Barry’s still in jail, Ralph is still a douche, and we’ve got a repeat villain. Strap in, folks!
1. OG Trickster or GTFO
There should be a rule that The Flash cannot do a Trickster episode without Mark Hamill. Although the episode explains his absence, it felt like amateur hour, without Hamill chewing scenery like it was gum. Part of that is on the show for not developing his son into anything other than ‘that other Trickster,’ and making Prank ‘that female Trickster.’ Both actors got into the experience of being over the top and silly, but there wasn’t much more than that. To be fair, Hamill never really got more than that from these writers either, but he’s Mark Hamill!
I know why the show wants to continue to use these characters, and I get why recurring characters are really important to a serialized show like this, but this felt incredibly uninspired. It was almost like the writers had “need someone who would use acid” on a whiteboard, and Trickster was the best they could come up with.
Was I the only person who was 100% that Bill Goldberg’s character was going to be saving Barry to recruit him into some white supremacy gang? I’ve seen enough prison films to know that trope, and the fact that Barry’s assailants were black wasn’t exactly the way to go if you didn’t want to add racial overtones to the scene.
That said, I think having someone on the inside who was a friend to Henry Allen was a smart move. Henry is a character that was extremely effective as an emotional tether for the show, but wasn’t given all that much of a story/set of details about his time in prison. This, retroactively, fleshes the character out a bit, and allows Barry to have some connection to his dad, something he’s missed frequently.
3. Beebo, the God of War
The Beebo dolls shown at various times throughout this episode were callbacks to a Legends of Tomorrow episode from late last season. That’s a nice little reference, and is the sort of synchronicity these shows sometimes lack. While it’s not necessary to beat us over the head with ‘hey, remember these shows are connected!’ moments, this helps.
I wonder when the show will acknowledge that Wally is jumping ship to the Legends.
4. The Dibny Problem
OK, so it’s been about half a season of Ralph on the show, and he’s still not really working. Part of this is due to how he’s being written, which is as a cowardly, vain, self-absorbed, opportunist. And yes, those traits are being addressed bit by bit, but he isn’t changing because of it. When we see Ralph every week, he’s the same smug prick he’s always been, even though the week before he learned a very important lesson.
The other problem is that Hartley Sawyer is playing the character like he’s on stage in Branson, Missouri. Everything is so broad and full of silly eyebrow movements that it is hard to take any aspect of him seriously. He doesn’t seem sincere enough to be a hero, nor scummy enough to be a villain. The character needs to be grounded a little bit, but the CW shows aren’t very good at grounding their characters in normalcy. Everyone tends to be either overly gruff (see: Arrow) or overly goofy (see Tomorrow, Legends of), but this show, especially, needs to have some characters just be normal for the rest of the universe to work.
5. Prison Barry
Look, I’ve never done time, and I would probably be sobbing and beaten to a pulp six seconds in, so this is no judgment on Barry’s part.
That said, Prison Barry is insufferable.
He’s not quite Prison Mike, but his old man did 20 years and never once needed to keep track of his days, because they were blurring together. Barry, literally less than a week in, thought “I need to keep track of all these days here in the clink.” He’s given up on shaving, because what’s the point? (Not that I wouldn’t use prison as an excuse to grow an Alan Moore beard)Continued below
I’m not saying that he should be having the time of his life, but you’d think a little break from the four years of non-stop heroics might do him good. Hell, I’d even be down for a “day in the life of Prison Barry” episode, where we could see a little about who Barry, stripped of his responsibilities, is in 2018. But that won’t happen.
My prediction for what will happen? Time remnant.
Bonus Thought: Who’s that coffee-paying lady? What’s that secret language? When will someone take responsibility for picking up the lattes?