The Flash: So Long and Goodnight

"There better be waffles."

By nature I love brevity: Well, that was a mess. It felt like everyone involved had something else on their mind while making it, and were only half paying attention to their work. Which is weird, because it's not like there's anything massive going on in the world right now.

I don't know what the production schedule of this show was like, but I have to wonder. It seems to me that this subpar work from people that normally deliver much better might be attributable to COVID-19. Which is unfortunate, because this episode was particularly important.

Let me give you a few examples of the lazy, unconcerned low quality in this episode. First and most obvious is the dialogue. Every word of it feels forced or plot-driven. Characters say things that move the plot along, but it's often a non sequitur. Part of it is also due to the massive pacing issues. A scene will start with a character on screen doing something, and within half a second, somebody else has walked in and immediately begun speaking. It makes the whole episode feel abrupt, and there's no room for any scene to breathe.

Speaking of room to breathe, this episode suffers from the massive cast more than most. Caitlin and Kamila are nowhere to be seen, and Nash and Allegra are positively shoehorned in for exactly one scene that goes nowhere and is barely related to the rest of the show. The tonal whiplash between the Joe plot and the Ralph and Sue plot distracted me from what was going on half the time. Nothing in this episode is balanced.

It goes all the way down to minor details. Allegra, a meta with light powers, decides to search the room with a flashlight, only to blind Ragdoll with her abilities later in the same scene. Ragdoll attacks Joe and Sunshine in the interrogation room, and after Barry arrives and Ragdoll leaves, there's no shot of Sunshine to let you know whether or not she's still in the room (for half the episode, I assumed Ragdoll had taken her). Little things like this are scattered throughout, as if those whose job it is to get those details right just did not care.

More than anything else, 'So Long and Goodnight' feels lazy. It feels apathetic. It's dispassionately and sloppily constructed. I hope the team can get its act back together when they resume production after the virus.

But we do need to talk about the big plot developments. I am a sucker for stuff that was in the comics, so Ralph and Sue are fun for me to watch despite whatever writing issues there may be. Hartley Sawyer and Natalie Dreyfuss do have some decent chemistry, which helps. Singh's true identity was a surprise, although I'd guessed something was up with him a while back. The use of the car mirror was clever. Fake Iris' manipulation, I'm not so certain about. On the one hand, it's particularly effective to see just how far she has her hooks in him. On the other, it's a little upsetting to think about how similar this is to the way Iris has acted at times in the past. Particularly in Season One, she skewed far too whiny and clingy for my tastes, and even if it's not really her, that look here does not do her any favors. I will say it's really hard to care what Fake Iris is doing to Barry when we know it's not a real emotional consequence.

But the big thing is Joe. With this, I'm just going to wait and see. If he's out for plot reasons and will return by the end of the season, I don't mind so much. If he's going to be gone for a while, though, I'm going to be upset. Joe is one of my favorite characters, and if this is the last we'll be seeing of him for a long time, he deserved a far better send-off. To be very clear: this plot is bad and poorly handled, but I only really care if this is going to last for longer than a few episodes. We might have to wait a really long time to find that out, which is unfortunate.

Running Plot Threads:

-Joe went into witness protection for the foreseeable future. Please don't let this be for very long. Cecile fits the mentor role well, but the show seems to think she's also a laugh-out-loud funny character some of the time, and she isn't. We'd be losing something important if Joe wasn't around.

-Singh was revealed to be one of Eva's mirror agents. It's unclear how long that's been the case, or whether or not this means he's somewhere in the mirror dimension with Iris and maybe Kamila.

-Fake Iris kicked Barry out of their apartment with some made-up emotional excuse, in order to manipulate his emotions and run down his speed clock.

-Sue Dearbon's bank robberies are supposedly motivated by her parents' plight. I didn't entirely buy that. It felt forced to me, but Ralph seems to be going with it, and I doubt the morality of her actions will be revisited.

Pensees:

-The one thing in this episode that did work was Ragdoll. He's still terrifying to me.

-I'll keep saying it: the cast needs to be trimmed. If you can't bear to get rid of any characters (I would have a similar problem), pawn a few off to Legends for a season or two like Arrow used to do. I don't know what needs to be done, but this is now a very big issue with the series. It needs to be smaller to survive. Or at least find some way to deal with the size of the cast other than just leaving a few characters out of each episode with no explanation or particular reason.

-Is Eva ever going to come out into the real world? The same scenes of communication through mirrors are getting extremely tiresome.

-Whatever happened to Bloodwork? Is he still hanging out in a cage in the Speed Lab? Because we've had scenes set in the Speed Lab since then, and he's nowhere to be seen.

-Hey, CW: Now would be an excellent time to make your mobile app (and your website, for that matter) less terrible. Please? Sincerely, me and probably every other user of that accursed application.

-Sorry this review took so dang long. You'd think I'd have a little more free time while I'm perpetually stuck at home.

-No quotes today. None of the lines in this episode stuck out as clever or even well-written. I could probably dredge up one or two, but the aforementioned accursed application crashes twice per episode at minimum, and a barely decent quote or two isn't worth it.

3 out of 6 lazy send-offs.

--
CoramDeo is a werewolf, not a swearwolf.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

Sigh. I keep thinking I should enjoy a season of doppelgangers more than this. And I totally agree about Joe. He's a favorite of mine, too, and I hope he's not gone for a long time.

One thing we don't agree about, probably because I'm not a comic reader, but I simply do not care at all about Ralph and Sue. But I do think Ragdoll is shuddery, and I'm sure that's why they keep bringing him back.