The Flash: 3.11 Dead or Alive
Remember when The Flash was gloriously fun week after week? The show certainly suffered a little in season two as the threat of Zoom hung over the series, making the drama a little too dark and angst-driven. We already have Arrow for the grim, grittier take on the 'Arrowverse; perhaps it was the advent of the OTT Legends of Tomorrow and now the sunny disposition of Supergirl that caused the change? Regardless, season two of The Flash didn't quite get the balance right, making it a disappointment at time. But season three has definitely been a marked improvement and Dead Or Alive was a prime example of how to progress the more dramatic, long-running plot with a healthy dose of humour.
Perhaps it was the focus on HR Wells and Cisco that did it, but this latest instalment of The Flash was a whole lot of fun. From Flash and Kid Flash saving a school bus full of cheerleaders (and Wally having his picture taken) to the Lego recreation of the showdown with Savitar glimpsed in the future. Though the focus was really on HR Wells; as I've mentioned before, Tom Cavanagh has brought new life into this latest incarnation from Earth 19, a motivational speaker and dreamer that has been a support and annoyance to team Flash in equal measure. He's established himself as the latest member of the team (well before Julian Albert, whose attempts to provide a bedside manner this episode were just as amusing) so now the perfect time to address his future standing on the show.
The arrival of Earth 19's version of Vibe, Gypsy, found HR guilty for jumping to a parallel Earth and sentenced to Death. Apparently it has to with the intriguing invasion of their Earth by a parallel version some years back (wasn't that the plot of the excellent Fringe?). Jessica Camacho's Gypsy was smart, sexy and more than a match for both Flashes but it was her chemistry with Cisco Ramone that was the highlight of the episode. Carlos Valdes and Camacho were great together; from the moment their characters came into conflict there was a hilarious mix of a battle of wills and Cisco asking Gypsy out on a date. And it seems it was a feeling she reciprocated.
So the idea that this was the moment Cisco decided to defend HR's life by becoming his champion was a fantastic way to evolve him into the Vibe of the comics, complete with a snazzy new suit. Even when they were fighting each other, Gypsy and Vibe were still flirting and the portal hopping fight was spectacular, jumping from one alternate Earth to another. Earth 2, Supergirl's Earth 28 (the fight in the Catco offices watched by the assistant was hilarious) and the mysterious post-apocalyptic Earth. I usually try and be subjective in my reviews but I loved every moment of that sequence and Vibe's take down of Gypsy (on the advice of snarky Julian) was a great way to cap it off.
Iris's storyline could easily have become the dull sub plot to the episode and while it certainly didn't have the energy of the main storyline it also connected nicely to theme of her upcoming death. As I've mentioned before, Candice Patton has really grown this season, mixing warmth and passion into her role as Iris and it was fully believable that she would want to take on a huge story about an arms dealer threatening Central City to leave some legacy behind. She's no Lois Lane (the whole jump to becoming a reporter last year felt even more contrived than Kara's similar career move on Supergirl this season) but for the first time I saw her as a reporter, doing her job well. And it was nice to see her reignite the brother - sister crime fighting duo she was part of in Flashpoint.
In the end Cisco's besting of Gypsy saved HR's life, leaving him a citizen of Earth 1 permanently (and now believed dead on his own). The final near-kiss between Gypsy and Cisco was the icing on the cake and I hope she is back. She would make a good romantic foil for him in future episodes.
Dead Or Alive was a fun episode of The Flash and for me stronger than last week's mid-season opener. It isn't going to top any polls of best episodes but it was proof that the show can recapture its season one strengths with a solid, action packed and amusing entry to the show's canon. Season three is definitely firing on all cylinders.