The Flash: Shade

“What I wish for is all of you gone.”

This is a sort of filler-ey transition episode which even the episode itself admits is sort of filler-ey, but which throws the nature of two major characters into question: Wally and Caitlin - and which sees our hero finally come face to face again with Alchemy.

When we start we know Wally is going to either transition into Kid Flash or be sorely tempted (not sure which one it is myself, and wondering what’s driving this character’s push for speed now the issue with his mother has been resolved.) We know Caitlin is becoming Killer Frost, or some version of her. We know Julian is kind of cranky. What matters for any story is how the characters get there, and that should have even more relevance in a story about a world where timeline after timeline reveals the impact of every individual decision and how those decisions are woven into the world. Given this, and the excitement of the previous episode, I wasn’t too pleased with how the story went tonight. At least until the last five minutes.

Wally is being tempted by Doctor Alchemy in dreams and (it seems at times) through a sort of telepathic message or pain sense, and Joe is trying to come to grips with the idea of having yet another superpowered child running around (cough, see what I did there?) I was thrown off by his conversation with Wally because I really thought he’d be asking Wally probing questions about his motivations and commitments. Instead he’s like, I know you’re getting powers, wow! By the end of the show Wally’s rejecting friends, advice, anything for the power offered by Alchemy - and other than the fact that he likes speed, I’m still not sure what’s driving Wally. He seems kind of shoehorned in right now. I would’ve loved a day following Wally around learning about him and letting tonight’s story happen from his perspective, or something.

Caitlin seems convinced her powers are a kind of fate. Because she has cold powers, she’s going to become evil, going to become Killer Frost. Cisco had a vision of a full-on Vibe versus Frost war, cementing Caitlin’s fears. You know what, same thing goes for Caitlin as went for Wally. What are her motivations here? If I were writing this show, I think Caitlin needs to do some self-analysis, because if she’s taking the fact of her evilness and abuse of power for granted… maybe it’s because, inside, despite her composure, she feels pretty powerless against the world? I mean, she lost Ronnie twice, then Jay turned out to be evil, and he did a lot of psych work trying to convince her to embrace the Big E. I think all that is happening, but tonight’s episode was the cardboard portrayal of her character, not the sensitive portrayal. The best part of tonight was Cisco, revealing Caitlin’s secret to the team, unwilling to deal with any more fears. Go Cisco!


All of this weak storytelling comes to a powerful head when Wally meets Doctor Alchemy at the end. The trap for Alchemy was amazing; pity that it turned out to a reverse trap! The special effects and some great acting  transformed the meh to the magnificent. Doctor Alchemy bends over and suddenly a streak of white light appears - and officers start falling. At the same time a similarly-colored white light pulsates inside Doctor Alchemy’s magic rock thing and begins speaking Siren-like to Wally. Even being called Wallace can’t deter him from touching Alchemy’s stone - and nearly instantly, Wally is transformed into a pillar that SCREAMS cocoon. At this moment, the white light strikes and solidifies into something which reminds me of the Shrike in Dan Simmon’s Hyperion: Savitar, the God of Speed. Will Barry survive the unsheathing finger-blade? Will Wally emerge from the cocoon a gorgeous butterfly, giving birth to a homily about the growth of manhood? Join us next week, Dear Readers, and we'll tell you the story of Major Cliffhanger.

Flashes of Insight

Joe’s developing relationship is intriguing; more intriguing is the question of whether HR is going to survive if he keeps talking! The date scene just totally blew my mind; Joe and HR together are pure acting joy.

HR with his fake face equipment. How did he get coffee the other day - order in?

Here’s a thought. We’re still trying to identify Doctor Alchemy and now there’s Savitar. I feel that Julian Albert is going to turn out to be one of these, too. Bets?

There was a bad guy named Shade and they got rid of him with light and he was just there to kill time until Savitar showed up. I kind of wondered why they didn’t use one of the new Rogues or something, or cut him entirely and focus more on Caitlin.

Iris has realized she’s the only person without powers, except for HR and Joe. I hope she realizes that, in general, she’s also the only person on the street trying to save people outside of the Flash. Honestly, they have to do something better with her.

Still not really clear on Alchemy’s goal. What does he mean when he says people are chosen? Chosen to serve Savitar, god of speed?

What happened to Alchemy? He looked like he basically bent over. Bowing to Savitar?

All the other officers are dead - wonder if Joe survived because he was near Wally.

Flashbacks

Cisco: There's only one problem with that. It's your face. You're kind of a known murderer around these parts. You see, the evil Wells, not to be confused with the dick-ish but not evil Wells, he confessed to killing Barry's mother.
Caitlin: So basically, if you step foot outside this lab, you'll be arrested.
HR: What - you're just telling me this now, you two rascals? What about the cryptograms? What about the message? Come to this Earth. Get a fresh start.
Cisco: Well, what about your résumé as a world-renowned genius scientist?
HR: That's a good point. I guess we're even.

In a Flash

Seriously, it’s like the writers had this amazing ending and just got lazy for the first three-quarters. Does the last ten minutes make up for the rest? No, there still needs to be a storytelling upgrade here, but I have to admit the sight of Savitar was exciting and I can’t wait for the next ep, even if it’s totally unclear what the heck he or she and Doctor Alchemy are doing. Five out of five.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What more do you want Iris to do...Im not her biggest fan but she has slowly become a decent character who is no longer annoying and actually brings something slightly different to the table despite her on paper uselessness.

''Seriously, it’s like the writers had this amazing ending and just got lazy for the first three-quarters''.

Having thought about it alot of Flash episodes are like this..

JRS said...

Good question. Well, as a reporter she could probably use press connections to research information and news reports while Cisco and Caitlin handle the science. But I don't think she's even shown at the Picture since Flashpoint.

sunbunny said...

Yeah I really don't like how they're treating Caitlin's powers as evil and corruptive. No other meta's powers have worked like that. Crappy people who get powers remain crappy. Good people who get powers remain good. Why are they changing those rules now?

Diogo said...

From what I understood about Wally, it wasn't about the speed per se. It's that he was being mentally tortured (by alchemy, or a flashpoint side effect?), and it seemed that only "reaching his potential" would make the pain gonaway. Something even akin to mind control, really.