The Flash: There Will Be Blood

"How do you convince your best friend not to save your life?"

By nature I love brevity: Though they are still present, The Flash has toned back the themes this week to focus on character work. That's just fine with me, at least for now.

It's fascinating how much acting can make or break a show. Apart from his connection to the season's theme, I don't really think Ramsey Rosso is written any better than Cicada last season. At the very least, the dialogue isn't any better. The difference is Sendhil Ramamurthy is simply incredible, wholly selling every word he speaks, and Chris Klein was merely passable as a normal human being and literally laughable as a threatening supervillain.

Not only that, the main cast is delivering more consistently here than they were before. The performances were good all around, but Hartley Sawyer, Carlos Valdes, and Jesse L. Martin in particular knocked it out of the park. Some highlights include Ralph barely managing not to cry when Iris had only given him a lead on his case, Cisco telling Barry that he wasn't getting the serum no matter what, and Joe's complete breakdown at the end. That, more than the writing, is what makes this good television. The truth is that you can get away with a lot of crappy writing if your cast can run with anything you throw at them.

Not that the writing is bad. Honestly, the writing wasn't that bad last season either. It all comes down to whether or not I buy what I'm seeing the characters do. Last season, I didn't, and this season, I completely do.

The fall of Ramsey Rosso was somehow worse than I'd imagined. Part of it is probably the horribly upsetting nature of his victims' deaths, and part of it was the fact that the macguffin they'd worked so hard for was sacrificed for nothing. Especially since it apparently could've saved Barry. Ramsey's conclusion, that death is the enemy and the solution is to no longer be human, is scary but also not a far leap from what some people do believe. When humanity becomes the enemy, a heck of a lot of horrible things can be justified with ease.

A bit more attention-grabbing was the tense face-off between Cisco and Barry. Cisco, to nobody's surprise, refuses to accept that Barry can't be saved. This makes a lot of sense, given the team's past history with accepting destiny. The difference here, however, is that it's not that Barry can't be saved. He can, very easily. It's that he shouldn't. Barry's death is the only way to save the rest of the universe, as far as we know at this point, and stopping that would prevent the saving of an infinite number of lives. That's a lot to take in, so it's no wonder that it hasn't sunk in for Cisco yet. And the truth is, when it comes down to it, I don't think Cisco cares. Right now, he isn't at a place where he can let go of Barry. I don't think Barry realizes, either, how much it makes things worse to tell him he's the next leader of Team Flash. That will only add to the weight on Cisco's shoulders, and that isn't a good thing. Still, their relationship is holding for now.

I don't know if Ralph has come to a place of acceptance yet either. His deep sorrow, communicated beautifully by Hartley Sawyer's light touch, is evident and it doesn't seem to be going away. Sure, he regrets being a jerk to Iris, but that's as far as he's gone. Maybe he will start looking into Sue Dearbon again, too, but that will only keep him occupied. He still has a lot of emotional baggage to work through about Barry's death - heck, he couldn't even bring himself to say those words - and if the show continues to follow its pattern of late, Barry will probably try to prepare him for it next.

And then there's Joe. Poor Joe, with his innate sense of justice and his firm belief that 'the universe' will make things right. For all the good advice he can give Barry about accepting sacrifice, the man is still about to lose his adopted son. He's entitled to an emotional breakdown or two. He nearly overwhelmed Cecile with the depth of his feelings in a great moment from Danielle Nicolet. It was very interesting to watch Barry impart some wisdom to Joe for once, in the same episode, even, that Joe gave Ralph some good bits of advice. That was a great scene, and I will miss the dynamic between Joe and Barry if either of them goes anywhere anytime soon.

Like I said, the themes have been dialed back, but they are there. This time around, it's about the difference between giving up and accepting. Ramsey's thought his mother had given up, when she had only come to accept what was happening to her. Look where that got him. Cisco, Joe, and Ralph both struggled to accept Barry's fate, and Cisco in particular framed it as 'not giving up.' I think the episode is trying to establish that acceptance is a good thing, and giving up is wrong.

Running Plot Themes:

-Ramsey is in full villain mode (expect his comic book name 'Bloodwork' to come out soon), and on the loose.

-Nash Wells has gotten one step closer to his goal, and it looks like it has something to do with the Monitor. Could that be why he seems so aggressively anti-faith, considering that the Monitor has been called a god?

-Ralph is back on Sue Dearbon's case.

-Barry wants Cisco to take over for him as the leader of Team Flash.

Pensees:

-Since Ramsey used such a small amount of the serum, I wonder if it'll come back into play later.

-I was fine with Iris, Frost, and Cecile taking the back seat for this one because they've all been in the spotlight recently. But don't think this can go on for too long without complaint.

-Many have complained that Barry is no longer the center focus of this show. While it's true that there's now much more of an ensemble cast, I really do like it anyway because I love the other characters. Besides, the main plot still revolves around Barry.

-The CGI when Ramsey broke the lock at the hospital was atrocious. I really am beginning to think it's a good thing they've cut back on the massive action sequences, if that's the best they can do there.

-You could definitely tell this was a Halloween episode. I'm glad they didn't go too far with it, though.

Quotes:

Cisco, holding his sneaker: "Where is the bug?"
Wells: "Not in your shoe, I'll tell you that much."

Ralph: "Iris, despite Team Flash's mantra, sometimes you do have to give up on things."

Ramsey: "The man I was, that was the disease."

Joe: "I'm a cop. If I risk my life every day for thirty years, I get to retire, Bar. I get to go home to the woman I love, I get to proudly watch my baby girl grow up each and every day. I get a life, Bar. You're a hero, what do you get?"
*resisting urge to use entire conversation in quotes section*

Barry: "I'm grateful for everything I have. All the blessings in my life. Iris, the team. I mean, hell, I'm the Flash. I'm grateful for that. But you - you're what I'm most grateful for."

6 out of 6 remarkable performances.

--
CoramDeo is the captain of the gravy train.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's not difficult to tell when certain actors are filming scenes for the crossovers. Ramsey is well a fee but I have seen the same thing from the same actor on Heroes. I keep refering to him as Mohinder.

Alex Ray-Snyder said...

Thank you! I can't stop thinking about that time Mohinder became a bug dude everytime Ramsey uses his powers.