This The Flash review contains spoilers.
“That ain’t something you should be showing people.”
I just chose to open this review with Joe’s line to the flasher because it’s hilarious, not because it sums up my feelings on “All Star Team Up” or anything like that. Now, I should warn you up front, I didn’t love this episode, but that doesn’t mean it’s without merit.
For one thing, that opening was brilliant. I love seeing Barry revel in his powers, and I even like seeing him get a little overconfident. Watching two characters we’ve grown to love enjoy the show with him only makes things better. But this is where the first problem with “All Star Team Up” begins to rear its head.
Eddie now knows Barry is the Flash. That’s great. So we get this quick sequence of everybody having the time of their lives to basically illustrate how they’re keeping a big secret from everybody…especially Iris. It’s fine shorthand, but it’s still the kind of thing that probably could have been left to breathe for an episode or two before we dive straight into the “everybody lies to Iris” stuff.
It’s been obvious for weeks that when Iris finds out about Barry, she’s gonna be pissed. It’s been developed naturally, without the show hammering us over the head with it. This week, they brought the hammer. And passive-aggressive Iris is the worst Iris. It’s the first time all year I’ve actively thought less of the character, and I don’t think that was the intent.
It was amplified by trying to cram this into an episode that was overstuffed with guest stars. If you’re gonna have your female lead delivering ultimatums to the man she loves, it’s probably best not to do it in the same episode that’s also trying to cram as much fan service into the hour as it possibly can. There was an awful lot of Eddie and Iris talking to the audience (and Joe, in an amusing moment with Eddie) about the state of their relationship, and while it all makes sense in the context of their overall stories, it just didn’t click in this episode.
I suppose some of this was to make sure any viewers who are just coming to this week’s episode of The Flash because it features two Arrow favorites were up to speed. On the other hand, is there really anybody who watches Arrow and doesn’t watch The Flash?
This will probably get me branded as a traitor to fandom, but these shows need to be more careful with these crossovers in the future. Felicity and Ray are great fits in Central City. They could easily just become part of this supporting cast. But dropping them in here (with a pretty awful villain of the week), right when the show has far bigger fish to fry was a mistake. There were far too many cutesy asides about events on the other show, and there was little about their presence that felt particularly necessary. Even Barry appeared annoyed by the whole thing, impatient to get back to the more important issues at hand.
Luckily, this cast is capable of just about anything, and there’s still plenty of fun to be had with Emily Bett Rickards and Brandon Routh in the middle of the already considerable chemistry of the STAR Labs team. I just wish they were here for something a little more momentous than “the Bug-Eyed Bandit” (The Walking Dead‘s Emily Kinney) who felt like she wandered in out of the Flash’s equivalent of the Adam West Batman TV series.
The only thing that really saves this episode is the fact that the jokes are genuinely funny. Without this cast, and the strong connections that they’ve brought to these roles all season wrong, “All Star Team Up” might have been tough to get through.
– Cisco’s flashbacks to the event that never actually happened are very interesting. When I first watched “Out of Time,” before I got wise to the gimmick, I thought that perhaps something about Harrison Wells’ vibrational death blow would trigger Cisco’s potentially latent Vibe powers. I was wrong…or was I?
Would somebody else killed by Harrison Wells in that timeline be experiencing flashbacks the way Cisco is? Or is Cisco already in tune to the vibrations of the universe…the kind of vibrations that separate parallel realities (the kind that can be created by branching timelines, for example), and the nature of his “death” in “Out of Time” is starting the process? We’ll find out soon enough, but this is suddenly a really compelling mystery.
– I’m really impressed by, not only the Atom special effects sequences, but also the way the suit is designed. That doesn’t mean I love the design of the suit, and I find the whole thing to be a little too close to the Iron Man aesthetic, including the way he flies. But it does sound like they’re moving more and more towards “miniaturization” so perhaps shrinking isn’t far behind.
– The title “All Star Team Up” calls back to any number of awesome DC titles. Justice League predecessors the Justice Society first formed in the pages of All-Star Comics in 1940. They had a revival in the ’80s with the World War II set (so very awesome) comic All-Star Squadron. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman is one of the greatest Superman stories ever told. You get the picture.
– Do I really even need to point out the “it’s a bird, it’s a plane…” thing?
– We’ve seen Hudson University before (there’s a Firestorm connection here), but it’s worth noting that when Dick Grayson went off to college, this is where he studied. The original Killer Frost (Crystal Frost) was also a student here once, so I wonder if this is Caitlin’s alma mater?
– The Bug-Eyed Bandit was originally an Atom villain, created by original Flash genius Gardner Fox and the legendary Gil Kane. He was a dude in the comics, though, with the equally on-the-nose name of Bertram Larvan. He isn’t any cooler on the comics page than she was on the screen tonight. Sorry, folks.