Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Flash Season 1, Episode 18: All Star Team Up

The Flash is back— again! Jesus, these thrice-damned breaks in the schedule are getting out of control. At this rate the season finale's not gonna air until August.

This was a more lighthearted episode, most likely the last one we'll get for a while as the season enters its Reverse Flash-centric home stretch.

Once again it's always great fun when Felicity Smoak pops up in an episode. I've not been
following Arrow lately, so I wasn't aware she was dating the Atom. It seems like the two of them are a better fit on this show than they are on their own grim & gritty series.

This week Barry finally decides to tell Cisco and Caitlin everything he knows or suspects about Dr. Wells. Could this be what sets them on their inevitable paths? Will it cause Cisco to become a hero (Vibe), while Caitlin goes over to the dark side (as Killer Frost)? Stay tuned!

I'm also foreseeing that Eddie's situation with Iris will blossom into resentment of Barry, if not full blown hatred somewhere down the line, which could lead him to his ultimate fate as well (as another version of the Reverse Flash).

It's looking more and more like Dr. Wells' secret will be revealed in the season finale. That's too bad, because I don't see any way he can remain a regular on the series once that happens. He definitely won't be hanging around STAR Labs in a wheelchair once his secret's out! I doubt they'll kill him off, given his role in the murder of Barry's mom, which probably won't be resolved for a few seasons yet. Maybe he'll still make the occasional guest appearance?

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Barry uses his super speed to help Joe and Eddie round up dozens of criminals in Central City. Despite the fact that this is a good thing, Eddie doesn't seem to approve. Maybe he thinks it's cheating? The same night, a robotics professor at Hudson University is killed by a swarm of bees. Barry examines the professor's body and realizes the bees didn't leave any stingers behind. You know what that means— super powered bees! It's always something in this city.

Meanwhile, Iris is becoming suspicious of Eddie, who tells Joe he can't keep lying to her about Barry's secret. Joe says he has to for Iris' safety, which apparently makes sense to the writers. Barry wants to tell Cisco and Caitlin about Dr. Wells, but once again buttinsky Joe warns him not to. He's afraid the two may be secretly working for Wells.

Back at STAR Labs, Felicity Smoak wanders over from the Arrow set for another visit. She brings her new boyfriend Ray Palmer, who's hoping Cisco can help him improve his Iron Man, er, I mean A.T.O.M. suit. I guess Ray doesn't care who knows his secret identity either. At first Barry's taken aback that Felicity has a boyfriend, but eventually comes to terms with it.  Cisco and Ray bond while working on the suit.

Just then another robotics professor is killed by bees, and Barry rushes to investigate. Despite the fact that he can literally move faster than lightning, he's attacked by the bees and dies from anaphylactic shock (!). Cisco is able to revive him with a defibrillator that's built into the Flash suit for some inexplicable reason. I guess Cisco put it in there just in case Barry was ever killed by bees.

The STAR Labs Gang manages to capture one of the bees and discover it's a robot. They contact Dr. Tina McGee, who tells them they're dealing with Brie Larvan, a disgruntled former employee. Larvan was working on a robotic bee project to help the agriculture industry, which isn't a bad idea, but was fired when she began weaponizing them for the military. Now she's apparently targeting those who "wronged" her. Joe wants to put Dr. McGee into protective custody, but she declines, providing the writers with a third act.

Iris confides to Barry that Eddie's keeping secrets from her. He gently reminds her that Eddie's a cop, and there are always going to be things he just can't tell her, which makes perfect sense. Iris brushes off Barry's advice and tells Eddie that either he spills his guts or they're through, in a plot development that makes a woman who controls robotic bees seem realistic and sensible.

The STAR Labs Gang's magic computer somehow tracks the robot bees to Mercury Labs, where Dr. McGee is indeed being targeted. Tony Stark, er, I mean Ray Palmer blasts off in his Iron Man, I mean A.T.O.M. suit to save her. Felicity traces the bees' wifi signal or something to Larvan's lair, and Barry speeds away.
 
He confronts Larvan, now known as the Bug-Eyed Bandit, but she sics her bees on him. Felicity manages to hack into the BEB's computer and shut down the bees. One bee somehow survives, and just as it's about to sting Ray, Cisco intercepts it and is stung. He too dies, but gets better when Barry uses the power of... static electricity, or vibrating hands or something to bring him back to life. If you're scoring at home, that's twice in one episode that they incorrectly depict how defibrillation works.

Later Barry's apparently decided he can trust Cisco and Caitlin, and invites them to his office where he tells them that Dr. Wells is the Reverse Flash. Cisco believes him, because he's inexplicably been having "dreams" in which Dr. Wells kills him. Caitlin's less impressed with the evidence and doesn't believe him.

Thoughts:
• In the opening scene, Barry zooms around the city, depositing numerous criminals into Joe and Eddie's squad car. Realistically (!) every episode should play out exactly like this. After all, as we were shown a couple weeks ago, Barry can move faster than lightning. He should be able to clean up the entire city in under a minute.

• Felicity barges right into STAR Labs just in time to deliver a pithy one liner. Her appearance seems to surprise everyone, as she doesn't set off any alarms or intruder alerts. Apparently anyone can just stroll into this hi-tech lab full of dangerous equipment (with a jail full of super villains in the basement yet). Does that seem right?

This got me to thinking it appears there are only three employees of STAR Labs, plus Barry. We've never seen anyone else working there, ever. It looks like a pretty big place too, easily as large as a sports arena. Who mops the floors and empties the trash? Who maintains the grounds? I bet the place is getting pretty dusty right about now.

• Felicity brings her new boyfriend Ray Palmer to STAR Labs on the pretense of seeking help with his Iron Man, er I mean A.T.O.M. (Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism) suit. She sheepishly admits she told Ray about the Flash's true identity, meaning there's now yet another person who's in on Barry's secret. Jesus, again I ask: why is he even bothering to wear a mask at this point?

Later when Eddie finds out that Ray knows about Barry, he says, "So everyone but Iris knows?" Hey, I know how you feel, Eddie.

• I've only seen the first season of Arrow (sorry, but I don't have time to watch everything) so this was my first exposure to the TV version of the Atom. He's pretty much Tony Stark, but without the cocky attitude. He's a billionaire owner of a tech company, he's a brilliant inventor and he has a flying suit of armor that's pretty much identical to Iron Man's. It even fires energy blasts from the gloves!

Seriously, those shots of him flying over the city couldn't have looked more Iron Man-y if they tried. They even had close-ups of his face inside the helmet!

I was very surprised that he doesn't seem to have his shrinking power yet, which you'd think would be a given for someone who calls himself "The Atom." I guess they're saving that revelation for the Arrow season finale?

• By the way, Brandon Routh seemed to be having a blast playing the Atom. Maybe he's just happy wasn't totally ruined by Superman Returns.

• The Bug-Eyed Bandit is played here by Emily Kinney, aka Beth Green of The Walking Dead fame. I have to admit, when I saw the robotic bees and her honeycomb-patterned clothing, I thought she was supposed to be the Queen Bee, another insect-themed supervillain in the DC stable.

In the comics, the Bug-Eyed Bandit was a man named Bertram Larvan. I guess he got a gender change in order to placate our overly sensitive, politically correct excuse for a society. Bertram invented a mechanical bug that could wipe out insect pests, but couldn't raise funding for the project, so he turned to crime and stole the money he needed. He then built an army of robotic insects (not exclusively bees) and went on a crime wave.

The Bug-Eyed Bandit was primarily an Atom villain, so it makes sense that she'd pop up in this episode.

• Fun lines in this episode:

Cisco: "Bees. Why did it have to be bees?"

Caitlin: “Is that a bird?”
Cisco: “It’s a plane?”
Felicity: “It’s … my boyfriend.”

Ray: "I can't keep it up."

• A guy who can run faster than lightning and vibrate through walls ought to be able to avoid being stung by bees. Even robotic ones. I'm just sayin.'

• Sigh... once again a TV show erroneously depicts the way a defibrillator works. What a surprise! As an added bonus, The Flash even gets it wrong twice in the same episode!

I won't go into the explanation again here, but I will say that your heart is not like a car battery, and a defibrillator does not work like jumper cables. There's much more to it than that.

I'm also at a loss to explain why Barry's Flash suit would contain a defibrillator.

• I know it's a standard scifi trope (as seen in the Yesterday's Enterprise episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation), but I'm struggling to understand how Cisco can "remember" events that happened in an alternate timeline. I don't "remember" eating pizza last night after I decided to eat spaghetti instead, so I don't see how he can "remember" being killed.

• Help me understand the Bug-Eyed Bandits' plan here. She was working at Mercury Labs developing robotic bees. She was fired when she began weaponizing the bees for the military. She's now bitter and angry that her research was destroyed and her life was ruined, and vowed revenge against those who wronged her.

Yet she's somehow able to set up an advanced lab full of sophisticated computer equipment, as well as recreate her research and construct an army of robotic killer bees that obeys her every whim. Sounds like she's doing OK to me. She must have received a hell of a severance package!

If she was able to create a setup like that, why'd she need Mercury Labs in the first place?

• Iris senses Eddie's keeping something from her, and gets all pissy with him. Of course he is keeping a secret from her Barry's identity. But he's a policeman! How does she know he's not working on some top secret case? There're always going to be things he can't tell her. It's part of his job.

She's supposedly a reporter aren't they supposed to their sources a secret? So why can't she understand that the same deal applies to Eddie? Add to that her ultimatum that he tell her everything or they're through, and she comes off as very childish and petulant in this episode.

This whole subplot is a huge misstep in my opinion, and further evidence that the writers have no idea what to do with Iris. At this point Eddie's better off without her.

• Dr. Tina McGee returns, and tells Barry that the night Dr. Wells' fiance died, it's like he became a different person. Oh, Tina, you have no idea!

• Insane Theory Of The Week: In the comics, Cisco Ramon is the superhero known as Vibe. Some fans have pointed out that a few episodes ago, Dr. Wells killed Cisco by plunging his rapidly vibrating hand through his chest. Then in this episode Barry appears to use his vibrating hands to bring him back to life.

Either they're just foreshadowing here, or maybe all this vibrating will somehow turn him into Vibe.

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