The Flash Review: “The Darkness and the Light”

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Jim’s Review

I think this was another decent week for The Flash. They seem to be doubling down on their commitment to explore the comics with the DC Multiverse while still giving us some satisfactory character development. To that end, we didn’t get nearly enough of Dr. Light this week, so that gave us the feel of another villain of the week, but her past connection to Barry makes me think there’s a good chance she’ll be brought back around, and not just forgotten in the pipeline like those who came before.

Earth 2’s Doctor Wells is compelling. They may be going a little far with everyone reacting to him, struggling to understand he’s not Eobard Thawne, but some of that is expected. On that point, I wish we had a greater sense of Earth Prime’s Doctor Wells. As we know by now, the “Dr. Wells” we knew wasn’t really Dr. Wells, but Thawne in Wells’ body. Tom Cavanagh is doing a really solid job here, making the different versions really stand out, but I wish we could have a more one-for-one comparison, let us see more of Wells of Earth Prime before Thawne took over his body. It may be too late for that at this point, but in either case, Cavanagh’s performance has been wonderful.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about what we saw with Jay Garrick this week. Wells painted him as a bit of a coward, and while I don’t think we were necessarily meant to agree, I think it’s a dangerous game to play when you have him shrink from the challenge of confronting Zoom. Nevertheless, this did add a layer to Garrick’s character, and one way or another, it makes for a more interesting story.

Barry and Patty’s date would ordinarily have been a good bathroom break for me. At this point, romance angles on CW shows are a thing I’ve just learned to tolerate, but this sequence wasn’t nearly as groan-worthy for me. The temporary blindness angle was pretty formulaic, but I like that it all ended in Patty recognizing he couldn’t see, and pointing out she wouldn’t be a very good detective if she didn’t pick up on that. It validated her to a certain point, and gave us something of her that isn’t just a bright-eyed overly enthusiastic rookie.

Maybe my big disappointment for this week was that we didn’t get anything for a follow up on King Shark. That was a really strong close to last week, and probably the most daring thing this show has tried since its brief foray into Grodd. I realize this show has a definite budget, but I hope that one appearance we’ll get from him. Mind you, I don’t care all that much about King Shark, but I find it encouraging to see them embrace the more comic-book-y elements of the show.

I’ve never really understood Cisco’s reluctance to explore his meta-human powers. I heard the character’s explanation, but I didn’t buy it, and I’d almost say it’s out of character, but the show used Garrick and Wells’ conflict to ebb that to some degree. Here again, I wish they didn’t bother us so much with the romance angle, and Cisco building the courage to ask out a random woman does not compare with him transitioning to a superhero. That’s a reach at best, but at least Cisco’s character has been moved to some sort of action.

I think The Flash has proven itself wise to embrace the multiverse. They’ve given themselves limitless possibilities for new material, and also helped balance out the interests of its young romantic and comic geek audiences.

Kyle’s Take

Welcome back to Flash, Jim. It was if Jim was iOS and he didn’t support Flash. JK

In all seriousness Jim’s absence on Flash reviews for the past few weeks is telling; he strictly follows the adage of if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But Jim’s return also means that “The Darkness and the Light” has put Flash back on track and that’s because they dropped all story threads that lead to Legends of Tomorrow and put the West family arc on hold.

With a clear path Flash was able to spend time with DC’s multiverse. Like Jim said, Flash embraced it. Up to this week, the multiverse was a means to introduce a ton of new characters, sacrificing story and character for fan service and Easter eggs. While I like fan service and Easter eggs, I like story and characters more, so I enjoyed “The Darkness and the Light.” Alright, let’s speed up things.

Cisco gave us good vibrations, even though I don’t buy into his reluctance in using his powers: this was a stalling tactic so Flash could get through that Legends of Tomorrow business—it’s the gift that kept on giving. Caitlin’s line of “just because your powers came from Wells doesn’t mean you’ll turn evil” was funny and prophetic. Here’s looking at you, Killer Frost. The multiverse, while a source of good for Flash, has a price. The writers are turning the show into Highlander: there can be only one. One ultimate villain: Zoom. One ultimate Flash: Barry. Hence, Jay Garrick gets colored a coward. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s an odd choice and it could backfire. Harrison Wells is back. Yay! The gang doesn’t trust the new Wells: heavy handed at times but understandable. The villain of the week may be a recurring villain: not bad, not bad; it’s different than Arrow, and allows Zoom to simmer.

I liked this week’s episode. The Flash may have turned on a switch with “The Darkness and the Light.”

Head to our Flash secrets page for more of those Flash Easter eggs. (Here’s a link.) Thanks for reading.

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