Review: The Flash 6×18 – “Pay The Piper”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Amanda Tapping
Writer: Jess Carson
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker, Jesse L. Martin, Hartley Sawyer, Tom Cavanaugh, Danielle Nicolet, Efrat Dor, Andy Mientus, Victoria Park, Kayla Compton, BD Wong (voice), Joel Semande
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
Barry seeks Hartley Rethaway’s assistance in saving Iris and learns of Hartley’s post-Crisis vendetta; Godspeed threatens the city in exchange for The Flash’s speed; Iris finds Camilla in the Mirrorverse but begins to experience its debilitating effects.
The Flash 6×18 is the second-to-last episode of the season, and the writers took great pains this week to ramp things up this week in big ways.
Grant and Candice’s characters’ respective journeys back towards each other delivers – no pun intended – a reflection of each other. Like Barry’s dwindling speed, the time spent in the Mirrorverse and the brain blast from last week take their toll on Iris. It makes finding Camilla – a more recent captive – a source of survival as opposed to a distinct rescue operation. Candice pulls some of Efrat’s erratic traits for Eva – scratching her arm, shakes – into her portrayal of Iris this week.Smart on the writers’ part to show that Iris can travel to the mirror reflection of S.T.A.R. Labs as opposed to being marooned at McCulloch Industries. In a way, she is the new Eva to Camilla’s Iris, only this is not a deception. Iris needs to lean on Camilla for support. and the flashes to what she found in Eva’s room work well in getting that reality across. It also makes the clock to get her home to race faster. However, it does bring into question how much of Eva McCulloch’s behavior is of her own doing and not the mental damage of her captivity?
Grant brings a despondent Barry Allen this week from the get-go, and his emotional journey is felt from start to finish. The writing responsibly focuses on the fact that Barry has no faith in his own judgment after living with an impostor of his wife. It’s not about ego, but about responsibility. Barry is a smart guy, and as a CSI he’s also something of a detective. His emotional distress is mirrored – again, no puns – by Cisco’s, who also had to deal with a duplicate of his live-in girlfriend. The situation becomes threefold with the inclusion of Pied Piper and his now-revealed gripe against The Flash. More on him later. But the writers also use Barry’s self-doubt as a bridge for Nash Wells to express his own grief over the consequences of his actions. This also shows growth on the character’s part by sympathizing, and his insight helps Barry realize why Hartley’s so concerned about his right-hand man. On Cisco’s side, Cecile also provides the objective voice to make a helpless Ramon realize that he is just as much a hero despite no longer being Vibe. Seeing Barry regain his resolve through helping someone else – albeit without solving the Mirrorverse issue or Speed Force issue – gives viewers a sense of hope that had been missing for weeks. Team Flash has their leader back in the saddle, and Cisco apparently is bringing Atlantis into the Arrowverse next week.
Again, post-Crisis, Rathaway is once again a Rogue and angry at Team Flash and not privy to the revelations about Harrison Wells 1.0.. I was never really a fan of how they redeemed the character in season 2 via time travel; it just seemed too easy. Bringing Pied Piper back after his cameo in the first post-Crisis episode as a villain was a smart reset. It also allowed for the writers to explore his new motivation for villainy and tie it to his initial appearance. As a one-dimensional narcissist, the writers needed to inject pathos a la Victor Fries into his background. Again, making his grief over the affliction of his boyfriend helps Barry relate over his own grief with Iris. It is only by taking down Godspeed together do both manage to inadvertently hit on Roderick’s cure.
It’s also important to note that the writing team are paying more attention to Godspeed’s comic book counterpart. It’s a shame that the season’s ending next week because it’s clear they were planning on making the villain that much more complex with his drones. His power setting allows him to create duplicates of himself and absorb the velocity of other speedsters.
The chronology is a complaint for me. Although it figures in to the state Roderick had been stuck in for six years and the resolution to Godspeed’s threat, Barry didn’t develop the ability to throw lightning until season two under Hunter Zolomon’s tutelage. Also when did Godspeed learn of Barry’s secret identity?! Lastly, while seeing Frost graduate from Ralph’s life coaching, I think that moment could have waited until the season finale.
I give The Flash 6×18 a solid 4 out of 5. Post-Crisis sees a lot of chronological changes, but they did not impact the emotional resolution. Pied Piper and Godspeed were both handled well this week and the physical toll Iris is feeling amps up the stakes for next week’s finale. See you guys next Tuesday for the Season Finale.