A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
After a week’s hiatus, we return with what might be the weakest episode yet of The Flash that was nevertheless entertaining enough to keep the freshman season on solid footing. The “mutant of the week” makes a return, which at first seems like an unfortunate decision to make after the tantalizing Captain Cold cliffhanger at the end of the last episode. At the very least, this week’s mutant is narratively more intriguing than most who came before her. Bette Sans Souci was a military operative in Afghanistan before she was injured in a blast that left bomb shrapnel throughout her body. A victim of the particle accelerator explosion, she has basically become a walking human bomb. Anything she touches for a significant amount of time explodes – like the Flash’s suit (which might be an order from CW to get Barry out of his clothes for about five seconds). It’s an intriguing development for the STAR Team, who can’t let Bette just run around everywhere because of the danger she poses, nor can they lock her up for the exact same reason.
The bigger bad of the week, if I may be excused for using such a ridiculous expression, comes in the form of Clancy Brown’s General Eiling who falls flatter than a plateau. It is little fault of the effervescent Brown, but in this case the writing simply doesn’t exist for the character. I’ve been quite forgiving of the cheesiness of the first couple of episodes, but after The Flash upheld my initial high grades in the previous hour, General Eiling grates even more. The evil military man isn’t exactly the newest character to develop and Eiling rarely rises above that simple archetype. We’re going to assume that Eiling is coming back and will receive more character development eventually. For now, the “we must protect the security by using deadly surgeries and human extermination by eschewing any notion of morality and basic humanity” is cringe-inducing.
Bette is an intriguing character that ultimately becomes more of a symbol of the problems that the STAR crew will face rather than a full-fledged character in her own right. My largest issue is what defines her character here, oddly enough. The human bomb element of Bette seemingly only shows up when it becomes absolutely necessary for it to do so. The most mundane questions that are never answered become extremely prickly. If she blows up everything she touches, how does she put on her own clothes? How does she open doors? How does she basically exist? It’s nagging perhaps, but it seems like her powers only operate when it’s absolutely necessary for the plot, not the character. Her death was extremely telegraphed, to the point where you could literally see it from a mile away. Dr. Wells imploring her to kill General Eiling is an interesting move and Bette actually going through with it and blowing bombs up in the General’s retinue was a welcome development. Barry rushes off to save her and then it goes downhill from there for a good moment. It’s such a cheesy, cheesy death that when she says “Dr. Wells…” before dying and Barry barely registers that pronouncement, it feels like a death trap for lactose intolerant viewers. To be honest, the effects of the Flash running on water were pretty darn cool, so we can call it even?
What the episode does effectively is to deepen Barry and Iris’s relationship while setting up several intriguing threads for the future. Naturally it makes Detective West pretty concerned that his daughter is obsessed with “The Streak”, which frankly is a name that needs to disappear NOW. Iris has become obsessed with the Flash’s actions, which if you saw them in person would understandably cause your curiosity to rise. The blog at the onset seemed to be innocent enough despite the danger it was skirting, but then Iris goes ahead and publishes it under her name. Quickly the Flash (I’m sorry) arrives, trying to sway Iris to not write about him anymore. There’s a neat meta conversation where Iris tells the Flash how much help her friend Barry truly needs. It’s a sweet conversation laced with a great amount of irony. Iris, however, truly refuses to give up on her quest and to be perfectly honest, I don’t see this ending well for anyone involved, especially since we get another “Dr. Wells is evil just in case you forgot ”moment when he utters “Powerful men have a way of avoiding consequences.” Not always.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Oh my God, am I talking like Felicity?”
+“You have your hobbies…”
+“Then what?” “Splat.”
+The file cabinets sequence was pretty awesome
+“He wanted to develop mind reading techniques for interrogation using… harsh techniques.”
+Bette trying to run away from the Flash was a great moment of comedic timing
+“Human bomb, must be Tuesday in Central City.”
+Bullet with tracker was a nice touch
+“Iris West, I see you’ve been writing about me.”
+“He’s a lucky guy.”
+The vibrating vocal chords
+“Guess I was too slow.”
+Explosion was cool
+Harrison vs. Eiling
-That awkward Cisco moment felt too staged to be real
-The universe line was way too cheesy, even for this show
Written By: Aaron Helbing, Todd Helbing, & Brooke Eikmeier
Directed By: Dermott Downs
Image Courtesy: Whatcha Reading