This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 3 Episode 12
Well, I went and did it. I jinxed it. After weeks of going on and on about how there was nary a filler episode in site for much of this season, we ended up with “Untouchable” this week. But I’ll stand by my continued confidence that this is the strongest season of The Flash ever, pound for pound, because “Untouchable” isn’t really all that bad.
It does, however, try my patience a little. As great as this season has been, I feel it has done so in spite of some of its broader concepts, not because of them. I never, ever liked using Flashpoint as a villain engine, and it shows just how expertly crafted everything else surrounding the show has been that it was able to short-circuit even my crankiest complaints about them. And when it seemed that the second half of this season was going to (mostly) leave that Flashpoint anchor behind in favor of this new race to change the future, I was relieved.
So yeah, I was mildly annoyed to see the return of a Flashpoint-style meta this week. Clive Yorick is the second most disposable villain of the year so far (The Shade still is the lightweight champ), and the sciencebabble surrounding attempts to describe his powers and possible ways to combat them were nonsense, even for a show that has given us psionic gorillas, an entire multiverse, and a man who changed the past to prevent his mother’s murder.
And perhaps more infuriatingly, why would somebody of this guy’s limitless power think so small? He’s incredibly powerful, and is aware of the existence of multiple realities, and still all he thinks of is revenge? I get it, he’s a small-time guy with big time powers, but this just makes him seem less menacing than he should be.
And make no mistake, they went all out to make sure that Yorick put virtually every member of the team in some sort of peril. “Untouchable” tried to ratchet up the tension at every turn, but I ask all of you: did anybody once feel that there was ever any actual danger? Were we really supposed to believe that Caitlyn Snow would lose control of her powers and become Killer Frost? That Iris’ fate would change? That Joe and Cecile were ever in any real danger?
This might just be the stumbling block on the otherwise brilliant set-up for this season. We know that no matter what, Iris has to be in a certain spot at a certain time, even if it’s by accident, and she has to be there in May. Other horrible stuff can happen in the interim, but for the most part, especially the closer we get to May, if it was that big a deal (the death of a superhero or prominent citizen) it would have been reflected in those headlines. As Kid Flash’s profile grows, so does his story invulnerability (at least until this other stuff is resolved…which I’ll get to in a minute), and as Iris gets closer and closer to her future death, her present existence becomes more secure. I promise not to harp on this for the next 8 weeks or so, but the show needs to be sure to not try and fake us out with phony tension with Iris being in actual, physical peril, especially when there’s more to worry about.
See, now this is where things could get really interesting. I am 100% convinced that Barry and friends will successfully change the future and save Iris’ life. I am also 100% convinced that the universe will find a way to make sure that debt gets paid one way or the other, and we’re going to lose a member of the team. The logical choice here is Julian, as they’re doing an excellent job each week of making us (and apparently Caitlyn!) love him, but under the old “last in first out” rule of character deaths, I hope he has insurance. HR is another possibility since it’s wonderful to get Tom Cavanagh playing a new role every season. But I get the feeling that the show has harsher plans for us all.
If Iris lives, another member of the West family has to die. My money has been on Wally for a while. Why? Well, because he’s a speedster, and speedsters are durable enough that even if you kill him, there’s a good chance he’ll be able to come back by the middle of season four. I could see Wally’s cockiness becoming a problem before season’s end, potentially one that costs him even more than his near blunder with Iris did tonight, and his quest for redemption will be to make damn sure nothing happens to his sister, at any cost, even his own life.
On the other hand, there’s always Joe West to consider. His understandable anger when he found out what the team has been keeping from him (people on this show need to stop doing this to each other) could lead to him taking some exceptionally noble measures to keep his daughter safe. I have little doubt that Joe would rather die than see Iris harmed, and what better way to bookend Barry’s screw-ups than by ending a year that started with him changing the past to save his mother (and ultimately failing) with him succeeding in changing the future and losing his foster father in the process.
And speaking of Barry, who I’ve had little reason to talk about the last couple of weeks (which says a lot about how many plates this show successfully keeps spinning), I think this was the final evolution of the Barry/Wally teacher/student relationship. In the comics, Barry was much older than Wally, and engaged to Iris, who was Wally’s aunt. There was never any doubt about who was the authority figure in that relationship or who the sidekick was.
But here, Barry has always been something of a peer to Wally. It’s a different dynamic. Even with Wally enjoying the prospect of eventually outrunning Barry, he still has a lot to learn, and I think this week not only did he accept that fully, but Barry felt more comfortable being “the boss” than we’ve ever seen him.
See? There’s still plenty of good stuff happening here, even when the rest of the episode doesn’t hold it together.
– Yorkin kills off Julio Mendez! It’s always great to have an excuse to see Alex Desert play a version of his character from the original Flash TV series.
– I tell ya, even I forgot about Clive Yorkin. Yorkin was created by Bronze Age Flash writer extraordinaire, Cary Bates and artist Irv Novick. He’s only made a handful of appearances in the comics, but this has got to be one of the few Bates co-creations to make it to the show. I expect there will be more Cary Bates influence should the show ever get to a certain point in Barry’s history, but I’ve already said too much.
Don’t forget, everyone, The Flash takes next Tuesday off, so I’ll see you back here in two weeks. Hit me up on Twitter if you miss me and we’ll explore the speed force together!