The Flash – Season 8 Episode 12

Apr 28, 2022 | Posted by in TV
Flash

“Death Rises”

The Flash brings in a new unstoppable threat as Iris’ time sickness worsens.

Sometimes it’s fascinating to watch this show. Watching something that has been going on this long get so much wrong and keep going is a truly astounding feat. I did mention in my review of the previous episode that Robbie Amell returning to play a villain was an interesting development because of how impactful it could be to Caitlin but The Flash is nothing if not consistent when it comes to squandering potential. The other ongoing plot relating to Iris’ vague time sickness seems to exist only to fill time. It’s fascinating to watch this show progress and maintain a quality level that is this low on a consistent basis.

Flash

We will have a future!

I’ll start with the time sickness plot as there is very little to say about it. Watching the scenes relating to it play out is a bizarre experience even though it shouldn’t be at this point. What they amount to is characters delivering dialogue that makes absolutely no sense and carries no emotional resonance. Developments happen through exposition and none of it means anything because the information doesn’t come from the characters learning it. Deon shows up to tell Iris that he can’t see her future and didn’t know about Tinya’s mother’s disappearance until it had already happened. His vaguely defined abilities are being limited for some reason and that supposedly creates drama that the viewer is supposed to invest in. He also disappears because being in proximity to Iris causes that to happen to him. None of these developments mean anything as a baseline for the problem itself hasn’t been established. The writers can make anything happen and use “Time Sickness” as a catch all explanation. This is not good or even competent storytelling.

There are a couple of emotional beats connected to this. Barry rushes to Iris’ side after she reappears without explanation -therefore rendering her disappearance pointless- and they have a conversation about the uncertainty of their future. Barry is the hopeful one -or at least appears to be on the surface- and assures her they will have a future together. It’s a nicely acted moment and it does inject some character into a lifeless plot but it’s not enough to create actual investment in Iris’ predicament because no rules associated with it have been established. Another attempt to force an emotional connection comes when Iris feels she’s about to disappear and Sue tells her to focus on the future she knows she has with her children and Barry which is enough to calm that particular episode. Once again it’s a nicely acted moment even if it does lean into the standard pep talk approach that this show favours above all. Eddie’s apparent return at the end could be a Deathstorm manifestation or could be a Time Sickness related  As for the Time Sickness itself nothing more is known about it and it remains a problem but there’s no indication of what relevance it will have beyond giving Iris something to do.

Deathstorm fails to make an impression as a villain. Opting to show the fully CGI rendering creates limitations as he can only be shown periodically which means the aftermath of his actions are shown rather than the actions themselves. Easier and cheaper to mock up props of charred corpses than render a fully CGI character constantly. Robbie Amell only appearing through voice might be an availability issue but the limited physical presence of Deathstorm makes it more difficult to invest in him as an antagonist. Even when he does appear on screen the visual presence is distracting because the CGI doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Compare this to Grodd of King Shark and there’s a noticeable dip in quality in the visual effects work. It’s especially frustrating because the Deathstorm design is actually very simple so in theory it should be easier to make him look convincing than say Grodd but it could be a budget issue and the show smartly works around that by finding other ways to show his influence though what is shown isn’t that interesting. The episode doesn’t have much to offer in terms of action either though Barry gains the ability to use the lightning he throws as platforms to gain altitude. This officially makes him unstoppable as verticality is no longer a problem for him.

Flash

There’s no fooling Allegra!

As stated the aftermath of Deathstorm’s actions are shown through charred corpses. Dialogue reminds the viewer that he goes after those who are grieving and feeds on that while leaving burned out husks in his wake. It’s undeniably a major threat that Team Flash have to deal with but, as is so often the case, the urgency is diluted by the characters not appearing to be all that concerned about it. Granted they initially have no way of tracking Deathstorm so there’s nothing they can do but sit tight but there’s a lack of concern around the bodies piling up beyond the basic heroic mantra of having to stop the threat. Kramer’s involvement is an attempt to highlight the scope of the threat and the innocent lives being taken by Deathstorm but the impact is lessened because it’s being reported after the fact. The scope does at least come across with the many calls describing Deathstorm but it’s more passive and theoretical than practical.

It is brought home to Team Flash through Allegra interacting with a manifestation of Esperanza. Darkstorm’s attempt to overwhelm her with grief doesn’t work because she understands the tactic after it happened to Chester so fights back. It doesn’t add anything significant to the episode other than serve as a reminder that the team all have grief to feed on no matter how vehemently Barry insists that they’ve all dealt with theirs. It’s very clumsy storytelling and muddles the overall purpose of this plot. Sprinkled in is the usual dose of self-doubt on Barry’s part where Joe has to remind Barry that he has handled everything else before and encourages him to trust himself. Once again ground that has been covered many times before.

Caitlin is still the emotional grounding for this plot and it follows the expected beats of her feeling guilty for being so adamant to bring Ronnie back that she dismissed any concerns around it. The previous episode did a poor job of addressing those doubts but Caitlin was firmly on the side of saving Ronnie and now she’s dealing with the consequences of it. Anyone that Deathstorm kills is arguably indirectly her fault and that is something Caitlin considers. Frost tries to tell her that the situation isn’t her fault but Caitlin feels that it is while also feeling that she has regressed in processing the loss of Ronnie. The hope of getting him back coupled with learning that it wasn’t really him that came back returns her to a far more raw grieving state. This single conversation dismisses the loss of life and focuses on Caitlin’s feelings about Ronnie which is ultimately what this plot is about. Her regression is an interesting idea and Danielle Panabaker delivers it well. Resolution will presumably come in the form of her defeating Deathstorm in a way that allows her to move on with her life and put that loss behind her. Frost may offer herself up as the anti-Deathstorm but Caitlin is the key figure.

Deathstorm looking to make Caitlin his bride is a bizarre choice. He travelled across the stars to make her his bride and begins to prepare her for whatever the next stage of his plan is. The threat comes from Caitlin being Deathstorm’s objective. Barry’s theory as to the circumstances of Deathstorm’s creation explains the fixation on Caitlin as remnants of Ronnie in his creation will be drawn to her. The trouble is that Deathstorm has nothing meaningful to say for himself which make him a highly underwhelming villain. He feeds on grief because Ronnie’s grief was part of his creation but he’s also looking for Caitlin yet takes his time before actually coming after her. This episode is clearly designed to kill time before a later episode where things can actually progress.

Flash

Grief is good!


Verdict

A weak episode that doesn’t allow the main antagonist to make an impression while spinning its wheels on the plot surrounding him while continuing to meander along with the pointless Time Sickness plot. The Time Sickness plot makes for bizarre viewing as the scenes connected to it amount to characters delivering dialogue that makes absolute no sense and carries no emotional resonance. Developments happen through exposition and none of it means anything because the information doesn’t come from the characters learning it. The writers can make anything happen and use “Time Sickness” as a catch all explanation. There are a couple of emotional beats such as Barry being hopeful despite the uncertainty of their future and Sue giving her a pep talk to force an emotional connection when she’s about to disappear. Both nicely acted moments but the plot itself is meandering and nonsensical. The return of Eddie could be a Deathstorm manifestation or related to the Time Sickness.

Deathstorm fails to make an impression as a villain. Opting to show the fully CGI rendering creates limitations as he can only be shown periodically which means the aftermath of his actions are shown rather than the actions themselves. This limited physical presence makes it more difficult to invest in him as an antagonist. When he does appear it’s distracting as the CGI doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. The aftermath is largely shown through charred corpses. Dialogue reminds the viewer that he goes after those who are grieving and feeds on that while leaving burned out husks in his wake. It’s undeniably a major threat that Team Flash have to deal with but the urgency is duluted by the characters not appearing to be all that concerned about it. Kramer’s involvement is an attempt to highlight the scope of the threat but the impact is lessened it’s being reported after the fact. The scope does at least come across but it’s more passive and theoretical rather than practical. Allegra’s experience with a manifestation of Esperanza brings it home for the team. It doesn’t work because she understands the tactic so it doesn’t add anything of significance other than serve as a reminder that the team all have grief to feed on no matter how vehemently Barry insists that they’ve all dealt with their grief. Sprinkled in is the usual dose of self-doubt on Barry’s part where Joe has to remind Barry that he has handled everything else before and encourages him to trust himself. Once again ground that has been covered many times before. Caitlin is still the emotional grounding for this plot and it follows the expected beats of her feeling guilty for creating this problem. Frost assures her that it isn’t her fault but Caitlin still feels guilty while also feeling that she has regressed in processing the loss of Ronnie. The hope of getting him back coupled with learning that it wasn’t really him that came back returns her to a far more raw grieving state. This single conversation dismisses the loss of life and focuses on Caitlin’s feelings about Ronnie which is ultimately what this plot is about. The regression is interesting and well delivered by Danielle Panabaker. Deathstorm looking to make Caitlin his bride is a bizarre choice. He begins to prepare her for whatever the next stage of his plan is. Barry’s theory as to the circumstances of Deathstorm’s creation explains the fixation on Caitlin as remnants of Ronnie in his creation will be drawn to her. The trouble is that Deathstorm has nothing meaningful to say for himself which make him a highly underwhelming villain. This episode is clearly designed to kill time before a later episode where things can actually progress.

Overall
  • 3/10
    Death Rises - 3/10
3/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • well acted emotional beats within the Time Sickness plot
  • attempting to show the scope of Deathstorm’s threat
  • Caitlin regressing to an earlier point in her grief over Ronnie’s loss

 

Rise Against…

  • the Time Sickness plot being nothing more than nonsensical exposition
  • Darkstorm’s lack of physical presence making it difficult to invest in him as an antagonist
  • Team Flash not appearing overly concerned about the loss of life
  • Allegra’s encounter adding nothing of substance
  • repetitive storytelling
  • Deathstorm’s plan to make Caitlin his bride a bizarre choice

 

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