Review: The Flash (Series 1, Episode 18)

Frustratingly Fun

Another great episode is let down by the need to add “except Iris” to that description. Here’s to the changes next week should bring.

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Warning: Spoilers ahead!

We could talk about a lot of good things this week. We could talk about the fact that Cisco (Carlos Valdez) got killed again, this time by a mechanical bee. We may discuss the weird and terrifying prospect of a swarm of controllable mechanical insects. It is absolutely essential to mention how much fun Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) is in Central City, and how he fits into The Flash’s mould much better than Arrow’s. On top of that, there is all the usual exceptional fun and flair. Yet this is the tipping point. It cannot be avoided any more.

We need to talk about Iris.

Candice Patton is not a bad actress. With the little she is given as Iris however, she fails to make her compelling. On occasion, Iris has been downright unlikeable even as she charms. Yet in this episode it is not her fault. There is now no acceptable excuse for not telling her the truth. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) can convince us that Barry should not tell Caitlin and Cisco the truth about Wells just yet. When he gets protective of Iris as he argues with Eddie (Rick Cosnett) it is for a second, awful. Perpetuating ideas about men protecting women, it is a wonder how the smart and often surprising writing of The Flash could suddenly regress. It is clear that not telling Iris the truth is being used to make Eddie believably turn bad. Cosnett is at his most empathetic here. Understandably frustrated at having to lie to someone he loves, and at Barry outdoing him in crime-stopping capabilities, it is disappointing that the showrunners are intent on turning him into a villain.

Meanwhile, this week’s foe is an odd one. The Bug-Eyed Bandit (Emily Kinney) is vindictive, very intelligent, and fond of awful bee-related puns. It is great to see another female villain, especially one who is in no way conflicted or complicated. She is just a vicious, opportunistic genius. Taking revenge on the people that fired her because she wanted to develop a weapon out of an agricultural product makes her in no way sympathetic. Maybe that explains why she is barely in the episode: not enough of a threat to pull off the villainy.

Although to be fair, this is a packed 40 minutes of TV. And as always it’s packed full of fun. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is always good value in Central City and she gets to be an emotional crux as well as her goofy self. When she describes Ray to Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) as “dating Barry but in Oliver’s body” it is as charming as possible. Particularly when she realises what words just left her mouth. Central City will change, because our lead Star Labs quartet will have to with how the episode ends. If we are very lucky, Iris will change as well.

The Flash is broadcast on Sky One, Tuesdays at 8pm


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