Well, this made for an interesting surprise.
After last week’s ‘Barry gets the crap kicked out of him and learns a lesson in the process,’ the show has taken a step back from his development this episode. He’s certainly there, and he is active in the plot, but really this week’s big development goes to the STAR Labs crew. Like many elements of the series, this one dabbles in some well-worn storylines, but it does them well enough that it makes up for the familiarity.
Probably the biggest development this week comes when the team finally starts to discuss one of the big questions – what are they going to do with all the other meta-humans running around? The first two weeks made it fairly easy in that way that only death can manage, but it’s not exactly the best thing for show longevity. Plus, think of how sketchy the idea of STAR hunting down and executing meta-humans would be (an idea that is discussed and shot down.) So, the decision is made to repurpose the lab’s old reactor into a holding pen.
Besides the fact that anyone with any genre familiarity can see why this could turn into a bad idea, this does finally give Caitlin a bit of development. Over the first two episodes, she was primarily there to be the more grounded counter to Cisco’s enthusiasm and then get defused by Wells. This week we actually get more of a sense of why that is, care of learning about her fiance that was killed the night of the fateful incident.
…well, I say killed, but based on who the fiance was, it stands to reason we’ve not seen the last of him. That’s all I’ll say now as a spoiler courtesy.
For not really being the main plot of this week’s episode, this is still probably the best part. Again, it covers a lot of familiar story tropes (between Caitlin and Cisco we get the full story and it’s the classic ‘they died so we could live’ style event) but, as with much of this series, it’s the execution that saves it. Also, it’s nice being able to see Danielle Panabaker getting to do a bit more on this series. Now that this info’s out there, hopefully the show will be a bit more open to letting her interact more with the cast beyond the aggravated frustration of the first weeks.
The main plot this week is one where I want to both commend and shake my fist at the writers. As an antagonist, Kyle Nimbus, aka The Mist is actually a fairly interesting challenge for the show. Thanks to the incident, a former hitman who got sent up the river has now discovered he has the ability to turn himself into poison gas. Like so many people would in his scenario, he goes gunning for revenge. There’s not a lot to him characterization-wise. Like Danton Black last week, he’s a character relearn about through people reading his backstory.
As an onscreen presence, Anthony Carrigan doesn’t get to do much with the role, since it’s mainly the effects that do the work here. It’s probably one of the two area this show is going to really need to work on from here out. The effects look great, and the writers are at least trying to find good ways to use Barry’s powers, but they often result in anticlimactic confrontations. In this case, he employs the Homer Simpson boxing technique: he’s bound to tire out soon!
The other hurdle the show has to clear- and this is a particularly frustrating one- the continued rut Iris has been stuck in. Again, I actually like Candice Patton, and for what she has to work with, she’s been doing good work. But come on, guys- she’s written as a very intelligent character and the most you guys can keep coming back to is her love life.
It’s not like she can’t have interactions otherwise (the scene between her and Barry at the start of the episode was a fun little bit of banter that made it nice to see the show not forcing the coupling we know is coming.) I realize the fact she doesn’t know Barry is The Flash limits how many ways she can be involved, though the fact that this week ends with her investigating the phenomenon (in series, he is being referred to as The Streak) gives me hope she may actually get more to do from here. Until then, this is a continued strike against the show.
One silver lining to come from it, however: it did further solidify, along with other events, why right now Joe West may be my favorite character on this series. Which is pretty commendable considering, my frustration with Iris’s writing aside, this show’s actually put together a pretty good team all in all. From the get-go, Jesse L. Martin has been a good fit for the particular role, and the continued arc they’ve been building for him as one of Barry’s mentors has actually lead to some of the better aspects of the writing.
This week in particular lead to a great moment between the two now that Joe is finally starting to come around on the idea that Barry’s father may be innocent. As far as the silver lining, this week spends a better part of Iris’s screentime on the idea that her father can’t know she’s seeing his partner romantically. When it finally comes to the table, he reveals he figured it out all along, pointing out that they were doing a lousy job of covering it up. His delivery makes it a rewarding joke to a pretty bland storyline.
Still, despite its faults, I’m staying on board with this series. The show is at least looking like it will be moving past those from here, and this week still made for a solid hour of television. I’m continuing to like most of the cast and in light of this week’s developments, it looks like the writing will be picking up from here, so things are looking up.
Keep up the good work, guys.
On top of which, the information for next week’s episode, Going Rogue, sounds like it will be promising.
-This week gives some good development to Caitlin Snow after spending the first two weeks on the sidelines
-Jesse L. Martin putting in a good bid for the cast MVP this week
-Despite a good performance, Iris as a character is still stuck in a rut
-The meta-human antagonists continue getting short changed and easily deposed