Wow. Last night was the penultimate episode of The Flash, and the tragic event that Barry & Co. have been trying to avoid finally came to pass. So why was the episode so much fun?
Oh that’s right, because Captain Cold faced down King Shark! Spoilers ahead, obviously…
The Flash knows how to be a fun show, but I think it sometimes forgets. It has always been at it’s best when it pulls in some of the more outlandish comic book elements. You know, the telepathic gorillas, man-shark hybrids and other things that really shouldn’t work off of the pages of a comic book and certainly not on a television budget, but somehow totally do. When it goes for high drama, however, it doesn’t always stick the landing. I mean, I’m rooting for Barry and Iris as much as the next viewer but there are only so many backlit kisses and pointless engagement cancellations I can take. And let’s not get started on all the times the characters promise to be honest with each other and then keep more secrets… which NEVER ENDS WELL FOR ANYONE.
So when this episode started off with the text “Twenty-Four Hours Until Iris West Dies,” I was prepared for it to be a serious bummer. Which is only fair - we’ve already seen how Iris’ death could impact the team and it wasn’t pretty. Nobody wants a future with Emo Barry and Sadface Joe. And considering this is likely to be her last day on Earth, I was hoping for a little Iris-centric panic or sense of her grappling with her mortality. But in true Iris fashion… she puts Barry first. By covertly recording a video of her saying her vows on his phone, for him to presumably find later. Which is sweet but dang, I’d probably be trying to check things off my bucket list or something. The show hasn’t dealt too much with how her foretold demise is affecting Iris lately, beyond her being concerned with how it’s affecting her loved ones. She’s a strong woman, but she’s not a saint. It sort of made me miss that brief period of daredevil Iris getting herself in harms way because THAT was at least an honest, selfish reaction to her fate. Ah well.
The episode gains speed (HAHA) as the team finally locates a power source that is strong enough to make that speed force bazooka work. Unfortunately it’s being held deep within A.R.G.U.S and they aren’t going to just let Barry walk away with it. It’s almost like they think he makes poor decisions sometimes. Which is clearly not the case, because Barry turns around and makes the BEST DECISION EVER: he runs back in time to when Leonard “Captain Cold” Snart was still running around with the Legends and recruits him.
That’s right: Barry and Snart team up to rob a highly secure facility. I know it was supposed to be an examination of how many lines Barry is willing to cross, but frankly the entire show has had him crossing lines he shouldn’t. This time at least we got to enjoy Snart’s purring commentary on the matter, which mostly reminded me how much more enjoyable any of the DC shows are when he shows up. Forget scenery-chewing - Wentworth Miller masticates all dialogue, spits it out and then seems to savor the taste of it in his mouth afterward. And seeing Killer Frost in the same episode sort of made me want the two of them to have a team-up. Wouldn’t that be glorious?
Anyway, all of this would have been more than enough for me but we haven’t even gotten to the best part: King Shark. Yup, it turns out that King Shark is the final security measure guarding the power source, and the last obstacle our boys have to overcome. So it’s a good thing Snart loves Shark Week - he comes up with the plan to knock out King Shark using the cold element from his gun. Science, ammirite?
As the boys wade through the cold mist that is keeping King Shark knocked out (and out of sight), Snart goes on a mini-tangent about how Jaws barely showed the shark since they couldn’t afford to make the monster look good. How he managed to not wink at the camera during that line reading is beyond me.
Sadly the fun can’t last the whole episode - it’s time to wrap up this caper so Barry can face Savitar. Long story short, Barry gets the power source, returns Snart to his place in the timeline (so long, Captain!), and has a fully functioning speed force bazooka in hand for his big showdown. For all the good it does. Though the scene seemed to play out differently than it did in any of the flash-forwards from earlier in the season, Iris still ends up dead in Barry’s arms. To go from such an emotional high to such a low…
But c’mon, we don’t think Iris is for realsies dead, right? Guess we’ll find out next week.