If I had to pin down one of season three's greatest weaknesses, it has to be that the writers this season have written all the freaks-of-the-week as entirely disposable. These are characters that, for the most part, they haven't cared about enough to develop in any way. That's okay sometimes for a show like this, but I think what's been particularly painful this season has been that some of the freaks-of-the-week have been classic Flash villains from the comics who have been tossed aside with no care at all. This week's freak was a prime example of this failing.
(spoilers beyond the fold)
Flash writers, can we talk?
If you all want to make up throwaway freaks-of-the-week, like Magenta a few weeks back, cool. At least with Magenta, she had a backstory with an important social commentary attached. But then this week, we get Shade, who is a classic comic book Flash villain. I mean, we get a dude, who appears as a shadow, and kills people, and that HR Wells names Shade because there's a Shade on his Earth as well. But the resemblance to the comic book character stops with the name. I wish I could say there was anything at all interesting about Shade, but there isn't. We get zero backstory, we don't know who the person is beyond the shadow, and Shade's attack at the beginning of the episode was completely random. Even the guy he kills at the time--a random stock broker who sounds terribly bored as he talks to a client--seems uninterested in even being there.
|He's actually on the phone with his acting agent: "Look, I know Hollywood doesn't hire Asians, but can't we do better than this crappy role? I'll even act like a ninja, if you want!"|
HR be like, "I halp!" for all of this episode. Tom Cavanagh's goofy useless writer from Earth-18 is the light-hearted aspect, and while in the last episode it fell flat and was obnoxious, this week HR's shenanigans were pretty amusing. He suggests to the team that they need to open up STAR Labs as a museum, and he offers to be the public face... until Cisco tells him that wouldn't be a good idea, since this Earth knows Harrison Wells as a murderer. At which point, HR reveals he's got a toy from back home to help with that:
|Since everyone thinks I'm a murderer, I'll just put on a face that looks like Simon Cowell, so everyone will just think I'm an asshole instead!|
Flash writers, please don't do this to us. Please, not another tired evil Wells story. And omg, please, not another big bad evil speedster!
|Dammit. Another big bad evil speedster. Meet Savitar, the god of speed, who only Barry can see...|
So the other two story threads going on here, besides Joe West finally going on a date with that hot DA (and HR totally ruining it by running his mouth the whooooole time), are that Wally finally starts having the Alchemy dreams about his Flashpoint alternate life. It starts out pleasantly enough, in that he dreams of being a hero.
|Yay! Go Kid Flash!|
That said, for all that Iris had like two scenes total in this episode, she did have one short conversation that was super important. Barry is frustrated with Wally rushing headlong into seeking his powers, and Iris puts him in his place. She points out that it's very frustrating to look around and not be superpowered, scientist, or cop who can actually do something useful in being part of this team. She herself has yet to figure out what her role should be and how she can be useful to Team Flash. Barry quickly tries to assure her that he couldn't do this without her, which while we know it's true, Iris' expression says all: I don't want to just be your emotional support.
Iris, I feel you, girl. We all want you to have a more important role in this show. You could, if the writers would just figure out what that role is.
The other important storyline in this episode is Caitlyn coming out to Cisco about her powers, and only because she was forced to admit she took his anti-meta cuffs for herself.
|A brief glimpse of the future, and it looks really COOL!|
There's certainly a story being told here about outing people before they are comfortable being outed, but I'm not sure The Flash's writers will ever truly have the nuance capable of telling that kind of story correctly, so I'm kind of glad that the "outing" is metaphorical and that no one is actually gay here.
Regardless, Barry, as usual, makes this about himself too, feeling guilty about Caitlyn's powers because he thinks that it was his Flashpoint meddling that caused it.
I'm not sure I buy that, personally. Nothing about how Caitlyn's powers are manifesting suggests that it had anything to do with Flashpoint. Everyone who has gotten their powers "because Flashpoint" has done so through Alchemy. Jesse Quick doesn't count because she got zapped by dark matter last season and Flashpoint did not affect other Earths.
I'm inclined to think that Killer Frost was inevitable since episode one of this show, when everyone got zapped by the dark matter wave that created Flash and others. Either way, next week is a heavily Caitlyn-centric episode, plus it was directed by Kevin Smith, so I am genuinely looking forward to it.
Maybe Kevin Smith can give Iris something useful to do, too! And do we finally get a genuine Kid Flash here? When last we see him, Wally has picked up the philosopher's stone and become encased in a cocoon, presumably to emerge with his speedster powers.
See you next week!