The Flash – Season 7 Episode 14
“Rayo De Luz”
The Flash gives Allegra and Sue centre stage when Ultraviolet returns to Central City on a quest for vengeance.
Barry barely appears in this episode which means there’s limited opportunity for him to do or say something stupid. in theory this is a great opportunity for other characters to be given the opportunity to shine -literally in one case- without the leads stealing attention from them. It’s a good idea to focus on every part of the ensemble in different ways especially on this show where there has often been a problem with unrepresented character perspectives.
Viewer investment in this episode will largely come down to whether they happen to be invested in Allegra’s ongoing relationship with Esperanza. From a personal point of view I’m not because the show didn’t give me enough to latch onto where they’re concerned but I like Allegra as a character and think she has a lot to offer even if she is mostly relegated to propping up someone else’s story or having her powers prove useful in advancing the plot. She’s an engaging character looking to make up for a troubled past and a keen desire to help others. If given time to be more prominent then there are a lot of directions her character could go.
Unfortunately the prevailing direction for her in this episode is backwards. Bringing in Esperanza provides an uncomfortable reminder of dull and problematic plotting that seemed to be and should be in the rear view mirror. The potential exists for this to be interesting in the same way that potential exists for any relationship to be interesting given the right exploration but so far it hasn’t been and this episode does little to elevate it.
Old ground is retread with reminders that in childhood Esperanza was all Allegra had as far as family goes and that makes her feel obligated to help her where possible. This is well established but added to that is Esperanza’s quest for revenge against Dr. Olson (Jonathon Young); the man who turned her into Ultraviolet and took away her voice. It’s a simple yet effective way to add an air of tragedy to Esperanza by making her a victim rather than a standard villain with no depth. This detail doesn’t give her a great deal of depth but it makes her motivation clear for the purposes of this appearance. It also allows for her loyalties to shift naturally when Dr. Olson promises to undo what he did if she does what he asks for her. It’s standard villain fare with false promises and leverage that propels the plot forward but little else.
In theory Allegra and Esperanza’s relationship is central to this episode and it certainly is but it’s difficult to invest in with the flimsy background and even flimsier characterisation involved. Esperanza is barely a person in the context of this show; she is a collection of ideas and plot points masquerading as a character. Allegra’s desire to see the best in her shows growth on her part as she buys fully into the Team Flash ethos of everyone having a better nature that can be brought out through someone believing in them. She has learned and understood that lesson after seeing it work so many times but it’s a very high level statement that the writers apply as an absolute to every villain that happens to come along. Sometimes they can be reasoned with and sometimes they can’t but the prevailing theory is that everyone deserves that second chance and will take it when offered. As long as you ignore DeVoe, Savitar and others it’s a sound strategy that works well for them.
The most interesting thing at play is Allegra having her doubts about her own ability to get through to Esperanza and provide her the support she feels she owes her. It’s an arc for her to follow and she does complete it albeit in in a fairly ham-fisted way. Kayla Compton’s performance in following that arc is excellent and makes it believable that Allegra is committed to achieving that goal so that elevates the material beyond what exists on the page.
A compelling addition to this is Sue’s perspective. She is such an interesting tangential part of Team Flash because she hasn’t bought into the ethos that everyone else lives by. Sue has her own opinion of the world and how people work shaped by her own experiences that comes into conflict with what Team Flash represent. She talks to Allegra about her parents being corrupted by Black Hole to the point that they were unrecognisable therefore rendering her attempts to save them from the organisation futile. Allegra’s stance is that Sue needs to try harder but Sue is making a valid point about it being impossible to reform absolutely everyone so she may have to accept the fact that her cousin is a lost cause. It’s unquestionably a fatalist attitude but it’s refreshing to see the harmonised Team Flash viewpoint tempered with some cynicism. This show rarely flirts with such nuance so it’s welcome to have different opinions in the mix.
Sue’s decision to stay in Central City and not give up her family after seeing the light -literally- courtesy of Allegra is an unearned lesson on her part as her cynical outlook is established to be deeply ingrained through simply seeing how things work on a global scale that it makes no sense for her to change her thinking based on a singular experience. Beginning to question her fatalist views might be more realistic but not the apparent complete reversal. Her inclusion in the episode is valuable in other ways with some excellently choreographed action sequences showcasing her acrobatic combat skills in various ways. The stunt team are certainly to be commended for providing such strong action beats.
Of course Allegra is proven right to stand by her desire to save her cousin which culminates in her levelling up her powers to a massive degree and defeating her. She talks about how she was thinking about family when her powers grew therefore solidifying the message that love is more powerful than hate. It’s not a bad idea by itself nor is it badly executed but it does feel unearned given the lack of depth to this relationship. Another thing to consider is that Esperanza isn’t actually redeemed because of Allegra’s actions as she is defeated before being offered a different route to what she wants. There are some platitudes about gratitude and having certain things shown to her but it comes across as less than genuine which probably has a lot to do with the rushed nature of the conclusion. Aside from that we now have another impossibly powerful member of Team Flash with Allegra’s heightened connection to her abilities so I’m sure that will continue to be misused in the future.
Chester and Allegra’s growing connection could prove to be interesting. He is very much settling into the role of being an endearing dork and Brandon McKnight fully commits to that with his consistently charming performances. The suggestion of an attraction between him and Allegra is less than subtle but comes across well and positioning them as opposites with her being street smart and “cool” against his indoorsy nerd leanings is a solid basis for a classic “opposites attract” connection. By the end of the episode she certainly sees that there’s a lot of value to him and is willing to learn more about his point of view. This is likely fuelled by his unflinching earnestness and unquestioning support of her goal to help Esperanza. Her desire to join him in a game of Dungeons & Dragons was a nice moment of connection though it’s something I’d rather see than hear about. Maybe it will be shown in a future episode.
Joe’s investigation of Kramer starts to turn up evidence for her being corrupt and trying to hide it. For now it appears to not be connected to her hatred of Metahumans and more about Joe pursuing a moral mission after leaving a potentially corrupt figure in charge of the CCPD. He talks about feeling a great deal of responsibility for those that work there because he has worked with them, trained them and bonded with them in various ways so deems it necessary to ensure that they aren’t dealing with potentially dangerous corrupt leadership that he had a hand in putting in place however indirectly.
The plot takes an unexpected turn when Kramer admits that her brother -not by blood- was the one who betrayed her unit and she has spent a lot of time and energy trying to catch him to make him answer for what he did. It’s unclear where this is heading though it could point to the next big bad for the remainder of the season. So far it’s not all that interesting as a setup and it’s difficult to empathise with Kramer beyond the tragedy of her suffering such intense loss given her less than palatable views so far. It is a great showcase for Joe and his innate decency through his investigation of her for noble reasons and the fact that he is willing to hear her side of story. He has never been one to stand by a judgement when proven wrong and only sees someone who needs help when she opens up to him. It also loosely ties into the need to offer people a second chance and give them the opportunity to take it found in the Allegra centric plot.
Loosely connected to this idea is the brief scene where Frost tracks down Chillblaine to put him back in prison where he belongs before learning that he cut a deal that secured him his freedom. It has been previously suggested that a romance is due to blossom between these characters which already seems like a tedious prospect given the available information. There’s no indication that he has reformed as his motivation to cooperate with the authorities could be entirely self serving though if he has then it removes any moral ambiguity from Frost pursuing a relationship with him if he leaves his criminal ways behind. Such a development would make it far less interesting though it makes sense given the tendency to homogenise the characters in this show.
A reasonable episode that offers a good showcase for Allegra to come into her own, continues to make Sue a great presence, makes strong use of Joe’s innate decency and has a cohesive idea tying the plots together. Investment in this episode will largely come down to how engaged the viewer is in Allegra and Esperanza’s previously established relationship. It’s not something I found personally interesting and this episode didn’t offer much reason to become interested in it. Allegra is shown to have grown in her time with Team Flash and champions redemption for Esperanza if she offers to help her achieve it. It follows familiar beats though there’s a less than definitive conclusion where Esperanza is concerned even though she appears to have reformed. The episode doesn’t provide enough assurance that she isn’t simply taking advantage of a better offer rather than actually understanding the merits of family. Her motivation is at least clear and positioning her as a victim works well enough in terms of moving the plot forward. Allegra levelling up her powers to showcase that love is stronger than hate is the expected resolution though it creates a potential problem of having another insanely powerful member of Team Flash. Sue’s perspective on the situation is a welcome one as she offers a well earned cynical counter to Allegra’s unflinching optimism. It’s rare to have the monolithic views of Team Flash challenged in such a way and Sue is the right one to do it considering all she has seen and experienced. Her example about being unable to save her parents after they became so badly corrupted by Black Hole is a strong one though her reversal on her opinion after bearing witness to Allegra’s example is unrealistic. Sue’s presence is also welcomed because of her acrobatic combat skills that are wonderfully realised by the stunt team. The suggestion of a potential romantic connection between Chester and Allegra is intriguing so far based on how they interact.
Joe’s investigation into Kramer isn’t an interesting plot by itself but is a great showcase for Joe. His innate decency is central to this exhibited through the sense of responsibility he feels to those he worked with at the CCPD and his willingness to hear Kramer’s side of the story. It’s unclear what this will build to but Joe modifying his thinking when learning what she has been dealing with is in keeping with his character and allows him to contribute meaningfully to the episode while also loosely connecting to the idea of offering second chances. This is also loosely developed through the brief Frost and Chillblaine scene that reveals he is a free man. It’s unclear at this point if he has given up his criminal ways though having him reform would remove any moral ambiguity attached to Frost pursuing a relationship with him while also making it less interesting.
- a strong showcase for Allegra as a character
- Sue’s contrarian views on second chances injecting much needed opposition to the default Team Flash ethos
- excellently choreographed acrobatic combat
- the suggestion of a romantic connection between Allegra and Chester
- Joe’s innate decency being used well through his investigation into Kramer
- no depth or weight to the Allegra/Esperanza connection
- a rushed conclusion that isn’t as definitive as it needs to be
- the tedious Chillblaine scene
- doubts over whether Kramer is someone to empathise with
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