[Review] The Flash (2014) – 1×18: “All Star Team Up”

This week’s episode is in stark contrast with the rest of the season. Grab your honey and hold them close, because it’s time to take a look at CW’s The Flash.


KEVIN

They say that any show is only as strong as its filler. The Flash is no different, because for an episode that normally would be dismissed as a Monster Of the Week, it’s surprisingly solid in plot and characterization.

Moreover, this episode is about trust between teammates, friends, family, and mentors. It’s a recurring theme, but especially here.

Thankfully, we have someone extremely well-versed in the importance of trust between teammates! Because that’s what they’re all about, over on Arrow.

Though this episode is old, spoiler warnings are still in effect after the cut.

Obligatory

Bees!

Not just any bees, mind you, but robot bees. Robot bees controlled not by a metahuman, but by a robotics expert and illustrious hacker, out for revenge because…her funding got cut?

I don’t know. Lady made an army of robot bees, I don’t think logic really ever entered the equation here.

As it turns out, Barry can’t run faster than a swarm of robees (we’re calling them that now and you can’t stop us), and his suit doesn’t protect him against a thousand and one miniature poison injectors. He’s vulnerable. He’s out of his league.

It’s time to fight tech with tech.

Enter Ray Palmer, billionaire philanthropist. Over on Arrow, Ray bought out the failing Queen Industries (an Arrow Season 2 and 3 recurring plot) and renamed it Palmer Tech. He also used it to research and fund the creation of his crime-fighting supersuit, after he and his late fiancée were caught up in the Season 2 finale.

(Interestingly enough, part of the reason he builds it is so he can take down The Arrow, whom he blames [justifiably] for a lot of the rampant crime in Starling.)

(It…doesn’t go well.)

Part of Ray’s and Felicity’s presence here is to catch Flash viewers up on the events over on Arrow, since things have changed since the last crossover. Thankfully, Felicity handles that at her standard rate of speech, which I believe clocks in just under the Micro Machines guy.

“Oliver might be joining the League of Assassins, Laurel is the Black Canary, and Thea’s training with Malcolm. So I know about bad times.”

Which is a very good summary of what’s going on in Arrow this season, so now you don’t have to watch it! Thanks, Felicity!

Turns out there’s a lot to discover.

The Atom’s theme has a very industrial sound to it. Machines, buildings, foundries. It’s a simple theme, but certainly heroic. It’s a theme that goes in a straight line to where it needs to go, and everything else gets swept up along with it.

One of the things I love about this episode is that everyone could be right, given the amount of information they have at the time. Joe is perfectly justified in his suspicions that Caitlin and Cisco might be on Harribard’s side. We, as the viewers, know that they’re not, but he’s a cop. Moreover, he’s a homicide detective. He’s supposed to be suspicious.

I’m super glad, though, that Barry and Joe make a point to bring Cisco and Caitlin into the fold at the end. Science Siblings, always and forever.

Finally, I really have to give a lot of credit to how they’re handling the Gaslighting Of Iris West chapter right now. As in, Iris is goddamned sick of it and is ready to drop a hammer on anyone and everyone that gets in the way.

Barry’s speech to her is heartfelt, solid, and even good advice. Iris, however, is not obligated to take it, and only she can determine what’s best for her. Not Barry, not Eddie, not Joe. She recognizes that it’s good advice, and also recognizes that it doesn’t matter.

Iris motherfuckin’ West, everyone. Accept no substitutes.

COUNTDOWN TO CATHARSIS: 3

Things to note this episode:

  • Barry and Joe are having SO MUCH FUN stopping criminals.
  • Ray and Felicity double-teamed with accidental innuendo, made worse because they keep digging themselves further and further into the hole.
    • Arrows are fuckin’ weird, mate.
  • I really, REALLY feel bad for Eddie here. He’s caught in the middle of some massive shit and there’re no good options for him to take.
    • Actually, there’s one good option. Tell Iris that he’s working with the Flash. But still.
  • “I thought Central City was supposed to be the fun one!” Ha ha, meta humor! On the freakin’ nose there, Felicity.
  • “It’s okay. Felicity knows.”
    “Wow. So, everybody but Iris.”
    “Feels that way.”
    Therein lies your problem, Barry.
  • Barry has the worst poker face in the world. Way to let the homicidal maniac know that you’re onto him, man.
  • I kind of like Joe and Cisco’s friendship moments? I don’t know why, it’s just one of those things that really stuck with me.
  • “OH THANK GOD IT’S THE FOOD”
  • The robee grows like six thousand percent between when Barry puts it in the vial and when they look at it in the microscope. Look at it, it fills the whole tube! It was not that big when they put it in. EXPLAIN, PROPS DEPARTMENT, EXPLAIN.
    • (The explanation is so that people could see the detail on it and hopefully not notice the difference in the vials. BUT I NOTICED.)
  • Brie Larvan’s honeycomb dress is gorgeous.

BETHANY

I feel like I’m raining on the parade, because I keep hammering this into the ground. But it’s still a problem.

Early in the episode, Eddie and Joe are arguing about whether or not to tell Iris. Eddie’s in the pro category – he hates lying to Iris and his relationship with her is suffering, because he also sucks at lying to Iris.

This exchange happens:

Joe: “I’m her father.”
Eddie: “I’m her boyfriend. When does my vote outweigh yours?”
Joe: “When you’re her husband.”

There’s something very weird about the way Joe treats his adult daughter, and this is the heart of it.

Let’s cover all the points real quick. Iris gets a vote. Hers weighs the most. She’s an adult. She deserves the truth. The people she loves the most are lying to her. Joe doesn’t own her. If Eddie were married to her, he wouldn’t own her either. Neither is in charge of protecting her without her knowledge.

Nor is Barry.

This is all nonsense.

Iris’s reaction is perfect, and fully justified, but I do not think that the weird, unsavory reasoning behind keeping her in the dark is ever explored in the way it deserves to be. I don’t think Joe ever gets taken to task over this. This shit just slides by, unquestioned.

Joe is fine with Eddie and Iris’s relationship being destroyed over this. Barry steps in to try to help, but Joe offers nothing.

I like Joe, for the most part. This side of him? I do not. He does not take his daughter’s status as a real, grown-ass adult or her relationship with her boyfriend any kind of seriously.

Anyway.

Cisco is not happy about bees being the enemy this time, and I’m with him. Like, I’m not really afraid of bees (anymore) but if I found out that bees were assassinating people I would switch into the “ain’t nobody got time for bees” category right quick.

(I am afraid of wasps. I was chased by a swarm of them when I was little. I managed to be really lucky and only got stung once, but a swarm of yellowjackets chasing you off a playground is the kind of thing that stays with you, if you get my drift.)

I’d like to say that the people who did the effects work on the show did a good job of making the robotic murder revenge bees look good and evil. Bees are actually pretty cute! They have big tummies and those handsome little stripes, but the robo-bees looked pretty creepy, IMO.

Joe and Barry having a blast while taking down bad guys is kind of a beautiful thing, but it also serves a very important purpose – it reminds us how Barry actually is when he’s tracking down bad guys. When he’s with his team he’s all…grim and distant and moody. And it’s understandably so, in this particular instance. Wells murdered his mom, and Joe has introduced a (reasonable if unnecessary, in this particular instance) caution about Cait and Cisco, and their allegiances.

It’s the perfect episode to bring Felicity in. She’s a veteran, and she knows Barry well enough to see through him while still being outside the situation enough to have some kind of objectivity. It’s hard for Barry and Joe to see clearly when they’re right in the middle of it.

Things of note:

  • Cisco is having flashbacks to a timeline that doesn’t exist anymore. (You know, the one where Wells murdered him.) Just, you know, putting that out there. That’s a thing that’s happening.
  • Felicity tells Barry not to die.
  • He gets swarmed by bees and his heart stops.
  • “I WAS VERY SPECIFIC THAT YOU NOT DIE.”
  • They use the defibrillators in the suit to get Barry to wake up?
  • I’m not sure how that works.
  • Apitoxin causes inflammation at the injection site and is an anticoagulant. Even at the outrageously high levels introduced in the show, heart stoppage shouldn’t be the cause of death, I’m pretty sure.
  • (It would probably be pretty gruesome and involve a LOT of blood.)
  • If it’s not the bee venom outright, then it’s anaphylaxis, right? Even those who aren’t allergic to bees might go into anaphylactic shock over that much bee venom, and to the outside observer it would just be “huh, they were allergic to bees.”
  • (Which is why, IMO, this is a clever assassination weapon.)
  • But the solution to that isn’t defib, it’s epinephrine.
  • I know the defib thing was just so they could show Barry using a new power, which was hands of lightning, to defib Cisco at the end.
  • (Because he took a bee for Ray Palmer.)
  • I’m just saying, pretty sure it doesn’t work that way? (I’m not a doctor so who knows, but pretty sure the solution would still be epinephrine.)
  • Did anybody notice that Barry’s stopped setting fire to his civilian clothes when he dashes around? I just now noticed that it’s been a while since he did that.
  • Nobody commented on it or anything; he just found the right speed to stop doing that, which is good, shows precision, and it’s subtle, too. Barry’s getting better at this gig.
  • Felicity, about Ray: “It’s kinda like I’m dating Barry, but in Oliver’s body.”
  • …fair.
  • Felicity and Bug-Eyed Bandit (a name that Cisco and Ray Palmer agreed on for Brie) get into a hacking duel.
  • Felicity: “I’ve never had a nemesis before. I kinda like it.”
  • Felicity I <3 U
  • Also if it only takes one bee to kill a guy (Cisco) why bother with a whole horde of them? You risk loss, capture, or damage to flailing victims while potentially showing your hand.
  • I mean, I guess Brie isn’t really the subtle type.
  • Her dress, for example.
  • (It’s amazing.)
  • I’m just saying.

Kevin O’Shea is a writer and part-time apiary volunteer. You can find him on Twitter (@osheamobile), Tumblr (osheamobile), or boggling at the existence of a Beekeeping For Dummies book.

Bethany the Martian is an abuser of parentheses and works in the Pizza Mines. She can be found on Twitter (@martianbethany) and on Tumblr (bethanythemartian).

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