The Flash – Season 7 Episode 12
“Good Bye Vibrations”
The Flash says goodbye to Cisco with one final case for the OG Team Flash to solve as a victory lap for the departing team member.
It feels as if Cisco leaving the show has been on the cards for a while. There has been a major focus on him reevaluating his life over the past couple of seasons with it majorly coming to a head in this one. It’s one of the few development points that has felt organic and earned with his decision flowing from what has been building in the background.
Cisco has been on the show since day one -and actually made his debut over on Arrow– so it goes without saying that he is incredibly important to the DNA of the show. Back in the simpler, higher quality days of season 1 team Flash was Barry, Cisco, Caitlin and the duplicitous Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne using science to bring down Metahumans so it’s only fitting that Cisco’s send-off would be a return to something resembling the good old days.
The announcement is made early in the episode and every second following it is about processing the news one way or another. Barry and Caitlin seem to be unphased by the news which makes Cisco feel insecure and unappreciated since he was expecting a deeply emotional reaction. It’s not an unfair expectation on his part given what they have shared and it is somewhat manipulative to have this attitude continue for a lot of the episode. It turns out Barry and Caitlin were putting a brave face on it because they respected that Cisco had made a decision and didn’t want to make things worse for him by breaking down. Barry admits that if he fixated on Cisco’s decision to leave then he might end up asking him to stay which could end up with Cisco changing his mind. He didn’t feel that it would be fair to put that kind of pressure on him considering how hard it was for him to make this choice in the first place. The truth he is only too happy to confess is that he attributes so much of his identity as The Flash to Cisco’s influence and is endlessly grateful that Barry has been there for him the entire time. Caitlin tells him that she will miss him which comes across as equally genuine.
Episodes like this remind me of why I watch this show and take me back to a time where I loved it. Frequent readers of my reviews will know how disappointing I often find this show. I feel that the decline in quality has been largely due to a loss of perspective on what the fundamentals were. At its best The Flash was fun, clever, heartwarming and entertaining. The character dynamics were great, the visuals were impressive, the stories were well told and it didn’t take itself too seriously while taking itself seriously enough to deliver meaningfully dramatic content. Over the years it has definitely lost sight of that and lost a lot of the joy that made it so endearing to replace it with relentlessly bleak and overly dramatic repetitive storytelling. An episode like this is reinvigorating because it recaptures those fundamentals and makes use of them brilliantly. Unfortunately it’s more than likely to be an anomaly with the current status quo making its return next week but time will tell if that prediction is accurate.
A character leaving means one final case for OG Team Flash and fittingly it surrounds a Metahuman who can affect feelings. A new Rainbow Raider (Jona Xiao) makes her debut and in a refreshing twist she isn’t actually a villain. Carrie Bates is a former collections officer who wants to do away with the financial inequality in the city by altering the distribution of wealth in the direction of those who need it most. A noble pursuit to be sure though her methods are less than legal. Ultimately she’s a fairly ridiculous villain with her grand plan to drop diamonds and cash on unsuspecting sports fans to redistribute that wealth with the jeopardy that creates being entirely accidental but she’s an entertaining one and makes relevant yet quickly delivered points about the financial difficulties people are facing. It’s the classic “Robin Hood” complex but it works well enough and makes for a fun final antagonist for Cisco to help bring down.
Hilariously she is defeated when Barry -as The Flash- offers to arrange for her to serve her sentence as part of the Mayor’s Economic Development Team” and that is enough for her to back down and halt her plan. It’s an unconventional way of solving the problem and delightfully unexpected to boot though it’s cashing in on The Flash as influential figure within Central City who can apparently recommend sentencing for criminals without the show ever establishing that he has that level of influence. The lack of effective world building continues to be a problem for this show.
None of that is really important when considering Carrie’s real purpose which is to manipulate the emotions of Team Flash at an emotionally crucial time. Her ability allows her to amplify certain characteristics with Cisco being the first to be affected causing him to become delirious and emotionally honest but in a goofy way. It’s fun to see and Carlos Valdes admirably fully commits to the bit. Later Barry is affected and uses super speed to learn how to break dance before demonstrating his newfound skill. It’s the kind of off the wall fun the show seems afraid to have these days and it’s delightful to watch because it amounts to nothing more than the characters having fun being around one another albeit in an altered state. The show has been lacking this for a long time so it’s great to see.
The problem doesn’t entirely extend to Carrie stealing from the rich to give to the poor as she unwittingly puts a blimp on a collision course with a stadium giving Cisco the opportunity to use his technical know-how to leave the show on a final heroic moment. It flows from his character and is satisfying while being fairly low stakes when compared to what Team Flash have recently had to contend with. Focusing on character and keeping the problem manageable for Cisco’s final outing worked really well as an idea as the situation never eclipsed the exit of a beloved character.
There is time for plenty of meaningful emotional beats. Chester is in place as the tech guru of Team Flash now and his interactions with Cisco are geared towards that mantle being gladly passed to him. Naturally Chester is apprehensive about taking on such a massive responsibility especially considering all Cisco has accomplished over the years but by the end of the episode he is at least ready for the challenge and has Cisco’s blessing. I’ve speculated before that Chester was being introduced as a Cisco replacement which is exactly what has happened but this episode justifies that and does nothing to tarnish either character.
Cisco’s one on one moment with Caitlin where they talk about how close they are, what they’ve been through together and reflect on how much they’ve been through was really strong despite Caitlin deliberately attempting to be aloof in the moment. The years they have shared screen time on this show has built a believable and engaging rapport that the actors never fail to sell even when it was at its most problematic. Their relationship is one that should have been indulged far more often but it was good to see it given attention in Cisco’s final episode. He also has a brief yet meaningful moment with Joe where Joe points out how grateful is for everything he has done. It’s the right level of sentimental.
A montage of some of Cisco’s highlights including naming many of the villains over the years was a really nice touch. It’s appropriate to take stock of how far he has come since the early days of the show and what he has contributed to it. He has always been a fun character who brought a lot of energy to the mix of characters, he has developed massively and been through a lot. As a viewer it’s more than agreeable to be reminded of how things used to be back when the show was at its strongest and have one of the major contributors to that highlighted.
The final moments where the characters allow themselves to get ridiculous and indulge in some karaoke were note perfect. As I’ve said fun has been distinctly lacking on this show for a long time and there are very few moments showcasing characters simply enjoying being around one another. It’s something Supergirl continues to do well where this show has lost sight of it so it’s great to see though unfortunate that it takes the departure of a beloved character for it to happen. If the production team can get back to more natural character moments like this instead of constant doom and gloom then it will go a long way towards restoring The Flash to its former glory as a TV show.
Cisco isn’t the only departure as Kamilla is going with him. It’s much harder to be invested in this as the writers never quite made Kamilla the meaningful presence she needed to be. Victoria Park always did well with the material she had to work with and making her part of Team Citizen certainly provided much more content as well as some engaging character dynamics but she was always an afterthought. Her relationship with Cisco wasn’t something that received much in the way of attention which makes how serious it is more difficult to accept since none of what it took to get there can be found in any of the episodes.
Despite that the scenes where Iris finds it difficult to accept that she is leaving because of how capable she is in handling all that the Citizen covers not to mention the close friendship that will be altered by her leaving. Iris reacts strongly to this initially before apologising and being honest about her feelings towards the end of the episode. None of what happens here fixes the missteps with Kamilla along the way but it does highlight the strength of the Team Citizen dynamic that will now be noticeably altered without Kamilla being a part of it.
A fun and moving send-off to a beloved character. Episodes like this are a strong reminder of why I watch the show because it makes great use of the well cultivated character dynamics that carry the material so well. Cisco’s departure is significant and it’s treated as such with an episode devoted to showcasing exactly how important he is to the team and the show. The final case he helps deal with is relatively low stakes with an antagonist fittingly able to manipulate emotions at an emotional time. It’s an excuse for Carlos Valdes to cut loose in a gloriously over the top moment and later an excuse for Barry to do the same. It’s rare to see the characters enjoying simply being around one another so it’s a welcome addition regardless of whether they’re in an altered state at the time. The new Rainbow Raider isn’t a villain though her noble intentions enabling her illegal actions means that she has to be stopped. Hilariously she is defeated by Barry offering to recommend she serves out her sentence in a role that could help her facilitate economic change and she agrees to it. It does capitalise on world building the show hasn’t done but it was a delightfully unconventional way of solving the problem. Her accidental endangering of a stadium full of people allows for a final hero moment from Cisco that flows naturally from his established character and the relatively low stakes of the problem never eclipsed Cisco’s departure.
In the midst of all the fun there’s plenty of time for meaningful emotional beats such as an earnest passing of the mantle of Team Flash tech guru to Chester, a strong Cisco/Caitlin interaction that takes stock of their long friendship, a brief yet meaningful goodbye from Joe and an excellent montage of some of Cisco’s highlights. It all adds up to a great send-off and the karaoke was another brilliant example of pure character interaction, the likes of which hasn’t been seen on the show in a long time. Kamilla’s departure is less effective though that has a lot to do with constant missteps surrounding her character. The coverage of her friendship with Iris and her overall importance to Team Citizen is well used in the episode in a way that highlights the strength of that team dynamic and makes it very apparent that it will be noticeably altered without Kamilla being present.
- getting back to the fundamentals of the show
- well executed light hearted moments
- an extended celebration of all that Cisco has brought to the show
- meaningful emotional moments
- a relatively low stakes plot that doesn’t eclipse the importance of Cisco’s departure
- Cisco getting a last hero moment
- the montage of Cisco’s highlights
- the delightful karaoke scene
- making it clear that Kamilla leaving will noticeable alter the Team Citizen dynamic
- stopping Rainbow Raider cashing in on world building the show hasn’t done
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