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The Flash: Family Matters, Part 1

“That makes you, what, my parents?”

One would imagine the theme of the week would be family, in all its dysfunctional glory. Our heroes (and villains) mention it often enough. Instead, we continue to hammer home the themes acceptance and self-determination. I’m not complaining.

As time passes, the Forces have become more powerful or at least more adept at using their abilities. Along with this newfound knowledge comes the realization of the connections between them and Barry and Iris. The question becomes can they come together as a family or will they tear each other apart.

First there's Nora and Deon. Each considers the other a threat. I choose to believe Deon doesn't want to hurt Nora, but if it is a matter of survival, he will. Nora would wipe Deon out in a second if she could, but without Barry's help that's not possible. What's a Speed Force to do? She wields familial relationships like a weapon. Join your older sister against our big bad parents. Help me help you.

The problem is their alliance has nothing to do with family dynamics. Barry wanted to take Deon's powers away and Nora is offering a way to stop him. He agrees out of self-preservation, not out of some undying love for his sister.

What is Nora's endgame? If Barry had played along with her original plan, would she have been content with the deaths of the other Forces? Or did she always intend to be the last woman standing? It's clear she has no regard for collateral damage. Luckily, if she wasn't strong enough to take on Fuerza on her own, I doubt she could kill Fuerza, Psych, and Iris, even with Deon's help. But she has sidelined them for the time being.

Nora aside, I'm not a huge fan of Barry's lately. The optimism he once effused has been replaced by desperation. Barry's fear of failure has narrowed his vision. Once upon a time, his goal was to save people. Now it's to protect them. The problem with that distinction is now there is an "other" to be protected from. He pursues this to the detriment of everyone around him – from seeking to stop the forces from existing to pushing Alexa to train. You would think he'd rethink his position after repeated failures.

Not so much.

Then there's Psych AKA Bashir Malik. Orphaned, abandoned, then orphaned again. Is it any wonder Bashir has trust issues? Convinced his friends ditched him once his money was gone, he seeks revenge. And his relationship with Barry and Iris fuels his rage. It's Alex that gets through to him. Not by calling on their sibling bond, but through their shared loneliness and heartache.

It appears the Forces sought avatars who believed they lacked their specific gifts. Alexa thought her addiction made her weak. Deon believed one moment in time stole his future, while Bashir feeds on the fears of others to mask his own insecurities. Will recognizing these truths give them the peace of mind to use their gifts humanely?

And what of Kramer's plan to "cure" meta-criminals? I understand Joe’s point of view and I agree with him to the extent that Kramer shouldn't seek out opportunities to use her newly developed weapons. However, the issue is more nuanced than either Joe or Kramer are willing to admit.

Joe is not averse to guns which kill people. Wouldn't Kramer's weapon be a more humane way to address a threat the police may have no other defense against? Or is it his belief that Team Flash will always be there to save the day? Maybe I have unreasonable expectations of this show. But if they are going to pose questions on the use of force and the government's role in treating "the other," then they need to address the complexity of the situation instead of painting the issue as black or white.

Putting the ethical arguments aside, how does this tie into the larger arc of the season? Team Flash will not be facing meta-humans in this season's final showdown. The Forces are gods. Kramer's weapons won't stop them. Is that part of the larger truth Kramer needs to learn? That creating more powerful weapons isn't the answer to every problem? If so, I'll retract all my former arguments.

While all of this is going on, Cisco has the more mundane issue of determining what he wants to do with his life. Does he stay at S.T.A.R. Labs developing technology for Team Flash’s continuing battle against evil? His fear is that everyone will move on without him. I understand his concern, but it's not a rational fear. Barry owns S.T.A.R. Labs and is The Flash. Is he going anywhere? And given their relationship, would Iris be anywhere but at his side? The fear that the battle itself would cost him his friends and family would have been more realistic considering all the people he's sacrificed to this endeavor already. That said, could the job Kamilla spoke of be found with A.R.G.U.S.? It both makes sense and fills me with dread.

Once again, we have an episode with more questions than it answers. But this time, given this is the first half of a two-parter, it was expected. I hope that the next episode will at least clarify the arc for the rest of the season. Fingers crossed.

3.5 out of 5 magentacles

Parting Thoughts:

You can see heavy rain in the closeups between Deon and Nora. I’m glad I wasn't on that shoot.

Last time I checked, journalists did not have free range over an active crime scene. Just sayin'. At least Iris was smart enough to wear gloves.

Quotes:

Cisco: “Your firstborn is pissed.”

Kamilla: “Yeah, this whole fighting Big Bads thing, definitely not gonna miss it.”

Barry: “We need to be ready.”
Cisco: “To do what, exactly?”

Joe: “This is illegal.”
Kramer: “No. There’s just no precedent for them... yet.”

Alexa: “I won’t be your weapon.”

Cisco: “I have no clue what I’m supposed to be doing right now.”

Alexa: “At some point the walls we build need to come down, or they will crush us.”

Kramer: “Do you realize what you’re doing?”
Joe: “Yeah. I’m staying on the right side of the line.”

Bashir: “Okay, you’ve got four kids, two of which are so pissed off, they want to kill you. This is why some people shouldn’t have children.”

Nora: “You made me do this, Barry.”

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

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