only other person we're familiar with at the police station: Julian Albert.
Yeah. It finally happened. He's Alchemy. That thing we called in episode two finally came to pass. It's fine. It's all fine. If you're going to drop it, at least drop it in the tag to the best episode of the season.
I'm excited for The Flash for the first time this season
After convincing Killer Frost not to kill him in one of Barry's most Friendship Is Magic moments, he begs Julian not to reveal Caitlin's murderous identity to the police. Julian agrees, on the condition Barry quit the police force, because what is going on with his ethics?
There's so much to like about Doctor Alchemy. He seems to not want to serve under a weird robot lord and he goes around giving people super powers. Plus, he thinks Barry Allen is kinda bad-dumb. I love him so much. Also, he's British evil, and I really need a good evil accent in my life right now. I want the Bad Robot Man to leave and just put Julian in control for the rest of the season, or give me a spin-off where a former Harry Potter star just reminds the Flash "Actually, it's about ethics." What a guy.
I'm excited for The Flash for the first time this season. There's fracturing in the group (even if the ep did end in a full team hug, god I hate this) and there are clear struggles for the entire team to overcome within themselves instead of constantly serving The Streak. Barry's life is in danger, and for the first time everyone around him seems capable of defeating the bad guy easier than he possibly could. Vibe, Killer Frost and Kid Flash are going to make a helluva team.
I just hope they don't do something stupid like invade the city with aliens next week in a gigantic crossover event. Please don't do that. Guys. Guys, you can hear me right?