Is it just me or is it getting a bit misty in here? Lock up your emotions tight, ’cause we’re taking a look at CW’s The Flash.
Barry Allen has a complicated relationship with the law, his fathers, and how the law interacts with his fathers. Jailbird Dad was arrested and incarcerated by Cop Dad, but then Barry was given powers by Science Dad1 and uses it in a way that makes both Jailbird Dad and Cop Dad proud of him, and then the skies turn red and the Crisis of Infinite Dads begins.
(The Flash Season One: The Flashpoint Pair-o-dads)
Hope you had a lovely Father’s Day, readers. Or, in Barry’s case, Fathers’ Day.2 I’ve had a tumultuous few weeks, which is why this episode is so late, but I’m back – and I’m not alone! Joining me in these Flash reviews is our friend Bethany, who will join us a little further down the post.
The episode may be old, but spoiler warnings are still in full effect after the cut.
How do you deal with metahumans? Eventually, the police should be able to handle super-powered criminals, but right now they don’t even believe that superpowers exist. Let alone being able to process, contain, and bring them to trial when they can just turn into a pile of green smoke and float away on the gentle summer breeze.
That’s not even taking into consideration what to call them.
Given the nature of the Villain Of The Week, there are quite a few leaps in scientific deduction to make this all pull together smoothly, but as I’ve said before: Silver Age Science means just let it go and bask in the awesome. Sure, Barry goes startlingly quickly from thinking the gas is controlled by the dude to the gas being the dude, but at least there’s a bit of DNA left in the victims3 that helps propel that leap to conclusions.
Fatherhood plays a role in this episode, much like it plays a role in pretty much every episode, but it also really sets up the almost sibling-like friendship between Barry and Caitlin. They tease each other, but they also really care about each other, and you can see that Barry’s staring directly at her when he asks Wells if she can help him in the lab instead of going down to the Particle Accelerator. He doesn’t know all the details, but he knows enough about the situation to know that it’s a sore spot for her and she needs to accept it on her own terms, not have it forced upon her.
At the same time, Caitlin does kind of project a bit onto Barry – which, can you really blame her? – and when he’s dying on her table it’s Ronnie all over again, and she is not going to let another person she cares about die, not while she has something to say about it.
This is, I think, the core of the ensemble cast, and I really love that everyone has an important role to play. It’s not just Barry Allen and his Unpowered Friends, it’s Barry and the Team Of Scientists (With Their Own Specializations) Who Are All Crucial and Integral To The Crimefighting Unit. Cisco is engineering, Caitlin is biomedical, Wells is creepy yet insightful and has the money and the broad physicist experience to tie everything together.
Even Joe, who isn’t a scientist in the slightest, is an important part, and he delivers one of the most important lessons for Barry to learn. He can’t save everyone, and he’s going to make mistakes. He’s not going to be perfect. But it’s important to keep doing it regardless, because of all the people he does save.
I really love that Joe is in on this from word one. Have I said that already? Because I do. He gives Barry some extra perspective on the crimefighting aspects of the job, and the familial support that a lot of superheroes go without.
Things to note this episode:
- It took them a couple episodes, but they’ve really kind of solidified the lightning trails of Barry’s speedmo graphics, and I love the look of it. Prior to this series, I hadn’t really been an expert on the Flash – still really don’t qualify as one now but that’s not the point – but I didn’t think the lightning was anything more than the accents of his suit. Now I know it’s a direct part of the Speed Force and his powers, and it’s a really nice effect.
- Barry, you know about Cordyceps because you played Pokémon and The Last Of Us, don’t pretend otherwise.
- Caitlin Snow always Sciences in really fashionable dresses and heels, which – respect, girl.
I have not watched as much Flash as Kevin has, I’m only up to… like, 1/3 of the way through the first season, before I stopped watching? I’ll let you guys know when I start getting episodes that are New To Me, but for now we’re in stuff I have seen before. (I have been half-spoiled on some things and I also don’t care about spoilers so if you are my buddy on Twitter or come to my Tumblr and wanna say a thing but you’re not sure if you’ll spoil me: I don’t care, tell me the thing.)
I love that Barry Allen has Many Dads, and I always enjoy fiction about families that are family by choice and not blood. And I’m really glad that Kevin covered it because that’s not what I wanna talk about!
Let’s talk about secrets!
So here’s something that happened twice last week. Someone of my acquaintance asking me this: “Can I tell you a secret?”
The problem is that nobody accepts your “yeah, sure” as an answer? Like, that’s always the key to unlocking a conversation that looks like this:
Them: “Hey, can I tell you a secret?”
Me: “Yeah, what’s up?”
Them: “No, but, I mean, you won’t tell anybody.”
Me: “No, of course not.”
Them: “I mean, really. Like, really really.”
Me: *regrets engaging in this conversation and also getting out of bed*
Uh, anyway, so both times someone said ‘hey promise me you won’t tell another living soul about this’ and both times I swore a blood oath under the waning moon that I would not reveal their tortured secrets, they both told me the most not-secret secrets that were so mundane I felt light-headed for a minute.
That’s what the Secret Relationship subplot to this episode felt like to me.
Iris has a Secret Relationship with her father’s partner. (Out of context, that sentence sounds WAY CREEPY.) They have been hiding it since the beginning. Now, in Episode Three, the secret part is starting to wear on Eddie, because Secret Relationships are pretty tough to maintain, especially if it’s more serious than “we occasionally bang in a convenient bed/closet/bathroom” (even then, tbqh, it’s kinda rough). Iris is the driving force behind keeping this a secret because of two reasons. The overt one is “my dad is gonna be pissed,” which is kinda true, and the underlying one is “if everyone knows then it is a real thing that can be taken away” which was already true.
The point I’m getting to is that neither of the consequences of the secret being learned is worse than the damage it’s causing.
One of the big overarching themes of the show is secrets – Iris not knowing who the Flash is (TELL HER THE TRUTH SWEET CRIMINY [I get one per episode, right?]) due to, uh, reasons I guess? (Cop Dad says “don’t tell her” and Barry shrugs and goes “okay”?) The public kinda knowing but not really knowing what’s going on with all these metahumans. Which is part of what Iris is investigating – she’s reporting on the Flash and his doings but it’s still sorta in Weekly World News territory.
And due to the police department not knowing about metahumans (or the possibility thereof), they don’t have the facilities, manpower, or training to take them down so now there is also a Secret Prison.
(I have SO MANY QUESTIONS about the Secret Prison. Who’s feeding everybody? Is it Cisco? How’s he gonna manage when they have, like, more than four people down there? It’s a logistical issue – I have had to deal with this! Do they just place big takeout orders? Does he go around from cell to cell saying “hey we’re doing Persian food today do you want kebabs or shawarma or what?” Is it pot luck? Does everyone bring a big dish every few days? What if someone has allergies?
“Cell Four has celiac disease and Cell Nine is allergic to strawberries and sensitive to bananas” “What does sensitive to bananas means?” “Won’t die if he eats some but will probably get sick, sometimes he asks for bananas because he feels like he’s low on potassium, give him coconut water instead, he always forgets that’s an option. Oh, Cell Three has lactose intolerance so you gotta avoid dairy – no, like, even if it looks at a cow don’t give it to her, I’m serious- and Cell Eight has a tree nut allergy.”
Like, what about clothes and laundry? Do they get to watch TV? Showers? Do they just stick angry metahumans in a tiny box and leave them to stew in anger and filth? Who buys all this shit, anyway?)
What was I talking about? Secrets, right.
The Secret Relationship is resolved when Iris tells Cop Dad and it turns out he already knew.
It’s not even a joke to say that’s pretty much how the conversation with Joe went because that’s how the conversation with Joe went. (Except he was in a hospital bed so whatever.)
Keeping things secret because of privacy reasons is one thing – “something happened and I don’t want to talk about it” is fine, but “hey I have this whole other life that the people I love most don’t know about and I lie to them when they ask me about it” is a different story. If Caitlin hadn’t wanted to talk about what happened to Ronnie because it was still too painful, everybody woulda been “yeah, I get that, take your time, do you need a hug?” (For real, though, she needs so many hugs.)
This subplot feels like it’s setting up for the reveal of the Flash to Iris which is weird because I Googled it and it takes FOREVER to get there.
(Seriously though, how long are they planning on keeping the metahumans in Secret Prison? Until forever? Are they planning on working on making them not metahuman so they can go to actual jail? Some of these people have to have friends and loved ones, do they get to communicate with them? This is all handwaved off and I feel like it’s one of those things that needs slightly more explanation, is that just me?)
Next time: CAPTAIN COLD
Kevin O’Shea is a writer and card-carrying member of the Double Punch Tuesdays Club at Big Belly Burger. You can find him on Twitter (@osheamobile), Tumblr (osheamobile), or watching his favorite television shows from the cloud.
Bethany the Martian is an abuser of parenthesis 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!
- Who is directly responsible for the entire situation with Jailbird Dad and Cop Dad in the first place OH SHIT SPOILERS
- Kyle Nimbus puts a little piece of himself in every person he murders.