Corrina: Welcome to Same Geek Channel where we once again pick on the writing of the female characters…okay, only a little bit. Okay, maybe more than that.
Mordechai: For those that don’t remember, The Flash has a total episode run of twenty three. That means we’re actually past the halfway point. Why we we mention that? Because this is the first episode that feels like we’ve moved out of the first act of the story.
Our players are all well established (down to the quirks we might hate), and we can move on to the actual story. Or, in the case with this week’s episode, stories. This week juggled multiple ongoing story lines in a strong manner that didn’t seem forced (for an example of how not to do it, see Gotham).
Corrina: Raising my hand here to say my favorite part was the Joe/Cisco team-up. Except for the stupid blood splatter thing. But, continue.
Mordechai: We opened with Barry and Linda on their first date, with entertaining super hero “running off to do good.” As I said last week, Linda is an engaging character, and so far a welcome change from how the women on the show keep getting written… to a point. We’ll get back to that. Barry dashing off to save lives felt so Silver Age DC that it brought a smile to my face.
Corrina: As you say, she has a nice screen presence. Except her role on the show is clearly to mess up Iris/Barry. The only conversation she has with a woman? With Iris. About Barry. That’s no way to pass the Bechdel Test.
Mordechai: Pft. This show is the Bechdel failiest.
Barry’s social life was arguably the “A” plot, relegating the titular Firestorm to the “b” plot. Not that it was less interesting! The writers found a decent twist on the concept of Firestorm (two people become one body, with vague nuclear powers), and turned him into both an engaging character with actual pathos and a legitimate threat all at once. Well done. They also use the crisis–that Firestorm will blow up and take everyone with him–to move forward two other ongoing plots.
Corrina: I’ll go on record saying while I wanted more Victor Garber, Robbie Amell channeled him nicely. This plot worked for me. I felt for Firestorm in a way I haven’t felt for any hero on Flash or Arrow in a long time.
Mordechai: Y’see, Detective West has enlisted Cisco in looking into Barry’s mom’s murder. They find evidence by going to Barry’s old house. The house has of course been sold, but it *just so happens* that the current owner (more on her in a second) purchased an old mirror at the estate sale, and it *just happens* to have silver nitrate in the back, and it *just happens* that Cisco knows some form of magic pseudo-science that not only makes them able to extract pictures from that silver nitrate, but color holograms.
Corrina: You forgot to mention the part where the house is owned by a hot blonde who clearly welcomes Joe’s intrusion. I can’t find it in my heart to blame her. If Jesse L. Martin walked into my house, I’d offer him water and whatever. Cisco also had a great line. “I won’t judge” about the homeowner’s advances. The science of all this was awful, the character interaction was terrific.
Mordechai: This ludicrous divination leads them to discover some blood-spatter behind some (ridiculously easy to pull aside) wallpaper.
Corrina: One, blood splatter that old isn’t red like that. Two, no one tried to clean the wall before putting up wallpaper? Three, the new wallpaper didn’t damage the blood splatter? I know, it’s not a scientifically accurate show but at least try!
Mordechai: Cisco agrees to test it but gets offended when Joe suggests he check it against Wells, because Wells is a good man. Right, a good man who runs a secret gulag. Cisco later changes his mind and runs it when he sees Wells willing to sacrifice Ronnie/Martin to save the city, which shows Cisco isn’t that bright. Wells did the same thing to save himself from Blackout when he freed Girder.
Corrina: Cisco pointed out that he owes his career to Wells and he’s right, Wells has been great to him. As for the gulag, well, Cisco just had his clock cleaned by Pied Piper last episode, so he may be on board, temporarily, with the prison thing.
Mordechai: Still, Wells turns out not to be utterly evil. He sacrifices part of his tachyon thingie to make a quantum thingie to separate Ronnie/Martin. Because quantum.
Corrina: A quantum thingie that resembles the comic book Firestorm’s logo.
Mordechai: Except Ronnie/Martin has run off again, to the “Badlands,” a wooded mountain area outside Central City. O…kay. Barry runs after him, take Caitlin because she insists, Caitlin kisses Ronnie/Martin and then he explodes anyway. Cue General Eiling, who has apparently been waiting for such a sign and gets ready to swoop in.
Corrina: You skipped the whole part where Caitlin and Ronnie talk while Ronnie walks around shirtless. I wonder if he’s been using the salmon ladder? But, putting that aside, it’s a sweet scene because Martin Stein is trying to comfort Caitlin, which isn’t really possible because he’s walking around in her fiance’s body. Love the poignance of this scene.
Mordechai: Oh, and because Wells was willing to kill, Cisco ran the DNA and got an answer we were all expecting–that an adult Barry was there. Good to see the time travel element coming to the front.
Corrina: If it stays true to the comic, somehow Barry will be convinced to let his mother die because… time stream… something… something… heroes need tragedy… something something… I hate that element of the comic book plot. If I have a chance to go back in time and save my father from certain death? I’m doing it. Just stating that right now.
Mordechai: Oh damn. You just made me think that at some point, this show is going to try to do some version of Flashpoint. Why, why would you make me remember that?
Corrina; Because I’m evil.
Mordechai: Now to get to the big emotional moment of the episode: Barry and Linda start to get into it on their second date and he has to run off for hero stuff, so she goes to talk to his “bff” Iris about what the deal is. Iris is taking a lot of flack for how she just lets Linda know “yeah, he had a thing for someone for a long time and never really dated before.” While I’m the first person to ding Iris, I have to say that this scene kinda worked. If anything, Barry’s flipping out at her–at her office, no less–was a bit out there.
Corrina: The whole scene horrified me. I can’t understand how writers who can make Joe and Cisco work well together can muff scenes like this so badly. Wait, I can. They only write the female parts as it relates to the men in the episode, while Cisco and Joe have actual roles in the story. Give these women a role other than “angst/date/lust” after Barry. I’m begging you, non-Bechdel passing Flash writers!
As for me, I thought the scene was meant to play as Iris is second-guessing herself about Barry. I wasn’t annoyed with Iris for this. I was annoyed with the writers.
Also, I could have gone my whole life without “that” conversation about Barry moving “too fast” while doing the horizontal mambo. Next thing you know, we’ll be talking about how Barry’s body metabolism also changed his sperm, and therefore any woman carrying Barry’s child might die. Or worse, how his sperm might kill a woman during sex.
No, no, and hell, no.
Mordechai: Speaking of out there, what the hell? The pepper scene was supposed to be cute, I guess. All I can think is “if a guy I went out with for a date and a half showed up at my place of work, made a massive scene, and then threatened to harm himself if I wouldn’t go out with him, I’d be calling the cops.” And yet what are people freaking over? That someone had a handy mini-carton of milk.
Corrina: I’m going to stand here and hold my breath until you do what I want!
Yeah, it shouldn’t work for five-year-olds and it sure shouldn’t work for Barry.
Here’s the thing: the stuff that worked on this episode worked so well. But anything involving Barry’s dating life is awful. You want charm and banter? Someone on the writing staff, go watch some Hart to Hart reruns. Or Castle. Or hire a female writer who gets it. But stop doing this! I can’t root for a hero who engages in emotional blackmail like a five-year-old to get a date.
Mordechai: A friend of mine has complained that all the characters, but in particular Barry and Iris, seem to be acting on a high school level, emotionally.
Corrina: I have a high school-age son. Two of them. And they know not to do this. Ever.
Mordechai: A quick note on some Easter Eggs: Conway awards, named for Firestorm creator Gerry Conway, a street named after noted Flash writer Mark Waid, and a jazz singer named Mal Duncan, who comic fans will know as the Teen Titan Herald (he had a lot of names, we’ll just go with that).
Corrina: Hornblower. Guardian. Herald. He also had a jazzy 1970s rad outfit.
Mordechai: Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed this episode. It may have been the strongest yet. Except the show still suffers strongly from the way they portray women. At the very least, give Iris or Caitlin another woman to talk to. It’s 2015, men don’t need to be the default.