Friday, May 25, 2018

The Flash Season 4, Episode 22: Think Fast

This week on The Flash, we get an episode of actual consequence, in which things happen and the plot is actually advanced. Overall Think Fast was much better than last week's wheel-spinning, time wasting exercise.

In fact last week's dreary Harry And The Harrisons only goes to prove that the season long story arc just plain doesn't work. Twenty three episodes is just way too long to drag out a single plotline, and inevitably leads to padding. Think how much better it would be if The Flash adopted Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s "story pod" concept, and had two or three shorter story arcs per season. With fewer episodes to fill, the pace would be faster, there'd be no stalling and far less boredom!

Anyway, back to this episode. So far this season isn't heading in quite the direction I expected, which I guess is a good thing. For example, I wasn't too awfully upset when Ralph "died," as I knew he'd eventually be resurrected somehow. Now I'm not so sure! There's only one episode left in the season, and he's still not back. I still believe he'll return, but I'm starting to get a bit worried!

In fact with just one episode left, I'm wondering how the hell they're going to wrap up all this season's numerous storylines. They need to stop the Enlightenment, defeat DeVoe, restore Harry's intelligence, bring back Ralph, bring back Killer Frost, and birth Joe and Cecile's kid. Whew! That's a lot of area to cover in just forty two minutes!

Harry's intelligence continues to deteriorate, to the point where he's a stumbling moron who can't stop tripping over every chair he sees. For some reason, this week the writer's chose to play his condition for laughs (!), which is shocking to say the least. Later on in the episode, Marlize is genuinely moved by Harry's tragic plight and pledges to help. 

So which is it writers? What am I supposed to be feeling about Harry losing his mind? Am I supposed to be laughing or crying? You can't have it both ways.

This week we also get the surprising revelation that Killer Frost has been a part of Caitlin since birth. That actually makes quite a bit of sense, and makes her sudden and uncharacteristic obsession with restoring her evil persona a bit more plausible.

Also in this episode, Cisco and Caitlin convince Barry to make them honorary speedsters by pulling them into Flashtime with him. Gosh, remember last season when there were way too many speedsters on this show? Wouldn't now be a great time to round up Wally, Jay and Jesse Quick to help defeat DeVoe, rather than trying to speed up poor Cisco and Caitlin?

Lastly, as far as I know we still haven't been given an explanation for the "This house is bitchin'" catchphrase uttered by an addled Barry in the season premiere. They've got one more chance to explain it!

SPOILERS!


The Plot:
We begin at The Castle— a super secret ARGUS facility that's currently housing Fallout, the last of the bus metas. Fallout's surrounded by tons of state-of-the-art, high tech security, in a desperate attempt to protect him from DeVoe. John Diggle, of Arrow fame, arrives to inspect The Castle. He's probed, scanned and interrogated until the guards are convinced he's legit.

The second he's inside, Diggle reveals (to no one's surprise) he's actually Clifford DeVoe, who was using Ralph's morphing powers to disguise himself. DeVoe then casually strolls through the complex, obliterating squads of guards with his many powers. He locates Fallout and smiles.

At Star Labs, the Gang's still trying to figure out a way to defeat DeVoe and prevent his Enlightenment, which will erase and reboot the minds of everyone on Earth. Harry stumbles in and trips over a series of chairs, as we see his IQ is steadily dropping. Because mental deterioration is funny, right? Iris tells Barry her blog post has gotten over 400,000 hits, and people from all over are posting DeVoe sightings.

Meanwhile, we see Caitlin talking with Dr. Finkle— Barry and Iris' couples therapist. She tries to tell her about her alter ego Killer Frost without revealing she's really a metahuman, which of course makes Dr. Finkle think she's nuts. Finkle believes Caitlin's repressing something important. Unfortunately before she can get to the bottom of it, Caitlin gets a Team Flash alert and rushes off.

Back at STAR Labs, Iris' blog suddenly gets corrupted, presumably by DeVoe using Kilg%re's powers. This makes Barry suspicious, and he tries to contact Diggle at ARGUS. When there's no answer he just zips to Star City and brings back Diggle in person. Diggle's reluctant to talk about the top secret classified Castle, but relents when Barry says the fate of the world is at stake.

Diggle accesses The Castle and sees he "reported" there six hours ago. Team Flash realizes this means DeVoe impersonated him, and now has Fallout. Cisco says DeVoe's using Fallout's nuclear energy to power his satellites, and they only have twelve hours before the Enlightenment begins.

Barry wants to zoom in and stop DeVoe, but Cisco points out the building's impenetrable high tech security, including electrified floor panels that deliver 70,000 volts. Barry comes up with a doozy of a plan— instead of avoiding the plates, he'll slip into Flashtime and deliberately step on them. The resulting electrical surge will supercharge his speed, making him fast enough to follow DeVoe into his pocket dimension before the portal closes! Comic Book Science!

Cisco checks his readouts, and says DeVoe's also holding six ARGUS employees hostage, to keep Team Flash from trying to stop him. He tells Barry there's no way to rescue the hostages and capture DeVoe as well— even at superspeed.

Elsewhere, Cecile's due date is almost here, and Joe's nervously packing and repacking her bag. Cecile orders a pizza, and when the delivery man arrives, she not only reads his mind, but actually starts to become him. She even speaks and acts like him!

Back at STAR Labs, Iris searches for Marlize, hoping to incarcerate her "before she causes any trouble." As if she hasn't already? Anyway, Harry wanders in and suggests looking into Marlize's past for clues as to where she might be in the now. Iris is genuinely impressed by this brilliant idea. Wasn't she a reporter at one point? Checking a perp's known haunts seems like pretty standard procedure, but what do I know?

Cisco and Caitlin approach Barry with a solution to the hostage conundrum. All he has to do is take them into Flashtime with him, and they can capture/rescue everyone. Barry's reluctant to endanger them, but they convince him it's the only way. He tells them they'll need to practice moving at superspeed first, and begins training them.

Unfortunately the training doesn't go well. Barry speeds them up, but Cisco finds he can't generate a proper breach while he's in Flashtime. He begins to panic, which causes his legs to slow down (I guess?) and root to the spot. He then falls out of Flashtime back into normal speed.

Joe brings Cecile to Caitlin, to find out what's wrong with her. After an exam, Caitlin says Cecile's pregnancy-induced telepathy is being supercharged by a surge of "relaxin," a hormone common in expectant mothers. The relaxin is expanding Cecile's powers, causing her to inhabit minds, not just read them. As confirmation, Cecile begins acting like Caitlin, fussing and cleaning the lab.

Caitlin gives Cecile an inhaler, which magically snaps her out of her mind control episode. Cecile tells Caitlin that when she inhabited her mind, she could tell she was "hiding something."

Iris finds an impressive amount of info on Marlize and tacks it on a board. Harry says that now that Marlize has left DeVoe, they should try to get her to help take him down. Iris, who was stabbed in the chest by Marlize a few episodes back, says that's not gonna happen and abruptly leaves.

Barry trains Cisco and Caitlin some more. This time Cisco's able to breach in Flashtime, but Caitlin's unable to use her cold gun. She falls out of the Speed Force and knocks herself out. While she's unconscious, she starts flashing back to her childhood, when she was hit by a car. Barry takes Caitlin to the med bay and when she wakes up she wants to resume training. Barry refuses, saying it's too dangerous and he doesn't want to get his friends killed.

Harry follows Iris home and tries to convince her to find and turn Marlize. They do the old, "Someone Says Something Ordinary Which Triggers A Solution To A Problem" bit, and Iris says she knows where to find Marlize.

Back at STAR, Cisco confronts Barry and gives him a heartfelt speech on why he should continue to train him and Caitlin, despite the deadly peril. He tells Barry to stop feeling guilty for Ralph's "death," as they've all lost someone. Cisco says if they don't do this, the Enlightenment will happen and they'll all die virtual deaths anyway, so it doesn't matter. Barry's finally convinced to resume their training, although we never see it happen.

Iris returns to STAR Labs and says she knows where to find Marlize. Barry gives her a spare teleport disk, which I guess are just lying around the lab, and tells her to be careful.

At ARGUS, Fallout reaches critical mass and releases all his radiation. DeVoe shrinks the chamber, puts it in his pocket, opens a portal and steps through it. Barry, Cisco and Caitlin then breach into ARGUS. Barry speeds them up into Flashtime, and they begin rescuing the hostages, who are suspended in midair by DeVoe's powers. Cisco creates a small breach under each one, while Caitlin creates an ice platform below their feet for some reason. Barry then rushes toward the rapidly closing portal and leaps through it right before it closes.

Barry exits the portal in downtown Central City (I guess?). DeVoe's there, and we see he's holding five tiny satellites in the palm of his hand. They fly upward, and he uses Dwarfstar's power to expand them to normal size. Barry runs up the side of a building and leaps into the air at superspeed. He tosses the alnico grenade (which they got from Amunet Black last week) at the nearest satellite. It hits it, and the satellite explodes into a million pieces. Hooray, the Earth is saved!


Barry zips back down to the ground, where DeVoe doesn't seem all that concerned about his defeat. In fact he stands there monologuing, explaining how much better the world will be when the Enlightenment erases everyone's minds, and everyone will finally be at peace. Amazingly Barry stands there listening, instead of zipping him into the Star Labs Secret Super Jail at top speed. DeVoe then opens a portal and escapes.

Back at The Castle, Caitlin feels it's the best time to tell Cisco she thinks she's repressing memories. He vibes her to the past, and she sees herself riding a bike and being hit by a car. Her younger self looks in her bike mirror, and sees herself as Killer Frost. Back in the present, Caitlin realizes the particle accelerator explosion had nothing to do with her transformation, and Killer Frost has always been inside her. 


Iris and Harry teleport to England— specifically the first apartment Marlize and DeVoe ever shared. As they snoop around, Marlize appears with her samurai sword, ready to attack. Harry tries to convince her to join them, but fumbles his words as his intelligence continues to fade. She realizes this is what'll happen to everyone in the world if the Enlightenment happens. Marlize then stands down, and Iris asks for her help.

Barry, Cisco and Caitlin return to STAR Labs. Barry's puzzled as to why DeVoe didn't seem to care that one of his satellites was destroyed. Suddenly their computers begin going haywire and turning purple. They realize DeVoe's using Kilg%re's power to take control of STAR Labs' own satellite, to replace the one Barry destroyed.

DeVoe then enters the Star Labs Time Vault, where he's greeted by Gideon. He orders her to initiate the Enlightenment Protocol. Barry runs to the Time Vault, but the door's locked and he can't vibe through. Cisco asks what they're going to do, and a terrified Barry says he doesn't know.

Thoughts:
• The episode opens with DeVoe infiltrating "The Castle"— a high tech, heavily fortified, super secret ARGUS facility where Fallout's being held. DeVoe easily gains access to the building, then wipes out squad after squad of guards in an amazing (for TV) scene of glorious superpowered violence.


As always, it's fun to try and figure out which of DeVoe's many powers he's using during the battle. Here're all the ones I saw:


At The Castle security gate, DeVoe uses Elongated Man's morphing ability to look like John Diggle.

A guard then approaches and asks for a password, which DeVoe easily provides. He's using Brainstorm's powers here, to pluck the password from the guard's mind. Clever!

A second guard then asks for a DNA scan. DeVoe uses Melting Point's powers to fool the scanner. Based on what we saw of Melting Point, DeVoe would have needed to come in contact with Diggle at some point, in order to mimic his DNA. When exactly that might have happened, I have no idea.

DeVoe then uses Null's gravity manipulating powers to incapacitate the guards by increasing the weight of their lungs, causing them all to pass out.

Finally he enters The Castle, and shrinks a guard with Dwarfstar's powers and squashes him under his foot.

A squad of guards then open fire on him, pretty much at point blank range. Since DeVoe is inhabiting Elongated Man's elastic body, the bullets can't harm him. Once he collects enough of them, he flexes his torso and send the bullets flying back at the guards!

DeVoe then fires a blast of white energy down the corridor, which sends the guards flying. I think this is supposed to be one of The Fiddler's sonic shockwaves, as it's accompanied by a high pitched whine. I'm not sure though, as most of the time her power is depicted as a series of concentric circles. I guess it's possible her power has more than one form.

One of the guards gets a bit too close to DeVoe, so he uses Null's power again to lift him off the floor.

And then something really bizarre happens. While DeVoe has the guard suspended in the air, he uses The Fiddler's power to amplify the terrified man's scream (as seen by the concentric rings). He then sends his victim's visible scream (!) down the corridor, where it topples another guard!

That's gotta be one of the oddest and most convoluted uses of a power ever, and I admit I had to watch this part of the scene about twenty times to figure out what actually happened.

Several guards then approach DeVoe and begin tasing him with their cattle prods. Once again, I'm assuming Elongated Man's indestructible body protects him from harm here. He then uses Kilg%re's powers to reverse the polarity of the prods, causing them to shock the guards into unconsciousness.

Another guard runs at DeVoe with a grenade in hand. He uses Null's power to force the guard to the floor. The grenade goes off, blowing DeVoe right through the wall!

Several guards follow him through the hole in the wall. After a beat, another Fiddler shock wave blasts them right back out.

He then uses Null's power again to levitate another guard.

Several guards open fire on him, and once again he uses Null's power, this time to weigh the bullets down and cause them to drop to the floor. He sure gets a lot of use out of her power!

He then uses Black Bison's power, which we don't see very often, to reanimate the dead guards. In effect they become zombies (well, sort of) and start attacking the living guards! I gotta admit, that's pretty darned cool.

My favorite part of the corridor fight? A lone guard sneaks up behind DeVoe and opens fire. DeVoe uses the Folded Man's power to open a dimensional portal in the bullet's path, which swallows it up. He then opens a second portal beside the guard (it's the white splotch on the wall, just above DeVoe's shoulder), and his own bullet emerges and kills him!

DeVoe then holds up a single marble and tosses it over his shoulder. He uses Jinx's bad luck powers, which causes the guard to slip on the marble and break his neck.

Lastly he enters the chamber where Fallout's being held, and uses Kilg%re's power to take control of the computers. Whew! All that in a little under three minutes!

• By the way, this is the third time this season that Ralph's morphing ability has been used to mimic a black man. I'll accept the fact that his power can alter his facial features, but how the hell does it change the color of his skin? It he like a cuttlefish?

• If you look closely at the sign on the left, it looks like ARGUS' super secret black ops site is disguising itself as the Wellbiss Paper Products company. Smart! Who'd ever think to look for a classified facility inside an unassuming industrial building?

Unfortunately this cunning subterfuge is somewhat foiled by the fact that there's a squad of armed soldiers guarding the front gate, which is something you'd not likely see at a paper company. Even worse, these guards all wearing large "ARGUS" patches on their shoulders! Whoops!

• OK, so DeVoe easily takes control of The Castle. So what? It ain't like it's the only ARGUS facility out there. What the hell is the rest of the organization doing during the twelve hours it takes DeVoe to power up his battery? Surely when The Castle "went dark" they'd have become suspicious, and sent out a squad to investigate?

• As of this episode, a whopping SIX members of Team Flash are now seeing Dr. Finkel. Barry and Iris are in couples therapy with her, and at one point they brought Ralph to her for hypnosis. Joe and Caitlin started seeing her as well, after the whole "pregnancy induced telepathy" thing started. And now this week Caitlin's discussing Killer Frost with her.

At this point Finkel might as well just specialize her practice and advertise herself as "The Superhero Therapist!"

• During their therapy session, Caitlin and Dr. Finkel have the following conversation: 

Dr. Finkel: "Tell me about your dad." 
Caitlin: "My dad? He was the best. Loving, supportive, always pushed me to get smarter."
Dr. Finkel: "And how did you feel when he passed?"
Caitlin: "He had ALS. He was always hiding his symptoms from us. He never wanted us to see him suffer."

Hmm. Interesting. Back in the Season 2 episode The Reverse Flash Returns, Caitlin said her died suffered from MS (multiple sclerosis). Her mother, Dr. Carla Tannhauser, tried to save him, but he eventually died of the disease.

Admittedly ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and MS are similar conditions, but a doctor like Caitlin would never confuse the two. So which disease did Caitlin's dad have, writers?

• Team Flash tries to figure out where DeVoe will launch his satellites. Barry zooms past Ferris Airfield, while Iris says, "OK, we've got eyes on Cape Canaveral, Space X, and the Xichang Space Center." Barry then returns to STAR Labs and says, "And Blackhawk Island. That's every launch pad south of the 39th parallel."

In the Arrowverse, Ferris Air is an airfield located in Coast City. In the comics, it's an aerospace company where Hal Jordan, aka the Green Lantern, worked. It was owned by Carol Ferris, Jordan's fiancee. For reasons, Ferris became the supervillain Star Sapphire. 

Also in the comics, Blackhawk Island is the home base of the Blackhawks, a group of pilots and adventurers who operated in WWII. Note that there are also several real world locations called Blackhawk Island!

• Of course it's a running joke on the show that Diggle becomes nauseous and vomits anytime Barry "runs" him somewhere at superspeed.

• Cisco studies a readout of The Castle's extensive security, and spots several heat signatures. From this he comes to the conclusion that DeVoe has six hostages suspended in mid air above half a dozen corresponding electrified floor panels.

I'm having trouble understanding how he can glean that info from a flat, 2D schematic of the building. The floor plan can only show length and width, not height. How the heck does he know the hostages are floating above the tiles? Because they're not dead?

• Team Flash discuss what DeVoe wants with Fallout. Iris says, "He's using Borman's body as a battery." Diggle says, "Wait. A battery? Borman's containment cell is 10 feet tall." Barry replies, "And DeVoe has the power to shrink it down."

Wait a minute here... OK, I'll buy the fact that DeVoe can use Dwarfstar's power to shrink objects. But would a ten foot tall battery contain the same amount of energy when it's shrunk down to six inches? Wouldn't its power shrink as well?

By the way, eventually Fallout fully charges the containment cell. DeVoe then shrinks the highly radioactive cell and casually slips it in his pocket! I hope for his sake that chamber was good and shielded, or else Team Flash won't have to worry about The Thinker for much longer!

• Cecile's raging pregnancy hormones amplify her temporary psychic powers, causing her to inhabit the minds of those around her— including the pizza delivery guy. The second he shows up, Cecile starts speaking like a stoner, peppering her speech with "brahs" and "tubulars."

It's a fun little scene, and actress Danielle Nicolet camps it up like crazy. Who knew she could be so funny? Too bad she doesn't get to stretch her comedy muscles more on the show.

• Dang, pizza in Central City is pretty darned cheap. Only $8.50 (plus tip)!

• So why this sudden eleventh hour increase in Cecile's telepathic powers? I'm betting the writers are setting up this newfound ability so she can take down DeVoe in next week's season finale!

• At one point Joe and Cecile have the following conversation:

Joe: "Damn, where is this boy?"
Cecile: "You have already left Wally a dozen voice mails."
Joe: "He's literally on a time machine, so he has no excuse not to show up on time to meet his new baby sister."

Wow, another Wally reference! That's two in as many weeks! The Flash writers haven't completely forgotten about him after all! 

• Joe starts freaking out about Cecile's expanded powers, and takes her to STAR Labs. Caitlin examines her and theorizes that the relaxin hormone is "stretching" Cecile's telepathic abilities and causing them to intensify.

Once again, someone on the writing staff is either a former med student or has WebMD bookmarked. Turns out relaxin is a real thing! It's a hormone secreted during pregnancy, and causes the cervix to stretch and dilate, to make it easier to deliver the baby. Well done, guys!

• When Barry teaches Cisco and Caitlin how to move in Flashtime, he says, "Just remember, when you're moving this fast it's not about running with your legs. It's about staying calm, focused, centered. Otherwise you're gonna fall on your ass at Mach 3."

I think what he meant to say here is "Otherwise you will die." I don't see any way that falling on your ass at Mach 3 could be anything but fatal.

• By the way, Barry finds yet another application for his superspeed this week. Not only can he enter Flashtime and live out an hour of his life in the space of a microsecond, he can now speed up others as well. And he no longer has to be touching them to do so. This week he discovers he can rev them up into Flashtime and turn them loose!

This seems like a can of worms the writers really shouldn't be opening right now. Barry's already far too powerful, to the point where the show has to constantly come up with lame excuses as to why he can't wrap up every episode's conflict in a fraction of a second.

• When Iris is trying to figure out how to find Marlize, she actually makes a movie "connection board," complete with dozens of photos, newspaper clippings and arrows pointing to significant items. The only things missing are red strings connecting the various clues!

You'd think with the vast resources of STAR Labs at her disposal, she could do all this on a computer screen— and much more efficiently as well. But no, this 1960s method is fine too.

• Iris gets fed up with Harry's "help" and goes home to work. He then follows her to her apartment building. He starts knocks on the door, stops and chants "West-Allen" over and over and over. Unfortunately in his addled state, he's knocking on the wrong door.

As Harry's acting exactly like Sheldon Cooper here, I am one hundred percent sure this was a The Big Bang Theory reference!

• Welp, Caitlin doesn't restore Killer Frost in this episode, but she does have a flashback to her childhood. where we see she was apparently one of those creepy-ass kids from Village Of The Damned!

• This week we learn that Marlize's last name was Malan, and she was born in Cape Town, South Africa (where DeVoe is from as well). She also has a PhD in Inflationary Theory (?) and Engineering, and was a tenured professor at Oxford before she met DeVoe.

Nice to finally get some backstory on herin the next to last episode!

• Marlize is ready to try and kill Iris again, until she notices Harry trying and failing to form a sentence. Then it's like somebody flipped a switch, as she instantly goes into Caring Mode and wants to help.

Is this why the writers came up with the whole "Dumbed Down Harry" plotline this season? So Marlize would take pity on him and decide to work with Team Flash?

• For months now I've been predicting that Marlize would eventually turn against her husband and help Team Flash take him down, and I was right! Unfortunately this development comes just one week after they teamed up with Amunet to battle DeVoe, which dilutes its impact quite a bit. 

We basically get the exact same "The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend" subplot two weeks in a row. And since Marlize will be back next week as well, that means we'll see the plot for a third consecutive week! Bad form, writers!

• Barry manages to blow up one of DeVoe's satellite's with Amunet's grenade, seemingly ending the Enlightenment. DeVoe then stands completely motionless in front of Barry, monologuing about his plan.

It's a lovely speech, and apparently Barry's so entranced by it that he completely forgets he has superspeed and could easily grab DeVoe and toss him in the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail in between blinks. These are the kinds of things that happen on a show when the main character is too damned powerful.

• DeVoe enters the secret Time Vault inside STAR Labs and initiates the Enlightenment. Once again we see the hidden door to the Vault looks noticeably different from the surrounding panels. As I said a week or two ago, it kind of defeats the purpose of a secret door when you make it stand out!

This Week's Best Lines:
Barry: "I mean you've seen DeVoe in action."

Cisco: "Yeah, the guy's a one man Legion of Doom. So send the Super Friends."

Joe: "Okay, so I got snacks. I got clothes for you. I got clothes for the baby. Damn, I forgot something."
Cecile: Joe, we are not gonna need a katana at the hospital!"
Joe: "Okay, so you're in my head again and it's entirely possible that we get attacked by a samurai at the hospital. "

Cecile: "This is gonna be tew-tully siiiiiiick!"
Joe: "Sick? Are you feeling sick?"
Cecile: Nah, brah, nah. This delivery is gonna be siiiiiiick! Having this baby is gonna be like one EPIC wave! Ha hah ha!"

Joe: "You okay? You're scaring me."
(there's a knock at the door)
Cecile: "Far out! That's the 'za I ordered. 'Chovies and pineapple. Tubular!"
Delivery Man: "Tubular, brah! There's your 'za! That'll totally be $8.50."
Cecile: "Thanks, brah."
Delivery Man: "Hey, this house is..."
Joe: "Bitchin', yeah, everybody says that."

Delivery Man: No. Hard to find. Those are some gnarly bushes outside.!"
Cecile and Delivery Man: (together) "Hah ha hah hah!"
Cecile: "Let's crush some 'za, brah. Dude! Dude?"


DeVoe: "Once upon a time in some remote corner of that universe, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing."
Barry: "You're quoting Nietzsche at me?"
DeVoe: You destroyed a satellite. Top marks, quick boy. You can destroy a thousand more and you will still march closer to the Enlightenment."

Barry: "I forget what Nietzsche said about wiping minds."

DeVoe: (explaining the Enlightenment) "A world enlightened. Within a day, all soldiers will lay down their arms. Every nuclear weapon will be disarmed within six months. Poverty, famine, disease eradicated. We will clean up the streets. People will put down their idiot phones and become curious again, and I will be there to teach them. I, not you, will save this godforsaken world."
Barry: "No, you'll just control it. You want to take away free will."
DeVoe: "A pittance for humanity to pay to know peace."
Barry: "But we wouldn't know each other. Parents wouldn't remember their kids. Husbands wouldn't remember their wives."
DeVoe: "Good. You hit upon precisely the point. Emotion is the father of all error. Chemicals in our brain that distract us, impede progress. And the most destructive and ridiculous imbalance of all is that thing you feebles call love. I learned this from experience, Mr. Allen. And soon you will too."

Iris: "Pessimism isn't smarter than optimism. In this life the bravest thing you can be is optimistic."
Marlize: "Familiar words."
Iris: "You said them when you were at Oxford. Two weeks before you met Clifford DeVoe."

Lost In Translation

As I'm sure you all know, fortune cookies aren't a thing in China, and are a wholly American invention. They were invented in 1918 by David Jung, a San Francisco baker. Today the majority of them seem to be manufactured in Chicago.

Despite the fact that they're made right here in the good ol' U.S. of A, something seems to be getting lost in translation. Check out these recent fortunes I found inside a couple of cookies:


Wha...? Wait a minute... "The Secret Of Happiness Is Not In Doing What One Likes, But In Liking What One Does?" That... that's the same thing! It's saying the same thing twice.

It reminds me of The Sphinx character from Mystery Men. He had all these circular logic sayings, like, "He Who Questions Training Only Trains Himself At Asking Questions," and "When You Can Balance A Tack Hammer On Your Head, You Will Head Off Your Foes With A Balanced Attack."

And then there's this one. I... I'm at a complete loss here. It's so obtuse I can't even come up with a snarky joke about it.

True story: About ten years ago I went on vacation in China. Before I left, a co-worker asked me to bring her back some "authentic" fortune cookies from China. I hesitated a few seconds, and then told her that they don't have them in China, since, as I said above, they're an American invention.

Naturally she didn't believe me, and accused me of just not wanting to bring her back a souvenir (which was true). I told her I could bring her something else, like a fan or Mao's Little Red Book, but she got all martyry and started saying, "No, forget it. I see now it's too much trouble. Never mind. I don't want anything."

This is why I try to talk to people as little as possible.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Flash Season 4, Episode 21: Harry And The Harrisons

This week on The Flash, the writing team pads out the season to the requisite twenty three episodes, as they spin their wheels for forty two minutes. Nothing's resolved, little's gained, and the characters end up pretty much exactly where were at the beginning of the episode.

This is frustrating, to say the least. There're only two episodes left in the season, so the writers should be using what little time's left to kick out the stops and ramp up the action, as they prepare for the big season finale. Oddly enough, just the opposite happens.

For example: At the end of last week's episode, Marlize finally made her move and left her husband Cliffored DeVoe, aka The Thinker. This episode should have been all about the ramifications of the big split. Sadly the DeVoe's are MIA, and don't even appear in the episode! What the hell?

Instead we get the return of Amunet Black, as she temporarily joins Team Flash before her sudden and inevitable betrayal. Normally I'm a sucker for a good "Villain Teams Up With The Heroes" storyline, but this one went absolutely nowhere and was tedious to boot. Katee Sackoff seemed to be having a blast camping it up as Amunet again though. Unfortunately that just made her appearance even more grating.

If that wasn't bad enough, we get another appearance from the Council Of Wells, or in this case, Harrisons. Tom Cavanagh's done a great job the past few years playing subtly different versions of the same character, each with subtle nuances and variations.

The same can't be said for these Council members though. They're all incredibly one note, and little more than caricatures. Just because Cavanagh can do funny accents doesn't mean they should be written into the script. Let him do 'em between takes to entertain the crew.

There's also a cringe-worthy subplot involving Barry and Iris, which gives us an uncomfortable look at the inner workings of their marriage. It seems Iris wants to write an article exposing the DeVoes and publish it on her blog or something. Barry's not sure that's a good idea, and tries to talk her out of it. 

I am far, far from being a feminist, but hell, even I was yelling for Iris to tell Barry to f*ck off here. Jesus Christ! Why the hell does she need his permission in the first place? Especially after he did everything but tell her to get back into the kitchen. Incredibly she eventually give in and lets him decide whether to publish the thing or not! What year is this?

SPOILERS, I GUESS.

The Plot:
Barry wakes up in the middle of the night and hears noises downstairs. He goes down to investigate and finds Iris up, writing an article exposing DeVoe and his Enlightenment. She feels the public needs to know about the supervillain plan, and what will happen to them if he pulls it off.

That morning at STAR Labs, Team Flash discusses how to destroy DeVoe's Enlightenment satellites. They can't simply fire a missile at the satellites, as DeVoe could use Kilg%re's powers to disable them. They decide a non-tech, organic weapon is the only answer.

Meanwhile, Harry's upset that his worsening brain condition prevents him from coming up with any solutions. Cisco suggests they contact the Council Of Wells (a trio of versions of Harrison Wells from across the multiverse) and see if they have any ideas on how to reverse Harry's condition.

They contact Herr Harrison Wolfgang Wells, the snooty German intellectual from Earth-12 who we first met back in When Harry Met Harry... Unfortunately Herr Wells refuses to help, saying the Council is for the most brilliant intellects in the multiverse and Harry no longer qualifies. Cisco says if the original Council of Wellseses won't help, maybe it's time to form a new one.

Caitlin comes up with a doozy of a solution to the DeVoe problem
— contacting supervillain and former metahuman trafficker Amunet Black. She says Amunet's metallic alnico shards could destroy DeVoe's satellites, as they're immune to any of his powers. All they need to do is convince Amunet not to kill them long enough to help. Barry and the others are less than enthusiastic about this plan, but they don't have any other options.

Barry and Caitlin visit Amunet's hideout, where they're greeted by her henchman Norvok. He tells them he's the captain now, as Amunet disappeared and hasn't been heard from in months.

Back at STAR Labs, the team tries to locate Amunet. They find out her real name is Leslie Jocoy, and she was an airline stewardess who disappeared after the particle accelerator explosion. They discover a few of her old work addresses, and Joe and Caitlin leave to check them out.

Iris is anxious to publish her article, but for some reason Barry doesn't think it's such a good idea. He says Team Flash has always operated in secret before (well, sort of), and he isn't sure how the public will react. Iris says she'll finish the article and then ask the entire team what they think she should do. Barry reluctantly says OK.

Meanwhile, Cisco introduces Harry to the Council Of Harrisons, a new group of alternate versions Wellseses from the multiverse. They consist of the extremely French H.P. Wells of Earth-25, the very Brooklyn Sonny Wells of Earth-24 and H. Lothario Wells of Earth-4, who was kicked out of the original Council Of Wells. Harry's horrified by this motley collection, calling them a "Council Of Rejects."

Joe and Caitlin investigate a grocery where Leslie Jocoy used to work. Joe says he's surprised Caitlin would suggest working with a criminal like Amunet, and she sheepishly admits she had an ulterior motive. She says Amunet has some sort of tech that helped her "split" Killer Frost last year (whatever that means), and hopes to use it again to remedy her current condition.

Joe notices a couple slip through the back door of the store, and he and Caitlin follow. Inside they see Amunet's running an illegal poker parlor. Joe clears the room, much to Amunet's annoyance. She pulls out her bag of metal and powers up, firing a barrage of deadly shards at Joe & Caitlin. Fortunately Barry speeds in and catches the shards. Caitlin asks Amunet for her help.

They take Amunet back to STAR Labs, where she looks around and gets an eyeful of all their secret tech. She asks Barry why he's bothering to wear his mask, as she figured out who he was long ago. Hey, join the club, sister! And just like that, I'll be damned if Barry doesn't remove his mask once again! Why even bother with it at this point?


Team Flash fill her in on DeVoe and his plan. Amunet says she'd love to help, but she'd need a huge supply of alnico shards to take down five satellites. Unfortunately, her stash of metal was recently stolen from its hiding place.

Caitlin tells Amunet about Killer Frost's disappearance, and asks for her help. She says the transmodular genetic splicer was stolen along with her metal. Caitlin makes a deal with her— if Amunet can get Killer Frost to reemerge, she'll agree to perform one last job for her. Amunet agrees.

Meanwhile, Harry and Cisco meet with the Council Of Harrisons. Unfortunately they're absolutely no help, telling Harry he needs to put himself in DeVoe's shoes, as well as get in touch with his "feelings." Harry says they're all worthless and leaves.

Barry, Caitlin and Amunet arrive at an old boxcar, which served as her "storage locker." They find traces of hematoxic venom on the door, and Amunet realizes her henchmen Norvok is the culprit. Barry zips back to Norvok's HQ and instantly comes back, saying he's gone.

Back at STAR, Barry and Iris discuss her article again. She finally says she'll leave it up to him as to whether they should publish it or not. Caitlin badgers Iris, feeling she's not searching hard enough for Amunet's stash. Joe asks if Caitlin's upset about not finding the shards or the splicer. Caitlin finally admits to the others that she only called Amunet hoping she could help her get Killer Frost back. The others seem to take this bit of deception very well, and the whole thing's immediately dropped.

Harry apologizes to Cisco for blowing up earlier. Cisco says maybe the Council wasn't worthless after all, as they've seemingly taught Harry empathy. Harry says it's been a long time since he's considered anyone else's feelings, and says he's going to try and put himself in DeVoe's shoes.

Amunet sees Caitlin brooding, and tells her she doesn't need the splicer. She says it was only a placebo, and Caitlin resolved the Killer Frost problem all on her own (?). Just then Amunet says she's figured out where Norvok is. Barry, Joe, Caitlin and Amunet leave to intercept him. Team Flash warns Amunet not to kill Norvok.

Cut to a rail yard, where Norvok is selling a trunk full of alnico shards to an Asian mobster. Suddenly Barry and the others appear, and the thugs speed off. Barry and Amunet deal with Norvok, while Joe and Caitlin stop the thugs and recover the metal. Against orders, Amunet fires her shards at Norvok. Barry plucks them out of the air at superspeed.

Novok, who's power is he has a snake-like thing that emerges from his eye socket, 
sprays Barry with hematoxic venom. He collapses on the ground, writhing in pain. Fortunately he's able to vibrate at superspeed and phase the toxin out of his system.

Meanwhile, Amunet draws on the extra metal in the thugs' car, and uses it to form an impenetrable mask over Norvok's face. He begins suffocating, as the others warn her not to kill. She finally removes the mask, but uses a shard to slice the eye snake in two.

Amunet then says "ta ta" and prepares to sashay away. They ask about their deal, and naturally she admits she only used them to get her metal back. They remind her that if DeVoe successfully launches his satellites, she'll be lobotomized along with the rest of humanity. She says that's a good point, and forms a small grenade from her shards. She gives it to Caitlin, saying that should be enough to defeat DeVoe. She then forms a metallic tornado around herself and flies off.

Back at STAR Labs, Harry's excited to tell them all something. He says he put himself in DeVoe's shoes and figured out why he hasn't launched his Enlightenment satellites yet. It's because his wife is no longer around to share in his victory. Barry tells Iris to go ahead and publish her article.

That night Iris wakes Barry, and says her phone's going crazy with emails and texts. The public read her article, and is sending her hundreds of DeVoe sightings and other info, which will help them to bring him down.

Thoughts:
• I want a computer interface like the one they have at Star Labs! At one point Caitlin says she thinks Amunet was a flight attendant on a plane the night of the particle accelerator explosion. Iris says, "OK, that we can work with!"


Iris then taps the screen...

She taps a second time...

And then swipes down. Somehow these three little gestures generates a list of the thirty five flights that were in the air over Central City that night! Wow! She didn't even type a single word to find this bit of incredibly specific information! I could definitely use a search algorithm like that at work!

• Um... is Danielle Panabaker (aka Caitlin Snow) alright? All through this episode she does this weird thing where she talks out of the right side of her mouth. Sort of like a young, female Buddy Hackett.

Once you spot it, you can't not see it. I never noticed her doing this until this week's episode. Has she always had this odd facial tic, or am I just now noticing it? I wonder if she's even aware she's doing it?

I'm not making fun or joking, and am being completely serious here. I'm wondering if there might actually be something wrong with her. Like a neurological problem or something? Hopefully not, and it's just nerves.

• Once again, kudos to The Flash's design team, who seem to have great fun creating license photos, passports and other fake documents for the various characters.

• Joe and Caitlin search for Amunet, and find her running a secret poker den. As Joe steps into the room, he says, "Damn. Somebody saw Molly's Game," referencing the 2018 movie.

There weren't many people who saw it, Joe! That movie could only manage to rake in a pitiful $28 million. WORLDWIDE!

• When Joe and Caitlin first encounter Amunet, she speaks with an American accent, rather than her traditional "British" one. Caitlin asks, "What's with the accent?" Amunet replies, "It's part of my disguise. Had to blend in. Now I'm just your average American blonde making an honest living. Well, a more honest living, yeah?"

I'm betting this scene was a little nod to the fans who've commented on actress Katee Sackhoff's um, less than convincing English accent. It's pretty bad. In fact it gives Dick Van Dyke's atrocious Cockney accent in Mary Poppins a run for its money!

• This week Tom Cavanagh gets to indulge himself and play dress up again, as he appears as the Council Of Harrisons. Unfortunately it looks like he could only think of two new voices to do this time, as H. Lothario Wells is recycled from When Harry Met Harry...

H.P. Wells was a little too silly for me, but I did kind of like Sonny Wells (in small doses). By the way, at one point Sonny says, "What are you, stunods?" As you might have guessed, stunad is an Italian word that means "stupid."

The Flash loves to use the names of comic book creators for its streets and buildings. This week the abandoned Reynolds substation is mentioned, along with intersections 5th and Knoll and Crescent and 10th.

I couldn't find anyone by those names who's ever worked on the comic. Sometimes a cigar's just a cigar, I guess.

• Barry's incredible variable plot specific speed strikes again! In this episode, Barry disarms Norvok's goons faster than the eye can even see. And yet somehow he's slow enough that Norvok's able to spray him with his hemotoxic venom. Weird.

• I'm with Amunet here— I just don't get Norvok's power. He has a snake-like appendage that can emerge from his eye socket and spray a cloud of venom. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It seems like it'd be a pretty limited range weapon, which would put him in danger of breathing in the toxin as well. Unless he's immune to it?

• The entire point of this filler episode was for Team Flash to get an alnico grenade from Amunet. That's it! There was nothing else of note that happened in the entire forty two minutes! In fact you could skip this ep when you binge-watch the series, and you wouldn't miss a goddamned thing. 

The whole grenade thing could have easily been a minor subplot in an episode that featured some actual consequences. But no... let's devote an entire forty two minutes to Amunet providing the minimum amount of help possible to Team Flash.

• Amunet's entire motivation for helping Team Flash was to get her precious stock of stolen alnico metal back. She eventually recovers it all, then forms it into a tornado that whisks her into the air and out of the episode.

Note that as this metallic tornado sails across the screen, hundreds of tiny shards of alcino fly off it and land on the ground. So... does she not care that this mode of travel costs her a good percentage of this irreplaceable metal? C'mon, writers! Is it valuable or not?

This Week's Best Lines:
Barry: (discussing Amunet with Caitlin) "I mean, she kidnapped you. She tried to sell me into meta slavery."

Iris: "And she ruined my bachelorette party, I mean..."
Barry: "That's not..."
Iris: "I mean, you're right. It's it's admittedly not as big of a deal, but you know what I'm saying."


Sonny: 'Ey! Oh, whoa, whoa! Who you calling rejects? 'Ey, look at this guy. What are you, stunods? Allow myself to introduce myself. Sonny Wells. Earth-24. At your service. They call me Sonny on account of my sunny disposition."
Cisco: "You know, I think that name kind of works for him."
Sonny: "'Ey, oh, the guy who must be Cisco! My motto, personally, for me, my motto? Be kind. Rewind."
Harry: "Be kind, rewind?"
Cisco: "They're still on VHS."


Sonny: "You see his scarf? I like that scarf. Gonna get myself one of them classy scarves like this guy. That's a $10 scarf right there."


Amunet: "So On the one hand, I am more dictator than team player. But on the other Professor DeVoe stupefying the planet would be bad for business. So I'll do it."

Barry: "Okay, Amunet, look, I know how you usually work, but I can handle this fast and without an casualties."
Amunet. "'Tis a bit time-consuming to remove blood from metal."

Amunet: (to Norvok) "I've never understood your superpower. Are you a man with a snake or a snake with a man?"

Cisco: (discussing Norvok, while channeling Indiana Jones) "Eye snakes. Why did it have to be eye snakes?"

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