The Flash: Kiss Kiss Breach Breach

"You selfishly don't believe in anything or anybody."

By nature I love brevity: Holy crap. I was not expecting this to be any good, much less successfully pull off themes of faith, tell a decent standalone story, and feature a restrained, emotionally resonant performance from Danny freaking Trejo, of all people.

The Flash does not have, to put it mildly, a wonderful track record with storylines about Cisco's romantic pursuits. He's great when he's dealing with visions of being murdered by Wells in the first season, or when he's struggling with whether or not to take the metahuman cure in the fifth, but the moment you give him a girlfriend, the quality of his material typically tanks. First it was Golden Glider, which ended when the actress abruptly left for other projects, then it was Gypsy, which was for the most part poorly written. He's like the Harry Kim of The Flash: he always picks the worst people to date, and it never works out for him. I do really like Kamilla, so there was hope this time around, but when I saw there was an episode centering around it, I was hesitant. Plus, the return of Danny Trejo as Breacher, whose atrocious performances have consistently ruined for me every episode in which he appears, did not bode well. So I gritted my teeth for the first few minutes of this episode, waiting for the awful other shoe to drop. But it never did, not really.

The moment it could've all gone wrong was just as Breacher entered Cisco's bedroom. Breacher is almost always played for cheap laughs on this show, but he entered here and just sat on the bed and stared at the wall. There were no fart jokes. He didn’t growl at Cisco and say stuff that made him look like an idiot. He was restrained, which is a word I never thought would apply to Danny Trejo. That isn't to say he delivered a stunning, Emmy-worthy performance. I still cringed a little at some of the emotional beats. But compared to his previous offerings, Trejo knocked it out of the park. I even felt the emotions he was portraying a couple of times. That's a lot to ask from a guy whose default setting whenever he's onscreen is overblown rage for humorous purposes.

Also, the themes are back, folks! This episode provides a legitimate purpose for the somewhat out-of-place anti-faith sentiments Nash Wells has been expressing since his introduction in 'Dead Man Running.' I was not at all expecting this, but it's very welcome, even though I generally disagree with the message being conveyed.

Unlike this last season of Star Trek: Discovery, which attempted to tackle themes of faith by never actually defining which meaning of the word it was using, 'Kiss Kiss Breach Breach' delivers a very focused argument. Not only is the episode in favor of faith, it tells you precisely what it believes you should put your faith in. This is remarkably rare for television, especially nowadays. Whenever faith comes up, which is hardly ever, it's either a generic argument against organized religion or a generic argument for some type of 'spirituality.' I can't think of the last film or television show, not affiliated with a specific religion, that argued that you should put your faith in something specific.

Well, here we have it. The Flash, as a show, argues that you should put your faith in people – good people. Yeah. That tracks. This show has always been remarkably optimistic about human nature, even as it displayed the horrible things human beings do to each other. From Barry's unendingly joyous spirit in Season One to the mercy offered to Savitar in Season Three, this show argues time and again that people can be good if they so choose. Just because I happen to disagree doesn't mean this isn't an argument worth listening to, and it certainly doesn't mean the methods they employ to convey their message should be discounted.

Here we also see the growth this show has gone through, while still maintaining its core beliefs. In early episodes, the 'believe in yourself' trope was heavily employed. In 'Kiss Kiss Breach Breach,' it makes its return, but better, deeper, and more fleshed out. The combination of Joe West's call to Nash to believe in good people, Frost's plea to Ramsey to choose to be a good person, and Kamilla's appeal to Cisco to believe in himself reveals the deeper, better-layered evolution of this worldview. Rather than simply 'believe in yourself,' the encouragement here is 'believe in good people, and choose to be a good person yourself so that you can believe in yourself.' Is that as deep as it can go? Of course not. But it takes you the next level in.

I have to mention here that I don't myself believe that you should put your faith in people. I personally believe that people are fundamentally flawed and therefore nobody can choose to be 'good.' My faith is rather in what I believe can save flawed people. But I further believe that everybody puts their faith in something. The first step is recognizing what you put your faith in, so you can change it if you discover it isn't worth your faith. As a result, anything that helps you recognize what you're putting your faith in is positive in my book.

I've said very little about the noir-influenced mystery or the momentary absence of Barry Allen, not because they aren't worth talking about, but because I am far more interested in the themes and characters. I did like that Cisco discovered he didn't need to lean on his electronic Barry as a crutch. Gypsy's death was not all that surprising, but it was kind of sad, and I wish they'd been able to get Jessica Camacho back for a little bit.

Running Plot Threads:

-Another Chester mention. That looks about ready to pay off.

-More little tidbits about what Nash is trying to do. Now he says he can save Barry. I wonder if he's going to stick around through the crossover, especially since Tom Cavanagh is playing a pivotal Crisis character which may or may not wind up being somebody different.

-Caitlin found Ramsey very easily, which seemed a little anticlimactic. He wanted her to find him, though, and she didn't succeed in doing anything helpful regarding him.

-Echo, the evil Cisco in this episode, is now locked up in an interdimensional jail. File that away in case he ever returns.

-I'm certain we've heard before that The Empire Strikes Back is Barry's favorite movie. That is no longer the case.

Pensees:

-Carlos Valdes carried this episode very well. I'm impressed.

-Some good direction in this episode.

-I loved that Ralph did actual detective work, albeit offscreen. I really like that they're slowly turning him into the person he was in the comics.

-No Cecile at all this time around. She'll probably figure pretty heavily into the next episode, then.

-I wonder if we'll ever see Breacher again. I think this closes his story out pretty well, but I could easily be proven wrong with a good episode later on.

Quotes:

Cisco: "When you can't put your faith in the truth, all you have left is yourself."

Barry: "Oh my god! My favorite movie is Jurassic Park!"

Cisco, to Kamilla: "I love y- I... look forward to spending time with you tomorrow."

Joe: "You can have faith in anything, but it was then that I realized that I have faith in people."

Kamilla, to Cisco: "Babe, Barry didn't choose you to be the Flash. He chose you to be you."

4 out of 6 interdimensional identity thieves.

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CoramDeo said Sid Frenchman. You lose. Let's play again!

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