The Flash: A Flash of the Lightning

Joe: "We don't make a choice to die. We would never choose to do that. But when we hear the call of duty, we're willing to take that sacrifice. And that's not giving up, Bar. That's what you call resilience."

By nature I love brevity: The season continues with a second strong outing, once again keeping the emotional journey at the forefront and maintaining the season's hopeful, positive tone.

Only two episodes in, and the differences between this season and the last one are like night and day. Clearly, this can at least in part be attributed to new showrunner Eric Williams, who has infused the series with a much-needed energy. Just like the last one, this episode has the emotional core and optimistic focus that drew me so much to The Flash in Season One.

Take the story of Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton), the new meta for this week. She turned out not to be the culprit, and it even looks like she'll be a recurring character. She also inspired positive character growth in Cecile. Compare this with the story of Joss Jackam AKA Weather Witch, from last season. There was an episode in which she felt great remorse about what she'd done and decided she wanted to pay for her crimes. But Nora, in her surety that bad people never change, rejected Joss' penitence and continued to treat her like scum. As a direct result, she returned to her life of crime, although she did save Nora's life. But in her next appearance in 'Gone Rogue,' she was back to her murderous, betraying, villainous ways. It was like that character growth never happened, and she was only a bad influence on Nora.

I'm not saying that stories in which characters change for the worse, or in which tragic consequences occur, are bad, but I am saying that it's notable that this episode isn't like that. And it feels far more like The Flash because of it. Last season, I really began to miss the optimism that ran throughout the first two seasons. Here, it's back, and the show is full of positive change for the characters and good people that we can believe in.

A lot of this episode revolves around the theme of duty. I loved the moment that Barry, following the wisdom of Joe West, got up and stood his ground. His sense of duty and of what he represents was more powerful than his pain, and his fear. In other circumstances, it could've been cheesy, like so many of last season's moments. But here, it's executed beautifully. I have to give credit to director Chris Peppe and Grant Gustin's great performance.

Cecile is struggling with her duty in a different context. She has certain convictions and beliefs, and following those sometimes conflicts with her job as the District Attorney. Joe is right to call her out on this, even though her intuition is absolutely right. His strong sense of duty compels his actions, and the truth is, so does hers. But what do you do when doing your job is not the right thing to do?

The answer Cecile comes to is one I've believed for a long time, that if you can no longer do the job that you are being paid to do, for moral or ethical reasons, it is your responsibility to find a new job. The episode doesn't say this, but I believe it would be wrong to continue receiving payment for a job you know you can no longer do in good conscience. So now Cecile has decided to become a defense attorney for metahumans, for the cases that the justice system cannot yet handle. This seems like a great direction for her character; she's never felt to me like the prosecutor type, but she seems like a great fit for a defense lawyer. It also fills a very clear area of need, as the courts in this show routinely have difficulty trying or even dealing at all with metahumans.

Speaking of Joe and Cecile, Barry really does have a lot of great mentors. Jay Garrick shows up in this episode to give Barry some help and advice, as well. Coupled with the return of Michelle Harrison as Jay's fiancée Joan, his presence also hearkened back to the first few seasons, when both of Barry's parents guest starred somewhat regularly.

This also gives Barry his first look at the Crisis, which has a devastating effect on him physically, mentally, and emotionally. Barry is now convinced, more than ever, that the Monitor is right and that he will have to die in the coming Crisis. It's interesting to note, though, that this certainty comes in the very same episode that puts Jay Garrick fresh in our minds, informs us that he’s retired, and reminds us that he's very important to Barry. Not that that will have anything to do with anything.

The last little bit involves Killer Frost's exploration of art. It was kind of cute, and it kind of does make sense that they're writing her kind of like a child, since she hasn't really lived anything of a life before now. This attempt to give her some life experience, however, did feel a bit rough around the edges, and it didn't really tie into any of the rest of the episode's rich themes of justice, fate, and duty.

All in all, a very strong episode with rich themes. More of this, please.

Running Plot Threads:

-On the Ramsay Rosso front, he has now apparently killed a man in his quest for dark matter, but maybe the guy's not dead! Spooooky. Not a ton here, but expect more next episode.

-Allegra's cousin Esperanza was trained by a clandestine organization. That's on the team's to-solve list, so it'll go on ours, too.

-Jay has been studying and tracking the spread of antimatter throughout the multiverse. If you look closely at his map, you can see a big spoiler for the premiere of Arrow's final season, which aired directly after this.

-Iris' paper, the Central City Citizen, is growing pretty quickly by television standards, with two characters we know now working for her. I wonder how many more new employees she'll get in the season to come.

-Chester P. Runk is still in containment, and someone is actively watching him at all times to make sure he doesn't become a black hole again. They said he'd have to be there for four to six weeks, so expect this to come into play somewhere in episodes five through eight.

Pensees:

-Cisco was wearing his Vibe costume in Barry's vision of the Crisis. That's notable because he gave up his powers and doesn't really wear it anymore.

-Joan is the name of Jay Garrick's wife in the comics.

-Ralph recovered from his sunburn very quickly.

-Barry is still using his portable Gideon from last season. That's still Morena Baccarin's voice, too.

-This episode starts where the previous one left off, which Eric Wallace says is meant to give the show a serial, in-the-moment feel. He believes this is the only way to compete with bingeable, eight- to ten-episode shows on streaming.

Quotes:

Joan: "William Knox. I've discovered that poetry can stimulate collapsed neural pathways."
Barry: "Lady Gaga always worked for me."

Frost: "He got a sunburn."
Ralph: "Yeah. From hell."

Barry: "I saw a billion futures, Iris."
Iris: "Okay, but what about the billion and first, or the billion and second?"

5 out of 6 sunburns from hell.

--
That's modalism, CoramDeo!

2 comments:

Gary said...

The poem Joan reads to Barry is a direct quote from the original Crisis on Infinite Earths comic (#8 to be precise) where it served as an epitaph for the Flash after his death.

CoramDeo said...

I'd forgotten about that, Gary. Thanks! Just sent chills up my spine all over again.