The Flash: Mixed Signals

"We are the Flash."

In this episode, a technopathic meta named Kilgore, whose app was stolen, takes revenge upon those who app-ropriated his work, and the only thing between his vicious revenge and the all-too-vulnerable bodies of his former coworkers is Team Flash - who are having some internal problems of their own.

This was a tough review to write. Part of me loved this episode. Take my husband. My husband isn't a comic book guy. He made it through the first Avengers movie and part of Thor. The X-Men he likes in direct proportion to the amount of screen time had by Hugh Jackman. But he still likes The Flash and he still watches with me on Tuesdays, and I think that episodes like this one are going to be why. Funny, sweet, poignant, and with plenty of comicbookery, episodes like "Mixed Signals" not only nod to, but completely make out with, the origin of the Flash while bringing it to a place where, arguably, a once-cardboard hero becomes a more three-dimensional human. At the same time, there's parts of this episode which don't bear a second examination, and that's where I divide into Sméagol and Gollum.

Right now, Barry seems to be completely overwhelming, and he's overwhelming Iris. Not only is he using his speed to do everything that they should probably be doing as a couple, he's also avoiding communicating about what he wants to do with training and more. I'm still not sure what happened to Iris' newspaper career at the Picture, but let's assume, okay, she quit on purpose to take over for Barry when he disappeared. If that's the case, then she should be pissed off that Barry comes back and there's no real appreciation for what she managed to pull off in keeping the team going.

The therapy scenes were hilarious if somewhat cheesy. They culminated with Iris confronting Barry about why he left her. I was a little bit bemused by this, because by all memory Central City was about to be Nerfed when he left. This part felt out of character for Iris, who has never held back from supporting Barry as he went into danger. I also felt she was glibly ignoring the fact that he came back, like, all Drano the Insano, indicating he wasn't in Happy Party City for six months. Plus, as the child of a law enforcement officer, you'd think she'd be more familiar with self-sacrificing natures. So, funny as hell and entertaining as hell, but Gollum warns me this seems really inconsistent for the character.

Cisco and his relationship with Gypsy was the other front-and-center in this episode. Basically, Cisco is a mad scientist and busy and forgets stuff. Gypsy wants romance despite knowing Cisco has to work. So we have a somewhat strong parallel with Barry and Iris here, in that Iris didn't want Barry to 'work.' At the same time, I have a hard time seeing Cisco truly not pay attention to Gypsy, given the history so far - although I actually thought seeing Gypsy come out as caring was a great addition to her character. Cisco manages to save the situation, but what stuck with me was, both Cisco and Barry are on complete and total power trips.


In the middle of this lands Kilgore. I was actually terrified of his power, especially given the way the modern world incorporates technology at any stage; the elevator scene and the wishbone scene, whoa. Both Cisco and Barry sort of get their comeuppance with Kilgore, who is able to easily take over the superpowered Iron Flash suit developed by the overly-manic Cisco when the overly-confident Barry tries to take on Kilgore alone. It's Iris who pulls the team together, and by communicating with Barry, manages to figure out a way to defeat the suit, his ego, Cisco's ego, and save the day. Part of me likes this ending, but once again, I have a Sméagol/Gollum split: because if it's true that Barry and Iris are the Flash, where are Wells, Joe, Wally, Cisco and Caitlin in this picture? All of them have arguably contributed to the Flash and his training, growth and achievements over the years.

I was strongly reminded of Buffy Season 6 last episode and the theme of abuse of power. In the first episode of that season, Buffy is brought back, just like Barry, from a situation where it might have been better to leave things alone. Buffy was in Heaven. Barry was in the Speed Force. Buffy's best friend, Willow, used magic to rescue her due to a technicality. Cisco managed to get Barry out of the Speed Force due to a technicality, using a substitute. In this episode I felt the arc continued a parallel, intentionally or not. Both Barry and Cisco are getting to the point where they're using their powers and abilities so much, they're forgetting their own humanity. And I keep thinking about Mr. and Mrs. Speed Force, looking for the kid who snuck out of the house and left a quark ball thingy in their place. I wonder how long it'll take before the other shoe drops.

And in yet another split, it feels like while the emotional development gets attention, nothing else does. How is this season going to distinguish itself? It looks like there are additional metas being created somehow and sent after Barry. How many seasons have we sat watching while Big Bads send Mini Bads out to bother Barry on a weekly basis? Zoom, Savitar, and now the villain apparently known as the Thinker. That's three years out of four. Makes me nostalgic for Eobard Thawne and his less clear motivations.

Flashpoints

I absolutely loved Cisco tinkering with the Flash suit.

Wally seemed completely useless throughout the episode. I feel like the dude needs more Wally centered episodes - we could do with another Man in the Yellow Suit.

Flashbacks

Barry: Look, I don't know, I guess our wires have gotten crossed a few times the last few days, but I think that hardly rises to the level of a crisis. After everything we've been through together, you and me, we're Barry and Iris. We're the Gold standard. I am so in...
Iris: Then how could you leave me? You left me, Barry. You just left me. Standing there, alone. How could you do that?

Joe: What the hell does he need a raft for, Cisco?
Cisco: He runs on water. He might lose his speed out there. What's he gonna do then? He might drown.
Caitlin: You couldn't just put an oxygen tank in the suit?

In a Flash

Like I said, I had fun, but if you think about this episode too much, parts of it fall off. Kinda like Barry's new suit.

2.5 out of 5 inflatable Flashrafts.

2 comments:

JRS said...

I also want to just note the amazing Risky Business homage!

Here’s a great YouTube clip:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/w99Uvth98B8

Deborah Gallegos said...

For me, the standout scene was when Kilgore took control of the insulin pump and delivered a near-fatal dose of insulin. I've had Juvenile/Type 1 Diabetes since I was 12. I've had a pump for the last 3 years. It's the best thing ever, but terrifying at the same time. This Kilgore scenario can happen in real life due to plain, old mechanical failure. I've had some malfunctions going the opposite way where it's stopped giving any insulin which then landed me in the hospital.

With all that said, I would never trade the pump for going back to syringes. I'm impressed The Flash writers got all the Diabetic jargon right. So few shows/movies do. Thanks also for bringing my nightmare to the screen. Not.

All in all, a begrudging kudos to The Flash team. 👍🏼