The Flash – Season 6 Episode 5
“Kiss Kiss Breach Breach”
The Flash has Cisco take the lead on a murder mystery as Joe becomes acquainted with Nash Wells.
It has been previously established that Cisco is Barry’s choice for taking up the mantle of leadership once Barry’s inevitable death comes to pass. As this episode begins he’s still struggling to find a way to deal with what’s coming and doesn’t have the same faith in his leadership skills that Barry does. To get around that he has created an artificial intelligence known as the B.A.R.I.; it’s designed as a decision making tool that can extrapolate what Barry would do in any situation based on his prior leadership decisions. This is a joke that writes itself considering the litany of questionable decisions Barry has made over the years but within the context of the show he apparently does the right thing most of the time and his judgement is not to be questioned. No mention is made of the times that people have disagreed with Barry but his judgement has to be flawless in order for this particular story to work.
It’s very difficult to invest in this because it forgets about years of character development for Cisco to assume that he has no idea how to run the team in Barry’s absence. There are numerous examples of Cisco taking charge and making decisions that lead to solving large scale problems so acting like this isn’t something he’s prepared for is a really bizarre choice. Having him doubt his ability to run the team because of his grief is reasonable enough but this plot does him a massive disservice and is a complete waste of time.
The offscreen death of Gypsy as a motivator for Cisco to realise his worth as a decision-maker also doesn’t work because of how little attention this relationship received when it was a fixture on the show. The mystery itself isn’t all that compelling either as the show opening on Cisco being arrested for murder only makes it easy to predict that the murderer will be an alternate universe duplicate of Cisco. Some mystery might have been retained if the opening hadn’t shown Cisco being cornered by agents but this choice only made the reveal more obvious.
Cisco’s investigation is used to help him realise two things. The first is that he is more than capable of dealing with a situation using his own resourcefulness and intelligence. The second is that he’s in love with Kamilla and needs to express it. I found that the first was dealt with fairly well through having the B.A.R.I. act as a crutch that he forgets to lean on periodically before he decides to abandon it altogether. It shows that he does have faith in himself and only created the A.I. out of fear that he wouldn’t measure up to the lofty standards set by Barry. The steps he follows in investigating the murder aren’t really worth talking about but Carlos Valdes plays the growing self confidence and determination brilliantly. It almost pushes aside the fact that it’s not an arc Cisco should be following at this stage.
I’ve often stated that Cisco’s relationship with Kamilla is among the least interesting things on the show. That’s not to say that it’s boring by itself but it’s so poorly developed that any scene featuring them together only serves as a reminder of the lack of effort put into developing this. Apparently they have experienced several milestones by this point and are at the stage where Kamilla is either comfortably staying over or living with Cisco. The latest hurdle that Cisco needs to overcome is admitting that he’s in love with her. The worst part of this is that the actors do such a good job of selling their connection when they share scenes together which only manages to highlight how ill developed it is. Victoria Park is doing wonders with a fairly thankless role by adding layers to her through her performance that sadly don’t exist in any script the character is featured in. As an actor she deserves better and Cisco as one of the leads should have more focus when it comes to his significant relationships. I did enjoy Cisco and Kamilla’s interactions in this episode and when they admitted they loved each other there was genuine affection in those words.
The episode is at its best when it deals with the impact of grief. Carlos Valdes plays Cisco as if he’s almost sleepwalking after hearing about the death of Gypsy. This makes for a very real portrayal of grief and his desire to use the investigation to occupy his mind rather than face the full brunt of that loss adds to this. It’s a very understated performance and helps sell the tone of quiet melancholy that persists throughout. Having Kamilla accept that Gypsy remains important to Cisco and his grief doesn’t mean that he hasn’t really moved on from the relationship they once had is a really nice touch as it avoids burdening the episode with unnecessary drama created through Kamilla’s drama. Even though the pre-work hasn’t been done to develop this relationship it’s clear that Kamilla is secure enough with it to understand Cisco’s reaction in these circumstances. Having her remain supportive at all times is the right choice and further endears her as a character.
Breacher’s reaction to his daughter’s death is equally understated and all the better for it. Having him sit on the edge of Cisco’s bed staring into space unable to actually say the words is a great touch as it shows how much difficulty he has accepting it and how raw it is for him. Breacher’s interactions with Cisco in this episode are always excellent as they highlight how close they have become and how much support they take from each other. Some attempt is made to manufacture tension through Breacher briefly believing that Cisco killed Gypsy which lets it down some but it’s a very small detour that returns to normal pretty soon after.
Cisco’s confrontation with Echo is brief but interesting as he’s very much a dark mirror for Cisco as well as the personification of everything Cisco thinks he lacks at this point. He takes Cisco through the steps of everything he did to frame him for the murder which helps Cisco realise that the potential to have that level of self confidence exists within him. He also proves how intelligent and resourceful he is by tricking Echo into capturing himself. It’s a necessary catharsis for Cisco because he manages to avenge Gypsy’s death while also realising that he’s more than capable of handling any situation that’s thrown at him. After this point he’s definitely ready for leadership and has a better grasp of who he is as a person so hopefully this is the last that will be heard of this particular brand of self doubt.
The subplot involving Joe and Nash Wells makes for a great Joe showcase. When trapped underground with Nash with air quickly running out and death all but a certainty Joe still refuses to give up hope despite Nash telling him how hopeless their situation is. He talks about having faith in the people around him and the Human race in general; he qualifies this with a story about how people rallied around to help him when he lost his wife. This is the third excellent example of realistic grief in a single episode. Joe talks about finding it difficult to function at all even though Iris was depending on him to take care of her and realising how much support he had around him without realising it. This is a different take on loss than is seen elsewhere in the episode but it highlights how different the experience can be for different people. For Joe this proved to be an important lesson on how important it is to have faith in those around you and it’s something he applies in this situation. Sure enough he’s proven right when Ralph appears to save their lives. Nash has less of a significant contribution with nothing new learned about him other than him possibly having a way to save Barry.
Ramsey’s story takes something of a back seat though does receive some attention when Killer Frost lets Caitlin take control for a while to attempt getting through to him. It’s a well acted scene that allows the pre-existing connection that exists between Caitlin and Ramsey some time to shine but it comes across as little more than a stalling tactic because the writers have failed to take full advantage of their connection before this point. It’s an interesting contrast to have Killer Frost hate Ramsey and Caitlin feel that he can still be redeemed but there isn’t much more to it than that. As such their conversation feels like a bland retread which is especially disappointing since it’s the first time Caitlin has appeared in weeks.
A filler episode that continues with an unnecessary arc for Cisco but delivers powerful and realistic portrayals of grief and handling loss. The off screen death of Gypsy being used as a motivator for Cisco to realise his own worth as a decision-maker doesn’t really work as there are numerous examples of him taking charge in difficult situations so it’s a lesson he shouldn’t have to learn. It’s also a reminder of how ill developed his relationship with Gypsy was. Similarly this episode serves as a reminder of how little work has been done on the Cisco/Kamilla relationship as evidenced by the sheer volume of milestones that have been skipped in order to get to this point. Carlos Valdes and Victoria Park do a fine job portraying what they need to and Victoria Park does a great deal of heavy lifting when it comes to characterising Kamilla but it doesn’t make up for the lack of effort put into their relationship which does a disservice to Cisco who is one of the leads. Despite the shortcomings the writing combined with Carlos Valdes’ performance puts across a realistic depiction of grief with Cisco quietly sleepwalking through the episode as if he hasn’t processed what he has learned. It’s a wonderfully understated performance that is complimented nicely by Danny Trejo. Cisco’s confrontation with Echo is brief but it accomplishes putting a dark mirror in front of Cisco while showing him what he is actually capable of and that he shouldn’t doubt himself.
The Joe/Nash subplot makes for a great Joe showcase and another sterling exploration of grief. Joe talking about how he was unable to function when he lost his wife and realising that others were there for him in ways he didn’t expect fully justifies his faith in others as a contrast to Nash’ cynicism. Sure enough Joe is proven right when Ralph finds them before it’s too late. As good a showcase as this is for Joe it’s somewhat lacking where Nash is concerned as little new is learned about him. The Ramsey plot takes a bit of a back seat though does receive attention when Killer Frost gives Caitlin back control to try and reason with him. Unfortunately it’s little more than a bland retread of what has come before with nothing of value being added which is especially disappointing as it’s the first time Caitlin has appeared in weeks.
- three distinct realistic portrayals of grief
- strong performances from Carlos Valdes and Victoria Park
- a great showcase for Joe
- the well executed showdown between Cisco and Echo
- Cisco continuing to go through an arc he should have completely long ago
- further reminders of how little work has been put into developing what should be important relationships
- nothing of value added to the Ramsey plot
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