An underwhelming mid-season opener…
After what seemed like forever (for UK viewers), we’re finally back with Barry and the gang. The question is, was it worth the wait? It could’ve been an amalgamation of different aspects but The Flash & the Furious was massively underwhelming and tame, opting, after a long period, to show a run-of-the-mill villain of the week storyline that ignores Cicada completely. The continued Gotham easter eggs added a nice touch, and the mystery surrounding Nora and the Reverse Flash kept the pace in balance.
This week’s villain, Raya/Silver Ghost, an ex-military officer who’s obtained meta-tech that controls mechanical vehicles, was very underwhelming. We were also reintroduced to Joslyn Jackam/Weather Witch, who appears in court after her antics in episode seven. The whole court sub-plot was boring and made little sense, but more on that in a moment. The big issue was with the antagonists. While the actresses gave fine performances, their personalities have nothing distinguishable; the tech they use is the only memorable feature, begging the question, why hasn’t the idea that anybody can use this tech been addressed?
The episode began at Joslyn’s trial, Cecil’s first since coming off of maternity leave and one that Barry has to be a CSI witness for. This whole sequence went downhill fast; not only did it seem highly illogical that Cecil would be back in the courtroom so swiftly after her maternity leave, but she must be easily manipulated when she opts for a shorter sentence when telepathically senssing Joslyn’s remorse. On top of that, it was equally illogical that Barry would leave the courtroom to catch a vehicle thief he had no idea was associated with dark matter. Could this not have been left to Nora?
The big questions this episode asked was could bad people change? Who, if anyone, deserves a second chance? Who, if anyone can be trusted? These were all fine, pretty standard Arrowverse queries really, but the execution felt overly rushed. Aimed at Josyln, who attempted to kill her father, giving no consideration for anybody else or collateral damage, the moral discussion was certainly thought provoking but perhaps aimed at the wrong person. It’s somewhat disturbing the amount of people who try to convince Nora to forget what she did and see the good in her.
Mystery, specifically surrounding Nora’s encounters with Eobard Thawne in the future (2049), and Sherloque’s continued investigation into Nora’s potential deception, really helped to maintain attention, providing intrigue that’s added interesting puzzle pieces to the overall picture. With only snippets divulged, these sub-plots were impressive. The counting clock for Thawne and his desire for Nora’s help/trust added a sense of urgency to whatever his predicament may be. Nora deciding to help but not trust him, elevated her character’s emotional depth and has once again brought her to the forefront of the story. Mix that with her potential trickery and we’ve got good television.
Another pleasantly surprising, if somewhat underutilised sub plot, was Cisco and Caitlin’s discussion about creating a Meta-human cure. While this is hardly a unique writing task, with the likes of X-Men and Deadpool tackling it previously, it’s opened up new avenues for the writers to delve into the psyche of how having abilities affects individuals. Although the subject matter was excellent, the writing and execution could’ve been a little punchier. Most interesting of all is the possibility that Cisco could lose his powers, deliberately. It’s a decision that could have some positive effects allowing more freedom in terms of characterisation and creativity.
The lack of Barry and the absence of Joe and Ralph made this instalment feel somewhat empty. The villains added very little, and the writing in some places (particularly the court room drama) was illogical and appeared to have little thought put into it. Nevertheless there are plenty of positives to take away from The Flash‘s return, and likewise lots to look forward to. Hopefully we will get some closure on Cicada in the near future and further the Thawne story-arc. Not perfect but entertaining enough.
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