Series 3, Episode 12
I actually tried to watch this episode last night, and about five minutes through I ended up switching to Agents of SHIELD. It's probably not a good sign for an episode's opening act when, despite the pressure of having to work on a review for it, I will still cheerfully blow it off to watch something different.
Despite that, this episode isn't bad. It leaves a few plot threads hanging, and it's basically your standard issue metahuman-of-the-week storyline, but it does also resolve a major gripe I had with the ongoing plot, and it has some nice character development moments for Barry and Wally.
|Barry and Wally preparing to race.|
Incidentally, I saw one news outlet trying to claim that this episode was a grand parable about participation trophies for millennials, and proceeded to roll my eyes for about six hours before getting around to writing this review. So there's that.
Yorkin actually makes for a pretty effective villain, all told. Not in terms of his personality, because he has all the personality of cardboard, but in terms of both his modus operandi and his powerset, both of which mark him out as being fairly unique and intimidating amongst an admittedly milquetoast Flash rogues gallery. It's certainly one of the more gruesome powers we've seen on the show, although for obvious reasons the show doesn't make it too grotesque.
The real draw of this episode, however, is meant to be Barry and Wally's training -- specifically, Barry training Wally to phase. Much is made of how Barry isn't accustomed to teaching people and doesn't quite know how to do it, but the episode doesn't really end with him learning any teaching techniques: He just yells at Wally to phase, and then Wally figures it out on his own. Honestly, at this point, you're surplus to requirements, Barry. Just get Thawne or Earth-2 Wells to take over, they're both a lot better at this than you.
(The show does, at least, acknowledge that last -- and it even looks like Earth-2 Wells will be showing up next episode, so that's nice.)
|In the meantime, the police trio.|
Still, I do like Wally focus episodes, and this episode has plenty of Wally focus, including a fun scene where Wally tries to probe a fan on what she likes about him, with some friendly sibling rivalry between Barry and Wally over Joe's approval. That was a lot of fun.
The other thing this episode gives me plenty of is interactions between Julian and Caitlin, who are certainly one of the more interesting dynamics this series. We've got Julian being abrasive, Caitlin being offended, and then finally them coming to something like an understanding. Caitlin seems to do well when juxtaposed with more abrasive characters -- her and Earth-2 Wells had the same dynamic -- so the dynamic works pretty well, and Julian is easily shaping up to be my favourite character this series.
We also get Iris telling Joe that she's going to die. I'd say 'finally,' but they've not been keeping it secret from him for that long -- I'm pleased nevertheless, though, because I do hate the 'everyone keeps secrets from each other' style of injecting conflict into a narrative, finding it to be lazy and annoying to watch, so Joe finding out eliminates the last niggling secret-keepery from the plotline.
|Caitlin trying to keep Iris from decomposing.|
We've still got twelve episodes left of this series, but so far, the second act is shaping up to be pretty good. The increased focus on Wally, with Barry as a mentor character, works well for the series, and Julian is a pretty good addition too. Iris is getting more screentime too, which is always welcome. Savitar still doesn't interest me much as a villain, but maybe whenever he shows up again he'll manage to win me over.
(You're going to run out of evil speedsters at this rate, guys.)
Anyway, this was, much like last week's episode, a solid story. Next week, it looks like the team are heading back to Earth-2 to face down Grodd, and while I like Earth-2 and am excited to see Wells again, I've never been that keen on Grodd as a villain, either in comics or in the television show. I know the show likes to have at least one Grodd episode per series, but honestly, I could quite happily do without.
Ah, well, maybe this will be the episode that changes my mind about Grodd. At the very least, seeing Julian's reaction to him should be very entertaining, so you can't ask fairer than that.