Saturday, 28 May 2016

BUMPER FLASH REVIEW - The Flash 2-17 to 2-23

Behind the times due to a) computer issues and b) actual work, but here, at last, are reviews of the rest of The Flash season two. Race to the finish!


Alice Troughton steps over from Doctor Who to directing The Flash, bringing her flair for time travel television to the increasingly timey-wimey CW show. This is great fun, not only bringing back the old, evil Wells/Thawne, but doubling up Barrys and chucking in Hartley Rathaway again. Admittedly, the amount of exposition required to keep the various alternative realities, temporal duplicates and body snatchers clear is becoming overwhelming. Try explaining what's going on to anyone to drops in on an episode like this. Yet, it's handled really well here; the addition of the Time Wraith - appearing as a sort of spectral death Flash - is visually arresting and adds some of the supernatural side of the Arrowverse to the series. This is textbook time travel stuff, and the reformed Hartley is the icing on the case.


Exploring Zolomon's past is the highlight of this episode, creating disquieting parallels between his childhood and Barry's. The difference: Zolomon's father really is a psychotic murderer, and Earth-2 has some seriously sinister Victorian orphanages. Barry gets his speed increased four times with tachyons and manages to leap between worlds unaided (is this how he nipped over to Earth-whatever to meet Supergirl?). Having Zoom unmasked humanises him, but having him obsessively in love with Caitlyn severely weakens him as a villain. I'm also really not sure how the time duplicates/memories thing works. Still, this ends with Zoom finally getting Barry's speed, which pushes the storyline forward with a jolt. Bloody Wally, he's such a liability.


The obligatory "lost my powers" episode, and it took nearly two years to get there. I love how normal Barry is actually slower than average. Griffin Grey is a genuinely sympathetic villain, and while his condition isn't Wells's fault (not that he could know about other Wells/Thawne), he is equally responsible for the metahumans on Earth-2, so it fits in thematically. The Earth-2 sequences, with Zoom and Caitlyn, are less interesting, mainly because Caitlyn isn't very interesting. I finally get Killer Frost though - we suddenly realised that she's impersonating Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold.  This made the whole episode a lot more fun.


This was a less interesting episode. I managed to fall asleep in this one twice (I was very tired both times, but still, it's not a good sign). Powerless Barry is a prime angst source, but this is still not Flash at its best, although there's finally a decent  Wells's plan to recreate the particle accelerator event to give Barry his powers back is obviously going to go horribly wrong, and while it leads to a great cliffhanger, there's never any chance he's actually dead.


The much awaited episode from Kevin Smith takes Barry into the Speed Force itself, which is a major chunk of comics mythology but leads to the same sort of dream sequences we've seen a hundred times, with Barry's nearest and dearest appearing to impart essential knowledge. It is, however, very well done, especially the scene with the eponymous book (which sounds pretty awesome). It's a beautiful scene between Barry and his mother, finally allowing him some closure and represents a big development moment. Back in the real world, Cisco and Iris get some fun moments battling zombie Girder, complete with some great Young Frankenstein asides. Plus, they've set up Jesse to become the next speedster (and possibly Wally too, although he doesn't seem to have been affected).


Zoom's call to arms to rally the metas was potentially a cool cliffhanger/opening scene for this episode, but I saw this episode the day after X-Men: Apocalypse and it just doesn't measure up. There are some cool moments here, in the (rather low scale) metahuman seige, but of all the parallel universe villainous alter egos they could have chosen, did they have to pick ruddy Laurel? She's even more annoying evil. At least we got to have some fun with Cisco and Caitlyn going full Wentworth Miller (from now-on to be known as "Snarting"). Barry's pep talk from the gods of the Speed Force has left him pretty insufferable, though; and now the good work of the previous episode looks to have been knocked back somewhat by the end of Henry.


Utterly ridiculous, frequently nonsensical, but very fun and compelling. The big finale makes, Zoom out to be a truly psychotic villain, determined to win a race against Barry and/or destroy every universe in existence, just because. Barry's plan makes great use of the time travel elements developed throughout the season, even if the time remnants still make basically no sense. Duplicate Barry's death by over-acceleration in order to save the universe is pretty much the classic death of the Flash back in the comics, albeit without as much dramatic weight since there's another version of him there already (and the two versions couldn't coexist forever). 

It was pretty obvious, by this stage, that the man in the mask had to be the real Jay Garrick, and, while we weren't certain, Suz and I had guessed this was going to turn out to be the Earth-2 version of Henry. His turning out to be from Earth-3 was a bit of a surprise, then. It's very cute having John Shipp play the Flash again, since he played him in the 1990s series, although in that show he was playing Barry Allen, not Jay Garrick, so Earth-3 can't be the world of that series. 

Barry finally gets to together with Iris (kiss your brother, kiss your sister), but is still torn up inside from the death of his father. Which is perfectly understandable, of course, but Barry really had looked to have come to terms with the losses in his life, and so quickly throwing in another and pushing him off the deep end is a poor storytelling decision. How his massive alteration to his personal timeline will play out in season three should be interesting, though. The entire sequence of events from that moment will now be different, and Barry's life should run in a very different direction, including Thawne's involvement and his relationship with Iris and Joe. Essentially, none of the first two seasons can happen now. I'm looking forward to seeing where they're going with this.

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