The "monster of the week" format is quickly slipping away as we start to see a complex story behind the metahuman crisis. Plus, who can resist a villain with a name like Peekaboo?
I almost wish this had been two or even three episodes. It felt like so much was happening throughout, from the opening rescue to the semi-surprise ending.
To begin with, though, I give myself kudos: in the comments to last week's review, I pointed out that this show was all about the daddy issues–but we need to see Barry's biological father appear soon. And presto! A few minutes after the show begins, Detective West arranges for Barry to be present just when his dad happens to be in transit, escorted by a guard. This opens the door to what turns out to be a psychological jungle I really didn't believe could exist in the beginning of this season. Barry's been taking care of his Dad, fighting for him, and their roles in some ways have been reversed. This explains why Barry has so many daddy-substitutes. But the elder Allen has issues with this; he's trying to play cop from behind bars and resume the partnership he had with Detective West by helping them catch Shawna Baez, or Peekaboo (Lashawna in the comics, I think), who's busted her boyfriend out of jail. I actually really loved this superpower and was reminded of the British show Misfits: shouldn't we be seeing more ordinary folks with metahuman powers?
Meanwhile, Cisco and the Pied Piper are playing who-blinks-first, with Cisco trying to divine his predecessor's secrets. The Piper convinces Cisco to let him out of prison so he can show Cisco the truth. At this point I said out loud: "Please don't handcuff him with his hands in front." It turns out that Firestorm is two people, not one, and there's more than one reason Firestorm's staying away. The Piper overwhelms Cisco with secrets and a few well-placed kicks, then escapes, using his evil cochlear implants.
Iris is trying to get actual reporter status, but is still trapped on Flash duty. This doesn't really change through the episode. Seeing her with Eddie, however, does prompt Barry to try moving on. He and Caitlin go and try to get drunk and sing karaoke in a fantastic scene (was this real singing or just Autotune?) that ends with Barry getting asked out, but going to Caitlin's home to watch her puke and fall asleep drunkenly in what ends up being a poignant moment.
The next day Cisco's compelled by Wells to confess his guilt to Caitlin: he blames himself for Firestorm's death and re-creation. Caitlin, despite being hungover, really shines: she exonerates Cisco, points out Ronnie would probably say Cisco did the right thing, and moves on. I'm liking this actress more and more; she's pulling off the innocence, but she's also making me buy into the character.
Poor Iris also has to meet her competition, the lady from our favorite hero's singing action.
I don't want to spoil the rest of the episode but there's some excellent action scenes; the Flash even catches a bullet. By the end I even felt bad for poor Peekaboo, trapped in a mirrored room. But then came a scene which made me cry.
See, Barry's father recognizes him as the Flash. Right off. No question. And it reminded me of Joyce on Buffy in Season 5, when she recognizes Dawn. Buffy didn't have to say anything. Joyce just knew, in that way that parents know and still love and still care sometimes. Barry and Buffy and I all had our teary moment. It was very well done... and proves what I said last review: that Barry has three fathers, and in many ways, this drives who he is.
The cliffhanger ending has to do with our favorite Gorilla, and I predict we'll be seeing him very, very soon.
I think this episode showed the Flash crew can pull off drama and excitement. While I loved the special effects, it was the relationship moments that really had the power in this episode. From Iris touching Barry on the wrist, to Caitlin touching Cisco, to Barry's father touching Barry's heart. We didn't really touch on the great mystery that is Wells, but who has time?
Bits and pieces
The reference to the Holocaust was nicely done.
Barry taking revenge on the man who beat up his father in jail.
I'm still weirded out by the Pied Piper's evil hearing aids of death.
Cisco: "How can you speak six languages and sound like a dick in every one of them?"
Keeping up the pace here, but maybe getting a little too frenetic! Nah, you expect that for a show like The Flash. 3.5 out of 4 bomb shadows.