Kevin Smith showed up to direct an episode of The Flash, didn’t bring Jason Mewes by, and managed to deliver only a slightly off-kilter episode. There will, obviously, be massive spoilers, specifically about the last ten minutes or so.
1. Killing the Vibe
I know that I am biased against liking Kevin Smith’s directorial efforts in 2016, but was it just me, or was the episode a little heavy on the melodramatic line deliveries? I know this was a very bleak episode, but c’mon now, every line was delivered in the most soap opera way possible. I know the show is trying to get across just how bleak everything looks, and how it all seems to be easy to pin on Barry, but that doesn’t excuse getting lazy with everyone’s performances. It is easy to say “sadder! slower! quieter!” to folks on a set. It is far harder to allow the actors to bring a different, more nuanced take on the material.
To me, that’s the biggest sin of this episode: I feel like none of the actors were doing what they do best; instead, they were just trying to make it as emotionally wrenching as possible. But there’s a way to do that through subtlety and nuance. None of that is found here.
2. Caitlin’s Transformation
The idea of Caitlin vacillating between good and evil, on its surface, is an interesting way to play the character. As Barry says in the episode, powers don’t create a binary situation, where you’re either good or evil. The show has had characters straddle that line before – Captain Cold comes to mind – but Caitlin is something else altogether. She’s not good or evil because she’s both, and they’re duking it out inside of her. This could, conceivably, make for an interesting few episodes, but it seems like the show is using her as a walking deus ex machina, with her disposition and abilities changing as the show needs them.
When the show needs a doctor? She’s cured. When it needs a way to reveal Alchemy’s identity? She’s evil.
Look – I know I’ve been very, very hard on the show this season, but it is because I know what the show can be, and it has had such amazing highs, that these lows seem even more dramatic.
3. HR and Joe
One of the best sequences of the show’s first season was when Joe and Harrison bonded over a glass of whiskey. It was full of tension, mystery, and great acting. Tonight’s stakeout wasn’t that at all, and I’m finding HR’s broadness still a bit distracting, but he had the line of the episode. In so many words, he said that Barry’s true superpower is his unfailing hope. That is about as close to a perfect description of Barry as the show has ever mustered and, perhaps unknowingly, also gave the show a way to make him a Blue Lantern in the future, much like he was in the comics.
I used to think that there was no way that the various Lantern Corps across the spectrum could ever appear on TV, but we’ve seen just about every other heroic permutation, so why not?
4. Kid Flash: Rebirth
While I know that the show needed to find a way to get Wally as a speedster, and quickly (pardon the pun), this episode was about the sloppiest way to possibly do that. There was a really interesting part where Caitlin was talking about the way that a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, that while in the chrysalis, the entire structure of the creature is broken down to enzymes and rebuilt. She hypothesizes that is what is happening to Wally, and the idea of disrupting that was terrifying.
And then, Joe cuts him out, he’s super fast, Caitlin gives him a shot, and he’s fine.
This season’s pacing is incredibly off. It did all its big changes/moves in the first two episodes, and then has spent the rest of the season dealing with the fallout, but the way it is being dealt with is not dealing with it. As I’ve said a hundred times now, this season will end with Barry going back in time and re-changing the past again. To get us there, the show has to do the near impossible, and truly handcuff Barry into that being the only choice. Wouldn’t opening up Wally’s pod and finding primordial goo a pretty clear indication of that? Wouldn’t Caitlin crippling Cisco help that cause? What about Barry being arrested for helping Caitlin? There are literally limitless ways to make this world seem even more necessary to eliminate.Continued below
And, if the show isn’t going to go that way, and will, instead, allow this timeline to remain in tact, then it is changing the fundamentals of the show so strongly, that I don’t know what will be left of the show. Emo Cisco is not the Cisco we love, nor is evil Caitlin.
Shit or get off the pot, producers.
5. The Alchemy reveal
This was probably more obvious than I noticed it being, if only because I never really thought that Julian would have a tie to Alchemy, but it makes total sense. Both didn’t exist, pre-Flashpoint, and now both are here. Almost no other new characters popped up, so it is extremely obvious. I just wasn’t looking for who Alchemy might be. I just assumed he was Dr. Alchemy, evil dude. But then I realized, there are almost no absolute personalities on this show. Every hero and villain has a secret identity – hell, somehow Savitar, the god of speed, will probably be someone (Eddie’s my guess).
So, am I overly harsh on the show? Let me know in the comments!