The Flash – Season 4 Episode 3
“Luck Be a Lady”
The Flash introduces a Metahuman able to change her fortune by directing her bad luck onto others and misfortune induced hilarity ensues.
As Barry grows more powerful it’s increasingly more difficult to find villains who can challenge him. Being the fastest man alive means that it’s very difficult for an antagonist to appear threatening because Barry should be fast enough to deal with whatever they are able to throw at him. So far this season has done a good job inventing Metahumans that can challenge him in different ways. Last week saw a tech based villain where running fast wasn’t going to be much help and this week deals with bad luck.
The episode opens really well by giving us a long look at Rebecca -Becky- Sharpe aka Hazard (Sugar Lyn Beard). This is framed as an investigation into her by our resident enigmatic villain the Thinker. He goes through her life, lists her attributes and lets us see what her life is like. Immediately she is established in an unfortunate light from innocuous things like spelling her name wrong on a coffee cup while getting her order wrong to more concerning things like being sexually harassed at her job and finding herself being fired for spilling a drink on that same customer. Adding insult to injury is walking in on her boyfriend cheating on her. Poor Becky!
Basically it’s established that she’s a consistent victim of really bad luck. This changes when she is zapped by a dose of Dark Matter and gains the ability to turn her luck around. The scene that introduces this ability is excellently done. Setting a bank robbery to “Luck Be a Lady” by Frank Sinatra added a sense of style to it and the attention to background detail as the bad luck affected everyone she passed on the way in was great. It was a really creative way to introduce a power and Sugar Lyn Beard plays Becky as unflinchingly pleasant every step of the way. She’s one of the more engaging villains the show has had in a while.
The beauty of the character is that she isn’t necessarily a bad person. She has been dealing with the worst streak of bad luck imaginable for a long time and she’s absolutely sick of it. As far as she’s concerned the good fortune she is experiencing is something she deserves and she’s happy to milk it for what it’s worth. How that translates to her being fine with stealing is up in the air somewhat but it all works if you consider that she’s a little drunk with power.
I really liked seeing the effect her power had on Barry. Making him do things like slipping on marbles or somehow handcuffing himself was hilarious and Grant Gustin plays it with the appropriate amount of disbelief. There’s a self-awareness to his performance that enhances the experience and it all works even though it’s clear that Barry isn’t in that much danger. The whole thing escalates to a ridiculous degree but it all works in the context of the episode.
Her abilities seem to have a knock on effect on the rest of the team as well though the episode is unclear on whether it’s down to Becky or more related to genuine bad luck. There’s a subplot involving the plumbing in Joe’s house going haywire because it’s old which inspires a discussion about possibly selling it and using the money to buy a whole new place. It seems like a silly and disposable plot but it provides an opportunity to explore Joe’s connection to his family He talks about how all his memories are wrapped up in the house and it makes him reluctant to sell it even though it’s falling apart. He associates his home with the family he shared it with and finds it difficult to let go. it’s a touching scene played wonderfully by Jesse L. Martin.
Joe’s subplot comes with the revelation that Cecile is pregnant which feels like overkill at this stage. It’s completely unknown how this will play our or what effect it will have on the overall dynamic of the show but it feels like an accelerated milestone for these characters who have had a relationship that has barely taken up any screen time.
Bad luck also manifests through Barry and Iris’ wedding plans. They lose out on two different venues because of timing issues which isn’t overly dramatic unless you happen to be invested in their relationship and their desire to get married. It’s not top of the list of things I want to see on the show but it’s part of their shared storyline so it counts as an obstacle to be overcome.
Eventually the bad luck escalates to the point that the Casino Becky is in starts to collapse and the Particle Accelerator starts to power up on its own. Essentially the tension in this scene amounts to whether Becky can achieve three cherries on a slot machine. It sounds a lot worse than it is and the combination of comedy with peril actually makes for a really engaging sequence. Barry fighting against forces he can’t control in order to do something that should be really simple works really well.
After two episodes free of a Harrison Wells of any kind Harry returns to help Team Flash. At first he’s upset that Jesse kicked him off her crime fighting team but finds acceptance when Cisco asks him to rejoin Team Flash and help them out. Tom Cavanagh is always great value though I would have liked the show to continue the proud tradition of introducing a new version of Harrison Wells each season. It could still happen as we’re only three episodes in but it looks like Harry will be around for the foreseeable future. I have no objections to this as the way he and Cisco bounce off one another is as engaging as always and the overall dynamic of the team feels more complete now that Tom Cavanagh is back in the mix.
This episode does some work with the mythology by explaining the reason for the new influx of Metahumans. It turns out that Barry’s exit from the Speed Force exposed a bus load of people to Dark Matter and turned them into Metahumans. As of this week two are accounted for out of the twelve exposed so that should keep us in Metahumans through the first half of the season. I half expected the show to go down the route of it being Barry’s fault which it isn’t considering it wasn’t his idea to be freed from the Speed Force. Barry also doesn’t throw blame around so some lessons have been learned.
It’s made clear that the Thinker has an interest in the Metahumans which intrigues me as they must factor into his plan somehow. We are very much at the starting point of this villain story with each episode having a small amount of screen time for him where he indicates that something is part of his plan while remaining vague on the reasons for that. It’s fine for now but it could make the early part of the season seem somewhat disposable though time will tell.
This feature may have to be retired shortly after it began. He has two scenes this week; the first involves him receiving a breakup hologram from Jesse delivered by Harry. After this he disappears for the rest of the episode but returns at the end to announce he’s leaving for a while. Joe wishes him well but he is noticeably upset that his son is leaving especially after his discussion about the memories wrapped up in the house.
Having Wally leave for a while seems like such a cop out though it being part of the Thinkers plan is mildly interesting. It could be that the writers are acknowledging that they don’t know what to do with the character but this should be taken as an opportunity to start fresh and concentrate on developing him. This potential to develop him was wasted in the first episode of the season and it looks like this trend would continue. I would like to see Wally move to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow as he would be able to thrive in that space.
A really fun episode with a creative villain who provided a comedic yet decent threat to Team Flash. The use of bad luck throughout was well handled and genuinely hilarious. Becky was an engaging character with believable enough motivations and worked better because wasn’t necessarily a bad person though the sense of entitlement she feels when it comes to robbing banks doesn’t quite match up.
Harry returning to Team Flash is most welcomed and he settles back into the dynamic easily. How long he sticks around is anyone’s guess but hopefully a good long while. The episode did a good job with subplots such as the West household falling apart at the seams as an excuse for Joe to explore his connection to the memories made in that house. The pregnancy plot is perhaps unnecessary but we will see how it plays out. At this point the season runs the risk of getting stale as they have set up a repeated scenario where a Metahuman attacks before revealing that the Thinker has interest in them. It is early in the season but might mean that the early part is fairly disposable.
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