Welcome back to my weekly recaps of The Flash. To read previous coverage, go here.
Despite the episode trying to do too much over the course of the episode and only just managing to tell a complete story with one or two of the threads introduced, “Dead Or Alive” succeeds largely because of a script that isn’t fearful of being playful with its characters and allowing pairing favorites to thrive onscreen. Here are three of the episodes strongest elements.
Cisco Got to Shine Again
After being an obvious fan favorite for the first two seasons, season three began to fail Cisco’s character as he was written to be a somber version of the character after Flash Point caused his brother to die. While Carlos Valdes played this version of the character to the best of his ability, there was an playful spark lacking from the resulting package. “Dead Or Alive” doesn’t immediately remedy all of the missteps, but it does allow the audience to witness the version of the character that we all so instantly were drawn to. His fear is tangible, his anxiety understandable and his untapped power thrilling in the potential he and the show has in how to write him developing and growing strong in the remainder of the seasons.
His flirtation with Gypsy (which yikes what a bad name) to his dynamic with the rest of the characters, it’s an episode that remembers what an asset Cisco is to the team both for his intelligence but also for his heart. This is greatly highlighted with his scenes with H.R. which echo his scenes with the Harrison’s of the past two seasons. There’s is a working relationship that is always growing and having spent time with two Harrison Wells that he’s looked to for guidance, this he admits is the time for him to even the playing field and offer H.R. some help when he needs it.
“We’re all making investments in each other. I made an investment in you.”
Candice Patton Continues to Soar
When The Flash remembers what a talent they have in Candice Patton, not only does Iris flourish, the show does as well. In one of the strongest moves the show has ever done with the character, Iris strikes out in her own sense of agency when she tells Barry and Wally that she’s not worried about dying, she’s worried about not leaving mark. She says that if she is destined to die, she doesn’t want to just be someones sister, daughter or girlfriend. She wants to leave a mark that is all her own and one that she worked to earn. Patton is remarkable in her breakdown to Barry and this is the version of the character the actress has deserved to play and the audience has deserved to see since the very beginning.
The DC TV universe has been remarkable male focused for most of it’s run, at least in regards to its leading characters. While the supporting players have often been peppered with scene stealing female characters, only Supergirl truly has them front and center and even that is starting to see some misguided demographic shift this year as characters such as Mon El start to share (coughstealcough) the spotlight. By letting Iris be a strong, competent and heroic character not because of any superpowers she possesses but because of her wit and nerve while also allowing her to play a key role in the shows heart not because of what characters love her but because of the space she’s carved out for herself, The Flash is allowing itself to become a greater, more confident series.
The Humor was There and it was Important
So say what you will about wanting serious superhero shows, but as someone who grew up on Teen Titans and Justice League Unlimited, this writer always appreciated a sense of humor in what could be straight forward tales about superheros and their trauma. The Flash was so wonderful in its first season because of the comedic touch and light on its feet energy and season three has slowly but surely worked its way back to recapturing that. Julian, in particular, was an MVP of the episode especially when it came to Tom Felton’s dead pan delivery. Him despertately trying to react and encourage with empathy like the rest of the team is going to be an entertaining uphill battle to watch play out.
It ultimately felt a bit like a filler episode, albeit one that sets up a few interesting plot points for the future, but at the very least it was an entertaining one.