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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Flash S2E19: Back to Normal

The Flash
Series 2, Episode 19
Back to Normal

Okay, now it's becoming clear why, when Barry had his back broken before, they didn't have him spend an episode or two without the ability to walk - if they had, then this current storyline, which is having Barry remain without his speed for several episodes, would feel redundant and like a rehash of an earlier storyline. I can understand that, even if it does make the decision to have Barry's back broken at all seem a little foolish.

I also find myself wondering what they're going to do about Wells once this series is done. The show is clearly very keen to keep Tom Cavanaugh on it, and it's not difficult to see why - in an already excellent cast, he is by far the best actor, with a charisma and acting talent that drags the attention of every scene he's in to himself. But he's also made it clear that a condition of him staying is new and interesting acting opportunities, and it's difficult to see how Wells will have those once the Zoom storyline is done.

Maybe they'll have Earth-3 Wells appear. Just an endless procession of different Wellses.

Anyway, in this week's episode, with Caitlin kidnapped and Barry unable to help her or Central City without his speed, the entire team is losing morale. As Wells heads off to find Jesse, he ends up captured by Griffin Gray, a teenage metahuman whose power gives him enhanced strength, but at the cost of aging him every time he uses it, who's desperate for a cure. Running out of time before Gray kills Wells, the team must find a way to defeat Gray without using Barry's speed. Meanwhile, on Earth-2, Caitlin tries to escape Hunter/Jay's prison, encountering both the Man In The Iron Mask and Killer Frost as she does so, and forming an uneasy alliance with the latter.

Iris West as Ms. Barely-Appearing-In-This-Episode, which is a shame because
Iris is great.

I'm glad they decided to keep Barry without his powers for an episode, and I'd actually like to see them stretch that period of powerlessness out to two or even three episodes, if they can (although it looks very much like he'll have his powers back by the end of the next episode). Had he gotten his speed back immediately, it would have made the previous episode feel cheap, especially since there isn't the shock factor that Hunter breaking Barry's back had.

It's also great to see Jesse back, and great to see Wells getting a bit of a focus episode. 

In general, this episode had a lot of stuff going for it, even if, structurally, it was very much following the formula of early episodes of this series, or even the early episodes of series one - metahuman shows up, team has to find a way to beat it, team tracks it somewhere, Barry goes and beats it. Griffin's not the most interesting metahuman the show has had either, with a relatively boring powerset and a relatively uncharismatic actor.

Still, it's a formula that works, and while it would have been nice to see one of Barry's recurring rogues come back - so, I mean, Weather Wizard, basically, because the Trickster wouldn't really work for this plot, and Len and Mick are off time traveling, and Lisa's not that cut-throat - Griffin serves his purpose just fine.

Barry and Joe visiting an amusement park for fun and profit.

The subplot with Caitlin and Killer Frost was also very interesting. I did hope we'd find out who Iron Mask was, but no such luck - my current theory is that he's either the real Jay Garrick (if such a thing exists) or he's Eddie. Since Killer Frost has been both an enemy and an ally to the team before, it was genuinely tense and up in the air as to whether she would eventually turn on Caitlin, especially since they seemed to be bonding, and when she did eventually betray Caitlin (saying that if Caitlin's alive, Hunter won't need her), it actually felt like a betrayal, and not just Caitlin being naive.

Incidentally, why does Hunter seem to have the uncanny ability to always know when one of his subordinates is betraying him, so that he can speed in and kill them? He keeps doing this. Every time one of them tries to murder someone he wants to be kept alive, he's there, murdering them to death. I'm starting to wonder if he doesn't have surveillance cameras up everywhere.

Hunter comes off as especially crazy this episode, insisting that Caitlin will learn that he's not all bad before very nearly immediately deciding he's going to conquer her world. He really needs to decide if he's going to be serial killer crazy or megalomaniacal world-conqueror crazy, because he seems to swing between them at the drop of a hat.

Barry, who's having a bad few days.

Anyway, with Barry getting his speed back via particle accelerator explosion, I'm predicting that we're going to see Wally become a speedster sooner than I might otherwise have thought, via the team somehow managing to sap Hunter's speed, and Wally injecting himself with it in a moment of heroism, because - I dunno, they don't manage to sap all of it before he gets wise to what they're doing, and he's still faster than Barry, cue Wally injecting himself and becoming a speedster, Velocity-9 blue lightning and all. But we'll see, there are a lot of places the rest of this series could go.

I did really like this episode, though. Next week, we apparently have Earth-2's Dante Ramone, the supervillain Rupture, coming to Earth-1 to wreak havoc. Should be fun.

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