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The Flash: Masquerade

“Masks don’t heal wounds. They only hide them.

Oh, there’s the show I know and love. It might not have been perfect, but it was recognizably The Flash. Welcome back.

We even had an actual theme that addressed Chester and Cecile’s internal struggles in addition to being embodied by an external villain for Team Flash to defeat. The masks our characters wore couldn’t protect them. Instead they served to hide vulnerabilities that could and would be exploited. It was only by acknowledging their weaknesses were they able to move past them.

Chester hopes a new paint job and some personal items will make S.T.A.R. Labs feel like home, but his insecurity is showing. As soon as Caitlin comments on the changes he offers to remove all his belongings. As excited as he is to be a member of Team Flash, he feels he hasn’t earned his position and isn’t sure he deserves it. So, when Barry is struck unconscious, Chester channels his inner Cisco. He makes a plan, calls in reinforcements and gets to work.

At first things seem to be going well. It helps to have one of the most renowned thieves on speed dial when you need to steal a possessed (haunted?) mask. Unfortunately, Sue wasn’t wrong about the plan coming together a little too easily. The funny part is neither was Chester. All of Team Flash’s plans are made at that speed and with that ease. And most of the time they turn out just fine.

The moment Sue mentions her concerns, it was clear this would not be one of those times. Chester snapped up every breadcrumb our faux Cecile dropped. Instead of capturing the mask and saving Barry, he handed the villain everything it wanted. Is it any wonder Chester retreated to lick his wounds?

The mask-controlled Cecile didn’t just play Chester like a fiddle. She played all of them. Yet Chester is the only one who took it personally and Sue’s comments didn’t help. Iris to the rescue. She sprinkles a dose of reality into Chester’s heaping bowl of self-doubt, then gives him a much-needed pep talk. He is a valued member of Team Flash, and they believe in him. Her faith gives him the confidence to try (and succeed) again.

Speaking of Sue, I was happy to see her. The Powers That Be spent a lot of time laying the groundwork for her addition to the cast. It was a shame to see that go to waste because of another actor’s personal failings. Still, color me curious to see how she fits in without the Elongated Man at her side.

Cecile’s issues extend over years if not decades. They are not so easily resolved. It turns out that Bashir did more damage than he intended when he arrived in Central City. He left cracks in Cecile’s mask of the perfect mom and stepmom, supportive partner, and tough as nails DA turned defense attorney. Those cracks and the storm Psych helped spawn gave the haunted (possessed?) mask the opportunity it needed. It imprisons Cecile inside one of the worst memories of her life.

Barry, like Iris, helps Cecile break out of the shell she’d been trapped in. First by recognizing a mindscape when he sees one, then by realizing whose mind they’re in. But mostly by doing what Barry does best. Using that giant beating heart of his to forge a connection. Everyone’s pain is different, but the pain of losing one’s mom has universal aspects that Barry understands all too well. So when he tells Cecile she can get through this, she believes him. Cecile faces her fear and saves Barry and herself from the mindscape.

Cecile’s story doesn’t end there. For most of her adult life she’s believed that getting the help she needed made her weak. So, she buried the pain and hid her past. Now Cecile realizes that if she truly wants to heal, she has to be honest with herself and the people she loves. I loved Joe’s nod to the problem many in the Black community have when it comes to addressing mental health issues. However, these problems are not relegated strictly to the Black community or even to people of color. Mental health issues have been taboo in too many communities for far too long.

Joe hasn’t given up his quest to discover the reason for Kristen Kramer’s vendetta against meta humans. Luckily, the fake Cecile provided him with a very real lead. Kramer’s last military mission ended in a disaster with Kramer as the only survivor. Joe thinks she might have been working with the enemy, but I have my doubts. Kramer blamed her trust in a meta for the death of her team and her hatred of metas seems genuine. That said, I believe there’s more to the story than Kramer has let on.

And finally, we have the continuing saga of Iris and Barry’s attempts to have a baby. At least they’re persistent. However, considering Barry’s super-speed, couldn’t they have nipped home for a little more privacy? Although it was amusing watching Chester nicely asking them to take their “efforts" elsewhere.

This episode won't be on my list of favorites, but after months of problematic and poorly constructed offerings, it felt like a homecoming. I have no idea where it goes from here. But we’re back, baby!

4 out 5 stealth speakers

Parting Thoughts:

The first time I watched the episode, I thought Sue was doing her best Ethan Hunt impression. Then Chester called her Ilsa Faust. Both were characters in Mission Impossible. Although you could also make an argument for her being Gin in Entrapment.

Introducing sweet Ira Cooper.

The problem with watching episodes multiple times is you eventually pick up on all the inconsistencies. Like the fact, the security guard didn’t check to see if the laser system was active before wandering into the room.

Joe’s conversation with Cecile made me wonder for the hundredth time why they haven’t gotten married. Not that it’s a requirement, but you’d think they’d have at least have a conversation about the prospect...

Quotes:

Chester: "Cisco, you did not warn me about this."

Cecile: "Barry, I don't think there's a way out of this place."

Chester: "You planned that heist so fast you made Dom Toretto in 'Fast Five' look like Dom Toretto in 'Fast One'."

Cecile: "She died all alone. She died all alone because of me."

Chester: "Okay, this is going to sound crazy."
Iris: "Crazy works sometimes."

Cecile: "So go ahead. Try and scare me. But I know exactly who I am, and I am done wearing a mask."

Sue: "I'm sorry I was so harsh. I guess getting whammied makes me grumpy."

Joe: "Just know that I will always be here for you."

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

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

An excellent review and all good points. I like Cecile a lot, and I completely agree with the need to address mental health issues, but as you said, Shari, this episode won't be a favorite.

Shari said...

Thanks Billie,

I've been so frustrated lately that I was just grateful it felt like a normal episode.