With all respect to the makers of Gotham, THIS is the kind of episode that you use as a mid-season finale. And they’re not even at that point yet.
One of the things I’ve been really enjoying about this show is how the cast have been developing. Yes, many of them are still fitting certain roles, but there’s also been a lot of growth – often in little ways – to how each of them has perceived certain situations.
This week marked how far both Barry and Wells have come in terms of their growth. The big thanks goes to this week’s metahuman, Farooq (Michael Reventar) – later called Blackout by Cisco – a young man who gains the ability to absorb and channel electricity. Like Plastique a few weeks back, Farooq winds up on the shorter end of the powers stick with this. Yes, his abilities sound cool, but then we learn that they caused him to accidentally kill his friends on first receiving them, and even now he’s hungry for more power.
…which leads him to STAR Labs with an ax to grind towards Wells, whom he holds responsible for what happened.
In light of the last few weeks, Barry and Wells couldn’t be of two more different minds on the matter. Having finally put the more human face to metahumans, Barry sympathizes with where Farooq is coming from, and even thinks it may be possible to persuade him in to working with them.
Wells is far less optimistic about the matter, and is simply convinced he’s another threat to be dealt with. The two have had issues before, but this marks the first time Barry’s ever really drawn a line with Wells, and the episode benefits from that conflict. After the relatively unremarkable earlier metahumans, it’s nice to see the show, and Barry, treating them as more human now.
Alongside his general cold-blooded attitude towards Farooq, we see more of what makes Wells tick this week. His vision of the future from the first episode comes back, and we find out a bit more of what that means to him. Why he is so dead set on seeing these particular events come to pass remains a mystery, but it’s one that provides the show with a great hook- Especially since no one right now has any reason to even remotely suspect the much longer game that Wells is playing.
As the episode’s main antagonist, Reventar (Farooq) does good work with what the script gives him. Some have criticized the character’s abilities as seeming a bit too much like Electro – recently featured in this summer’s Spider-Man sequel – but really, the powers are off-set well by how the episode depicts them and his motivations.
Plus, there’s a long, rich tradition of Marvel and DC swiping ideas from each other, so this one could go either way anyway. Point is, it’s well executed.
The episode’s B plot brings in an unexpected antagonist, but also offers a strong secondary story. In another Arrow crossover – one which it looks like we’ll see further solidified next week – this episode brings in their version of William Tock/the Clock King (Robert Knepper). While I will admit I’ve not seen his appearance on Arrow, based on what I’ve seen here, it’s an interesting take on the character.
Ultimately, the winner of this week’s B plot is Iris. Which is a bit odd to say, given how she spends much of it stuck in the middle of a hostage situation when Tock steals an officer’s gun. The last few weeks, while overall good episodes, have also danced around the risky question of if Iris is going to have her own agency or mostly just wait for Barry to save her. This week took that question by the horns. With Farooq having left the city in a blackout, as well as knocking out Barry’s abilities, there’s no way he can know or intervene with the situation at Central City PD. On top of this, Eddie’s attempt at heroism results in him taking two bullets.
So with both ‘hero’ figures out of the equation, Iris ultimately has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. Taking Eddie’s gun under the pretense of saying goodbye, she has a good opportunity and manages to get the drop on Tock as a result. It’s not a major twist or anything but it is a welcome change to see her able to save herself when the situation merits it.
At the end, the Flash does vow not to be late again – which does further drop hints to her figuring out who the Flash really is – but all the same, this episode has reminded she can still be her own character when the show needs it. Hopefully it’s something they won’t forget in the future.
All in all, this is one of the stronger episodes of this season. Now that the series is starting to get more comfortable with itself, it’s been exploring a lot more of its inner workings these past few episodes and benefiting greatly from doing so. This week gave a lot to chew on, both in terms of plot and character developments, and already has me looking forward to future episodes.
Speaking of, next week’s going all in on the crossovers – that’s right, it’s Flash vs Arrow coming up next time.
-Show is thankfully continuing to develop its meta human characters
-Some great friction between Barry and Wells this week
-Iris is showing more agency this week and I am thankful for that
-Clock King’s a nice crossover, but his role could have been filled by just about anyone
-While I liked the overall idea of Barry losing his powers, the actual explanation felt like it could have been better set up