There are only four things I want to cover in regards to this episode, so this’ll be a shorter review. “The Flash” managed to include its villain and further develop Wally wanting to become Kid Flash and Caitlin not wanting to become Killer Frost. The episode on the whole was a strong one, but could have been better paced and there were a couple of instances where the editing was distracting. It’s as if certain scenes weren’t cut properly.

Anyway, let’s get to all the bullet point glory:

Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW

Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW

Wally and his link to Alchemy – Much like Magenta and The Rival, Wally is experiencing dreams and visions of his Flashpoint life. So obviously he’s excited about the prospect of getting powers because that’s the biggest way he thinks he can help. However, the West family is on high alert because they know that this is all Alchemy and he’s coming for Wally next. Wally’s insecurities emerge in terms of feeling second best to Barry with Joe. I like that this is still playing out and that Wally’s reasons and anger are completely valid. Barry is given a pass for a lot of things and it’s refreshing to see all the Flashpoint stuff hasn’t been completely swept under the rug. It’s emerging in different ways. Joe later reassures Wally that it’s not him he doesn’t trust, but the source behind where he might get his powers. Wally agreeing to offer himself as bait in order to catch Alchemy continues the West family tradition of helping out by allowing themselves to be put in harm’s way. I like that Wally’s character is being developed more. The show didn’t get a chance to do too much of that last season, and since we know he’ll eventually become Kid Flash, it’s nice that it’s been a journey that ties directly to Wally, and to Alchemy to some degree, at the same time. In the end, Wally grabs Alchemy’s stone of power and morphs… into something that looks like a cacoon.

Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW

Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW

Caitlin and Killer Frost – Caitlin’s powers are growing. She confides in Cisco that she’s afraid of turning into Killer Frost and asks him to vibe her in the future. Turns out, she does turn into Killer Frost. Cisco outs her to the team and she is angry about the betrayal of his promise not to say anything. Although I think she should have told the team early on (they’re the only people who can help her), I wish she hadn’t apologized to Cisco. He should have apologized to her. She had a right to be angry. Having said that, I firmly believe Cisco will be focal to her arc as her powers progress. He’s the one who talked her doppelganger into helping on Earth-2 and their friendship will be at the forefront when she turns (because you know that’s where it’s going). What I don’t quite understand is how having these powers will necessarily make her turn evil? “The Flash” has an issue with making every meta more or less of an arch-nemesis. Are all metas evil? Are the only good metas speedsters with the last names Allen and West?

– Savitar – Savitar, the god of speed made his debut in this episode. He was only seen by Barry and makes Alchemy (who, for the first time seemed scary in this episode, although technically he hasn’t been really doing anything awful) look like nothing. He also… looks kind of like a Transformer. Does being seen by Barry mean he’s tapped into the speedforce and only those connected to it can see him/her/it? The prospect of this is intriguing.

The Flash -- "Shade" -- Image FLA306a_0146b.jpg -- Pictured: Grant Gustin as The Flash -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

The episode was strong and had a lot of good moments. However, one of the best scenes came in the form of what at first seems like a small exchange between Iris and Barry. On the outside, it played out like a reassurance to Iris’ place in S.T.A.R. Labs and in Barry’s life when he says, “There is no Flash without Iris West.” While this statement has always been true, this line is also a bit meta in the sense that it’s saying that pseudoscience and powers are not the only things that are useful on a superhero show. Part of what makes “The Flash” so good is the show’s characters. Specifically, it’s the fact that characters like Iris and Joe remain a constant grounding factor and are human. Iris, especially, is the link to the outside world when so much of “The Flash’s” action and subplots seem to happen inside a bubble. We don’t see the effects the strange happenings have on Central City’s citizens. This is where Iris comes in. This exchange, along with another in a prior episode, hopefully means a step forward in trying to tie in her journalism with all that’s happening this season. If anyone can prove that you can be just as much of a hero without superpowers (something the superhero genre on The CW really struggles with), it’s Iris.

Iris has a job and a family, ambitions, work ethic, and a need to help people that doesn’t involve any supernatural powers. This is why I think Barry misinterpreted her “it’s hard to be a bystander” comment to mean that she’s disappointed she doesn’t have powers. In the episode before this, “Monster,” Iris said that you don’t need speed and suit in order to help people. Here, she questions her usefulness in helping Barry while in S.T.A.R. Labs., but what does it mean? It seems to indicate that she’ll partake in her job more. The show has allowed us to see more of her journalism this season and I think it will continue. S.T.A.R. Labs can be a hindrance in terms of showing everyone else at their jobs, but if this is a potential subplot that will later come forward and involve her more in the mystery of Savitar et al, then it’s an exciting prospect.

Perhaps she’ll even get more involved with metas on the scene. With this conversation, the show also brings this question to the forefront: What does it mean to be a hero? After all, even someone confident and good at their job like Iris can feel small sometimes when it comes to being around super-powered people. Moreover, the moment brought out a bit of Iris’ vulnerability. We’ve seen it before, but a lot of the time she’s busy being supportive of others’ emotions. It’s nice to see this side of her and hopefully the show will make it a point for her to vocalize her feelings even more often.

Ultimately, “Shade” had a lousy meta-of-the-week, but that’s completely forgiven because the rest of the episode did a pretty good job of moving everything else forward, setting up the second big bad, and balancing character arcs.

My random thoughts section will return later this week!

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"Shade" had a lousy meta-of-the-week, but that's completely forgiven because the rest of the episode did a pretty good job of moving everything else forward, setting up the second big bad, and character arcs.

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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