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The Flash: Reckless

“You can’t help anyone if you’re dead.”

Mothers and daughters and risk versus recklessness. For two such concise topics, this episode felt all over the map.

Like so many recent episodes, the problem isn’t the theme or plot. It’s more about perspective. What did the viewer learn, how should they feel, or how did their perspective change given the events of the episode? I can talk theme, plot, and character development till the cows come home, but I’m not sure I can answer any of the above questions.

Considering the title, it’s only fair that we start with recklessness. At first blush, it seems fairly straightforward. Frost is running headfirst into danger with no regard for her personal welfare. But is this really true? As Frost says, the black flame is coming for her no matter whether she sits around waiting for it or tries to trap it. So why not the latter? Is Barry looking out for his team’s safety or is he letting his concern for Iris color his perspective?

Rather than a nuanced discussion of whether Frost is taking an acceptable risk or being reckless, the Powers That Be appear to see-saw between all the arguments without settling on any. Frost is right about needing to take the risk. Caity is right about Frost being reckless. Joe is right, that Barry should let Frost make the call. While having these varied opinions may be true to life, it makes for muddled storytelling.

After eight seasons, we’ve developed a hierarchy of trust. We trust the good guys over villains, Team Flash over the CCPD, Barry and Iris over the rest of Team Flash, and Cecile and Joe above all. So, what does it say when Joe agrees with Frost?

In the end, the reckless one wasn’t Frost. It was Carla. At first, the scientific possibilities affected her perspective. Then the idea of all the lives that could be saved seemed to tip the scales. For all Carla’s claims about not understanding Frost, she was just as willing to sacrifice herself to catch the flame. It was Frost who decided to pull the plug.

I found the discussions between Carla and Frost regarding both their relationship and their abilities to be the most interesting part of the episode. First, there’s the question of agency. Thomas created Frost to protect Caitlyn. Does the drive to protect others override Frost’s instinct for self-preservation, or is she still trying to make up for her past? As for Carla, she’s only known of Frost’s existence for a few years. Gaining an adult daughter with a past as convoluted as Frost’s has to be complicated. Is it surprising Frost doubts Carla’s maternal instincts? After seeing how Frost’s powers affect her, is it any wonder Carla wasn’t itching to discuss, let alone activate her own meta-abilities?

Carla and Frost weren’t the only complicated mother-daughter relationships on the table this week. Iris may be stuck in Coast City, but she can still help Tinya find her birth mother. However, locating Tinya’s mother may not be as big a problem as confronting her. I can’t imagine the complex emotions of meeting my mother for the first time. Forget about the question of whether or not she wants to meet me. Iris’ sharing the experience of meeting her mother may have helped Tinya face her fears, but it also served as a wee bit of foreshadowing. Iris made her peace with her mother shortly before losing her. Which looks like what just happened to Tinya.

I’m so confused about Iris’ supposed time sickness and the temporal mutations it's creating. Was her illness always causing these issues and they’re getting worse? Or is this only occurring because Deon reversed his treatments? Not that it matters much, but I’d love to know. I’d also like to know if someone did this to her or if this is a product of her family playing fast and loose with the timeline? Whatever the cause, I hope it’s reversible. If not, Iris may have created Team Flash’s next enemy rather than a future teammate.

Just as we haven’t defined what is going on with Iris’ temporal sickness, we have no idea what our mysterious traveling bonfire is, how it chooses its victims, what it wants, or how it functions. We know it is not being wielded by a distant meta. We know that while it may use grief to lure its victims, it is not choosing them based on that grief. Finally, it can read its potential victim’s minds well enough to determine who or what is most likely to cause its target grief. In this case, Caitlyn’s grief over Ronnie.

I love a good mystery, and I have no problem being left in the dark for a while. However, the questions are piling up. I’m hoping there are some answers on the horizon.

3 out of 5 Cryo-Kinetic Signatures or Intelligent Ignition Sources. Take your pick.

Parting Thoughts:

If it takes seconds for Barry to travel between Central City and Coast City, what does it matter where he is? Why would he and Iris ever need to spend a night apart?

This week’s scientist of note is Otis Boykin.

I still like the idea that the flame is choosing victims by their proximity to a previous victim. It makes as much sense as anything else.

Quotes:

Carla: “I’ll do whatever I can to help keep you safe.”
Frost: “Actually, I need you to do just the opposite.”

Carla: “Well, when this is over, there’s a job waiting for you over at Tannhauser Labs. Spoiler: I pay better.”
Chester: “For real?”

Allegra: “Okay, so now we just wait around for some sentient fire to get its dinner?”

Carla: “You’re very brave.”
Frost: “Thanks. Although right now, I kinda feel like the stupid person in the horror movie that runs into the house instead of running away from it.”

Frost: “What are you waiting for? Come and get me.”

Sue: “Oh, is that all? I got this.”

Tinya: “What if my mom doesn’t want to meet me?”
Iris: “Tinya, whatever you do, everything is gonna be okay, because you’re not gonna do it alone.”

Caitlyn: “You’re looking at Frost as a science experiment instead of as your daughter.”

Barry: “I’m team leader. Having a plan that keeps everybody safe is my job. Only today, I don’t know how.”

Frost: “Asking me not to step into the line of fire is like asking the sky not to be freaking blue.”

Frost: “Remember, what you’re doing will save lives.”
Carla: “I know.”
Frost: “And after this, we can get dinner.”

Tinya: “What did you do to my mom?”

Caitlyn: “Ronnie?”

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

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