“Monster” benefited from a little tighter focus, and that being on the core characters. We know Snow, we care about her at this point, so while her relationship with her mom isn’t interesting, at least we see some direction being taken with her development of powers.
The romance angle was also mercifully kept in the background this week. Yes, Iris was there, and another lunch date with Barry was cut short, but it wasn’t the point of the episode. That also helped.
Outside the core characters we’ve known and loved, Julian has actually been a substantive addition. Tom Felton’s performance has been solid, and while his character progress was rushed, to say the least, it didn’t put me to sleep. Glossing over him trying to shoot a 15-year-old was tough to see. It stretches the tolerances of disbelief, both in the sense that it would happen, and that the department wouldn’t fire and/or arrest him over it. That being said, I can let it go if for no other reason than that it isn’t the same thing we’ve seen week in and week out.
This week also stretched the villain of the week formula to its limit. We didn’t actually get a real villain at all this time, and that was an anticlimax.
The duplicitous Harrison Wells angle is also exhausted. What’s worse is that it felt like they dragged the conclusion that this Wells is fraud to the point of absurdity.
Once again, we get nothing from Alchemy. By the time he reappears, they’re going to need to remind us of who he’s supposed to be, and the fact that he’s not even being talked about makes it hard to believe anyone really sees him as a threat.
This episode was more entertaining than the last few have been, but as we’ve said, the threat of Barry going back and undoing Flashpoint looms over everything. It hasn’t been a bad season, but if everything we’ve seen is undone one more time, it’ll be hard to keep caring about the show.
Flash should return to Alchemy soon—next week’s episode features Wally West and visions of Kid Flash dancing in his head—but I agree with Jim that we’ll need a refresher for who Alchemy is and why we should care. Doctor Alchemy is supposed to be working behind the scenes, but why hasn’t Flash shown him awakening metahumans? Why haven’t we seen more metahuman husks? Why haven’t we seen Alchemy working behind the scenes?
By dumping Julian Albert’s backstory and his desire to do good in a ten-minute monologue, “Monster” doused ice water on my idea of Albert (Tom Felton) as Alchemy. But did it really? We don’t know what drives Alchemy to do what he’s doing. Sure, Alchemy gave the Rival his powers, but he also killed the Rival. Did Alchemy kill the Rival because he failed to stop The Flash or did Alchemy kill the Rival because he used his abilities for selfish ends? Does Doctor Alchemy view himself as a hero and the Flash as the villain because the Flash ended Flashpoint or does he have this world view—or a similar one—for some other reason? I’m not sure. Neither Flash nor Arrow have left us this far in the dark with regards to a main villain’s motivation.
We do have a good idea of when Flash will hit the reset button, should it hit reset: Killer Frost. Sure, we know Caitlin and care about her. It’s suspicious that Flash will have two episodes until its mid-season break after she comes out of the metahuman closet (two weeks from this week). That’ll give the Flash enough time to realize that his only option to save her is to go back in time. I’m still hoping the consequences from this (probable) upcoming time travel, set up in the first episode this season by Jay Garrick, will force Barry to stop hitting the same, easy button.
I’m also hoping that Flash will cease to hit the same plot device buttons: a duplicitous Harrison Wells, and a child in trouble as a pseudo villain-of-the-week. Jim covered Wells. I kind of liked this Wells’ backstory—also dumped on us through an expositional monologue—and its tip of the hat to Booster Gold. But this Wells’ story makes less sense than Booster’s. Wells is from an alternate earth, not the future. As for the child in trouble, we’ve already seen this with Magenta a few weeks ago, and it was just as rushed then. Yawn.
This hasn’t been a bad season for the Flash. I’ve enjoyed Felton as Albert and agree with Jim that his story ventures from the norm–if nothing else. This season just lacks focus and covers lot of familiar ground. The one time Flash has given us focus this season is for the plot device that will most likely lead to Barry hitting rewind. I’m still waiting for this season to get started.
Thanks for reading.