This Flash review contains spoilers.
You remember how with “Going Rogue” I joked that I could tell how a Flash episode was going to go within the opening few minutes? Yeah, well…I had a funny feeling about “Plastique” right out of the gate, and what we got was a rather uneven, uninspired episode. Any time Barry becomes “friend zone man” in his internal monologue, I get nervous, even though, for the most part, the show has done a fine job of keeping the Barry/Iris dynamic from getting creepy.
For a show that I’ve also teased about being really wholesome, they weren’t at all shy about showing everyone throwing back shots, which is a good thing. The whole “I can’t get drunk” situation seems like standard superhero fare these days, but it’s played to good effect, and we get some fun Caitlyn lines throughout, although Barry walks away with it with “I’m only 25 and my drinking days are already over.”
I appreciate that Iris West isn’t Lois Lane. She’s not interested in glory. She’s not romantically interested in the streak. She doesn’t even give a damn who he is. She wants to prove his existence for Barry’s sake. But she also wants to get the word out about someone who does great things selflessly. Iris’ awe of the Flash is like the (sorry) flashpoint for how the rest of Central City will eventually feel about their hero. That’s the thing, in the comics, Flash has never been a vigilante. At worst he’s an urban legend. But really, he’s the only superhero in the DC Universe where a grateful citizenry built him a museum, and it doesn’t seem at all megalomaniacal.
I also appreciate the scene with Joe West essentially giving Barry the all clear to tell Iris that he loves her. It felt a bit tidy, and I feel like they could have built up to this a bit better, but once again, the easygoing chemistry that Jesse L. Martin and Grant Gustin have helps carry what could have been a really talky, awkward, standard CW scene.
BUT…and please note the capital letters on that…I don’t buy Barry’s logic at the end. I get that hanging around with and/or being a superhero will turn you and your friends into liars. Martin sold the bit where he lies to his daughter’s face quite well, for example. I just don’t know how Barry leapt from point a (being: “lay off the streak blog because it puts you in danger so how can I spin this”) to point b (that being: “I’m breaking up with you even though you’re not my girlfriend”). Don’t be Captain FriendZone, Barry. I realize that’s not the actual reasoning here, but that’s how it plays on screen.
It doesn’t help that Plastique is a bit of a throwaway non-menace. I do like the bind the team ends up in, wherein she’s the first non-Barry metahuman not looking to rob banks or generally lower the property value in Central City…of course her powers are uncontrollable and deadly. But Kelly Frye is really saddled with some awful lines like “You did this to me!” and “Dr. Wells he…he…” (dies). C’mon.
It’s not all bad, though. It’s always good to see Clancy Brown, for example, and we’ll be seeing much more of Wade Eiling. They got two speed force fringe benefits out of the way this week. Running up the side of a building is such a classic Flash maneuver that I’m surprised it took five episodes to get here. Terrific special effects in that sequence, too. Running on water was a little less convincing but eh, what can you do? Also, did I spot some stock footage scattered earlier in the episode? Don’t cheap out on us, CW!
Still, “Plastique” ends up being the weakest episode of The Flash so far. The Barry/Iris/Flash dynamic was central, but they kind of blew it at the end. The villain of the week format, and Plastique herself, really highlighted the show’s limitations. This is the first time I’ve really felt like, “this is all you’ve got?” while watching this, and as we cycle through more third-tier metahumans while we wait for the return of Captain Cold or the debut of Firestorm, there are bound to be a few clunkers. Unfortunately, this is one of them.
Also, closing out the episode with a Flock of Seagulls cover is totally unnecessary, and I really, more than anything, want the practice of “soulful but modern covers of big hits from the ’80s over a show’s dramatic end montage” to end. Not just here. Everywhere. Is there a single more overused device on television right now? It’s awful.
Who the hell is Harrison Wells?
Did Harrison Wells give Plastique a bit of a psychic push there? There’s a hint of what Maxwell Lord can do right there. It’s just hard for me to not start thinking about characters related to Booster Gold every time we get the whole “man of the future” schtick.
On the other hand, the fact that he might have those kind of brute psychic powers makes you look at the Grodd tease at episode’s end in a different light, doesn’t it? Then again, he might not have any kind of psychic ability, and Plastique might just be really suggestible.
– Grodd! Yes, we saw Grodd’s cage in the first episode, but this is, without question, the first genuine appearance of Grodd in live-action…ever. It’s going to happen! We’re going to see Gorilla Grodd on a Flash TV series, and some of us may even take this as proof that there is some kind of supreme being who only looks after Flash fans.
– Barry deploys the old Jay Garrick “vibrate your face so they can’t recognize you” trick again, but taking it a step further with by making his voice sound like he’s talking into a fan was pretty cool. Imagine how sinister that would sound if, for example, another speedster with less than nice intentions was doing it?
– Lots of Captain Atom connections this week. In fact, just as surely as Firestorm, Captain Atom would be a very easy, perfect fit for this show. Both General Eiling and Dr. Hadley are right out of the pages of the post-Crisis Captain Atom comics
– This isn’t really a “Flash Fact” but…one of two Flash suits has now been destroyed. The show now has an easy excuse when they want to do a suit redesign. Brighter colors, here we come!
You know what to do…if I missed any, let me know!