Review: The Flash 6×15 – “The Exorcism of Nash Wells
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Eric Dean Seaton
Writers: Lauren Barnett and Sterling Gates
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker, Danielle Nicolet, Tom Cavanaugh, Jesse L. Martin, Patrick Sabongul, Victoria Park, Kayla Compton, Natalie Sharp
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
The Flash 6×15: While Team Flash struggle to remove The Reverse-Flash from Nash’s body, Black Zero continues its agenda while Mirror-Iris forwards hers.
This week not only do we learn more about the history of Nash Wells, but the ticking clock on Barry’s remaining speed.
The writing this week evenly balances the focus between the Black Zero story and the return of the show’s quintessential nemesis. The subplot of the mole in the CCPD enables frank discussion between Chief Singh and Joe West. It reminds viewers that Singh is now aware of Barry’s dual identity as The Flash and brings up good nostalgia. The first season had a lot of great scenes between Jesse and Patrick and the chemistry feels natural. Throwing in Singh and Joe establishes the CCPD’s presence for the final take down of newcomer Sunshine. The writing is running three separate stories post-Crisis that are going to eventually converge. Side note: The moment between Joe and Iris indicates that Joe is keeping an eye on his daughter after Wally pointed out last week the difference in her. It’s subtle but important.
Tom Cavanaugh puts his own spin on a Linda Blair possession this week. What works in his favor is his using his own voice for Nash; there is subtle distinction between his and that of Eobard Thawne’s. The mental confrontations that he has with Barry and with Nash parallel each other because both suffered the loss of a daughter. Tom plays the sociopath very well; Thawne uses the memory of Nora to taunt Barry, while simultaneously admitting to missing “his little runner.” The revelation of Nash Wells’ brash loner attitude born from the loss of Maya – Allegra’s established doppelganger – makes a lot of sense. When we lose a loved one, we isolate ourselves out of self-protection. In Nash’s case, it’s also survivor’s guilt. Making him the reciprocal of the remnants of past Harrison Wells doppelgangers can be seen as penance for his role in Crisis. Maybe it’s because he was Pariah that he wound up in this state. From a story perspective it’s an excuse to see Cavanaugh bring back his Harry Wells, his Sherloque Wells, and so on. Nash has a plethora of different personas in his head and that means more intelligence. It makes him that much more capable a character than he was before. One could call it his own superpower if only he could harness it. It also explains how Thawne got yanked into his head; he stole Earth-1 Wells’s genetic material to assume his appearance and move the creation of The Flash up so he could return home sooner. It may have helped him survive Crisis, but it cost him his body. It also makes it believable how they could expel him, but not the other Wells personalities. The writing is as clever with momentary reactivations of his speed abilities as they are with the stakes. Barry’s new hurdle is his speed powers are on their last legs and Thawne knows it. So you get that sense that the clock is ticking. The incorporation of Thinking Cap 2.0 to achieve that mindscape battle was brilliant as well. Further, Thawne’s prodding Barry with Nora’s memory may have inspired him to look in Nora’s journal for an answer to the Artificial Speed Force project.
Mirror-Iris continues to get worse and now has a friend. Keeping the real Camilla’s fate unrevealed is clever and keeps fans guessing. Candice is brilliant as an evil version of Iris. Whether it’s in scenes with Joe or with Barry, the character looks and feels like the real deal right up until that last bit of advice or action away from prying eyes that remind you she’s not. She barely takes a beat after inspiring Barry to attempt a normal approach to defeat Sunshine before setting up a separate plan by phone to steal the device Black Zero is targeting afterwards. The increased duality leads fans to think that the longer these mirror duplicates exist, the more they deviate from the original. Or rather, the more they reflect the characteristics of their creator, Eva McCulloch. The writers were smart to demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between she and the replicants. Efrat delivers a great performance as this new Mirror Master; her ability to turn on a dime was the greatest reveal of this story. Having more of a “staff” on the outside makes it easier for this agenda to move forward behind the scenes.
This episode’s biggest flaw has to do with the biggest reveal. While billed as a big reveal through a white door, Maya’s death fails in the way Kayla Compton’s fall is shot. Even her scream could have been more bloodcurdling. Also, why would such an intelligent woman like Cecile bring vampire hunting weapons to what was an exorcism? The writers just don’t know what to do with such a capable character; they have her skirt the line between competent and ridiculous and it gets tedious after a while. Sunshine – a villain created for the show – feels exactly like it. Her backstory gives potential for more depth, but also feels like Plastique from season one. Then there is Thawne. The Reverse-Flash is the gold standard of Flash villains. He just felt out of character. The whole “I’m just here to kill you” vibe is beneath such a master manipulator. This is an antagonist that needs an entire season to cover the complexities of him. And now he’s a ghost after being expelled from Nash’s body? While that makes him more of a danger, it again feels out of character. The only area where he’s salvaged is Tom’s performance.
The Flash 6×15 felt partially like a filler episode when it should have been explosive. While it provided Nash with some value and substance, it wasted The Reverse-Flash’s and offered a throwaway villain as the main threat this week. The inclusion of Camilla’s mirror replicant in this “Mirror Force,” for lack of a better descriptor, gives Mirror-Iris a gal pal to confide in. It gives Candice a chance to bounce ideas off of rather than operating in silence and brings the viewer into the plot.