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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Flash S3E6: Shade.

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 6

Oh, hey. HR is still here. Probably going to stick around, too. That's -- great. That's so great. I'm so happy. So very, very happy. He's exactly as annoying and badly comedic this week as he was last week, too, and it is grating. It's grating, and to be honest, it's a little insulting, since he's theoretically meant to be the third in a series of characters, the first two of whom were both very interesting and layered.

Kudos to Cisco for throwing out the 'what is he going to do, make sarcastic comments at us' remark about Shade, though.

In this week's episode, Barry and the team encounter a metahuman -- and another of Doctor Alchemy's patients -- who can vibrate at a high enough frequency to become a giant, living shadow. As the team attempt to track him, they are faced with an even bigger problem: Wally has been having dreams, sent to him by Doctor Alchemy, of his Flashpoint life as Kid Flash. As Alchemy's grip on Wally increases, Wally is wracked with pain and an intense desire to seek the doctor out. Meanwhile, Caitlin reveals her burgeoning powers to Cisco, and asks him to Vibe her future and see if she'll become Killer Frost.

I had no idea Jim Sterling was a Flash villain.

Okay, so the Shade plot isn't brilliant. It's not terrible, either, but it's not brilliant -- in fact, it largely seems to be there to give HR something to do, as he pushes the plot forward by being familiar with the metahuman powers in question and positing ideas for how to beat them. The idea of a big shadow monster is -- well, hardly new for The Flash, or for any show, but it's an idea that still has a decent amount of life in it. I was sure that the Shade was going to turn out to be Savitar, not least because I'd already heard he was going to show up in this episode, but no, it's just a random shadow dude.

This is largely where the problem with the latest monster of the week plots is coming from -- they don't have a tremendous amount of personality, and they all play out in a fairly similar way, making them all feel a bit phoned in.

The Shade plot is, however, not really the main plot of this episode, nor is it the B-plot. It's a clear C-plot, with the B-plot role being filled by Caitlin's frost-related woes. It's actually pretty nice to see Cisco and Caitlin being (relatively) honest with her -- the show makes a few vague overtures at them lying to each other, with Caitlin stealing the cuffs, and later on Cisco not telling her what he saw when he vibed her, but in both cases they come clean pretty quickly, and the episode is better for it, allowing the conflict of the storyline to be 'how are they going to deal with Caitlin's problem,' instead of 'everyone's lying to each other.'

Wally, your shoulders look so narrow here. This is unusual.

The main plot, meanwhile, revolves around Wally and Doctor Alchemy. We've known this was coming for a while, and it's been hinted before with Wally making remarks about vivid dreams he's been having, but things come to a head in this episode, as Alchemy starts drawing him in, inflicting visions and seizures on him as a motivation to come and seek his power.

This is actually a really well handled plot. It makes great use of how Alchemy is in many ways an unknown quantity with unknown goals, and Wally wanting to go to him connects in well to both the idea that Alchemy messes with people's heads, and the idea that Wally really does want to become a superhero, which is an arc that's been set up for him since not long after his introduction.

We also got a nice moment where Iris reminds Barry that he can't know how hard it is for Wally, because he, a superhero with powers, is most definitely not in the same situation. Iris doesn't get a big role in this episode, but I'm literally always here for her setting Barry straight.

How is that woman not breaking HR's jaw.

We also get to meet Savitar, albeit briefly. A speedster like Barry, who seems to be made of living metal, he is a living testament to the fact that the writing team is running out of evil speedsters to throw at Barry, because really, Savitar? I think he's actually more obscure than the Rival, and the Rival is pretty obscure.

Next week looks to be a very Caitlin-focused episode, as her powers lead her into becoming evil, albeit probably temporarily. It also seems like we'll get a decent amount of Julian stuff in that episode, and just -- please, have Julian replace HR. We don't need HR, he's just very, very annoying. I beg of you. Presumably we'll also find out more about the cocoon Wally is in, as well. The weird, glowy, speed cocoon.

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