5 Point Discussions – The Flash 4.2: “Mixed Signals”

by Sage Ashford

For the first time, Barry’s might not be sure what’s harder to deal with–his latest meta, or…couples therapy! If you enjoy this 5 Point Discussion, please share it on Facebook and Twitter, and if you have any questions or comments, give me a shout @SageShinigami on Twitter.

1. The second episode of the season and we open with quite the horrific murder. This week’s villain is Kilg%re, a supervillain with the ability to control tech by possessing it like a virus. He has a beef with some old classmates that stole a malware project from him and sold it for billions of dollars to a tech company. I’m actually pretty fond of unlikable villains (in real life your villains are rarely sympathetic), but the episode got pretty bold by having victims that weren’t really likable either.

It actually nearly ran the risk of the whole episode having low stakes though–a bunch of billionaires being nearly killed by a dude who’s mad that he’s not a billionaire too? Who cares? Fortunately, the majority of the episode isn’t really about Kilg%re and instead revolves around the rest of the Flash family. Still, this episode reminds me that there’s just no ceiling to characters with tech powers, as Kilgore takes out his first (and only) victim in a pretty gruesome way, while using nothing more than control over an elevator.

As a sidenote, Barry was brought in to inspect the murder Kilg%re caused, and I’m suddenly reminded; Barry was gone for roughly six months while Cisco figured out a way to get him out of the Speed Force. Combined with Julian leaving the force, that means Central City was without a proper CSI for MONTHS? That can’t be right. Funnily enough, it would’ve made more sense to have Julian exist here than it did in the prior season. There’s no one who’s so good at their job that they can leave for six months and still have the same position when they get back–they didn’t even have a replacement? That’s Main Character Powers at their very finest.

2. Just in time for a new tech-powered villain, Barry’s got a new suit! It’s cool that each season Barry’s costume seems to continuously evolve, more closely resembling what exists in the comics as the world itself seems to become less realistic. Having said that, I’m disappointed for a couple reasons.

For one, Barry seemed to have a lot of neat technology in his suit that would’ve been pretty awesome to explore in future episodes of The Flash. I know the writers got rid of it because so much of it negated a lot of the problems Flash has been put in in other seasons, but I feel like they should’ve gone at things from a different angle–instead of looking at the tech as a limiting factor, maybe they should’ve approached it from the angle that they could now put Flash in situations he could only survive from having the foresight to improve on his costume.

At the same time, Barry’s level of control over the Speed Force is at an all-time high. The last episode saw him return after having spent half a year inside the Speed Force–by now, he should’ve evolved beyond the need for a suit made by Cisco. If we’re not going to use a bunch of tech, he should be able to create a suit from pure speed force energy. That sounds like it’d be expensive CGI-wise, but in the comics his suit’s always looked like normal fabric–just use a bit of suspension of disbelief and create a new suit of “normal” fabric that he supposedly makes himself?

3. Communication seems to be the key word of this episode, as both Cisco and Barry land themselves in hot water with their girlfriends. In Barry’s case, his eagerness from having returned from the Speed Force has led to him ignoring his fiance’s needs and her newfound role as leader of the group, which winds up with the two of them in Couples Therapy.

In Cisco/Gypsy’s case, they’d apparently planned a surprise date together–which nearly leads to Iris, Wally, and and Caitlin getting vaporized for coming at Gypsy the wrong way–but Kilg%re’s abrupt arrival leads to him having to put their date off several times.

What’s refreshing about both of these situations though is how maturely the writers choose to handle them. In both cases, instead of going for MAXIMUM DRAMA and seeing the couples break up and get back together in the span of forty-two minutes, they manage to talk out their difficulties. Gypsy’s struggling with balancing her normal Terminator self with being in love with Cisco, while Iris finally owns up to how much pain she went through when Barry abandoned her at the end of the last season. Though both relationships resolved their issues seriously, it still provided a great source of humor throughout the episode, watching the clueless boyfriends piece together exactly how they screwed up.

Also, while they played it for laughs, it might not be the worst thing in the world if someone became a superhero couples counselor. It’s not until they actually talk about it that you realize how much death they’ve dealt with over the past three years. Barry’s mom, Iris’ first fiance, Barry’s dad, H.R. Wells–they deal with death a LOT, and eventually you’ve got to talk to someone about that. Or you probably should, lest you turn into your own evil future villain…again.

4. Points to the writers for keeping track of what’s going on in their own universe–as Barry and Iris wait for the counselor, they notice a magazine showing off how Oliver’s identity has been outed over in Arrow. It’s nothing major, but it does a good job of enticing people to watch Arrow if they aren’t watching it. You know, if they haven’t given up on it because of an absolutely terrible fourth season, that is…

5. Hopefully one day Wally will manage to not be useless. This episode his only purpose is saving one of Kilg%re’s victims from being murdered (something his father could’ve easily done without him), and getting shot by Barry when the tech in his suit goes out of control thanks to this week’s villain. Again, it’s okay to give Wally something else to do while Barry handles the real villain–this just made me wonder why he even has powers in the first place.

After getting Kilg%re behind bars, we also get a look at The Thinker quickly, who reveals he has eleven other metas that he somehow gave powers to himself, just like this one.  If that’s the case, hopefully we can start introducing them in pairs so Wally can get a chance to do cool things too.

The Flash airs Tuesday on CW.