Kevin and Bethany are all dressed up with nowhere to go. Hang your stockings and get ready for some unseasonably-warm Midwestern winters, because it’s time to take a look at CW’s The Flash.
Sorry about last week, guys, it was rough for both of us and neither of us could get anything done. We are gonna work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
There’s a lot to cover this week, so let’s just go ahead and hit the ground running, all right?
Spoilers under the cut.
A lot happens in this episode. It’s not busy, like “Power Outage” was, it’s just that the overall plot threads are starting to draw tight and braid together. It seems like we’re really setting up the rest of the season, firmly establishing Wells as the guy in the yellow suit. (Not that we weren’t already aware that he was evil, because the guy doesn’t even have a mustache to twirl and somehow still manages it.)
(Also, it’s cool that he uses a ring to access his suit. In the comics, someone keeps their/a Flash costume in a ring, though I can’t remember which Flash or how many do that. [EDITOR’S NOTE: predominantly Barry.] I liked that little nod to it, is the point.)
I’m still kind of baffled as to how they’re both on-screen at the same time – Creepy Science Dad and Reverse-Flash, I mean. I assume some sort of BS time travel thing, and I’m sure it’ll eventually get explained, but ???
(I know, Kevin, I know. Silver Age! *jazz hands*)
Moving right along…
The thing with the Reverse-Flash is he’s not really a person to Barry. He’s the boogeyman. Barry always believed he was real, but it was like believing in a ghost. Nobody else believed Barry, not for years and years. This means the freaky fast dude in yellow took on…a sort of mythical aspect to Barry. The Reverse-Flash has been the monster under his bed ever since his mother died. This event permanently changed his life. Suddenly his father – who he knows to be innocent – is in jail, and his mother is dead. He’s effectively been orphaned, and as far as everyone else is concerned, he might as well claim a vampire did it.
Barry dedicated his life to proving that someone else was in his house, that someone else murdered his mother, but there was no trace of the yellow speedster. This dude was in the wind for years. When Barry got these powers, suddenly, maybe he started to believe that not only could he prove there was someone else in his house the night his mother died, but maybe he could even catch the guy in yellow.
But, when they do face off, Barry isn’t fast enough to catch him. (Also the Reverse-Flash has got this glowing red eye thing going on that’s creepy as hell and supports my “this guy is the monster under Barry’s bed” theory.) The files from his mother’s case were stolen weeks ago, so reopening the case would probably be difficult and/or impossible, and Barry couldn’t even stop the guy long enough to look him in the face and see what’s there. It’s gotta feel like one hell of a setback, you know?
Meanwhile, in “everyone is having kind of a weird, bittersweet Christmas” news, poor Caitlin finds out that Ronnie is alive and he has this new cool trick–
–and really, really doesn’t want to chat. She confessed to Cisco that she wished Ronnie had just stayed dead, and I can’t even blame her. (Side note: Cisco is the best, right? Right.) They were trying to keep it quiet because…well, honestly, because Caitlin was supremely wigged.
It didn’t work, of course, because Ronnie showed up during the final fight scene to give Barry an assist, and to also re-emphasize the not wanting to talk before flying the fuck off.
Moving on to Iris…Eddie asked her to move in. Because, really, it’s a good time for it. They’re happy, they’re spending all their time together, it’s the right move. I know it’s not going to last (what does, really?) but I really like Eddie as her boyfriend and I’m glad she and Eddie are about to take the next step. Iris is happy! I love Iris and want her to be happy! Yay!
It is, therefore, a really bad time for Barry to drop the “I love you” bomb, but drop it he does. He finally tells Iris the truth about how he feels, and…look, I really don’t like it. It’s not that I don’t get where Barry is coming from, or why he feels the way he does. Iris is an amazing woman, and she’s been one of Barry’s very rare friends, he lived with her most of his life and he’s known her, basically, forever. I just…honestly, I dislike confessions of unrequited love in fiction. It’s a personal preference, bordering on a squick. They always make me cringe, no matter how well done.
To Barry’s credit, he does not (at the time) seem to expect any kind of “I love you too, ya big stud” kind of response (I don’t remember if that comes up later, or not, and we’re running out of episodes I’ve seen before). He told it with the air of a man setting down a heavy burden that’s been carried a long way. It’s a complicated situation, and (I assume) it’s going to complicate their friendship, but I can’t really blame Barry for telling her.
- Barry comments that Iris moving in with Eddie is a little fast – which it kinda isn’t. However, I will give Barry a pass on this one because he was in a coma for the start of Iris and Eddie being a Thing.
- In my notes, at some point, I wrote “Barry Is Not In The Mood” and I’m not 100% sure what it’s referencing but it kinda sums up Barry for the bulk of the episode.
- Joe admitted that he was worried about taking Barry on, that it might be too much (him already being a single dad), but that Barry made things lighter and easier and I’m crying. I love you, Cop Dad.
- Jail Dad also had a good moment, telling Barry it was time to start living his life for the future instead of trying to fix the past.
- Excellent Dad moments, is the point.
- In spite of my reservations about Barry’s “I love you” speech, I will admit it was well-written. If it had to be done, at least it was not done poorly.
- I have a Theory about where Ronnie/Firestorm has been (y’all know this is a subject which has occupied no small part of my attention). He was more or less disintegrated during the Incident, according to Cisco, so it must have taken him a while to put himself back together. (He showed up an episode or two back, at the very end, so maybe it’s pretty recent that he’s managed to, uh, manifest I guess?)
- Though it does look like he’s been living rough for, uh, a while.
- Hmmm…okay, I’ve got nothin.
- Aaaanyway, Firestorm showing up at the end of the final fight was just…guys, it was really cool. It was just one of those WHOO AWESOME kind of moments, he had a great entrance and a great exit
- Really, Firestorm’s appearance took the sting out of the fact that the Reverse-Flash managed to get away with, um, the thing he was after. (Tachyons, right? Something about tachyons. Whatever, the science macguffin.)
- By “took the sting out” I mean I didn’t even realize that the macguffin was For Sure gone until Wells attached it to the yellow suit at the end
- (That was the science macguffin, right?)
You ever notice how there’s always a Christmas Episode, but almost never a Hanukkah Episode? Because I notice.
I notice all the time.
You have canonically Jewish characters and you don’t even get more than an “Oh, also some of our friends do this” and then NOPE BACK TO CHRISTMAS. You know what I had growing up? Six thousand Christmas episodes and movies and then Rugrats and Lamb Chop had Hanukkah episodes. I actually do like Christmas, and we have way more of my Irish Catholic relatives than my Jewish relatives but at some point you just have to stop and smell the matzoh ball soup here1.
(I may have long-running Thoughts on this.)2
You know what else bothers me? My internal conflict between shipping Barry and Iris. On one hand, I do have a soft spot for those “hero gets the girl” stories, which, blame society on that. And I do know that they’re comics canon…mostly. And Candace and Grant just have such amazing on-screen chemistry that I can’t help being swayed by it.
However, the ace in me really wishes they’d keep the sibling relationship. Because let’s face it, it doesn’t happen very often. The boy doesn’t get the girl and then just, like, stays friends with her? And doesn’t bring it up again? And actually likes her boyfriend and just kind of, like, gets over it? No, Kevin, that’s far too unrealistic, it would never happen.
(Never mind that’s kind of 95% of my own personal experiences but whatevs)
So let’s talk about Barry’s heartfelt declaration. Bethany’s already covered how much of a dick move it was, but let’s explore that further, shall we?
Crushes happen. Romantic, platonic, aesthetic, etc.3 It’s perfectly normal, and it often happens at the worst of times. I’ve had crushes on people who weren’t single. I’ve had crushes on people when I wasn’t single. I’ve had so many crushes of various types over the decades that I couldn’t act on because sometimes you just let it go. Sometimes it’s indicative of something else. Sometimes it’s just not the right time, or the right person, or you’re misinterpreting other anxieties.
You let it go, because you are an adult. If someone is genuinely happy with their partner, telling them that you think it should be you instead is a gigantic dick move. Even if they’d be receptive to it, unless they’re in a poly relationship, you’re putting a huge amount of responsibility on them that they don’t even deserve. What do they do with this information? If they ignore it, they’re an asshole. If they address it, they’re an asshole.
Sure, this isn’t universal. Matters of the heart are kind of a case-by-case basis, after all. But think about what your intentions are here.
This is why, as frustrating as it is that Barry dropped a huge bomb on Iris, he did the right thing afterwards and just tried to move on. Telling both her and Eddie that he was happy for them, even if he actually wasn’t? That is also what you do. Because you’re an adult.
I could go on for hours about this, but I think it’s time to actually talk about what I noticed about the episode. Bethany’s stealing my bullet points but I’m not done with them yet myself!
- WHAT WERE THE PRESENTS BARRY GOT THEM this is going to bug me forever
- I want to know what kind of rivalry Harrison Wells and Stephen Hawking have.
- LET CAITLIN SNOW HAVE A GOOD DAY FOR ONCE 2016
- The Reverse-Flash theme is accompanied by this rapid stuttering sound, which I initially thought was just the sound effect of him constantly blurring his appearance, but from this point on it shows up even when he isn’t using superspeed. It’s this creepy, almost Jason Voorhees kind of effect.
- A commenter on that video described it as “angry helicopter noises” so now I will never imagine them as anything different.
- Dr. McGee is another actor from the 1990s show, and much like someone in a future episode, she’s playing the same character as in that show. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment when they first put her Mercury Labs employee data up on the big screen is a picture of her from the ’90s show. It may not be exactly the same continuity, but I love these little throwbacks they do to make the connection.
- This is the first time we’ve seen a fight between speedsters on the show and it is AMAZING
Bethany the Martian is an abuser of parentheses and works in the Pizza Mines. She can be found on Twitter (@martianbethany – the account is locked for safety, not privacy, most follow requests will be accepted) and on Tumblr (bethanythemartian).
Like our content? Please consider sponsoring Made Of Fail on Patreon!
- You know what really bothers me? When I tell people I’m Jewish and people go “wait really?” because of my Irish last name. Because it’s completely unheard of for an Irish person to not be Catholic, right? Or that mixed-faith marriages exist, or that I might have converted. I don’t really talk about how much it bothers me but it really does. Fellow Jews, y’all know what I’m talking about here.
- I LAUGH IN THE FACE OF YOUR “WAR ON CHRISTMAS”, GOYIM.
- I wish I’d have learned about this in school. I thought I was heterosexual for thirty years.