Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Space Force! Would You Like To Know More?

Last week Donald Trump addressed soldiers at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar. In his rambling speech, he proposed creating a new extraterrestrial branch of the armed services, which he dubbed the "Space Force."

Said Trump, "Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea. We may even have a Space Force, develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force, we'll have the Space Force."

"So think of that, Space Force," continued Trump. "Because we are spending a lot and we have a lot of private money coming in, tremendous. You saw what happened the other day, and tremendous success. From the very beginning, many of our astronauts have been soldiers and air men, coast guard men and marines. And our service members will be vital to ensuring America continues to lead the way into the stars."

Although the public assumed Trump was joking, Kenneth Rapuano, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, claimed the commander-in-chief was quite serious. Rupuano said, "He is very interested in ensuring that the department is best organized and equipped to achieve our vital missions in space."

Of course as all citizens of the Federation know, a strong and robust Space Force is vital to defend our precious world from the scourge of the vile Bug race of the planet Klendathu.

We need soldiers, and lots of 'em! Only with a vast and powerful Mobile Infantry can we hope to wipe out the Bugs! Join up today! Remember, Service Guarantees Citizenship!

With your help, the Space Force can invade Klendathu and destroy the Bugs forever!

Do your part! Join the Mobile Infantry today!

The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 10: The Lost And The Plunderers

This week on The Walking Dead we got one of the weirder episodes of an already odd season.

As usual, the storyline isn't a plain, linear narrative, laws no. That would be stupid! Instead it's divided into various chapters, which lurch backward and forward in time. All that said, I actually didn't mind the story structure this week, as the character divisions worked out pretty well.

This episode does a lot of heavy lifting to paint Negan in a positive light, and convince us he's actually a reasonable character. It does this by ramping up the crazy around him, as Simon begins a possible coup, and Rick morphs into a full-on villain. Interesting!

Speaking of Simon, he's pretty much signed his own death warrant this week, by disobeying Negan in the worst way possible. I'm looking forward to seeing how this storyline plays out, as I've always thought Simon was a far more interesting character than Negan.

I don't know what the writers have in mind for Rick, but he definitely crosses the line in this episode. Carl's death seemingly means nothing to him, as he ignores his son's pleas for peace and actually becomes worse than Negan. I honestly can't tell if this character assassination of Rick is deliberate or a result of the writers not knowing what they're doing. Either way, it seems like a bad idea to turn the ostensible hero of a series into a villain that viewers actively hate. 

If nothing else, this episode, this episode should be lauded for FINALLY eliminating the dreaded Garbage Pail Kids from the show. I've hated this puzzling and confounding group ever since they were introduced last season, and I'm glad to see them go.

On the other hand, this episode actually made me care a little about Jadis for the first time since... well, ever. Now that she's been freed from her flock of weirdos, she might finally become a somewhat interesting character.

Lastly, this episode was co-written by Angela Kang, along with Channing Powell and Corey Reed (Really? It took THREE people to write this thing?). This is significant, because as of next season Scott Gimple's finally being ousted as showrunner, and Angela Kang is taking over for him.

I thought this might be a faint glimmer of hope for the show, as it's way past time that Gimple was run out of town on a rail. But if this episode is any indication of what we're in store for when Kang takes over the reins... then the future looks pretty bleak.


The Plot:
Because this is The Walking Dead, it's impossible to have a simple linear narrative. The episode jumps back and forth in time, and is divided into several sections that concentrate on a specific character. Surprisingly, for once this works out better than you'd think.

Inside the ruins of Alexandria, Rick and Michonne stare silently over Carl's grave. They hear walkers approaching (since the Saviors opened the gates a few episodes back) and are forced to move away. They return to their house, which was miraculously unharmed by the Savior's recent blitzkrieg.

Michonne sees the blue handprints Carl and Judith made on the porch and begins sobbing. Rick goes inside and begins packing. Michonne tells him to hurry, as a walker herd's approaching. As they load up their van, Michonne looks over and sees the gazebo in the middle of Alexandria is on fire. She comments on how Carl used to always sit on its roof (???), and says she has to save it.

She grabs a fire extinguisher and stupidly runs through a group of walkers to try and save the gazebo. Like an idiot, Rick follows suit. The two try to douse the flame, practically begging the walkers to bite them. Eventually they're surrounded and are forced to stop. They fight their way back to the van and peel out, as Michonne bitterly watches Carl's beloved gazebo burn.

As they drive along, Rick asks Michonne what she thinks Carl meant when he said he wanted the fighting to stop. Welp, just offhand I'd say he meant he wanted the fighting to stop! Michonne picks up the handful of letters that Carl wrote to everyone, and gasps when she sees one addressed to Negan himself.

Rick says he can't look at the letters just yet. Then for no good reason, he announces he needs to warn Jadis and the Garbage Pail Kids that the Saviors will be coming for them (which they should already know, right?). Michonne doesn't understand Rick's concern for them (join the club!), so Rick explains that they'll need them on their side in the coming war.

They drive out to the Garbage Pail Kids' dump. As soon as they enter, they set off a trap that blocks the entrance behind them. They're then surrounded by dozens of walkers that look suspiciously like Jadis' people.

Simon enters the conference room (Oh boy! More Savior meetings!), where Negan's waiting for him. Negan chides him for allowing the late Carl to bamboozle him and let the Alexandrians get away. Simon says (heh) he'll happily finish the job, but Negan says it's being handled. Simon is restless and antsy, and Negan tells him to calm down.

Negan says the Garbage Pail Kids need to be taught a lesson for double crossing him. To that end, he wants Simon to kill one of 'em to send a message. Negan says they're still a valuable resource though, and warns him not to wipe out the entire group. Simon disagrees with this, but obeys his orders.

Simon then summons up his courage and says maybe they cut their losses and let Rick and his crew be, and go find other communities to "save." Negan shoots down this idea, saying once they take out Rick, everything will be fine.

For some reason, several men then bring a coffin into the conference room, instead of simply calling Negan outside. It's the same coffin Maggie placed one of her Savior prisoners in a couple episodes back. She wrote "We have 38 more. Stand down" on the lid, as a message to Negan. He opens the coffin and uses a nail gun to kill the reanimated Savior inside.

This is the stupidest part of the episode (which is saying something) and makes absolutely no sense, so I'm not gonna spend a lot of time on it.

Enid and Aaron are captured by the Oceansiders after accidentally killing their leader Natania a few weeks ago. They're chained up inside a building, and Natalia's granddaughter Cyndie enters. She's ready to execute them, until Enid tells her killing them won't make her feel better or some crap. Apparently this tired, old homily works, as Cyndie orders them released. They're escorted out of Oceanside and told never to return. For no good reason, Aaron says he's sneaking back in to convince them to join the fight against Negan, and tells Enid to return to the Hilltop. Sigh...

Simon and a group of Saviors roll into the Dump and confront Jadis and the Garbage Pail Kids. He tells Jadis she owes him an apology for making her little deal with Rick. She claims there was no deal, as she was double crossing Rick and delivering him to the Saviors. 

Simon doesn't buy this, and orders his men to take all the Garbage Pail Kids' weapons. He makes a big point to ask Jadis about the solar panels and helipad in back of the Dump, but she says they're none of his business. She says the Dump is "Ours," not the Saviors.'

Simon then shoots two of her people to make his point, and Jadis punches him. Simon smiles and orders his men to cut down all her people. Welp, so much for the Garbage Pail Kids, I guess!

Simon returns to the Sanctuary, and Negan asks him how it went. He says he delivered the message and everything's fine, a lie which I'm sure will never come back to bite him in the ass.

We then flash back to Rick and Michonne in the Dump, surrounded by the reanimated Garbage Pail Kids. They climb to the top of the trash heap, where Jadis is sitting there in a slip or nightgown (?). She's obviously defeated, and for once speaks like a normal human instead of a brain damaged Mad Max reject.

When Rick asks what happened, she says the Saviors killed her people (this seems pretty self evident, but whatever). She tells Rick that she used to come to the Dump to find things on which to paint. When the apocalypse happened, she and her people tried to make it something new, apart from the rest of the world.

Rick tells Jadis she brought this all on herself. He says he's done with her, and leaves her on top of the heap. She tries to come with, but he shoots at her to scare her away. He uses a discarded car door as a shield, as he and Michonne fight their way out of the Dump and back to their van.

Sometime later, Jadis lures her dead companions up the heap and into a massive car shredder. She turns it on (solar panels, remember?) and they lurch toward her, falling into the shredder. The entire herd is ground into a disgusting red paste. She then climbs down off the heap and inexplicably enjoys a can of applesauce (???).

Rick and Michonne drive along again. Michonne scolds Rick for shooting at Jadis, saying that's sort of the thing Carl was arguing against. Rick pulls over to the side of the road and grabs the letters. He violates federal law by opening and reading Negan's letter. In it, Carl begs him to stop the hate and violence. Rather than being touched by his son's heartfelt plea, Rick's shocked by what he reads.

Rick calls Negan on his stolen Savior radio  and tells him Carl's dead. Negan reacts with genuine shock and sadness, as he'd formed an unlikely relationship with the lad. He asks how it happened, and Rick says he was bitten trying to help someone. Negan says he's truly sorry, as "that kid was the future."

Rick tells Negan that Carl wrote him a letter, asking him to stop. To his credit, Negan seems like he's actually considering it. Then because Rick is a colossal asshole, he says it's too late to stop and vows to kill Negan. Brilliant.

This pisses off Negan, and rightfully so. He hisses that Rick caused Carl's death, because he set the course they're on by not rolling over and surrendering. He tells Rick he failed as a father, and he's going to fail as a leader as well, because he's coming for him.


Sigh... once again we get another goddamned episode with a twisted timeline. This one's not as bad as most, but it still does its share of jumping backward and forward through time. 

I don't get it. As the showrunner, I realize that Gimple doesn't write every episode. But he definitely OKs them, and often rewrites the scripts to match the tone of the show. So one way or another, he's solely responsible for the content. So why is he seemingly incapable of writing a coherent, linear narrative?

I'm assuming he bends the timeline to make the story seem more complex than it really is (much like they did with the plot of the Deadpool movie). I can assure him that it's not working. His plots are definitely more complicated, but that's not the same thing as complex.

• At the beginning of the episode, Rick & Michonne mourn Carl for a bit, then pack up to abandon the now overrun Alexandria. As they're leaving, Michonne glances over at the gazebo and sees it's on fire.

She shrieks that Carl always used to sit on the roof of the gazebo. She then grabs a fire extinguisher (that was in the back of the van for some reason) and stupidly risks her life by springing through a herd of walkers— all to preserve this precious landmark.

What. The. Hell. Michonne acts like this gazebo was Carl's favorite thing in the world, and they couldn't keep him off it. Thing is, I don't remember seeing him sit on it even once in the past three seasons. In fact I don't recall there being a gazebo in Alexandria at all until this episode.

The only incident I can think of that's even remotely related to this was the (in)famous "Carl Sits On A Roof And Eats A Giant Can Of Pudding" scene, which happened way back in Season 4— long before they ever made it to Alexandria.

Obviously the writers wanted a scene in which Michonne risked her life to save some object tied to Carl, in an effort to preserve his legacy. Unfortunately they couldn't think of anything he had a connection with, so they retconned this stupid gazebo into the script.

• This week's opening credits made me sad. For several seasons now, Chandler Riggs' (aka Carl) name has appeared over the shot of a brick wall with "Away With You" graffiti scrawled on it.

This week we see that same shot of the wall, but... there's no "Chandler Riggs" superimposed over it. Screw you, Scott Gimple.

• Have you ever noticed just how many female walkers stagger around in long dresses on this show? I'm assuming this is so the makeup department doesn't have to spend a lot of time zombie-ing up the various actresses' bare legs.

• Simon shows up at the Dump, confronts Jadis and demands all the Garbage Pail Kids' guns. She agrees, and the Saviors collect all their guns. Oddly enough that's ALL they take. No mention is ever made of ammo!

Ever since the Garbage Pail Kids were introduced last season, fans have wondered about their bizarre speech pattern. They all speak in a stilted, minimalist patois, sounding like rejects from a Road Warrior knockoff.

Even though the show's currently in Season 8, less than three years have gone by for the characters. That's nowhere near enough time for the GPK's language to mutate into its current state. Such evolution would take decades or even centuries. Definitely not three stinkin' years. 

So what the heck's going on? How did the GPK's language evolve so radically?

Welp, the answer is it didn'tWhen Rick and Michonne find the despondent Jadis sitting on top of a trash heap, she begins monologuing to them in perfect colloquial English! 

She explains that she back in the day she used to come to the landfill to look for art materials. After the world fell, she and a group of like-minded associates decided to make the Dump their own little oasis, completely cut off from what was going on in the rest of the world. They adopted their own customs, clothing and most importantly, speech patterns

That's right, this entire community is actually one big performance art piece! Their language didn't evolve, they all just thought it would be cool to start speaking like brain damaged weirdos. 

Oy vey iz mir!

See, guys? THIS is why you shouldn't want the show to stray too awfully far from the source material! When it does we get crap like this.

It just occurred to me that Jadis' theatrical shtick makes her and her people pretty much identical to King Ezekiel and the Kingdom. Both colonies feature a group of acolytes who follow a charismatic leader with a highly stylized manner of speech.

The difference of course is that King Ezekiel is likable and, well, cool. He had a pet tiger, for poop's sake! I could see myself actually following him if I lived in this world. Meanwhile, I'd give Jadis and her band of misfits as wide a berth as possible!

• By the way, when we see Jadis sitting on top of the trash heap, she's dressed in naught but her slip. Where'd she get that? It's unlikely she had time to change clothes while she was being chased by her own zombified people. I guess maybe she might have found it on top of the trash heap. Or has she been wearing that under her regular clothes all this time? In the brutal Virginia heat?

• As silly as the Garbage Pail Kids and their little conclave is, it was interesting to see someone in this world still creating art. That's something we've not seen on the show so far, as most of the characters are too busy running from walkers to sit down and paint.

• After Jadis' people are massacred, the ones who weren't shot in the head reanimate into walkers.

These zombies are definitely fresher than most of the ones we see on the show, but they still look curiously and inexplicably gaunt. They've all got sunken eyes and cheeks, as if they've been dead for months. How could that be? They're brand new! This entire episode takes place in the space of less than a day! They've only been dead for a couple hours at the most!

• At the risk of channeling Jerry Seinfeld, what's the deal with all the "Shoes Covered In Blue Paint" scenes in this episode? When Rick & Michonne first enter the Dump, there's a scene in which he trips over a paint can and steps in a puddle of blue pigment.

We then flash back (of course) to earlier in the episode, when Simon and his thugs arrive at the Dump. He shoots a couple of the Garbage Pail Kids, and Jadis punches him in the jaw. He falls backward on his ass, accidentally knocking over a can of blue paint, which splashes on his boot.

A few seconds later we get another shot of his paint-covered boot, as he leaves blue footprints wherever he steps.

Later, back at the Sanctuary, Simon lies to Negan and says everything went well at the Dump. We then get a shot from Simon's POV, as he stares down and sees his blue boot.

TV cameras don't swing around wildly and film things at random. They're deliberately pointed at actors and objects. And every second of a TV show costs tens of thousands of dollars to produce, which means nothing appears onscreen unless it's important. So if we see four different scenes of paint-splattered boots, they're there for a reason. 

Obviously the director wants to make very sure we notice Simon's blue boot, which means it's gonna become important later on. Just how it'll come into play, I can't say yet. Maybe Negan will notice that Simon AND Rick both have blue paint on their boots, and suspect they're working together. Or maybe Negan will notice it and realize things at the Dump didn't go as well as Simon said they did. Or maybe other Saviors will see Simon's one blue boot, decide it's cool and start painting their own to match.

• In addition to the many, many shots of blue-stained boots, we're also treated to an extreme closeup of Jadis' crusty, disgusting feet.

A few scenes later we get yet another shot of her bare feet as she carefully picks her way through the Dump.

Seriously, what is going on with all the feet shots this week? Did Doris Wishman direct this episode?

• After Rick abandons Jadis, she's trapped on top of her trash heap, surrounded by her now-zombified people. She then comes up with a legitimately brilliant idea— she bangs on a pipe to lure the heard up the trash pile. Then she stands on the other side of what I assume is a car shredder. She turns it on, and as the walkers lunge for her, they fall into the shredder.

We then see her former comrades have been ground into a disgusting pink paste.

If I'm being honest, this is one of the most clever zombie elimination plans I've ever seen on the show. Unfortunately I'm not sure if I was supposed to be horrified or burst out laughing. I was a little bit of both.

• After Jadis purees her people, she opens a box, pulls out a can of applesauce and begins chowing down. As one does after they've just liquefied their friends. Yum!

Of course the applesauce bears a strong resemblance to the river of pureed walkers that just flowed by. Was that supposed to be a joke, or some kind of weird commentary? 

Lastly, when she pulls out the box of cans, it says, "Applesauce (Shelf Stable) x20" on the side. Yeah, we know that canned goods last for years. Why the hell did they feel the need to explain that particular detail to the audience?

• Late in the episode, Rick opens Carl's letter to Negan and reads it. Unfortunately we only get the briefest of glimpses of it, and can't really read what it says. Eh, no big deal. It's only one of the last things Carl ever wrote before he died. I guess the camera was too busy focusing on feet in this episode to give us a proper look at it. 

It's hard to see, but as near as I can tell it says:

"Negan, this is... (presumably the name "Carl" under Rick's thumb)
...someone. I got bit... (unclear) I was just helping someone.
You might be (gone?). Maybe my dad...
he (unclear) you but I don't think so. I think...
looking on a way out. Maybe you got out. Maybe...
lost cause and you just want to kill all of us. 
...think you have to be what you are. I...
...what you wanted. I wanted to ask you...
Maybe you'll (unclear) us. If you do, there'll just be,,,
The way out is working together. It's forgiveness.
,,,to be a (fight?) anymore. Because..."

As you can see, Carl used what little time he had left to plead with Negan to stop the killing and try and work out a peace with the other communities. A noble sentiment indeed.

While I understand why Carl wrote this letter, I wonder how he thought it would ever end up in Negan's hands? It's not like Rick could hand deliver it to him! I guess if Rick wasn't such an idiot, he could have called a temporary truce and handed it over in a neutral spot. Or he could have left it in an abandoned mailbox and then radioed Negan and told him where he could find it.

Instead, Rick just calls up Negan, blurts out that Carl's dead and left him a letter asking him to stop killing. That's it! He doesn't even read the whole letter to him over the radio! Way to honor your son's final request, Rick!

You might be wondering why Carl would bother writing a letter to Negan in the first place. Especially after Carl watched him brutally murderize two of his friends right before his eyes. Why try and reason with such a monster?

Because despite his tough guy exterior, Negan doesn't see himself as a villain, and genuinely believes he's helping save his people. Carl realizes this, which is why he reached out to him. 

The two formed an unlikely relationship back in Sing Me A Song, when Carl infiltrated the Sanctuary and killed several of Negan's Saviors. Amazingly, Negan didn't retaliate at all. Instead he showed Carl around the Sanctuary and actually bonded with him before returning him unharmed to Rick.

For whatever reason, Negan was legitimately fond of Carl. Maybe he saw something of himself in Carl? Or maybe he saw him as the son he never had. Or maybe he reminded him of a son he lost? Who knows? Whatever the reason, Carl picked up on it, and hoped he could appeal to whatever remnant of humanity was still ratting around inside Negan's head.

In the comic, the Carl/Negan relationship deepened and grew as time went on. We'd have been able to see that happen on the show too, if only Scott Gimple wasn't such a moron.

• To his credit, when Negan finds out that Carl's dead, he takes it really hard. He even lets down his menacing facade momentarily, as he asks Rick how it happened. In particular he seems worried as to whether he inadvertently caused Carl's death when he firebombed Alexandria.

Then when Rick tells him about Carl's letter, and how he hoped there could be a peace, Negan seems like he's legitimately considering Carl's words! This whole scene was an amazing piece of acting by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as it finally gave Negan some much needed depth and emotion.

For a few seconds, I honestly thought they might veer from the comic and have Negan actually call off the war. In fact I was seriously straining as I was trying to will this to happen. 

Annnnnnd then Rick ruins the whole thing by hissing that it's too late and he's gonna kill Negan if it's the last thing he does. Jesus Jetskiing Christ! What the hell is wrong with Rick? He's ostensibly the hero of the series, right? Then why do I hate his motherfraking guts right now?

Rick had a chance to broker a peace with Negan and end all the killing and bloodshed. And incredibly, in that moment Negan seemed like he'd have gone along with it. And then Rick had to sh*t the bed and threaten an unstable psychopath and rile him up all over again.

It's obvious that Rick learned absolutely NOTHING from the death of his son. A death which, in the world of the show, happened about five or six hours ago. Heck, Carl's body probably isn't even cold yet. And Rick's already whacking the Sanctuary hornet nest again! At this point Rick is actually WORSE than Negan and the Governor combined. 

Heck, I'm actually on Negan's side now. He doesn't even talk of retaliation until Rick provokes him. He's the rational one in this episode, compared to the ranting, wild-eyed Rick. I don't know if this was a deliberate reversal on the part of the writing staff, but it's an interesting situation.

Congratulations, Gimple! You've made me like the villain of your show more than the hero.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Flagged Post (March 2018)

I've posted this many times now, and I'm going to keep doing it until something changes. Which will be never.

DATELINE: Cleveland, Ohio–– In response to overwhelming consumer demand, this week the American Association Of Decorative Hardware And Fixtures announced it's making a fundamental design change in all flagpoles. Beginning immediately, all poles manufactured in America will be designed to display flags at half mast only.

Sid Silverbaum, President of the Association, said, "We got a lot of feedback from various groundskeepers, patriots and elderly veterans from around the country, all of whom are exhausted from constantly having to trudge out to their poles and lower their flags to half mast every two to three days. Frankly it just doesn't make sense to make poles that display flags all the way at the top anymore."

According to Silverbaum, the new Half-Master® brand poles will be in stores by the end of the year, just in time for the latest mass shooting or Independence Day, whichever comes first.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

An Open Letter To Companies Who Pull Stunts Like This

Got this lovely item in the mail yesterday, and just had to comment on it. If you own a company and you do this, then f*ck you!

I pay every bill I get the very next day, so I know damned good and well none of them are overdue. Still, when I saw "Second Notice" printed on this envelope, I have to admit I freaked out a little. What if there was a glitch somewhere and the electric company (or whoever) didn't get my payment? Oh god, are the lights gonna go out any second? How much time, energy and trouble is it gonna take to straighten this out?

Of course once I opened the damned thing, it turned out to be a stupid offer for a stupid product from a stupid company. Assholes. This is a despicable practice and if isn't illegal, it should be. Surely it's some form of mail fraud? I hope someone sues the lying pants off the owner of this business.

To the douche nozzle who owns this company— do you really think I'm gonna buy something from you after you pulled a reprehensible stunt like this? Screw you!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Pew, Pew!

In an interview with Stephen Colbert this week, actress Laura Dern confessed that she kept inadvertently saying "Pew! Pew!" while firing her blaster in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

That's funny, I said "PEW!" when I first saw that movie too! Thank you, ladies and gents, I'm here all week!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Flash Season 4, Episode 15: Enter Flashtime

This week on The Flash, Barry and his speedster pals are stumped when they have to figure out how to save Central City from a nuclear bomb that's already gone off!

So far I've been enjoying The Thinker arc that's been going on all season. That said, it was nice to take a break from it this week. 

The bulk of Enter Flashtime takes place in just a fraction of a second a concept that could only happen on a superhero show. Best of all, it's VERY loosely based on one of my all-time favorite stories from The Flash comic. Just don't think about any of it for too long, or the whole idea will come tumbling down!

The whole "Flashtime" concept was first introduced a few episodes back in The Trial Of The Flash. In that episode, Barry accidentally discovered he could accelerate himself and anyone he touched to super duper speed so fast in fact, that the rest of the world seems frozen in time.

It's an interesting ability, and one that seems like it was set up just so it could be used here. I'm pretty sure the comic version of the Flash never developed that particular power (unless it happened after 2000, when comics became too expensive for me!).

This week we also get the welcome return of Jesse Quick. That said, I'm puzzled by her feud with her dad Harry. Suddenly she's pissed off at him because he refuses to share his feelings about his late wife. Huh? Where the hell did that come from? Unless I missed an episode (and I didn't), the two of them have never fought about that before.

Always great to see Jay Garrick on the show. Sadly, based on the end of the episode it looks like his days on the series are numbered.
Lastly, we get another glimpse of the mysterious, er, Mystery Girl, who keeps popping up in the lives of Team Flash. Is she Barry and Iris' daughter from the future? That's how it looks to me, which of course means it's too obvious and she'll turn out to be someone else.


The Plot:
We begin as a sweaty, disheveled Barry enters STAR Labs. He sees Iris, grabs hold of her and speeds her up into "Flashtime," so she's moving as fast as him, because that's a thing he can do now (since his murder trial). He apologizes and explains that he can't save her this time.

Flash back to 8 minutes ago and 46 seconds ago. Inside STAR's Speed Lab, Barry's practicing running fast enough to dive into one of Cisco's breaches (not his britches). Why? So next time DeVoe teleports, he can follow him back into his pocket dimension. Unfortunately, Barry just can't seem to run fast enough. Cisco says he's had enough practice for one day and leaves. Iris tells Barry he needs to relax, and amazingly he agrees. He plans a romantic evening for the two of them.

Inside the Cortex, Jesse Quick unexpectedly shows up from Earth-2 (even though I could've sworn she went to live on Earth-3 last season). She's there to confront her father Harry, blaming their strained relationship on his inability to talk about her mother's death (a problem that's never been alluded to before).

Just then Team Flash gets an alert from Joe. Cisco tracks the signal to a Central City hangar. Cut to Joe and a group of ARGUS soldiers shooting it out with a group of terrorists. As Joe and the others are pinned down, Veronica Dale, leader of the terrorists, opens a large cargo container in the middle of the room.

Inside the container we see a large nuclear device. She arms it, grabs the detonator and backs out. Suddenly Barry, Jesse, Cisco and Caitlin (as Killer Frost) arrive on the scene. The speedsters take out the other terrorists with ease, saving Joe and the ARGUS guards. Barry confronts Veronica, but before he can stop her, she presses the button on the detonator, activating the bomb!

Barry and Jesse then instinctively shift into "Flashtime"— a hyper-accelerated state that's thousands, maybe millions of times faster than normal. Because they're moving so fast, everyone else appears to be frozen in time. She asks how they can deactivate the bomb, but Barry says they can't, as it's already gone off— it just hasn't exploded yet. Jesse runs down a list of possible options, but Barry poo-poos them all in order for the plot to happen. He says veteran speedster Jay Garrick might know what to do, so Jesse heads for Earth-3 to bring him back.

Meanwhile, Barry drags Cisco into Flashtime. He tries to open a breach to send the bomb to a dead Earth, but  his power sputters and fizzles out. Cisco theorizes that he's moving so fast there's no time for a breach to form. He then becomes dizzy and stumbles, as his non-speedster body can't handle being in Flashtime for more than a few seconds. He apologizes as Barry drops him back into normal time. 

Barry then runs to STAR Labs and Flashtimes Harry. The only idea he can come up with is to toss the bomb into the Speed Force and hope for the best. He makes Barry promise to save Jesse no matter what.

Barry returns to the warehouse, just as Jesse and Jay show up. Jay flips out when he hears Barry plan, saying that detonating the bomb inside the Speed Force could irreparably damage it, causing every speedster in the entire multiverse to permanently lose their powers!

Jay suggests cooling the nuclear reaction inside the bomb. Barry speeds up Killer Frost, who tries her best to encase it in ice. Unfortunately she can't handle Flashtime either, and her powers quickly fail. He leaves her in normal time again.

Jesse suggests neutralizing the bomb with Speed Force lightning (Comic Book Science!). Jay says it might work, but they'd need the power generated by the lightning of all three of them simultaneously. They begin running around the warehouse, building up energy. Barry and Jesse throw their lightning at the bomb, but Jay stumbles and falls. He says he's getting too old for this sh*t, and can't handle being in Flashtime this long. He reluctantly drops out and freezes in place.

Barry and Jesse realize they're starting to slow down as well, as the explosion is visibly expanding. He tells her to save herself and hightail it back to Earth-2. She refuses to go, but he insists, saying Harry made him promise to save her. She says goodbye and zips off. Instead of heading for Earth-2 though, she returns to STAR Labs to see Harry. She tries to bring him into Flashtime with her, but either doesn't know how or is too tired. Her energy finally gives out, and she slows down to normal time and freezes.

Back at the warehouse, Barry begins tiring and realizes he can't keep operating at this speed forever. Out of ideas, he speeds back to STAR Labs and finds Iris. He yanks her into Flashtime and says he can't save her, as we catch up to the opening scene.

Suddenly Iris comes up with a bright idea. Back in The Flash Reborn, Cisco invented a "quark sphere" that was imprinted with Barry's DNA. He tossed it into the Speed Force to fool it into thinking Barry was inside, so he could escape from it. Iris says he might be able to use the sphere to draw lighting out of the Speed Force and use it to neutralize the bomb. Sure, why not?

Barry decides to give it a shot. He uses the last of his strength to open a portal into the Speed Force. Inside, he finds the quark sphere just sitting there, and yoinks it away. Immediately a storm of lightning begins following him through the vortex. He exits into the real world, the lightning close behind. He tosses the sphere at the bomb, and the Speed Force lightning strikes it, somehow rendering it inert.

Barry finally slows down and promptly passes out. He wakes up inside STAR Labs. Joe shows the team a taped message from Veronica Dale, meant to be played after the bomb went off. She claims to be a member of Eden Corps, an eco-terrorist group. Jay, who's now recovered, says goodbye to the gang. He says he's returning to Earth-3, where he plans to retire and train a new speedster to replace him.

Meanwhile, Harry says he's still not ready to talk about Jesse's mother with her. Instead, he uses a modified version of the cerebral inhibitor he invented last week, to allow Jesse to experience his thoughts and feelings toward his late wife.

Sometime later, Harry and Caitlin go to Jitters for coffee. While there, a young woman accidentally spills her coffee on them and apologizes profusely. It's the same mystery girl we've seen a couple times before, who we're not supposed to realize is Barry and Iris' future daughter.

• At the beginning of the episode, Barry's struggling to jump through one of Cisco's breaches before it closes. Unfortunately he consistently fails. Iris helpfully says, "
Look, Barry, a bridge closes in three picoseconds. DeVoe's could shut even faster."

The upshot here is that Barry's just not fast enough. I'd say not! A picosecond is equal to ONE TRILLIONTH of a second! No wonder he can't jump though a breach in time!

• At one point the camera slowly pans across a board inside STAR Labs, and we see the formula "3X2(9YZ)4A" scrawled on it. DC Comic fans will recognize this as the Speed Force formula!

In the comics, Golden Age speedster Johnny Quick would recite this formula to gain access to the Speed Force and activate his powers. So... does that mean anyone who says the formula out loud could do this? Probably not.

Also, to complicate matters, Johnny Quick is Jesse Quick's dad in the comics. Here on the show though, Jesse's the daughter of the Earth-2 Harrison Wells. Confused yet?

For some reason Ralph's AWOL in this episode. At one point Barry asks if anyone's seen him, and Caitlin says he's downstairs moving in. The implication here is that Ralph's nervous about becoming DeVoe's next victim, so he's holing up in STAR Labs for safety's sake.

Ah yes, that super-safe impenetrable fortress known as Star Labs. The only high tech think tank in the world with no apparent way to keep out unwanted intruders. Surely no harm could ever come to him there.

• In a stunning subversion of our expectations, this week Team Flash confronts a villain inside an airplane hangar, rather than the typical "abandoned warehouse." 

• Cisco tracks Joe's alert signal to Waid Airfield.

That would be a reference to Mark Waid, who began an epic eight year run on The Flash comic back in 1992.

• Veronica Dale's the one who ends up setting off the nuke in this episode. She's from the comics, but oddly enough she's not a Flash villain. She's actually one of Green Arrow's foes, called Hyrax!

The comic version was an eco-terrorist who headed Eden Corps, just like in this episode. She tried to set off a nuclear device, but Green Arrow, aka Oliver Queen, stopped her. Unfortunately he died in the process, clearing the way for his son Conner Hawke to become the new Green Arrow. Eventually Oliver got better after being resurrected by Green Lantern (!). Comic books!

• The basic concept of this episode— in which Barry has less than a second to solve a deadly problem by moving so fast the rest of the world seems frozen— seems to be taken from The Flash #30, published back in 1989 (it's entirely possible the comic's used this same plot many times since, but this is the only instance I'm aware of).

Anyway, in the comic, Wally West (who was the Flash at that time) takes in a movie with his girlfriend Connie Noleski (whoever she is). They both act like jerks and talk during the movie, until Wally realizes Connie's seemingly frozen.

By the way, are they watching a porno here or what?

Suddenly Wally feels something pressing against the back of his neck, and discovers it's a bullet! 

Apparently the instant it touched his skin, his superspeed instinctively kicked in, causing the rest of the world to seemingly freeze in place.

So yeah. The Flash published a comic about a nut job shooting up a darkened movie theater with an automatic weapon, twenty three years before James Holmes did it in real life back in 2012. Gulp! Talk about unfortunate coincidences!

Fortunately for the residents of the DC Universe, Wally's able to hunt down all the bullets in the theater and pluck 'em out of the air before they can do any damage.

I'm betting DC's editors probably wouldn't approve this story in our current dark times.

• Once the nuke is detonated, Barry and Jesse both enter Flashtime and try to figure out what to do. Jesse and the entire cast run down a list of options, but because there's still half an hour left in the episode, Barry rejects every one of them for increasingly vague and unsatisfying reasons.

Among the solutions suggested:

Jesse proposes running the bomb into the Badlands. Barry says no, stating, "If we run that long, it'll speed up the reaction. We won't make it outside the city before it explodes." I don't understand any of that, but whatever. 

Cisco wants to try breaching it to a dead Earth. Unfortunately he's moving too fast to open a breach.

Harry suggests tossing the bomb into the Speed Force. Jay forbids this, fearing it'll destroy the mysterious realm and rob all speedsters of their powers.

Jesse actually comes up with one of the better ideas— why not just run back in time a few minutes and "yoink" the detonator away from Veronica, and prevent the bomb from ever exploding in the first place? Sounds logical to me! Barry stupidly shoots down this notion as well, saying it's too risky. He tells Jesse, "The second you alter the timeline, everything changes, especially the people you love. Trust me. I learned that the hard way."

Jesus wept.

Yes, Barry, you learned NOT to go back twenty some years and prevent your mother from being killed (several times). But we're not talking about decades here. We're talking about five minutes, tops! How the hell much damage could they do in that short amount of time? Even in the unlikely event that five minutes could "alter their loved ones," wouldn't it be worth it to save hundreds of thousands of lives?

Look, I get it. The writers came up with a high concept threat, and then had to invent a bunch of reasons why it couldn't be resolved in a few seconds. I understand that. But surely they could have came up with some more credible sounding excuses for why they couldn't shut down this bomb.

• As much as I enjoyed this episode, even I have to agree that its concept doesn't hold up to much scrutiny. Shortly after the nuke goes off, Barry speeds up Cisco to have him try and breach the bomb to a dead Earth. Unfortunately, they're moving faster than a breach can be generated.

But... at the beginning of the episode, Barry's too slow to jump through a breach before it slams shut. Now he's moving faster than they can even form? Whoops!

And then there's Jesse. Somehow she zips over to Earth-3 and brings Jay back with her. Wait a minute... if everyone's moving faster than a breach can form, then she shouldn't be able to travel between Earths, right? Whoops again!

But let's throw the writers a bone and say Jesse figured out a shortcut. That means she got to Earth-3, searched the city and eventually located Jay, explained to him what was going on and brought him back all while she was in Flashtime. She had to, right? If she'd slowed down for even a second, she'd have returned to Earth-1 AFTER the bomb exploded.

• So just how fast are Barry and the other speedsters moving in this episode? Pretty darned quick. In fact they're running far, FAR faster than any of them have ever been able to go before.

Back in Season 2 it was mentioned in dialogue that Barry's top speed was Mach 2, which is approximately 1,534 mph. That's pretty speedy, but nowhere near fast enough for the world to appear frozen in place, or to accomplish everything they did in this episode before the bomb finished exploding.

When Cisco enters Flashtime, he says he's moving too fast to form a breach. That means the speedsters are all 

Remember that it takes 3 picoseconds for a breach to close. That means it likely takes the same amount of time for one to open. When Cisco enters Flashtime, he says he's moving too fast for a breach to form.

That means Barry and the other speedsters are all running faster than 3 picoseconds. As stated earlier, a picosecond is one TRILLIONTH of a second. I don't know what that is in miles per hour, but I'm betting it's considerably more than Mach 2! In this episode at least, Barry's powers have suddenly gone from impressive to utterly ridiculous!

• Say, you know who might have been helpful in this situation? Wally West! You guys on the writing staff remember him, right? He's the character you created back in Season 2, and then promptly ignored for the next two years, never quite figuring out what to do with him.

Sure, he's on another show now (and doing great there, thanks!), but he probably have come in really handy once Jay weakened and was forced to drop out.

• It's always great to see Jay Garrick again. He's obviously from an earlier era where people were more polite. He even insists on calling sometime-supervillain Killer Frost "Ms. Frost!" Haw!

That said, I hated seeing him become winded and fall. Superheroes aren't supposed to get old and weak, dammit!

At the end of the episode, Caitlin examines Jay and notes that his glucose levels are low. She gives him some kind of supplements (sugar, I guess?) and tells him to get some rest.

Hmm... Was Jay really just tired? Or is this a bit of ominous foreshadowing before we find out he's really dying? Remember, nothing happens by accident in fiction— nine times out of ten, when a character coughs at the beginning of an episode, they're on their deathbed by the end. Hopefully this isn't the case, and he really is just winded.

• For some reason, Iris— who's a former newspaper reporter, mind you
 is the one who comes up with a way to cancel out the nuclear explosion. Not Cisco. Not Caitlin. Not Harry. But Iris

• In the third act, Barry removes the removes the quark sphere from the Speed Force in order to undo the explosion. The very same quark sphere that Team Flash was using to fool the Speed Force into thinking a speedster was inside it.

So now what? We've been told in the past that the Speed Force always needs to contain a speedster, else it goes haywire and threatens to destroy the real world. Now not only is there no speedster residing there, but there's no longer a fake one either. Surely that's got to have some sort of dire consequences, right?

• Barry steals the quark sphere and uses it to pull lightning out of the Speed Force, and use it to neutralize the nuke.

Wow, look at how close he that lightning gets to Joe as Barry drags it past him! Luckily there were no stray bolts that branched off and fried Joe where he stood!

• After the crisis is over, Team Flash plays Veronica's manifesto recording, in which she explains her plan. Basically she's against nuclear power. So in order to prove just how dangerous it is, she decided to blow up Central City.

Um... that doesn't make any sense. It's like shooting yourself in the head to prove that guns aren't safe.

• At the end of the episode, Caitlin and Harry meet in Jitters. Suddenly they're interrupted by the Mystery Girl we first saw in Crisis On Earth-X Part 1. You know, the young woman who showed up at Barry & Iris' wedding.

We still have no idea who exactly she is, but most fans (myself included) are betting she's either Barry & Iris' future daughter or granddaughter, who's come back to the past for some reason.

This week I heard a new theory, that's she actually Joe & Cecile's daughter. I hadn't considered that before, but it's entirely possible! It would depend on what her powers are. If she's a speedster, then she's definitely related to Barry. If she's got some other ability (like mental powers, perhaps?) than I could buy that she's Cecile's offspring.

We'll find out sometime around the end of the season.

Whoever she is, she seems to be systematically running into all the various members of Team Flash. So far she's encountered Barry, Cisco and Ralph, and now Caitlin and Harry. It's almost like she's "collecting" members.

But for what purpose? Based on the unsettling and malicious look she shoots Caitlin and Harry in the final shot, it can't be for anything good.

This Week's Best Lines: 
Cisco: "Listen, Miyagi..."
Barry: "What?"
Cisco: "I've been here all day, opening breaches, all right, so unless you wanna rub your hands together and do some magic shoulder popping..."
Barry: "I'm not rubbing your shoulder."
Cisco: "That's what I thought."

Barry: "How is it we live together, work together, sleep in the same bed together, but it stills feels like we don't spend any real time as husband and wife?"
Harry: (over intercom) "ALLEN! WEST-ALLEN! CORTEX! NOW!"
Iris: "I have no idea."

Jesse: "Oh, that's a nuclear bomb."
Barry: "I know."
Jesse: "And its core has already gone critical."
Barry: "I know."
Jesse: "The second we slow down, it's over."
Barry: "I know. That's not helping."

Cisco: "Whoa, what is going on?"
Barry: "You're moving with me at super-speed."
Cisco: "What? Is this what it looks like when you run?"
Barry: "More or less."
Cisco: "I have to say, it's a little uneventful."
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