This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 5 Episode 13
“Goldfaced” combines elements of a fish-out-of-water heist story, introduces a new comic book-based meta-villain, and plays matchmaker and relationship therapist across multiple earths all in one plot crockpot that is light on costumes or superpowers, and contains a pinch of Eobard Thawne for flavoring. Sadly, it also adds the tiring Cicada storyline, which makes this a tasty story, but one with an incredibly overused ingredient, like truffles.
After the attempt in “Memorabilia” to incept Orlin Dwyer/Cicada’s niece failed, and instead create a child villain to deal with later on, Barry decided Cisco’s cure – which is apparently good to go – should be administered to the serial killer. But they need a neuro stasis field generator, naturally, to hold him in place long enough for the cure to take effect. And, the only place to get one is at a weapons market run by the gangster Goldface.
Enter Ralph Dibny, who will take Barry into the criminal underworld to get one. With their powers dampened by stalling bracelets, they are vulnerable. So Barry just needs to act cool, let Ralph talk, and not blow their cover. So, of course he screws that up. We love Barry for his unwavering goodness, but sometimes he should get his head out of his Flash — suit, that is. Certainly the ends of stopping Cicada justify the means of shopping at the bad guy weapons mart. Yes, the CCPD-killing guns should be kept off the street, but Dwyer nearly killed Barry’s daughter (oh, and a lot of metas), so it was a stretch for even him not to be able to contain his heroism long enough to get the generator from Goldface.
Still, Barry’s overzealousness in the attempt to buy all the guns — how good is his credit line? — does lead to a satisfying scene of he and Ralph facing down Goldface, and his goons. Barry gets to channel his inner Heisenberg, and creates the mysterious character of The Chemist (a minor character seen in Batman: The Animated Series).
I enjoyed Goldface’s market, and would like to spend more time there. And his heist to rob a hospital of a 3-D organ printer started out lame, and with way too many goons with guns (and very bright flashlights). But it opens up to a really fun sequence of the de-powered Ralph and Barry having a full-on video game shoot out. I don’t know where Barry learned to shoot (and why he can’t apply some of his Flash fighting maneuvers in normal speed), but Rob Zombie “Dragula” backed scene tickled me. Extra kudos to the show for allowing the characters to put their guns on stun and exchange blaster fire without killing the henchmen.
The face-off with Goldface was a great capper to the action. Shooting a bad guy mid villain-speech is always a kick, and the over-the-top treatment of a baddie covered in gold with a gold-chain whip? I am so there for that. Also, Goldface has some history. A villain who originally vexed Green Lantern in the comics before annoying Flash, he was married to the rogue Amunet Black. Anyhow, along with hearing some great gold-plated puns, our heroes stopped Goldface while reminding us of the highly conductive properties of the element (that’s in addition to the moral of the ends not justifying the means). While not surprising he lived, I almost wondered if they’d kill him considering the oozing gold from his eye sockets.
The subplot between Nora and Sherloque, and Renee Adler (Kimberly Williams-Paisley of Father of the Bride, and Cavanagh’s How to Eat Fried Worms costar) was delightful. Even if Nora is manipulating Sherloque’s emotions (must be some evil Eobard Thawne influence), it was refreshing to get time between them. Williams-Paisley, as five versions of the same woman from different earths, is a joy to watch. Nora’s attempted relationship therapy/ex-wife intervention left me wanting more from this League of Super Adler Friends out there. More importantly, she also gives depth to Sherloque. And it gives him a renewed interest in stopping Cicada (and off of Nora’s case) once he learns Adler is a meta.
Just as an aside: I love that a) Superman followed through and delivered alimony to Earth-38 Adler, as promised in the Elseworlds crossover, and b) the bounty-hunting, alimony-collecting Breacher might return if Sherloque doesn’t pay up.
The Thawne scenes presented intriguing thoughts for me. It seems as if Nora is leaning pretty readily on ol’ Eobard’s guidance pretty heavily. Despite her anger at him, is she becoming more of a mentee to the mentor? Also, since the timeline is malleable, and little alterations can lead to big changes, how might Eobard use that to his advantage later on? Additionally, it is pretty, pretty, pretty interesting Thawne knows so much about Sherloque – and all the other Wells’ he has shared a face with.
With so much fun to be had this week, the Iris subplot was frustrating. Set aside the fact a journalist is baited by an online troll (a daily occurrence), but she goes from making a smart decision to meet an interview subject in public to pursuing Dwyer at the house he’s living in. Chris Klein is marginally better in the episode, but Iris’ “lead poisoning” ruse doesn’t work. Thankfully, she has a solid badass moment while attempting to escape Cicada, and stabs him real good (but stands over him a moment too long for my liking).
Can we talk about The Flash’s Cicada problem? Cicada could be a meta-killer akin to Batman, a misguided killer on a mission to avenge his family, and protect others. He could almost be sympathetic, and given more to do than glower. And, it would be interesting if Cicada had more of a code, and rules he followed. If he did, it would make for a compelling encounter with Iris this week. He could realize she is onto him, and choose to break his own rules to serve his mission. Or he might instead let her go, or imprison her until his killing is done. Hell, he could have given Iris an amazing interview so the growing anti-metas of Central City may believe him to be a hero.
There is so much to be done with this character, and enough to justify keeping him around as a threat. Instead, the wheels are spinning, and even though it’s The Flash, those wheels are moving slow.
Even without Barry suiting up until the very end, and minus too many superpowers on display, “Goldfaced” is a lean story, but quite fun. But the ongoing Cicada story is a buzzkill.