The Flash: 3.06 Shade
You can't deny that there is quite a pace to The Flash this season; it seems to have learned from some of the mistakes from last year and so as we reach episode six, Wally has begun his journey towards becoming Kid Flash, Caitlin's powers have been 'outed' to the team, we've been teased a dramatic fight to come between Killer Frost and Vibe, the Flash has come face to face with new season villain Alchemy and another new villain, Savitar has been introduced.
So it was surprising that - despite a really great final scene - Shade felt a little lacklustre. Perhaps it is because nest week Kevin Smith is back to direct the another episode of The Flash and the week after that we get the second installment in the epic Supergirl / The Flash / Arrow / Legends of Tomorrow crossover. Perhaps it is because we already knew where Wally West's plot was going. After a few weeks of people being targeted by Alchemy, having their powers from the 'Flashpoint' reality activated, it was only a matter of time before this happened to Wally. And this episode he found himself controlled by this intriguing new villain, eventually led right into the heart of his creepy lair.
Keiynan Lonsdale has always made a good impression since he joined the show last season but his recent spout of pouting over not getting speedster abilities and then putting himself in danger to 'activate' them was quickly frustrating. Fortunately he was much better here, part possessed, part afraid of what would happen to him. Having a supervillain messing with his mind is sure to do that. From the fun Kid-Flash opening that led to Wally telling Joe about his dreams to learning about his alternate self's fate from Barry to the final showdown, Wally certainly had a great journey to becoming this hero. And when the plan to trap Alchemy inevitably went wrong he touched the weapon the villain was using to impressively beat down the Flash and became cocooned for his troubles.
I think one of the main reasons Shade felt a little lacklustre was because the titular villain of the week was a bit dull. It looked impressive, a giant metahuman made of shadow, but there was no personality of substance to it and 'Shade' seemed inconsequential next to events happening to Wally. Perhaps it was an attempt by Alchemy to distract the Flash, but it wasn't particularly clear.
Caitlin Snow's journey towards becoming Killer Frost continued apace this week as she came clean to Cisco about her powers. After all he went through in becoming Vibe on kind of got Cisco's frustration that she had kept this secret for months, though I did think his move to 'out' her to everyone else was a bit unfair. I do appreciate that this isn't being dragged out too long though and his vision of the future - Killer Frost versus Vibe - set the scene for a thrilling showdown between these two closest friends. It reminded me again of the Buffy versus Dark Willow confrontation at the end of season six of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and I hope this ends up even half as good.
While some parts of the story seemed to lack pace, the finale made up for it in spades. Alchemy's lair was wonderfully gothic and mysterious, the hooded cult members a nice touch. Alchemy's device, the orb that eventually cocooned Wally was a great weapon too, showing this new supervillain could be a physical threat to the Flash as much as a mental one. The surprise appearance by another evil speedster left every redshirt squat team member dead, Joe threatened and Barry Allen beaten down. When it finally closed in on the show's hero, it was a metallic, demonic-looking creature unlike anything we have seen before. I had heard that The Flash was getting another speedster villain this series, but my concerns that this was going to be another Reverse Flash or Zoom seem - at least for now - to have been sated. Between Alchemy and Savitar, we might still be getting something a little different to what the show has done before.
Shade was a good episode, pushing many plot points forward and delivering a thrilling finale. But the villain of the week was a little low key, making this the weakest of what has arguably been a strong third season to date. I appreciate that Wally West and Caitlin Snow's stories aren't being dragged out and the the two long-running villains feel a little different to what has come before. I'm expecting good things in the final three weeks; I just hope that we don't experience the same as season two - a great build up and then a dragged out villain (or villains) to fill the show's 23-episode format. Only time will tell...