This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 3 Episode 6
What to make of an episode like “Shade?” It’s very good, to be certain. But it also lacked a certain…I don’t know. I certainly can’t fault this one for not getting enough stuff done, because it certainly did that, there’s no question about it. And considering what’s in store for poor Caitlin next week and then the fact that the week after we have the big annual crossover event, well, The Flash certainly can’t be accused of spinning its wheels this season, can it?
We’ve known for awhile now that Wally is gonna want to do whatever it takes to get the speed he feels he has coming to him. We’ve also known that he would probably go about doing it in the dopiest way possible. Both of these things were fulfilled, to be sure, but they did their best to not make Wally look like a total dumbass, even though he still kinda went for it at the end there.
But they did soften the blow a little, especially thanks to that Kid Flash opening. I could have totally bought that as the opening segment of a Kid Flash TV series, and having it then turn out to just be Wally relating his dream to Joe (rather than it simply being us following the dream itself) was kinda clever. Also the fact that Wally was in, y’know, agonizing freakin’ pain and having the equivalent of terrifying hallucinations probably makes me feel a little better about him going for the Stone even when he shouldn’t have. But c’mon, kid, you’re surrounded by superheroes and brilliant scientific minds. If they tell you not to do something, don’t do it!
I could probably just start a whole section for all of the things I love about Wells III, but I’m not going to do that. “Rascals?” “Scamps?” I feel like I should be annoyed by him as Cisco (and especially Joe) is, but for some reason I’m not. And I definitely feel like I should be more suspicious of him, but they’re not really leaning to heavily on that, are they?
But for all of the Wally building, and the continued creepiness of Alchemy, and the genuinely tense final minutes, I just feel like something was missing. Maybe it was the Shade. I’ll get into a little bit of my disappointment over Shade down in Flash Facts down below, but if you’ve been reading my reviews long enough you know that I’m not a purist, and I’m happy to let things deviate from the comics as necessary.
The reality is, though, Shade sucked. They could have used any villain as the distraction to keep Flash busy while Alchemy tried to get at Wally. Why not bring somebody else back to be disposed of so easily? I’m not talking like a Weather Wizard or a Captain Cold (c’mon, you know he’s coming back for real eventually), but somebody they’ve already established so it doesn’t feel like such a complete cheat when they introduce, and then dispatch, a metahuman with zero explanation. It’s not a dealbreaker, and it certainly doesn’t ruin an otherwise very good episode, but it feels far lazier than what this show is used to doing.
In fact, I offer to you as proof of how not lazy The Flash has been, exhibit A: Caitlin Snow. The way they’ve teased her out over two seasons plus, and the way they’re slow-selling her turn to Killer Frost is almost the opposite of fan service (that’s a good thing). This week was no exception, and the parallels between how she’s telling everybody what’s going on with her powers and say, a character learning that they’re terminally ill, are worth noting. How can this show just knock stuff like this out of the park and then think it’s OK to mail in a meta like Shade in the same week? We’d have been better off with no secondary villain at all!
But it’s fine. We’re cool. Even with exceedingly minor missteps like this one (or the pedestrian “Magenta”) this season has already delivered more consecutive high quality episodes than any other Flash season so far. And really, Iris belting Wally was pretty classic.
– I’m really happy that Cecile Horton is becoming a bigger part of this show. Not only because holy moley, it’s about time Joe gets some romance in his life, but because even though this is a slightly different Cecile Horton than the one in the comics, it still keeps a door open for one of my favorite Flash stories of all time.
– And yes, I did check to see if “Judge Hankerson” was from that story, and apparently he isn’t. Damn it.
– And no, I don’t know who “Randolph Morgan” is, but that does just sound like the perfect fake bullshit “captain of industry robber baron” name imaginable, doesn’t it?
– I only just notived the BB King poster in the West house, which is pretty cool.
– The unit of currency, the “Helbing” is named after Flash TV writing duo Aaron and Todd Helbing, of course! Sneaky…
– OK, here’s why I’m a little annoyed about the way they used Shade here. In the comics, The Shade was one of Jay Garrick’s enemies, which is cool enough, right? Dude has been around since 1942, and sported a spiffy top hat and cane combo. And yes, he can manipulate shadows, although it’s far more sinister than the half-assed science-y explanation they gave here tonight.
But here’s why I’m really annoyed. The Shade was a supporting villain/anti-hero in the pages of one of my favorite comics of all time, James Robinson and Tony Harris’ Starman. In it, Shade was less of a pure villain and more of an interloping dandy with a slightly sinister agenda. Since he’s immortal, he also used to pal around with historical figures…like Oscar Wilde. Any guess who ol’ Oscar based The Picture of Dorian Grey on? So, yeah, they kinda blew a chance with somebody really cool.
– Who the hell is Savitar? Well, I’m glad you asked, because I wrote an entire article about him to help you out with that!
I don’t think there was a ton of other DC Comics stuff in this episode, but if there’s anything I missed, or if you just feel like abusing me or something, that’s what the comments are for! Or you can try and keep up with me on Twitter. Your call, speedsters! See you next week!