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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Flash S4E6: When Harry Met Harry

The Flash
Series 4, Episode 6
When Harry Met Harry.

All right, let's start off by addressing the Elephant of News in the room, because I don't feel comfortable writing this review without at least mentioning it: So Andrew Kreisberg, one of the three showrunners for The Flash (and Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and Black Lightning) has been accused of sexual harassment and suspended from the show, and one assumes (or at least hopes) that that will be a precursor to his getting fired.

As others have pointed out, the evidence has always been there for anyone who cares to look: A string of female writers who have written one or two episodes and then never returned to the show again, the certain get-away-with-anything kind of high status that Kreisberg had within the CW, et cetera. The news is not nearly as shocking as it could be. I don't want to delve into and start analysing how various stars on the show have responded, but there are certainly indications at this point from what people working on these five shows have said that, at the very least, fellow showrunner Marc Guggenheim was entirely aware of this behaviour and turned a blind eye to it.

It's worth also praising Emily Bett Rickards, Candice Patton, Melissa Benoist, Grant Gustin, and Stephen Amell, who have all been fairly quick off the mark in making statements condemning Kreisberg's behaviour.

Moving on from that to an episode which thank god wasn't written by Kreisberg, but instead by Jonathan Butler and Gabriel Garza. What have they written before?

I need some vodka.

Right, okay, positive thinking here. 'Cuck' wasn't as big a thing back in 2009. Probably.

Okay, so this episode sees Barry attempting to train Ralph, when their training is interrupted by the appearance of a new metahuman: Black Bison, a Sioux professor and activist who is using her ability to animate any effigy of a human or animal body in order to murder people and steal three parts of a sacred Sioux necklace. Meanwhile, Wells, attempting to figure out the identity and location of DeVoe, seeks the help of three other versions of himself, only to discover that he finds them all intolerable.

This episode is another one that shifts somewhat away from the comedic tone the first four episodes established, and it does so to its detriment -- frankly, the more comedic episodes are just more interesting than the more serious, straight-faced ones right now. It doesn't help that most of the comedy beats in this episode come from zany versions of Wells, a joke I hate and that the show has done before; Ralph sexually harassing people, a joke I hate and which becomes much worse in light of recent news; and the writers attempting to delicately tap-dance around having a Native American villain whose motivation is intrinsically tied to being Native American, while also not being the most racist episode of television this side of Fox.

Please give Ralph a new costume.

I'll be honest, I'm being a bit harsh on this episode, because it really wasn't bad. It just wasn't really good either. It was serviceable. An okay episode -- brought down by several glaring problems, but brought back up again some by some genuinely great performances by the cast, including Chelsea Kurtz, who plays Black Bison, and probably the most interesting rogue the show has managed to produce so far.

(Well, at least this series.)

It is, however, easily the worst episode of the bunch, a title previously held by the very first episode of the series, with Girls' Night Out having come in at a close second. The comedy beats fall mostly flat, the A-plot is functional but not very exciting, and the character arc about Ralph learning to care about people only escapes feeling forced through the fact that his development is all self-driven, rather than it being boiled down to forty minutes of Barry ranting at him followed by some kind of epiphany.

My attention drifted a few times, I'll admit. About half a dozen times in total.

That poor mugger.

The episode does briefly branch into interesting territory in the final scene, however, when the team tracks down DeVoe and visits him at his home, where DeVoe and his hitherto unnamed assistant are masquerading -- or not, they could really be married -- as husband and wife. It's interesting that DeVoe seems to think that being in a wheelchair will somehow allay their suspicions, when Thawne was in one as well.

Next week, it looks like Barry's suspicions aren't allayed (but everyone else's are), and a set of psychological mindgames will be ensuing. That could be fun, at least!

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