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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Flash S3E4: The New Rogues

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 4
The New Rogues.

Usually episode four is our first foray into crossover territory, with Felicity making her first appearance on the show in the fourth episode of the first series, and Stein and Jax taking center stage in the fourth episode of the second series, setting us up for Legends of Tomorrow. That doesn't seem to be the case this time around, bar a short reference to Legends of Tomorrow, but if that monster in the preview for episode five is what I think it is, then we might be seeing a crossover next week. Maybe. Possibly.

In this week's episode, a new metahuman, with the power to travel through and trap other people within mirrors appears, and quickly teams up with a former associate, now a metahuman with the power to induce vertigo in people. As Barry and Jesse attempt to stop them, Wells expresses his plans to return to Earth-2, and suggests that the team find another universe's Harrison Wells to take his place. Meanwhile, Wally and Jesse strike up a romance, while Barry and Iris struggle with Joe's awkwardness about their relationship.

So, this episode finally introduces Mirror Master, who might be the Flash's best known rogue after the Reverse-Flash -- and to be honest, he's a little underwhelming. The show seems to be pushing the idea that Mirror Master is a replacement for Snart, as the most prominent member of the show's rogues gallery who isn't a diabolical evil mastermind, and it doesn't really work. Grey Damon -- who I actually didn't recognise at all, despite having seen him in a metric ton of things -- doesn't really have the same flair and charisma as Wentworth Miller, and 'various mirror powers' is a bit more of a boring elevator pitch than 'has an ice gun.'

He has an ice gun.

(Incidentally, man, Damon, you're looking old these days.)

The episode does its best to up the stakes by having Mirror Master team up with Top, a villain with the power to induce vertigo (so, a cut-price Count Vertigo, then), but she's not especially threatening or memorable either, and the show has so many running subplots (Jesse's training, finding a new Wells, Barry and Iris' awkwardness with Joe, Jesse and Wally's relationship) that basically the entirety of the main plot feels like an afterthought.

I've talked a significant amount about how Wells, as a character, is kind of the linchpin that ties the show together, and this episode seems to acknowledge that, while also positing a bizarre and hilarious possibility: That the team could just grab different Wells from different versions of Earth and have them on its team.

Having introduced that concept, which I actually quite liked, the show immediately started doing its best to make me hate it, by making it blindingly obvious that every possible Earth numbered three or higher was a cartoon world where strange, baffling caricatures lived. It's a scene played very much for comedy, and I've said before that Cavanagh's brand of comedy often doesn't mesh all that well with the rest of the show.

Grey Damon has apparently aged ten years since I last saw him.

By the end of the episode, I had gone from 'enthusiastic about this new direction' to 'dreading it and hoping that it was just leading into Earth-2 Wells staying,' and yet, and yet, the episode did indeed end on a new Harrison Wells arriving. He was cloying and overly comedic and generally actually quite grating.

The next episode seems set to reveal Earth-19 Wells as being pure evil and quite possibly a massive alien monster (in fact, he looks like a White Martian, but that's probably a coincidence), which will be an incredible relief for me, to say the least.

The Barry and Iris subplot, meanwhile, feels completely inane. Look, yes, interpersonal conflict is good, but I should not be forced to watch two grown adults demur over whether it's appropriate to kiss in front of the woman's dad (and -- the dude's dad, too, let's ... let's just not get into that right now) and the fact that I did is making me hate these two.

I like Jesse's costume. The red and gold works.

Critically, not every episode needs relationship drama. Sometimes, it's okay to just have two people being happy in a relationship, while monsters and/or super-criminals rampage through the city. That's fine.

Wally and Jesse's romance is much more tolerable, largely because of their respective actors' charisma, but I could never really get all that invested, since I know it's not going to go anywhere. Predictably, Jesse leaves at the end of the episode, so that's that subplot fairly thoroughly wrapped up.

This episode was entertaining enough, but that's probably the best thing I can say about it, especially since it doesn't advance the plot at all -- in fact, Doctor Alchemy doesn't even show up in this episode, and I think he's only mentioned once, and Julian doesn't make an appearance either. It looks like the next episode will give us more of Tom Cavanagh acting evil, and I'm always fond of him doing villain acting, so that should be fun, at least.

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