The Flash: Family Matters, Part 2

"Team Flash for the win... again."

Why did that feel like the season finale? I thought this episode would set the stakes for the rest of the season, not clear the decks for something new.

Despite each storyline unfolding over multiple episodes, everything about this felt rushed. From resolving the sibling squabble, to Joe trying to find purpose post police captain, to the last step in Frost’s redemption arc and her budding romance.

First, called it. This was never about protection, it was about saving. Killing the Forces to protect the city was never going to happen. Unmaking them to protect the individuals they used to be wasn’t the answer. And Barry could never overpower any of them. The answer was always about showing them a better way. A future where Nora wasn’t alone, Alexa had a home, Bashir had a family, and Deon was a “Somebody.”

I had no issues with the storyline. I even liked the fact that the siblings had to resolve the issue without parental supervision. I loved that they used all three abilities in concert to show Nora her worst possible future. The silence of empty cities, offices, and playgrounds was both brilliant and chilling. However, a great ending does not make a great narrative. And you could run multiple Fuerzas through the plot holes in this one.

If Nora needed Barry’s help to kill Fuerza, how is she now strong enough to take down Barry and the other Forces together? Speaking of, where did Nora take the Forces to in their final showdown? Why did Psych’s power attack Cecile, what damage did it do, and how was she healed? And if the Forces were causing the storm, why couldn’t they stop it once they realized it?

Then there was the “collider event” that Barry had to prevent. Again, I loved the idea of Barry handling one crisis while the siblings resolved another. I also loved that their combined strength gave him the speed he needed to save the day. But The Powers That Be have severely strained my willingness to suspend disbelief when once again, they provide no reason why or how the threat was created or why the united Forces couldn’t have dismantled it on their own.

Emotionally, the story hit all the right notes. Each character faced their personal demons and, with the help of their family, found some measure of peace. What I object to is the pretzel they repeatedly twisted the story into to get there. It’s never been clear how the Forces came to be or why these individuals were chosen as avatars. We’ve never understood the strengths and weaknesses of the Forces in relation to their siblings or how much of a threat they pose to each other. And don’t get me started on their relationship to Barry and Iris. I didn’t need that information to understand where the story was going but answers to any of them might have made me invested in the outcome.

At least Frost’s story was predictable. She is no longer the live and let live meta of the past. Bad people were set loose on her city and she was compelled to help no matter the potential cost. Because, let’s face it, technically she was an escaped felon. Things could have gone very differently. In this case, my only complaint is the speed at which it all occurred. Well, that and the fact the D.A.’s office can’t overturn a judge’s ruling. Let’s just blow past that and be happy that Frost is free once more, and that despite his penchant for violence and kleptomania, she has a crush on Mark. I called that one too.

Joe’s arc is the only one that played out as I’d imagined. It’s no surprise Joe was frustrated at being sidelined when there are threats to the city he spent much of his life protecting. That someone would give him the “you’re a hero whether or not you have a badge” speech was inevitable. Although I felt this story could also have benefitted from more time, considering Joe is a side character, no matter how beloved, it was never gonna happen.

Finally, there’s Cisco’s job search and pending departure. It looks like A.R.G.U.S. really made him an offer he won’t refuse. If Chip Cooper didn’t give the willies every time he was on screen, I’d say it was a good fit. But mark my words. Something’s not right about him.

Now what?

We have seven episodes left and only Cisco’s tenuous storyline to tie up which appears to be the next topic du jour. I guess they could bring in a meta supervillain for Kramer to shoot with her fancy new gun but that doesn’t need more than an episode or two. Other than that, I’m at a loss. Regardless, my fingers are crossed that the next chapter will be more intentional and better executed than the last.

3 out of 5 fixed points in time

Parting Thoughts:

Adding to my list of questions, what was with the goth Nora?

Quotes:

Chester: "She's probably out there somewhere, Sith-corrupting Deon."

Joe: "I can't help anyone from a couch."

Mark: "Come on, we had so much fun last time. You know, before the whole attempted murder part."

Deon: "My life was supposed to be on this field as a football god.  Then I became an actual god and I still can't make my life go in the direction I want."

Cisco: "I don't know how we win this one."

Barry: "I'm not sure what the right thing to do anymore."

Joe: "Sometimes it takes a family to protect a family."

Deon: "Sorry for almost killing you."
Bashir: "I tell you what, you help us survive, we'll forgive you... maybe."

Nora: "Forgive me."

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

5 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Shari, you are absolutely on point -- I kept nodding while reading your entire review.

This arc, the Forces, made little sense to me, and it's already over. And how could Frost get out of a sentence of life in prison, no possibility of parole, so quickly, and off screen?

Did the story need more time, or less? Why didn't "Nora" work for me? Her turn from good to evil and then back to good happened so quickly and for no reason.

So this was probably one of their least successful arcs for me.

Samantha M. Quinn said...

I agree with you both, this whole arc was basically doomed from inception. I say this because it feels very half-baked. You can almost see the development went a little like this:

Writer 1: We needed a way to give Barry his powers back.
Writer 2: Hmmm... I know they recreate the Speed Force, now we have things back to normal.
Writer 3: So what's next?
Writer 2: Well, we want to bring back Nora (Speed Force version) in a significant way, and she should have some kind of villain arc.
Writer 1: Neat but just Nora wouldn't work. She would be too sympathetic to not redeem at the end. Otherwise Barry would have to kill his Mom again.
Writer 2: Hmmm, why don't we have other things created when we give Barry his powers back, and they are antagonists too.
Writer 3: Like what?
Writer 2: Other Forces like Nora. That makes sense.
Writer 1: So what kind of Forces?
Writer 3: Something physical or mental... ah I don't know maybe spatial or temporal or both.
Writer 2: We could do four of them all together. It might be like a bizarre kind of Greek God type of family dynamic.
Writer 1: Yeah, but we have to interact with them. So maybe the Forces manifested in humans.
Writer 3: You mean like Barry?
Writer 1: Well, no. More powerful otherwise it would be a one and done.
Writer 2: That doesn't really make sense. But fine, how many episodes? I think it should be the whole season. That would allow for some really nice character build up and resolution. Then next season we could really do something massive with those new Forces in play.
Writer 1: We've been given 8 episodes.
Writers 2 & 3: Well shit.

Much like the Frost arc, I just don't see how they were ever going to finish a storyline this complicated in just 8 episodes. They needed to reintroduce Nora, establish her relationships with Barry and Iris, introduce each of the Forces, and then define the conflict and stakes. Give it a solid climax where the central issue is resolved and then give a satisfying finale where the next phase of the show can go.

Now, to be fair that's exactly what they did. Except they gave us one episode each for those things. Then wrapped everything up in basically a two-parter. Sure it might not have needed a full season to tell this story, but if they had they could delved deeper into what the Forces actually were. Like how are they different from Barry? I mean are these just normal people who were granted the powers of gods? Or are they just imbued with the Force powers much like Barry? Nora's presence kind of confused things, especially in the ending where it is now established that these three beings are now gods and will live in harmony with Nora in the new Force realm. Does that mean we'll eventually get new heroes with those powers? It was very unclear.

Alright, I've ranted long enough.

Thank you for the great review Shari!

Shari said...

I agree with both of you with one exception. I discovered after the fact that the Forces are from the comics. So the conversation probably included a "What if we just used the Forces from the comics" speech. The rest of it is spot on.

Billie Doux said...

Shari, that sparks a question that keeps coming up for me, since I'm a non-comics-reader who watches comic-based shows -- did the writers assume that viewers would know stuff that they didn't? Possibly unintentionally?

Shari said...

Honestly, I have no idea. I didn't realize that it was from the comics until the called Psych the Sage Force. That seemed oddly specific and didn't seem to have anything to do with what he was doing. Maybe they just assume that Google exists and nerdy people like me will go searching for the answers. I don't read the comics either.