Welcome back to my weekly recaps of The Flash. To read previous coverage, go here.
It’s hard to decipher just what tone the crew behind The Flash are aiming to achieve this year with the whole Flashpoint Paradox debacle. On the one hand there’s a lightness to some of tonight’s proceedings, especially anything to do with Barry actually acting out as the Flash, closer to past iterations of the actor. On the other hand there is no escaping just how dour this world seems compared to the one Barry first jeopardized by traveling back in time. While it gives Barry the chance to greater showcase his optimism in trying to rally his team it also sets the rest of the characters in darker lights. There’s a sense of something being missing and perhaps something crucial. If we’re to be stuck in this world that has greatly altered the worlds of our heroes and friends-some for worse-the show needs to at least make quick work in proving to the audience just why we should be invested.
One aspect that should have us excited is that Iris and Barry are finally moving forward with their relationship and trying out going on real dates rather than breezing through Star Labs at every chance to help save the city. However, as Barry points out by the end of the episode, they can’t be their real selves without owning that the Flash, metahumans and crime solving are always going to be apart of their lives. It’s part of the spark that’s between them-their shared passion and will to do good. Candice Patton and Grant Gustin still share a palpable chemistry and it makes for easy watching when the two of them are onscreen. Both have committed to portraying their characters love and genuine and deeply heartfelt and it comes through in waves in a single shot. We too can commit to supporting this relationship because the writing and performances have given us a why.
I am desperately crossing my fingers hoping that The Flash writers don’t pull any sort of nonsensical upset with them and their romance. One of the greatest divergences this show could take compared to so many of its contemporaries would be to let their focal romance breath and be happy. Romantic drama doesn’t guarantee for good television or even interesting television and when your show is about a superhero there are plenty other storytelling avenues to explore that don’t just involve who said hero is dating. Barry and Iris could be just as intriguing, if not more so, by being in a happily engaged relationship with one another with normal, day to day issues that aren’t earth shattering. The show needs to have confidence in it’s viewers as well as its characters to keep us entertained.
The Magenta/Frankie character worked greatly in some moments, less so in others, specifically the ones that were strictly concerned with her actual powers. Where Magenta shined as a solo player was when the audience was granted access to see how her trauma at the hands of people that were supposed to protect her manifested something darker within her. Barry’s comments to look deep, embrace the shadows and learn to live with are poignant words coming from a character whose demons were so great and uncontrollable that he ended up releasing others when trying to quick fix his own. The scenes where Barry comforts a weeping Magenta at the end, desperately trying to help rather than simply capture, greatly encapsulates just why the Flash is such a beloved character and these are the moments we need to see more. Beyond him being able to run fast enough to create a wind turbine we need to see him playing the hero without having to run at the speed of light.
I was less sold on Jesse now being confirmed as Jesse Quick, but only due to how rushed it felt. Harrison Wells and Jesse portal jump back to Earth One and manage to tell them all that the dark matter gave her speedster powers after all just before Harry realizes what Barry has done. While I’m thrilled to see the character onscreen (and think that the disappointment Wally feels was surprisingly authentic) I think she needed more build up. However, Tom Cavanagh was crushing his scenes tonight, especially when he lost his cool in front of Caitlin and Cisco about how fearful this is for him. The question that remains however is how long both of them (maybe one of them) will be remaining on the show. Will Jesse be going home to Earth Two in order to give her city a protector as well?
Elsewhere Alchemy and the threat he poses reign large and after two season long arcs for baddies and the mysterious unveiling of their identities I wouldn’t mind learning of this new one a little quicker than we have for the others. Considering Alchemy is a villain seemingly of Barry’s own making, it should prove to be even more stress and guilt inducing for our hero but it also should allow for more interesting showdowns between the two as Alchemy doesn’t seem to resemble any threat Barry has faced before.
We needed more time for Caitlin and Cisco (especially the latter) but at only three episodes in there is time to let the supporting players breathe. The tone for the most part continues to refresh after season twos dour nature but time will tell on how confident the show is for this years serial narrative.
What did you all think of this weeks episode?