5 Point Discussions: Flash 4.12 – “Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash”

by Sage Ashford

Barry helps an innocent man find his way out of jail, while the rest of Team Flash deal with a thief with the power to shrink anything he wants!  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. Joe’s wife Cecile gains the power of mind reading this episode. They compare it to something like gestational diabetes in that it’s a condition that develops during and is entirely native to the pregnancy. This feels kinda cheap, if only because she obviously only has this ability to counter The Thinker’s new mind-reading abilities, and once he’s permanently out of action her powers can “go away”. If they had to do this, I actually would’ve preferred she just kept the powers and Team Flash had a mind-reader. Why not? Much as I love the actors and actresses behind Team Flash, their characters are all written to be fairly useless for stopping criminals anyway, so it’s not like she wouldn’t fit in if she only used her powers for joke bits.

For Cecile, this episode mostly deals with how her ability to read Joe’s mind affects their relationship. The “relationship counselor” from early in the season makes a short return, but only to segue into a pretty ridiculous part of the episode where Cecile wonders “why” Joe wouldn’t want her to be capable of reading every thought he might possibly have. You’d think that would be obvious, but it’s still the CW, so any excuse to crank up the drama is usually a good one. Being fair though, Cecile was mostly coming to understand that stray thoughts are generally meaningless, so I’m guessing from now on it’ll just be used for the occasional gag bit until it’s a plot device time.

2. The meta this week is Sylbert Rundine, a villain created by Gail Simone for her All-New Atom run back in 2006. Known as Dwarfstar, he’s literally an evil version of the Atom, having gained the ability to shrink and enlarge things at will due to an accident that occurred while he was stealing some of Ray’s tech. He’s played by former Jason Vorhees actor Derek Mears, who really plays up the creepiness factor and makes the character feel like he’s guilty of much more than just stealing and selling off expensive tech, but more on that later.

After his initial crime of shrinking down a Kord Industries building and carrying it back to his place, Team Flash tracks him down for questioning. He’s easily found because Rundine has all the subtlety of a Saturday Morning Cartoon villain due to being overconfident with his powers. But because Team Flash believes the best way to learn from your mistakes is to make as many as possible, both Cisco and Ralph get hit by Rundine’s powers and spend the majority of the episode shrunk to the size of a Lego playset.

Y’know, we’ve been seeing this episode title for weeks, so I thought they would spend more time doing some fun bits with the shrunken team members, but nope.  There’s actually so much other stuff going on this week they didn’t actually have time to, aside from a really cool scene in the climax where the two of them fly a drone towards Rundine while he throws vehicles from his jacket and embiggens them while they’re in mid-air.

3. Goldberg’s character Big Sir (now identified as Dave Ratchet) gets to be in one more episode as we learn what he did to be put in jail. Turns out, he wound up being wrongfully convicted for a murder while he was working a job as a security guard.  And (way too) coincidentally, the person who turned out to have killed him was this week’s meta, who was a lot more…murder-y before he got his powers.

Barry makes Team Flash promise to get him out, but since they can’t even get their fearless leader free, it’s a bit of a big ask to ask them to solve a fifteen year old cold case. Goldberg’s character does a decent enough job portraying the helplessness of being an innocent victim of the system, but I would’ve liked it if he’d actually just been guilty of a less severe crime. Aside from reducing the absurd amount of coincidences this episode was full of, it would’ve gone a long way towards humanizing people who are guilty. Just because people mess up doesn’t mean there isn’t a road to redemption for them, but usually stories like this take the easy road out by suggesting that only the innocent are worthy of sympathy.  A similar story could’ve been told if Big Sir had been a robber before he went to jail, and it was simply the time he spent in there that helped him turn his life around.

In any case, Rundine refuses to confess to his crimes and it leaves Barry forced to take drastic measures in order to get his new friend out of jail. Just as Ratchet loses hope, Barry breaks him out with his super speed and runs him to Jiaju, a quiet Chinese village that Ratchet mentioned he wanted to return to. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished…

4. As of this episode, it’s been two weeks without the Thinker present. Whatever plans he’s got going are carrying on unabated, as Team Flash has neither the foreknowledge to stop him nor the evidence they need to prove Barry’s innocence.  But despite his absence, the character’s presence is still felt, as for the first time ever Dr. Wells feels legitimately outclassed. It’s taken several episodes, but apparently playing the background role has finally gotten to him, as their current opponent is one that should be well within his wheelhouse, but is in fact always three steps ahead of not just him, but the entire team.

It results in something of an inferiority complex this week, as he begins to second guess himself and make rash decisions–including using an “embiggening” gun on Cisco and Ralph without testing it first. It’s a stupid decision that results in destabilizing both their conditions and risking the both of them exploding due to their exposure to the gun. Fortunately he manages to outsmart Rundine and fix his mistake, but that still leaves the ever-present background threat of Thinker, and at this point it’s highly possible that Wells will put together the pieces necessary to finally stop him.

5. After several run-ins with Amunet where Barry’s been busy dealing with something else, it looks like it’s finally his turn to be terrorized by the meta crime boss of Central City. Barry’s work helping Ratchet break out of jail gets him caught by the warden, who implanted another camera right above his cell as a safety measure. Thanks to Barry consuming several drugged cups of pudding (which he somehow couldn’t metabolize through quick enough for it to matter), Barry gets sedated and winds up in the same cells that the other bus metas have been taken to. But there’s one difference here: the warden has decided to sell Barry to Amunet.

At this point, I’ve got a few thoughts: Barry’s secret identity feels close to being publicly revealed to the world. He’s becoming more and more sloppy with people discovering who he is, so how much longer before someone inevitably blows his secret? Second, Barry’s time in jail is likely at an end–Amunet’s going to break him out for sure–and once he’s out, there’s really no reason to go back unless they’re just saving up all the super speed shenanigans for the end of the season. And lastly, this feels like it’s all on Team Flash. They had several chances to put her behind bars and they’ve failed every time, now look where it’s led.

The Flash airs on The CW on Tuesday nights.