[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Armen V. Kevorkian
Writers: Sam Chalsen and Judalina Neira
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker, Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanaugh, Keiynan Lonsdale, Danielle Nicolet, Sugar Lyn Beard, Neil Sandilands,
A new metahuman, codenamed Hazard, creates a widespread bad luck streak with her powers while Team Flash welcomes back Harry Wells who has bad news for Wally.
Before getting into the episode, I had the chance to meet Tom Cavanaugh at Fan Expo Canada this past August; he’s a very approachable guy and extremely funny. So that’s why I’m glad that Harry Wells is back, seemingly for good this time. Although H.R. Wells quickly became a fan favorite, Harry’s chemistry with Cisco made the character pop and it has been missing for the past few episodes. The notion of Wells’ personality causing him to be booted off of the team he and daughter Jesse created contrasts the inviting characterization of H.R., which is needed for Tom to keep the portrayals separate. The necessity of having an extra genius on the team aids in both this crisis and the revelation of where these new metahumans came from. Further, Harry serves as the source of deductive reasoning, pointing towards The Thinker as the catalyst for these events.
Now we’ll get into the main plot. What works in this episode is the villain of the week is in a spot we can all relate to. We’ve all had bad luck before, like being late for work, tripping over ourselves in front of our favorite person, and so forth. And we’ve all thought the universe is working against us in some way. That’s why the character of Hazard is so relatable; Becky is chronically jinxed, so when she gets empowered, the natural reaction is “Hey, this is fantastic! The nightmare is over!” The problem is her apathy to the chaos that her good luck streak brings to others. She sees it as their turn, which follows the pattern of metahuman abilities bringing out the worst in most people. Sugar Lyn Beard’s portrayal of Hazard is believable in the sense that she feels entitled to some measure of severance from the universe, and the events leading up to her empowerment ground her to the audience. She has that Kristen Bell atmosphere about her that invites you in. I remember her being on the Canadian station YTV as one of the network’s VJ’s and I’m glad she’s found work elsewhere. I also like the nod to her costume in the comics by establishing that as her casino uniform; the black and red gowns worked better and she seemed more realistic than she would have going with the comic book ensemble. She doesn’t see herself as a criminal or a supervillain; she sees herself as just a girl whose ship has finally come in and to Hell with whoever gets clobbered when it’s docking.
This episode also sheds light on Joe’s relationship with Cecile and the cliffhanger announcement that leaves him stunned. The writers are paying attention to all the players this year and their developing relationships; Cecile is starting to feel like one of the family and Danielle and Jesse have great chemistry together. The scene where the gang is enjoying Laser Tag together is cementing that familial bond that’s been the backbone of the show. And speaking of relationships, the dissolution of Wally’s relationship with Jesse Quick leaves the prospect open for the Wally-Linda relationship, hopefully. Wally’s decision to leave Central City makes sense; I’ve always had a problem with Lonsdale’s portrayal of Wally, but maybe it has to do with him playing second banana to Barry. Distance is needed for the character to develop. I don’t expect the Teen Titans to pop up, but it would be cool to see Wally grow as a hero apart from Team Flash. With the rumor circulating of him joining Team Legend, this seems like an ideal fit for someone who’s built for time travel.
And finally, The Thinker is taking on that same puppeteer role that Tom portrayed brilliantly in season one. The opening scene of his being something of a narrator describing Becky Sharpe’s life, and that final shot of how conniving and brilliant he really is, reveals to the audience how much of a threat he actually is. Sandilands is doing a fantastic job so far in a very cerebral role.
I have a huge problem with the portrayal of Iris West this year. Candice is an actress that is as brilliant as she is beautiful. She is suffering, however, from bad scripts. This past week, online, I’ve seen memes poking fun at that line she said to Barry last week about how they both are the Flash. I found that a natural response that says to Barry that now they’re a couple and working together, it’s an outgrowth of the Team Flash dynamic; Cisco is the gadget man and suit designer, Caitlin is the field medic/biochemist, Harry is the genius, and Barry is the speed. But Barry admitted to her last year that there is no Flash without her, so her response follows that logic and is not entirely idiotic. However, in this episode, Iris felt completely off. I don’t think she’s the kind of person to sporadically tell her fiancé to suit up for a makeshift wedding out of panic. Further, she would not be idiotic or thoughtless enough to ask a priest to marry them when he is in the midst of concluding a funeral (which is a worse omen than the groom seeing the bridal gown). And plus, again, what about her journalism career? After spending three seasons building Iris up as a strong female lead, the writers are having difficulty showing off her strengths and giving her a lot of flaws.
The breakup of Jesse and Wally seemed very cold. I found this out of character for Jesse as well. Those two formed a strong bond last year, and Jesse did not strike me as a woman who would break up with her boyfriend via hologram (nice Atlantis name drop, by the way, Harry; nice to know Zolomon wasn’t lying about that being on Earth-2). While it provided a reason for Wally’s absence – as well as demonstrated how far he’s come as a speedster if he can travel through dimensions – it just didn’t feel like something she would do. Plus I wasn’t a fan of her sending her dad to deliver the message.
While I like the light-hearted bad luck giving way to more severe consequences, the resolution was a bit out of left field. The particle accelerator suddenly cancelling out the effects of Becky’s powers seems like a gamble, especically given its history. And that plane with twin jets on fire? Since when does a plane recover from catastrophic failure like that? This is me shaking my head. The resolution could have been better written.
In this episode we had an explanation for Kilgore and Hazard and possibly future metas popping up, Thinker’s craftiness revealed, fun laughs with Hazard, Harry back in the mix, and Wally departing for Blue Valley. And yet we were saddled with more Iris stupidity, an implausible resolution to the climax, and poor characterization for some of the other cast members. This is one of those episodes that had more bad points than good, so I’m gonna have to go with as merciful a rating as I can. Fingers crossed that next week’s episode will be better, since we’ll be introduced to Elongated Man and Mache—sorry, I mean Danny Trejo as Gypsy’s dad Breacher, who’s gunning for Cisco.