As Barry sits in prison, a helpless Central City is forced to deal with the deadly machinations of the Trickster! Will the team survive using only one metahuman? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. While Barry’s on ice at the CC prison, Ralph Dibney becomes the premiere hero of Central City. And while that doesn’t make sense by itself, the character arc they let him go through was especially satisfying. Initially doing the hero job because he believed he couldn’t be hurt, a chance hit from Trickster’s acid gun corrects that theory and nearly leads to him quitting. It’s not until he speaks to Barry that he gets himself together and goes to rescue the people Trickster kidnaps this episode.
Hartley Sawyer has easily the best addition this show’s made in quite some time, as he has down that square-jawed hero look but they’re actually letting us see him grow into it. He does things Barry would never do, like tell (surprisingly funny) one-liners to reporters and become legitimately terrified, not for other people, but for his own life.
He’s slowly growing into a hero on par with Barry, who’s basically figured out everything besides how not to hold the Idiot Ball the writers keep handing him. They also debut his new suit this week, and it looks considerably cooler than the literal garbage bag he’s been suiting up in since his introduction.
2. The coolest thing about this episode is easily the reintroduction of Axel Clark, the second iteration of the classic Flash Rogue, the Trickster. On its own, it’s just another return, but the show provides us with something new when he’s broken out of jail by his mother Zoey. As it turns out, Zoey was actually the original Trickster’s partner back in the day, and so she’s no stranger to the antics of her former lover. She seems much more balanced now, but after being broken out Axel, immediately starts trying to impress his father (who disappeared after breaking out of jail) by causing trouble in Central City again.
He’s stopped by Ralph, and there’s a pretty comical “battle” between the two as Axel keeps trying to find ways to harm the Elongated Man…until he finally figures it out, using a unique super acid that can actually harm Ralph. Cisco narrowly helps a damaged Ralph escape, and by the time Axel’s gone back to his father’s base, he learns his mother has returned to her Prank alter-ego after refusing to take her medicine. I’m not sure if this is the first time we’ve ever had a mother-son villainous duo, but watching Prank try her hardest to support her son was heartwarming…in a twisted kind of way. It does feel like Axel could’ve been cast a couple years younger, though–it feels like someone as old as him shouldn’t be nearly as unbalanced and obsessed with his father’s love, but then again…maybe that lines up with real life?
3. It only takes a short while for Barry to run into trouble in prison. After accidentally getting mud on a fellow inmates shoes, he winds up on the wrong side of a gang that he nearly winds up in a real fight with…until he’s saved by someone who should look very familiar to long-time wrestling fans: the unstoppable legend with the best jackhammer in professional wrestling, Goldberg.
Contrary to any worries, the former WWE Universal Champion does a good job in this episode. It can be a toss-up with wrestlers but Goldberg sounds comfortable in his role as Big Sir, a strong guy who helps keep Barry from exposing his secret identity to pay back Henry Allen. In the past, Henry saved Sir from acute appendicitis when the actual prison medical staff had gone home for the night. He became friends with Henry, and bails Barry out once for it…then later finds himself saved by Barry when his interference garners him the ire of the very same gang Barry was having trouble with. This time, Barry fights them off using such quick speed even the cameras can’t keep up, building a new friendship in the process.
4. After the events of last week’s episode, Barry spends this entire week in Central City prison, which means the Flash is on lockdown as well. That…really shouldn’t be the issue that it was in this week’s episode. Kid Flash has left to join the Legends, but that simply deprives the STAR Labs team of its speedsters. At this point in the series the show is made up of more metas than baseline humans: Cisco can breach, Ralph has his stretchy thing, and they’re slowly changing Caitlin into someone who uses Killer Frost’s personality as a secondary superhero.
The only problem is…they’re all useless! After Ralph gets terrified at the idea of no longer being invulnerable, Cisco and Frost decide to infiltrate the Trickster and Prank’s base, but it takes them all of a few seconds to wind up getting captured and needing to be rescued themselves. This is immediately on the heels of the episode where Barry left his own murder trial to stop a villain that the rest of the team should have been perfectly capable of putting down on their own. The show’s called Flash sure, but everyone besides him shouldn’t be incompetent in the field. Cisco’s got a year plus of superheroing under his belt, why’s he so eager to sit back rather than getting into the action?
5. I realize that this column is supposed to offer theories on characters and figure out who they are before the stuff hits the fan, but I legit don’t know who this woman is. She helps Ralph and Cisco out by paying for their coffee, then has a very long speech about how everything’s connected and has effects on everything else. It feels weird, and you aren’t even given a hint until we see her writing in a tiny journal in the same speed force language that Barry did at the start of this season. [*Editor’s note: She also turned up at Barry and Iris’s wedding as a well-wishing server, and a wild, wild theory might be that she’s their daughter who is time-traveling using the Speed Force].
I said the Speed Force was going to be the real “x factor” that the Thinker couldn’t have planned for, and it looks like that’s where all this is heading. Barry wrote a bunch of gibberish on the walls while he was still largely in sync with the Speed Force, but no one could read it. Until now, where we have a girl who’s able to write in the same language but also speaks English.
The Flash airs on The CW, Tuesday nights.