Many shows tend to sag a little mid-season in the lull between the excitement of the new season and the build towards the endgame of the season finale. This can often be the case with a new show that is either taking a cautious approach to introducing the mythos, or one which wants to spread the material out to last the lifetime of the show.
Flash seems to be ignoring the conventions and is not only introducing elements from the comics almost every week – something that is perhaps easier to do with the character given his renowned rogues gallery of villains. From the A-list, we haven’t seen Golden Glider in action, the two Tricksters are due shortly, and we’re yet to see Mirror Master, the Top and Abra Kadabra. With the formation of a team of Rogues (we’ve already seen Heat Wave and Captain Cold team up, and a brief moment of Golden Glider, but with the Tricksters and a new Weather Wizard imminent, it would seem a likely time to bring in Mirror Master at least).
This week’s A plot takes a step away from the old school Rogue-of-the-week we’ve seen recently and introduces us to Peek-a-boo, a villain created by Geoff Johns (DC’s CCO and the guy in charge of their current media onslaught) during his run on the Flash comic a decade ago. She’s not exactly the pinnacle of villainy, and there’s certainly a sense that by the time she next appears, she could easily have moved to the side of law and order.
Back at Star Labs, Hartley escapes, giving us a rare opportunity to see Cisco in action. He is surprisingly credible, both as a fighter, and in having a backup plan of a device that uses vibrations to affect Hartley’s ear implants. It’s a nice (if ultimately ineffective) nod to the comics Cisco – a hero called Vibe who uses vibrations to fight crime.
We also learn a little more of Ronnie’s fate – the explosion in the accelerator caused him to fuse with the missing Dr Martin Stein – though it’s more about setting the scene for future episodes than being the focus here.
One of the show’s strengths has been its father-son moments between Barry and Joe, Barry and Harrison, and especially the moments between Barry and Henry, few of which fail to hit the mark. Despite only really getting to sit behind glass talking to visitors, John Wesley Shipp’s Henry Allen character is an important part of the show, and he gets to showcase his acting skills with a great moment when he shows that he knows Barry is the Flash without saying so.
Our second introduction of the show is to the sports writer at Iris’ newspaper, Linda Park (in the comics, she eventually married Wally West, Barry’s successor as the Flash). Barry and Caitlin are on a night out which ends up in a Karaoke duet – Barry is pretty good (testament to Gustin’s time on Glee), whilst Caitlin misses the odd note or two(!). Of course, Barry has the advantage of a metabolism that prevents him getting inebriated, something Caitlin cannot lay claim to. Whilst the drunken Caitlin is adorable, Barry is the perfect gentleman, putting the drunken Caitlin to bed, and ending the evening with Linda’s phone number.
In much the same way that Arrow has toyed with the traditional comics pairing of Ollie and Laurel, despite Ollie having much greater chemistry with Felicity; this episode further highlighted that this show’s equivalent to the classic Barry/Iris connection is more of a brother/sister, than the far more charismatic pairing of Barry and Caitlin.
I keep coming back to Flash/Arrow as representing the equivalent of Superman/Batman in a world without either – this is no more evident than in the way that the Flash feels like its moral compass is unerringly pointed towards the positive – whereas many shows use grim and gritty as a direction to go in, this show treats it as a just a layby at the side of the hope highway.
Finally, to the now-traditional end scene which, for a change, was not focused on Harrison Wells, but instead hearkened back to an element from the pilot episode; laying groundwork for what would seem to be an obvious season-finale villain (though with the Rogues building up, and the Reverse Flash mystery still to be uncovered, we may have to wait for Season 2 to see more than a few reminders that he’s out there)