This The Flash review contains spoilers.
Just in case you weren’t already relaxed and settled in, I think that we can all say it now. The Flash is just solid television. “The Sound and the Fury” falls right in that post-midseason danger zone that network shows with 22 episode orders to fill all succumb to. This could have just been a villain of the week episode. It was a little more than that, thankfully.
Is this the episode that featured the very least Barry Allen/Flash screentime we’ve ever seen? There were lots of scenes of Barry hanging in the background, nodding approvingly, observing the good people in his life be good people, but his actual action in the episode almost felt obligatory. This isn’t a complaint. It shows just how well this cast functions together, and just how far these characters have come in only eleven episodes. The concepts of the show are now so firmly in place that they don’t have to be explained in one way or another once an episode, there’s no more shorthand for why characters behave the way they do, they just live. I’ve seen other shows take much longer to settle into this kind of groove.
Hartley Rathaway (ahem…the Pied Piper) could have just been another dick (to quote Harvey Bullock on the rare episode of Gotham I genuinely enjoyed, “The dick’s a douche”) with a grudge, but there were hints that there’s more at work here. Sure, he’s a jerk, but he’s also not “eeevil,” and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him actually working on the side of the STAR Labs team, however reluctantly, for an episode or two before the season ends.
Before I go any further, I have to confess to sharing Hartley’s disdain for that nonsensical “Keep Calm and [insert something unfunny here]” meme.
Despite Hartley’s connection to STAR Labs and the particle accelerator, he isn’t the kind of “monster of the week” metahuman we saw so much of in the first half of the season. In fact, it’s been ages since we’ve had one of those. The Flash has now fully embraced the more classic Flash/Rogue dynamic of one guy with superpowers usually fighting other guys with high tech weaponry, and they aren’t cackling maniacal killers like you find in Gotham City.
But like I said above, this episode was very much about Harrison Wells, Cisco, and Ms. Snow. They didn’t overdo it with the flashbacks, which is good. I am surprised that they didn’t use this as an excuse to give us more time with Ronnie Raymond, especially since he was such an important subplot in the previous two episodes.
The only downside this week was Iris’ new job at the newspaper. It felt a little out of place, and the more traditionally “CW” scenes with her and Barry being besties slowed things down a bit. That press conference scene was important, though, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Also, just because I can’t let it pass by again…the show really needs to come up with a better solution than the science dungeon for these guys. It doesn’t sit right with me that these guys just get life sentences.
Two little notes about Barry’s speed this week. The picture taking trick was a perfectly modern little moment in the life of a speedster. And when Barry has to reassemble the shattered glass in Harrison’s place, I have to wonder: how long does that feel like for Barry? His perceptions must be relative to the speed he moves at, so how long would it feel like to him to reassemble that thing? Hours? Days? Poor guy…
Overall, I’ll safely put this near the top of this season’s episodes so far. Unlike “Revenge of the Rogues,” which was so intent on showing us how awesome and action-packed The Flash can be (but forgot to actually tell much of a story), “The Sound and the Fury” did more with less. All of the world-building they’ve done so far paid off this week, mostly because it worked well in the background while it let the characters be their best.
The Mystery of Harrison Wells…
– I believe this was the first time we’ve seen Dr. Wells use his speed in an overt way when not in the yellow suit, right? It’s certainly the first time we’ve seen him “power down” like that as a consequence. I’m not sure what his origin story is, and I suspect it will be rather different than any of the comic book versions of how he got his speed, but they sure do know how to keep us guessing.
– Advocates of Harrison Wells with mind control powers…I didn’t get any ammunition for that argument this week, did you?
– How about Harrison’s awesome house? I should go back to school for a degree in physics. That ain’t happening, since I can barely handle long division, so you’re stuck reading my Flash rants every week.
– Harrison’s allowing Iris to ask that question at the press conference was just a way for him to allow Barry to be impressed by her, and to fall more for her than he already has, something Wells surely knows. He isn’t just building up the career of the Flash (for his own nefarious purposes), is he? He also has a stake in Barry’s personal success.
– “I have failed this city.” Surely this was on purpose, right? Speaking of Arrow…
– The Royal Flush gang! Remember them from Arrow? Copycats? Something more? Did the writers just forget or something?
– All that stuff about vibrational frequencies in this episode? That’s gonna come up again one of these days. I promise you. It’s only a matter of time before we see some kind of “Flash of Two Worlds” action on this show. It might not be this season, but they’ll do it. I wrote more about The Flash and the DC Multiverse here.
– Cisco eventually becomes the vibrationally-powered superhero Vibe (you would think with all the code names he comes up with he would pick a better one for himself, but I’m getting ahead of myself). I wonder if his encounter with Piper’s vibrational powers this week will trigger his latent metahuman powers. I figure if he was hiding something since after the accelerator disaster, they’d have hinted at it by now, so maybe he just needs a little push.
– When Hartley says that eventually they’re gonna need his help, he’s not just being an arrogant jerk. I mean, he is being an arrogant jerk, but there’s a comic book reason behind this, too. The Pied Piper eventually reformed, and even helped out the Wally West version of Flash for awhile. Also, I’m pretty sure the Piper was the first openly gay mainstream comic book character I remember encountering as a kid.
– Is sexist douche reporter Mason Bridge supposed to be Mason Trollbridge (who was not a reporter)? Should that make me care any more about this character?
– Some of you pointed this out to me ages ago, but I FINALLY saw the “52” sign down there in the evil science prison or whatever the hell they call that place in the basement of STAR Labs.
– Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was the first time they’ve uttered the words “speed force” on this show, right?
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you caught…
Mike Cecchini wrote this review while wearing a STAR Labs sweatshirt. He’s not sorry. Follow him on Twitter.