This is an episode about that feeling of uselessness, and what made our characters what they are today. We’re confronted with a universal truth: history repeats. It's how we deal with it which changes.
The villain of the week, the Mist, is, in himself, pretty terrifying, and so is the method by which he kills. Anthony Carrigan does an excellent job realizing the desperate face of a criminal who can’t believe he’s still alive. Despite the showy special effects and reasonably tight plot, this episode is really a vehicle for us to find out more about the team we’re hoping will become Team Flash.
I keep waiting for a lemon of an episode so I can say Gotcha! We haven’t seen that episode yet. Even the Flash-backs are of an entirely different nature that we’ve seen so far on the series – and every single one of them worked and carried just enough emotional punch. The more I learn about Caitlin’s history the more I feel for her and the less I see her as wooden. Danielle Panabaker is showing some serious acting chops; her attitude and openness were so different in the scene where the reactor blows that I actually did a double-take; I thought it was a different actress! The character now comes across as someone who’s lost and is now terrified to open up. I’m reminded in some ways of how Stephen Amell started off Arrow–totally flat, and then you begin to see the man through the cracks. Terry Moore said in this life there’s only two kinds of survivors–those in recovery and those who aren’t. Caitlin takes her first steps towards recovery here. Cisco is also growing on me. He comes off as a typical nerd, but his clear survivor's guilt gives a little depth to the caricature.
Barry’s fights with the Mist are increasingly epic throughout. I wondered why he didn’t try the tornado trick with the Mist, but I guess it would leave him open to attack.
The season arc is increasingly focused on exonerating Barry’s father. Joe is now totally on Barry’s side. People have been commenting that this isn’t team Arrow - but I think it might just become Team Joe. Watching the detective go over the footage and seeing his heartfelt remorse at his friends’ false imprisonment was painful. Jesse Martin brings depth to every scene he’s in. Even the initial scene with the team dissecting their first bits of data about the Mist is a layered. The look West gives Wells during the discussion about where to house captured metahumans says a lot about their differing perspectives.
And we now know Wells is not only a killer–he was watching Barry during the whole accident, and had had time to set up the necessary equipment in the right place prior. He may have come to the future, but he hasn’t changed it yet.
Bits and pieces
–The opening with Iris actually highlighted one of my concerns with the show. It felt sort of iffy that Barry is showing signs of being in love with someone who’s essentially his sister. This show destroyed that iffy feeling. Seeing the footage of Barry’s dad begging Joe to defend him during his interrogation brought home how close the two families were. I don’t know why that makes a difference, but it did.
–The other problem with the show has been the fractured nature of the team. But this fracturing makes so much more sense now we’ve seen more of Ronnie’s heroism and death. Both Caitlin and Cisco have been seriously struck by Ronnie’s sacrifice.
–Which is another crack in Wells’ mask: he doesn’t seem to care at all.
–The moment when the champagne arcs in the air for a moment. I watched this episode with my husband; he doesn’t go for superhero series, but I thought he’d love the action. He actually gasped at this moment, and was completely hooked after.
–I’m not sure about the logic of an executed man becoming the gas that killed him due to an explosion from a particle accelerator, but I wonder if they used an electric chair or some kind of electric hookup in the gas chamber, and if there’s some connection between electricity and the metahumans. What can I say? I look for patterns.
–Iris’ relationship with Forgettable Partner Eddie bores me. West threatening to shoot him caused him to show the most genuine emotion I’ve seen so far. I’m hoping the writers find a reason for him to be there soon.
–Barry was able to save his second father at the end of this episode, while his first watches.
Wells: I feel I should say something profound like “One small step for Man," but all I can think of to say is I feel like I’ve waited for this day for centuries.
Joe: Except Iron Heights isn’t exactly equipped to handle metahumans.
Wells: Then I guess it’s fortunate that the ones you’ve encountered so far are no longer with us.
Joe: Well, unless we plan on executing every super criminal we stop, you geniuses are gonna have to come up with some other place to hold them.
Cisco: A metahuman prison. Sweet.
Caitlin: Tahiti? I know it’s a long flight, Ronnie, but we can binge-watch Orange is the New Black.
Barry: Which one is the north wing?
Wells: The one with the Big Belly Burger. (To Cisco:) What? I eat.
Joe: You think I don’t understand what you’re feeling? I’ve been a cop almost as long as you’ve been alive. So you should know, putting on that suit does not make everybody safe. For every person you save, there’s gonna be somebody you can’t.
3.5 out of 4 increasingly frequent restaurant stops. I think the villain aspect needs some polishing, but this was a good meal of an episode.