The Flash – Season 3 Episode 6
The Flash deals with Wally’s lack of powers while dealing with Caitlin’s abundance of powers as the consequences of “Flashpoint” continue to present themselves.
Wally not having powers has been an ongoing thread this season. It has been established that he is jealous that Jesse was granted powers from the same Dark Matter wave that hit him when he wasn’t so it’s definitely an obsession of his. This makes it really easy for Alchemy to get to him as he shows Wally what he could be through the memories he lost when the timeline was reset.
The episode handles Wally’s desire for powers really well as he goes through an intense emotional arc. At first he’s sure that the dreams mean his powers will be coming soon and seeks encouragement from Joe who shoots him down. The reason for that is that it sounds very similar to what Frankie went through back in “Magenta” which Wally accepts but also feels is different since his dreams don’t suggest a split personality. In his dreams he’s helping people and he has no reason to think that will change once he gets his powers.
Wally is a really impulsive individual so he takes Joe’s reaction to mean that he isn’t trusted as much as Barry is which is partly true. Joe is concerned that Alchemy granting Wally powers will come with unknown consequences and won’t work out for the best. If he had been granted speed by the accident then he may feel differently but he doesn’t trust the situation and he’s right not to.
Barry’s hand is forced by Wally’s dreams and he has no choice but to tell everyone about Wally having powers in the Flashpoint timeline. He shares it with Joe first who then shares it with Wally who doesn’t react all that rationally. Again, he sees it as a personal attack when people think that he shouldn’t have powers. It’s a very human reaction and plays into what little we know about Wally already. He has been established as being really hot headed and prone to angry outburst so having him jump to his own conclusions like this is entirely consistent with who he is.
A pep talk from Joe is all that he needs to make him start to rationalise everything and ultimately realise that Alchemy doesn’t have the best intentions. He willingly gets locked up in the pipeline so that the situation can be controlled and Alchemy can’t get to him easily. Of course this doesn’t stop him from enticing Wally with visions of the other timeline while flooding his mind with unbearable pain to encourage him to do what he wants.
This was a good story thread for Wally as it continues his obsession with gaining powers but also lets him see that there is something dark about Alchemy’s offer. It’s important for Wally to realise that getting what he wants isn’t always going to be everything he hopes it will be and having him behave irrationally provides some really solid human moments. Keiynan Lonsdale doesn’t have many opportunities to deliver interesting performances because of the lack of good material he is typically given but this thread gives him a lot to work with and he does a good job with it. Everything about Wally’s thought process is understandable and it adds much needed depth to the character to have him conflicted between what he wants and what is right.
The emotional journey that Wally takes does have a conclusion in this episode when he volunteers to act as bait so that Barry can get to Alchemy. It is seen as a brave act which carries on the idea from earlier in the episode that Wally reminds Joe of himself as a young man. Apparently Joe was a handful back then and Wally takes that from him except he is apparently a braver man than Joe. This was quite a nice father/son thread that shows how different Joe’s relationship with Wally is to his relationship with Barry.
Wally’s strength only goes so far as he picks up Alchemy’s jewel and finds himself in a cocoon that will presumably give him his powers. In some ways it’s a surprise since the episode was setting Wally up to come to terms with not having powers but in others it’s completely obvious that it was going to play out this way. It’s unclear whether this was Wally acting in his right mind or if Alchemy is capable of mind control. Hopefully there will be darker consequences to Wally gaining his abilities from Alchemy.
Caitlin is finally honest with the team about her transformation into Killer Frost. She starts with Cisco who is entirely supportive but becomes spooked when he vibes her and sees them fighting at some point in the future. It’s unclear how far in the future this is and there is no context to it but it’s enough to unsettle him enough to conceal the truth from her. This is mainly to stop her from leaving as she is so afraid of hurting people that she vows to leave before it comes to that.
Cisco’s dishonesty doesn’t last long as Caitlin knows when he’s lying so the truth about the future comes out very quickly. It’s a quick moment but shows how strong their friendship is and how well they know each other. I am surprised that Cisco doesn’t try to reassure her by pointing out that his vision has no context. Maybe they’re training and Caitlin doesn’t turn evil?
When Caitlin is forced to tell the rest of the team it highlights an issue that they all seem to have. Barry wasn’t honest with Wally about the possibility that Alchemy will target him so it means that they are unprepared for it and Caitlin’s dishonesty means that she has been stressing out about the problem on her own and failing to deal with it properly. It is mentioned that hiding things never works out well for them so they should all know better by now. I’m unsure where this story will go but with the entire team involved it could create some interesting drama.
Naturally Barry feels guilty about this and discusses the situation with her. His tampering with the timeline means that Caitlin is now a Metahuman so what is happening to her is essentially his fault. This is a definitive consequence of Flashpoint that is meaningful in terms of how it impacts the characters and it does work well. Barry’s feeling that he is in a world that he doesn’t recognise echoes how I feel about this season as I personally struggle to be invested in these skewed versions of the characters since things do seem very different. The conversation between them is well handled and shows how much Barry cares about his team even if he behaves selfishly sometimes.
H.R. Wells is fitting into the team nicely despite him having no scientific knowledge whatsoever. Last week he pointed out that he could act as a muse for them who helps them achieve their full potential and so far he is actually doing that. There are a few moments of him saying just the right thing to prompt people to come up with an idea.
The issue of Harrison Wells being a wanted man is nicely resolved with a handy gadget that disguises his face and voice while still allowing the main characters -and us- to see Tom Cavanagh’s face. It’s a nice touch and deals with the problem of H.R. not being able to leave S.T.A.R. Labs.
Having him outside creates some fun moments in this episode when he talks endlessly to Cecile and ruins her date with Joe. He’s completely oblivious to it and just rambles on. The best description for H.R. is that he’s charmingly annoying.
Speaking of problems that the show has, this episode addresses one of the problems with Iris. She can relate to Wally’s feelings on not having powers as she feels useless a lot of the time. Iris doesn’t have powers or know science so her contributions to the team are limited. Barry tries to tell her that he needs her as much as he needs everyone else but it’s clear that Iris doesn’t really agree. Iris pointing out this massive problem with her character does nothing to solve it but self awareness is fairly new for her so maybe this is the first step towards that problem being solved.
The titular villain of the episode, Shade has got to be the worst Metahuman villain they’ve had. He appears exactly twice and is very easily defeated without even being named. No attempt is made to develop him in any way so it’s very difficult to believe him as a threat.
Shade only exists to offer a distraction to Team Flash while Alchemy works on Wally and he does fulfill that function but some attempt at making him a person would have been appreciated. Having a distraction is all well and good but I feel that there could have been other ways to distract the team.
We got more Alchemy here than we’ve ever had but it doesn’t provide much in the way of answers. We know that he grants former Flashpoint Metahumans abilities but we don’t get any more insight into it. I half expected his identity to be revealed since it seemed like Barry and Joe had him dead to rights but that didn’t happen either. There is a fairly obvious hint that Alchemy is secretly Julian but the clues are far too convenient so I very much doubt that will be the case.
This episode does give us the introduction of another big bad in the form of Savitar – the self proclaimed God of Speed. His introduction was really well handled and he looked great with his Sauronesque armour but I can’t get fully excited about this as it’s yet another Speedster villain when we have had too many of them already. This season could have tried something new and had Caitlin become the main villain to give the antagonist a different emotional hook. At least Barry doesn’t currently have a mentor figure to secretly be the villain this season.
Savitar seems to be insanely powerful so far. He is faster than Barry and nobody else can even see him so that presents a lot of problems. Does this mean that he will be too powerful and his inevitable defeat will be a cop out? Time will tell but I found myself reminded of the Speedster villain mistakes made in the past on this show.
A solid episode that handles character development well but suffers in the execution of the plot. Wally’s obsession with gaining his speed works well throughout and his emotional arc is very believable considering what little we know about the character. The pay-off could go either way at this point though.
Caitlin being honest with the team is a step in the right direction and the suggestion of her villainous future is really intriguing as it remains to be seen if that path is for her in the future. I like how this ties into the theme of honesty that has been running throughout the season and that the team are finally realising that dishonesty only leads to bad things for them. Other characters are handled well too such as Joe’s fatherly relationship with Iris and H.R’s antics.
Sadly, Shade is the weakest villain to date and we don’t learn anything about Alchemy that we didn’t already know. It’s a shame that we have yet another Speedster as a villain; this one apparently being a God so it is just a procession of more powerful Speedsters. It could work out well but I’d like to see something new.
- great material for Wally
- Iris admitting that she feels useless sometimes
- Caitlin being honest with the team
- Savitar – he looks cool
- the worst Metahuman villain we’ve ever had
- another Speedster villain