Flash Facts: 9 Random Thoughts on The Flash S03E03

After two relatively weak episodes, The Flash strikes back with its strongest effort this season. A large part of why The Flash S03E03 rocked was that an outstanding character finally returned. It goes beyond that though. Most of the characters have more or less rebounded from “Flashpoint” and things are back to normal — or as normal as it ever gets for Barry Allen and his friends at STAR Labs. An excellent new villain (with one major flaw) debuted and a new hero showed up as well. Whether it was due to the first two episodes being weak or The Flash S03E03 being a genuinely good show, I was very much satisfied with this week’s outing. Now zip on your spoiler hoodie, because it’s time for nine random thoughts on The Flash S03E03 using the RPad.TV binary system!

I’m So Wild About Harry (Good): Usually I try to do these things in chronological order, but the return of Harry Wells destroys order. Early in the episode, Harry pops out of breach from Earth-Two and immediately goes about dominating the show. Going into season three, I was hoping that Flashpoint would create a third version of Harrison Wells, but after one episode, I’m thrilled that Earth-Two Harry is back. He’s funny, complex, formidably intelligent, excellent at throwing tools, and disarmingly endearing. Tom Cavanagh is fantastic at playing this character and makes the other actors he has scenes with better. Think of The Flash as the Los Angeles Clippers and Cavanagh as Chris Paul. Yeah, the Clippers are a decent team without CP3, but they’re so much better with him (until the second round of the playoffs, anyway *snicker*).

Oh yeah, Harry Wells’ angry use of “Not!” jokes completely ruled.

The Flash S03E03 Harry Wells
Harry Wells, multiversal master of “Not!” jokes.

Barry and Iris Suck at Dating (Bad): The show kicked off with Barry and Iris having an awkward date. We’re supposed to believe that they’re true loves, no matter what multiverse they’re in. Instead, they’re romance seems forced and uncomfortable. As I’ve noted in my previous “Flash Facts” columns, I’m not a fan of bumbling Barry. Unfortunately, that’s the guy Iris was on a date with.

The Debut of Jesse Quick (Good): Harry Wells came back to Earth-One because his daughter is now a speedster. Naturally, the overprotective Harry doesn’t want Jesse to be running around as a superhero. His paternal efforts to thwart her heroic aspirations were fantastic. While TV Jesse Quick’s origin is completely different from the comics’ version, I enjoy the actress and am looking forward to the seeing her in costume. Besides, any character or storyline that keeps Harry Wells involved is an excellent thing for The Flash.

Magenta Characterization (Good): This character was a pleasant surprise. I was concerned going into the episode, since Magenta is a Wally/Flash villain and not a Barry/Flash villain. Magenta also suffers from mental illness, which is easier to write about sensitively in print and more difficult to do in a television script. My worry was that the writers would butcher the nuance and simple make her a crazy bitch. Instead, the writers and actress delivered a great character. Joey King was wonderful at showing a damaged and frightened Frankie Kane. She was also good at playing the sociopathic Magenta. Playing split personalities can be tricky and I enjoyed the job that King did with the material she was given.

The Flash S03E03 Magenta
Aside from the arm acting, Joey King was surprisingly good as Magenta.

Magenta Physical Acting (Bad): The one aspect of Magenta that really bothered me was King’s arm motions. It was…bad. King’s arm-magnetism-powers acting in The Flash S03E03 reminded of Sophie Turner’s wretched fingers-on-the-temple telepathy acting from X-Men: Apocalypse.

Caitlin Dazzles (Good): First off, props to Danielle Panabaker’s stylist. Her hair looked amazing in The Flash S03E03. More importantly, Caitlin Snow had some good material to work with. Her reluctant talk-her-out-of-being-a-hero speech to Jesse was awkwardly cute. When Harry tries to chide her for failing, she lays into him and tells him what’s what. It was nice to see the forceful and logical side of Caitlin Snow come out. Or is that Killer Frost’s personality creeping to the forefront….

The Flash S03E03 Caitlin Snow
Seriously, Caitlin’s hair was amazing in this episode.

Malfoy is Still a Dick (Good): Although he didn’t have too much to do this week, I’m happy that Tom Felton is still around and still being a dick to Barry. British people excel at being snarky.

Wally Becomes Idiotically Reckless (Bad): Wally is still being mopey, but it appears he’s getting dumber too. The kid really wants to be a superhero. After hearing how Jesse’s powers activated, he runs in front of a car to try to replicate the process. Moron. Towards the end of the The Flash S03E03, you can see the wheels in his head turning when Frankie reveals how Dr. Alchemy activated her Magenta powers. It looks like a safe bet that Wally is going to do something extraordinarily stupid in order to become a superhero. (Like, I don’t know, make a deal with Dr. Alchemy?!?) He’s lucky that Barry is there to bail his mopey ass out.

Barry and Iris Git Gud at Dating (Good): Barry was so much better during his second date with Iris. He was more confident and had a rational (yet heartfelt) explanation for why the first date bombed. Grant Gustin is great at being confident and sensitive at the same time, and it really showed in this scene. This is his wheelhouse. Hopefully he stays in it for the remainder of the The Flash season three. Bumbling Barry only works in alternate timelines. Long live Confident-Yet-Vulnerable Barry!

Flash Facts: 12 Random Thoughts on the Flash S03E02

After a mixed season debut, Barry Allen’s adventures continue in The Flash S03E02. Unfortunately, the show has gone from mixed to worse. Hopefully it’s just a bumpy start and the show will go back to being The Flash we loved during the excellent first season. Two episodes in, things aren’t looking great. It hasn’t been as bad as Arrow season four, but it’s a long ways off from its former glory (so far). Now kindly switch on your spoiler shields and get ready for 12 random thoughts on The Flash S03E02.

Felicity Smoak, Plot Device (Good): After the requisite “previously on The Flash” summary, Barry runs to the Arrow Cave to chat with the Felicity. I’m a complete mark for her nerdy hotness, so I love that she was in The Flash S03E02. Unfortunately, she’s just there as a plot device so that Barry can explain the mistakes he made while trying to fix Flashpoint. After some back and forth cuts between then and now, Felicity comes up with a brilliant plan of, “Fix this.” Yeah, her appearance was mostly meaningless…but it’s Felicity and I’m in love with her. (For the record, I refuse to believe that Emily Bett Rickards isn’t a sexy nerd IRL even though I really know she’s not.)

The Flash S03E02 Felicity Smoak
Felicity Smoak is the hottest nerd on television.

Barry Has Created Earth No-Fun (Bad): In trying to fix Flashpoint, Barry has come back to a world that’s sorta kinda like the one he came from. The chief differences (to his life, anyway) are with Cisco, Joe, and Iris. Let’s start with Mr. Ramon. After being Billionaire Dick Cisco in Flashpoint, we get Morose and Moribund Cisco Ramon. He’s not the fun, clever, and witty boy genius we’ve enjoyed for two seasons. Instead, he’s hung up on his brother being killed by a drunk driver and Barry’s refusal to go back in time to save him.

While Cisco’s angst is understandable, the friction between Papa and Daughter West is less so. Similar to the original world, Joe lied to Iris about her mother still being alive. In this timeline, she’s still angry about it. She doesn’t talk to Joe unless it’s necessary and refuses to go to Chateau West.

Also, Diggle has a son instead of a daughter.

Malfoy is a Dick in Every Universe (Good): Tom Felton, best known for playing Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, joins the fun as Julian Albert in The Flash S03E02. He’s a CSI that specializes in metahuman activity. He also hates Barry and treats him like crap. At the end of the episode, he confesses that it’s because he doesn’t trust Barry and knows there’s something off about him. The great thing about this is that Felton gets to play a dick, which he’s wonderful at portraying. It also shows that not everyone in Central City PD is a complete idiot. You’d think a building full of detectives would figure out that something is amiss with their coworker and, I don’t know, maybe start to connect the dots between him and The Flash. Perhaps this is why British people are perceived to be smarter than Americans….

The Flash S03E02 Julian Albert
No matter what universe he’s in, Draco Malfoy is a knob.

Dr. Alchemy Lost His Doctorate (Bad): Like WWE’s Randy Orton, Edward Clariss hears voices in his head. They council him. They understand. They talk to him. The voices lead Clariss to a cult that hangs out in a sewer (I guess hygiene is a non-issue for these guys). The cult is lead by a cat named Alchemy (who has…interesting taste in headwear). He offers to restore Clariss’ life and powers as the Rival. Naturally, Clariss is all for it.

There are two things I didn’t like about Arrowverse Alchemy. First, he wasn’t Dr. Alchemy. Plain “Alchemy” is a crappy name for a villain. Who are his contemporaries? Chemistry, Astrology, Metallurgy, and Zoology? Secondly, television Alchemy doesn’t have the enjoyable campiness and cool powers of his comic-book counterpart. Instead, he’s a guy that wears a silly mask, talks in a goofy voice, and zaps people with a rock. As a fan of comic Flash’s rogues gallery, I was disappointed in the version of Alchemy that was introduced in The Flash S03E02.

Barry Has a Stupid Dinner Idea (Bad): In trying to fix the social dysfunction plaguing Team Flash, Barry gets everyone together for dinner. His hope is that the issues Cisco has with him, as well as the issues between Joe and Iris, can be fixed with Grandma Esther’s noodles at Chez West. This, of course, is an idiotic idea. It has been illustrated throughout the history of television that cure-all dinners never ever work. Why Barry thought this was a good idea in The Flash S03E02 is beyond me. Seriously, dude. Go watch a sitcom and learn something. The CW has several mediocre ones to choose from.

Wally Reverts (Bad): After being impressed with Wally in the season debut, the character regressed in The Flash S03E02. Instead of the spunky and sarcastic Wally that I had hopes for, the dull and wooden Wally returned. Hopefully this gets fixed when (if?) he becomes Kid Flash in the “fixed” timeline.

The “Can I Talk to You?” Technique Lives! (Bad): One of the most annoying techniques that’s amazingly overused in both Arrow and The Flash is when a character says, “Can I talk to you for a second?” It’s such a lazy way to force a transition. What it really means is, “Hey, can we get everyone else off camera? We need to have a scene with just us.” It’s fine to use as a crutch every now and then, but the Arrowverse writers abuse this technique.

The Flash S03E02 Jay Garrick
Jay Garrick shows up to school Barry Allen.

Jay Garrick Returns! (Good): The Silver Age Flash returns to the show and brings Barry back to a Central City diner circa 1998. Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” is playing on the radio and Dawson’s Creek is on TV. Jay gives Barry a lesson on the repercussions of time travel through the clever (not really) use of a coffee mug. Goofy lecture aside, it was nice to see Jay Garrick come back in The Flash S03E02. He’s a great character with a fantastic costume. Besides, in the comics, the Rival was originally one of Jay’s villain’s, not Barry’s.

Pep Talk Iris Fixes Everything (Bad): After Barry confesses to his timeline meddling, the rest of Team Flash talks it out at STAR Labs. Iris gives a “family” speech that she stole from Vin Diesel’s Fast & Furious playbook. On the plus side, I like that Iris continued to be a useful character in The Flash S03E02, instead of serving as attractive scenery. Unfortunately, her pep talk was contrived. I didn’t believe for a second that a short heartfelt speech was enough to fix a year of relationship damage.

The effects of the speech seemed especially silly when Cisco goes from being so angry at Barry that he barely talks to him to running out to save him from powerful metahumans. That’s one of the quickest 180s from “I hate you!” to “I’ll die for you!” that I’ve ever seen.

Alchemy is Awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Good): On the plus side, the Iris West one-woman pep rally snapped Cisco out of his funk. He’s clearly back on the path to goofiness and naming bad guys. And thus, Dr. Alchemy was born. It’s good to have you back, Cisco!

The Flash S03E02 Vibe
You think Cisco’s superheroics as Vibe will continue?

Caitlin is Getting Cold (Good): On the surface, the lovable and dependable Caitlin Snow seemed unchanged in The Flash S03E02. At the end of the episode, her hand appeared to be radiating cold powers. I’m torn about this. I enjoy earnest Caitlin. She’s completely adorable. I enjoyed a small dose of angsty Earth Two Killer Frost Caitlin last season. I hope that Caitlin’s personality isn’t changed by the Killer Frost powers. It would be even worse if the writers decided to do a “split personality” thing with her. Hold me, Felicity. I’m scared.

Where the Hell is Harrison Wells?!? (Bad): The biggest disappointment with The Flash season three is that Tom Cavanagh hasn’t been in the first two episodes. He was great as Evil Fake Harrison Wells in season one. He crushed it as Sardonic Tool-Throwing Actual Harry Wells in season two. I was greatly looking forward to a third version of Harrison Wells and am disappointed that Cavanagh hasn’t been in the mix. If The Flash S03E02 viewing audience were like a live WWE audience, I’d start a “We Want Harry!!!” chant. Say it with me. We want Harry!!! *clap* *clap* *clap*clap*clap*

Flash Facts: 10 Random Thoughts on Flash S03E01

The Flash has zoomed back to The CW after a thrilling first season and a very good (but uneven) second season. With lots of changes set up after season two, the show’s writers and directors have a blank canvas to paint on. If the first episode of The Flash season three is any indication, the entire CW Arrowverse will be changed forever. Now kindly turn on your spoiler shields, so that I can share Flash Facts (opinions, really) on The Flash S03E01.

When we last saw the Scarlet Speedster, he mucked around with Earth-One’s timeline in order to save his parents. This season will borrow from the “Flashpoint” storyline from the comics. The Flash S03E01 kicks off in a world where both of Barry Allen’s parents are alive and he’s not the Flash. He’s been living in this world for three months. Now that you have the setup, it’s time for some Flash Facts using the Speedforce-tested RPad.TV binary system.

Apparently Barry Allen sucks at talking now.

Bumbling Barry is…Not So Good (Bad): After two years as a superhero and saving Central City from countless threats, Barry Allen has become…bumbling and incompetent. He struggles to talk to his true love (on Earth-One) Iris West and stumbles as the Flash. How the hell did this happen?!? Perhaps three months in Pleasantville negated the confidence that two years of superheroics built. Whatever the case may be, I can’t wait to get confident and capable Barry back. Yeah, Flash is supposed to be more vulnerable than Arrow, but he’s also supposed to be, you know, good.

The CG Looks Better Than Ever (Good): I loved the CG from the speed battles between the good speedsters and the Rival in The Flash S3E01. The high-speed combat looked thrilling and better than what I expect from television (especially CW television). Hopefully the CG budget was spent evenly and the special effects are consistent episode to episode.

Keiynan Lonsdale Surprised (Good): As a total mark for the comics version of Wally West, I wasn’t big on season two’s TV Wally West. At his best, Keiynan Lonsdale was wooden and boring. At his worst, he made Channing Tatum look like Daniel Day Lewis. Lonsdale got off to a great start in Flash S3E01. As the Kid Flash version of Wally, he was charmingly cocky and surprisingly funny. He killed the delivery when he responded to Caitlin’s question of whether she was kidnapped or not. While I didn’t care for him in season two, I’m rooting for this version of Wally West to remain throughout season three.

This was the best TV Wally West has ever been.

How Did Barry Not Know Wally Was Kid Flash? (Bad): I have no idea why Barry had to unmask Kid Flash to figure out he was Wally. Barry is a CSI by trade. He has more than two years of experience using super speed (and the heightened senses that come with it). He knows Wally. He’s lived the guy. It made no sense for him to be surprised by the reveal.

Billionaire Cisco is Okay (Good…ish): I was entertained by arrogant and condescending Cisco Ramon in Flash S03E01. It was a nice change of pace for a character that’s normally so lovable. That said, Cisco is the heart of the show. I need goofy, sarcastic Cisco back ASAP. Hopefully the temporary fix to Flashpoint brings back the Cisco we all know and love.

Flashpoint Caitlin is too cute to exist for more than one episode.

Kiddie Eye Doctor Caitlin is Adorable (Good): Caitlin has always been the most saccharine character on The Flash. The Flashpoint version of Caitlin turned her goofy goodness up to 11. She was silly, but enjoyable. This pediatric ophthalmologist version of Caitilin was fun for an episode. As with Cisco, I hope the real deal is back next week (even though I secretly have a crush on Flashpoint Caitlin).

Drunken Joe West is Disturbing (Good): The Flashpoint version of Joe West is angry and drunk. He’s not the strong and loving father figure we’ve seen for the last two seasons. This was, perhaps, the most disturbing part of Flash S03E01. I’m used to Joe being the backbone for the entire Flash family. Several other characters draw strength from him. Seeing him as a bitter drunk was off-putting. Kudos to the writers and the excellent Jesse L. Martin for pulling this off so effectively.

Iris West serves a purpose!

Iris West Has a Purpose! (Good): For much of season two, Iris served as…attractive background decor. She served no purpose for many episodes. She’d give a silly inspirational speech every now and again, but more often than not she was there to look beautiful. In Flash S03E01, she was integral to the plot and gave a silly inspirational speech. I was so used to her being useless that I forgot that she could be an effective key character.

Prepare For Wacky Rogues (Good): The end of Flash S03E01 set up the coming of Flash villain Dr. Alchemy. I absolutely loved this. Flash has always had a colorfully bizarre rogues gallery and Dr. Alchemy is as weird as any of his contemporaries. Rumor has it that Mirror Master (one of my personal favorites) will be in season three as well. I’m looking forward to the Arrowverse versions of both of these longtime Flash characters.

Where Does Reverse Flash Go to the Bathroom? (Bad): I didn’t see a toilet in his makeshift prison cell, did you?

Flash S03E01 Reverse Flash
Bonus Image: Where does Reverse Flash go to the bathroom?