The following THE FLASH article contains spoilers through Season 7, Episode 15.
The Flash Season 7 Episode 15
The Flash isn’t really the sort of show that does a lot of what you might call long-lead storytelling, so the fact that the show has been teasing the return of villainous speedster Godspeed for over a year is a fairly unprecedented event.
Granted, “Enemy at the Gates” is maybe not the episode that all that build-up deserves, since it tells us precious little about where all the Godspeed clones are coming from or what they want. But it does feature several fantastic fight sequences between Barry, Frost, new Team Flash sort of friend Mark Stevens/Chillblaine, and a half dozen Godspeeds. And though it doesn’t make a ton of sense just yet, it’s still pretty darn entertaining to watch.
Do I have any idea what these goons want from Barry or why they talk to one another in what are essentially Jurassic Park screeches? Not really. Do I know why some of them are fighting each other? Nope. Am I genuinely curious to find out? Surprisingly, yes.
Look, I was as tired of speedster villains as anyone, but after a half-season of the Forces of Nature storyline, I’m suddenly feeling more kindly toward bad guys that make me feel like The Flash is at least The Flash again. And nothing feels more like The Flash than two squads of dueling Godspeeds slo-mo throwing white speed lightning at one another while Chester’s funk beats play in the background.
I’m not made of stone, here.
That kind of story is just straight-up fun to watch, and fun is not a word that could generously be used to describe this season thus far. (The Cisco farewell episode aside. That one was pretty much perfect.) Yes, with just a handful of episodes left in Season 7, The Flash is going to have to figure out what this mini-arc is about pretty quickly, but if there’s anything this show knows how to do, it’s fight villainous speedsters.
If anything, the episode could have used more evil speedsters. Because the true Big Bad in “Enemy at the Gates” isn’t Godspeed, it’s the five competing subplots that took much-need time and attention off the whole evil clones situation and which run the gamut from fairly decent to mostly pointless to utterly cringeworthy.
Sure, Season 7 has a shortened episode count due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it had to spend at least three of those episodes tying up the Mirror Master plot from last year. But perhaps we could have left some of these extra subplots for next year rather than trying to cram them all into this final handful of episodes. “Enemy at the Gates” feels overstuffed with moments that have little to do with our promised Godspeed story, and to be fair none of them (even the one I liked!) feels worth the trade-off.
The middle of a Godspeed clone attack seems to be a strange time to launch The Flash’s first big romantic pairing in who even knows how long, but despite their slightly rushed status, Frost and Chillblaine are still adorably well-matched as a pair of former villains trying to figure out what comes next in a world that will always side-eye them for their previous dark ways. True, The Flash should have given us more than approximately thirty seconds to adjust to the idea of an even mildly reformed Chillblaine before having him fight side-by-side with Team Flash, but that idea that Frost might get the chance to show someone how to be a better person – because Caitlin did it for her – is stll a pretty appealing concept.
Unlike, say, Joe’s ongoing team-up with the still very awful Kristen Kramer, which is the sort of horrible that I have to actively pretend isn’t happening. The Flash has never made Joe’s out of the blue faith in Kramer’s “good cop” status believable, particularly when the show pointedly avoids wrestling with the fact that she was ready to use the power of the state to forcibly depower any meta she vaguely suspected of committing a crime something like four episodes ago.
The hour ends the sort of obvious cliffhanger that feels more than a little insulting to literally anyone who has ever watched a TV show before. (Or who is capable of reading the synopsis of next week’s episode on their DVR guide.) Joe’s obviously not dead and we’re definitely not lucky enough to get rid of Kramer this easily, so please don’t fall for clickbait headlines wondering if The Flash killed someone off this week.
There’s also something very strange and uncomfortable about The Flash dealing with a potential pregnancy story for the West-Allens in an episode in which Iris does not appear. Your mileage may vary on whether there should even be inklings of any sort of West-Allen pregnancy arc so close on the heels of whatever you want to call the Forces-are-bad-metaphors-for-our-future-children thing but showing us only Barry’s side of conversations and discoveries that could literally change these characters’ lives forever is…well, it’s definitely not a great look.
And, if we’re honest, The Flash is grievously ill-equipped as a series to tell a proper story about Barry and Iris raising a baby and fighting bad guys. (Just ask yourself when the last time you saw Baby Jenna was, is all I’m saying.) Yet, there’s still something painfully sweet about Barry’s open delight in the concept of fatherhood – and Grant Gustin sells the heck out of it.
Yes, the comedy of errors centered around Barry’s attempts to smuggle bodily fluids into STAR Labs for testing got old fast– guys, just go to a CVS! – but the hour’s predominantly breezy tone and lighthearted feel has been painfully absent from much of this season. Sure, it didn’t always hit the mark, but at least The Flash is trying for something like joy and laughter and fun again, and in my book that counts for a lot. Let’s see where it goes.