The Flash: Run, Iris, Run

Barry: “I lost my speed.”
Iris: “I think I found it.”

The Flash is at its best when it uses meta-human and superhero exploits to address more personal issues. Its Achilles heel is that it also suffers from the “good people being good” syndrome. "Run, Iris, Run" is a perfect case in point. This week’s themes revolve around self-image and self-esteem. I only wish we had less breadth and more depth.

Since our plot served more as a delivery mechanism for this week’s themes, we’ll get it out of the way first. Our latest bus-meta Matthew Kim AKA Melting Point has the power to transfer meta abilities from one person to another. This is fun and games when it’s used to foil a pyrokinetic’s bank robbery. It’s not so amusing when the beneficiary of the pyrokinetic’s abilities is less rational than the bank robber. Neither is the transfer of Barry’s speedster abilities to Iris.

Barry’s self-esteem has suffered repeated hits with the defeats The Thinker has handed him, beginning with attacking Barry’s credibility and framing Barry for his death and culminating with Becky Sharpe’s demise. Barry’s enforced leave from the CCPD is a blow to his self-image as well. Barry defined himself, at least in part, by his role as a CSI. Not being a speedster strips away the last shred that made him feel like Barry Allen.

As our resident White Hat, the show only hints at the resentment Barry feels at watching Iris race around the city saving lives. He stoically stands back and lets her shine. Barry makes no bones about the fact that he wants his powers back. However, when the opportunity arises, Barry leaves the final decision to Iris who dutifully gives up her powers. I didn’t need them to fight about it. Iris had made it perfectly clear that having those abilities only served to remind her of what she truly wanted. But it would be nice for Barry to acknowledge an unkind thought once in a while.

Barry isn’t the only one suffering from low self-esteem. Harry’s self-image is entwined with knowing he is the smartest man in any room. The Thinker has proven time and again that Harry is not. Desperate to level the playing field Harry discovers how DeVoe came by his smarts. He decides to build a Thinking Cap – correction – an Intelligence Booster of his very own.

While most of Team Flash is on board, Cisco remains doubtful. If the Thinking Cap warped the brains of a mild-mannered professor what will it do to a rage-filled Harry? I understand Caitlin’s logic that Cisco’s involvement may be able to keep the brain-warping to a minimum. Eventually, Cisco relents. However, I think Cisco’s fears are well-founded. Harry succeeded in his short-term goal of identifying the last two bus-metas, but there was enough foreshadowing of things to come to bring on the Apocalypse.

Ralph’s desire for self-preservation outweighs any of his newfound heroics. And he’s more than willing to sling arrows at anyone who argues otherwise. Ralph calls out Iris for staying safe in the lab and then lays into her for her inexperience out in the field. His concern for her ability to keep him safe is as understandable as it is selfish. And as with numerous previous episodes Ralph learns to rise above and leave his little hidey-hole to perform another selfless act. The problem is one of his arrows happened to find its target.

Iris has never shied away from danger. As a reporter, she often put herself in harm's way to get her story no matter what Barry, her father, or anyone else wanted. Whether it was Savitar’s threat to her life, the loss of Barry to the Speed Force, or Team Flash’s need for a leader, she somehow lost touch with that side of herself. Ralph’s digs only served to dredge up questions that were lurking for some time. Thanks to Dibny’s remarks and her dabble with superhero status, Iris remembers who she is and what she wants to do.

So what do we know?

Once again The Thinker’s presence is felt but not seen. In his absence, we have learned that the identity of the last two bus-metas is Janet Petty and Edwin Gauss. We also know that Team Flash believe Matthew Kim’s ability can defeat DeVoe. Considering we are still seven episodes from the finale, I kind of doubt it.

This episode was filled with well-crafted storylines handled with grace and a dash of nuance. Yet, in an effort to touch on all of these stories we don’t get an opportunity to examine any of them in detail. This coupled with a reticence to show anyone but Harry or Ralph in anything but the best light led to an episode that felt like a perfectly cooked meal with only a trace of seasoning.

3 out of 5 billion joules of dark energy

Parting Thoughts:

They had to work really hard to justify the name Melting Point. It seemed like it would have served Erik Frye better than Mathew Kim.

We have another Glee alum making an appearance in the Berlanti-verse. Jacob Birch was played by Max Adler better known as Karofsky, William McKinley High’s closeted football player.

I understand that Matthew Kim had to do something to ensure The Flash’s arrival but the idea that he would hold a knife to someone’s throat to avoid answering a detective’s questions strains credibility. Everything about him screams “Do-gooder,” from being an EMT to taking on a fire throwing meta.

In the grand scheme of things, Harry is more intelligent than Clifford DeVoe. Harry designed and built his intelligence booster. Clifford needed his wife to build his.

If Iris had Barry’s speedster abilities, why was her lightning a different color?

I’m so glad they finally discussed Iris' distinct lack of journalism this season. I only wish they’d mention how two unemployed people manage to pay their rent.

Quotes:

Cisco: “I’m sorry, don’t you have, like, six PhDs?”
Harry: “Seven.”
Cisco: “Which one of them is in mad science?”
Harry: “Mad science is just an area of study. It’s not a degree.”

Cisco: “You’re talking about intense amounts of dark energy going right into your brain, right into that cap, that turned a mac and cheese loving pacifist into a homicidal maniac.”

Dibny: “Just so I’m clear on this, someone finally came up with a way to stop this La-Z-Boy riding lunatic, and we just might not do it?”

Joe: “Cisco, what do you got?”
Cisco: “Oh, you know, the usual. Just loads and loads of dark matter.”

Frye: “Do I look like someone who would take public transit?”

Dibny: “I’m innocent. I’m still gonna get terminated. Oh, my God. I’m Sarah Connor.”

Cisco: “Why am I the only one who thinks putting a rageoholic and dark matter together is a bad idea?”

Barry: (after Iris whooshes away) “Wow, that is super annoying.”

Harry: “What are your conditions?”
Cisco: “One, we stimulate your synapses without dark matter.”
Harry: “ Fine, no dark matter. And two?”
Cisco: “The minute you start acting like Locutus of Borg and start assimilating everybody with your Borg chair–”
Harry: “You can vibe me back to my Earth, Okay?”
Cisco: “Okay,”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I wish this one had been better. The power transfer thing has been done to death on shows like Smallville, but it's usually a lot more fun.

Shari Houtman said...

I'm so glad you said that. Everything seemed to work, and I felt like I should have enjoyed it more than I did. You're right. It wasn't as much fun as it could have been. They could have either have gone for the wonder of it all, or they could have gone for the reality, and it felt like they tried to split the difference which didn't really work for me.