Monday, October 23, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 2: Freakshow

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, the crew runs into another historical figure, in an episode that's incredibly messy, muddled and nonsensical. The cast gamely tries their best to save it with their usual winning performances, but sadly it's a lost cause.

Usually when the Legends meet an historical figure they have to protect them from some kind of harm. So when they run into PT Barnum this week, it was interesting to see that expectation reversed, as he turned out to be the ostensible villain of the episode!

Since Arthur Darvill (aka Rip Hunter) is just making occasional guest appearances again this season, it looks like the writers are grooming Agent Sharpe to be his proxy. And for the second time in as many episodes, Sharpe and White Canary ended up in an epic knock-down, drag-out fight. At this point it's pretty obvious they're gonna end up kissing before the end of the season!

SPOILERS!


The Plot:
Flashback to six months ago, as Vixen's making donuts for Steel. He laughs at her quaint 1942 ways, says nobody bakes anymore and runs out for some crappy store-bought donuts. While he's out, Vixen sees a news report about her granddaughter Mari, who's the modern day Vixen. She gets a worried look on her face. When Steel returns, Vixen's gone without so much as a note (what a dick move!).

Cut to the present day. On board the Waverider, Atom shows Jackson and Steel his newest invention— a wrist-mounted shrink ray. What a coincidence that he just happened to build it in this episode, as it's going to come in mighty handy in a few minutes.

Gideon analyzes the data she got from the Time Bureau to map out all the temporal aberrations on Earth. The Legends decide to try and clean up one, to score points with the Bureau. They pick PT Barnum's Circus in 1870 Wisconsin.

The Legends fly to the circus and blend in with the crowd. Atom, Steel and Jackson soon discover the source of the time aberration— somehow Barnum's gotten hold of a real live sabertooth tiger! For some reason, Steel unlocks the cage so Atom can use his shrink ray on it. Something goes wrong, and he accidentally causes the tiger to grow instead! It leaps out of its cage and runs off.

White Canary says there's only one person who can help catch and contain the tiger— Vixen. She then takes a shuttle and flies back to 1942 to pick her up. Or they could have just tried the shrink ray again, but no, messing up time even further is good too. Canary arrives and asks her to come with, but Vixen's reluctant, fearing it'll upset Steel. Canary say he'll be thrilled to see her.

Canary and Vixen return to the Waverider. Oddly enough, Steel is NOT thrilled to see Vixen, as he's still smarting over her walking out on him. Atom gives Canary his shrink ray, and the two women head out to hunt for the sabretooth tiger.

Meanwhile, Atom and Jackson take Steel to an 1870s saloon so he can drown his sorrows in booze. PT Barnum just happens to be in the saloon as well, with a strongman pal and a bearded lady. Barnum's upset that he's lost the tiger, his main attraction. Steel gets into a fight with a drunk and "steels" up. Barnum sees him and realizes he's just found a new star. He invites the Legends back to the circus.

Meanwhile, Canary and Vixen search the jungles of Wisconsin (!) for the sabretooth tiger. They find it, and Canary manages to shrink it and toss it in a birdcage on the ship. She could have done that herself! Why the hell'd she have to pull Vixen out of her own time?

For some reason, Steel decides to go back to the ship to talk to Vixen while Atom and Jackson meet Barnum at the circus. B'wana Beast, er, I mean the Strongman knocks them out and puts them in a cage. Um... wasn't the whole idea for Barnum to capture Steel, who he's WITNESSED using superpowers? As far as he knows, these two are ordinary humans. When Atom and Jackson wake, they try to convince Barnum that they don't have powers, but he doesn't believe them. I know, I know, none of this makes any sense, but let's just move on.

Canary and Vixen find a drunken Steel passed out in the Waverider's cargo bay. They ask where Atom and Jackson are, and he says they went to the circus without him. Canary and the others go back to the circus, and she realizes they're being tailed. She captures their observer, who turns out to be "Gary," a nerdy Time Bureau agent (who appeared briefly in last week's episode). Apparently Agent Sharpe assigned him to watch the Legends. Vixen and Steel are then captured by Barnum and tossed in a cage.

Back on the Waverider, Heat Wave accidentally lets the tiny sabretooth tiger out of its cage for no reason other than story complication purposes.

At the circus, Steel's too drunk to "steel up" and escape the cage (hey, it happens to all guys now and then). He asks Vixen to use her powers to get them out, but she says she doesn't dare. She claims she can no longer control her powers, and is afraid she'll fly into a berserker rage and kill someone. Hey, just like Wolverine! She then explains to Steel why she left him six months ago. When she saw her Mari on TV, she realized she needed to return home to Zambesi to ensure her granddaughter would be born. Amazingly, Steel accepts this explanation.

On the Waverider, Canary forces Gary to check in with Agent Sharpe and assure her that the Legends have everything under control. Sharpe doesn't buy it, and uses a portal to appear on the ship. She announces she's placing the Legends under arrest for no reason, and says Rip was wrong to think they'd be any help against "what's coming." Canary orders Professor Stein and Heat Wave to go rescue the others, and she and Sharpe have an epic hand-to-hand battle for even more no reason. They fight so long they end up taking a break in the commissary! The sabretooth kitten wanders by and grows back to normal size. It chases the two women through the ship, until Canary's able to shrink it again. Well, that was all pointless!

Stein and Heat Wave arrive at the circus, and see that Barnum's forcing Atom and Jackson to pretend to be Siamese Twins. Yes, I know the preferred term these days is "cojoined twins," but they're in 1870, when they were still called "Siamese." So deal with it. Anyway, their act is terrible and Atom and Jackson are mocked and booed by the crowd.

Stein disguises himself as a clown in order to infiltrate the circus. Backstage, Barnum threatens to shoot Vixen in order to get Steel to "steel up." Vixen finally summons the power of a bear, breaks out of her cage and chases Barnum. One of Barnum's clowns sees Stein all made up, and realizes he's not part of the show. He chases Stein, who runs into Jackson. They clasp hands and transform into Firestorm. FINALLY, some superhero action in this superhero show!

Firestorm then flies around the circus a couple times for... for some reason. He sees Vixen chasing Barnum and tries to stop her. She swats at him, knocking him right off the screen. She then corners Barnum and is about to kill him, when Steel manages to talk her down. Barnum pretends this was all part of the "Greatest Show On The Planet," and the crowd goes wild.

On the Waverider, Gideon announces that Wisconsin is now aberration-free. Canary asks Sharpe what she meant earlier when she mentioned "what's coming." Sharpe refuses to elaborate (to drag out the plotline longer) and warns that she'll be watching them as she leaves with Gary. Vixen tells the others about the Belgian soldiers she murdered last week in 1942. They're all perfectly fine with that revelation (!), and tell her they want to help. She agrees to stay onboard a few more episodes to try and sort out her control issues.

Cut to somewhere, as we see a hooded figure kneel next to a lake and recite a spell. A figure made from water rises from the lake and solidifies into a woman. The hooded figure calls the woman "Kuasa," and says as disciples of Mallus, they have work to do.

Thoughts:

• Steel's an idiot. During the flashback, his girlfriend Vixen is fixing delicious, piping hot homemade chocolate donuts, because she's from the 1940s and has apparently never heard of supermarkets (which were invented in the 1910s). He actually laughs at her, makes her stop and runs out to get some cold, crappy, chemical-laden, mass-produced store-bought donuts instead.

No wonder she left him!

• Vixen apparently has a "conversation sensitive" TV. All the time she and Steel are talking, it's barely audible in the background. The second Steel leaves, the TV suddenly cranks up the volume by itself. Not only that, it does so right as a news story relevant to Vixen begins!


To be fair, she does pick up the remote and turn up the volume, but only after the TV already did so by itself!

• This week we finally get an explanation for Vixen's sudden disappearance, and why she moved back to 1942. The reason actually made a certain amount of sense, as she found out she had to go back to ensure her granddaughter would someday be born. 

What DIDN'T make sense is why she couldn't simply tell that to Steel. Why sneak into the night without a word of explanation? Answer: for melodramatic reasons, that's why.

If she really cared that much about Steel, why not invite him back to 1942 with her? Who knows, he might be the modern Vixen's grandpappy!

• Atom takes the wrist-mounted time portal generator that Heat Wave stole from Rip last week, and somehow turns it into a shrink ray. Sure, why not? Time travel, shrinking... it's all the same thing.


Atom then says, "I was saying I reverse-engineered the Time Bureau tech that Mick stole from Rip. Now, we can locate anachronisms too!"

Um... haven't they always been able to do that? In the past Gideon was always sensing time aberrations or time quakes or something, and piloting the ship to them so the Legends could fix them. That's pretty much how every episode in Season 1 and 2 worked! Did she somehow lose that ability between seasons, and now has it back?

• Atom looks at the Aberration Map and says, "Each of these dots represents an anachronism we created by breaking time. Rip's Bureau rates them on a scale of one to ten according to their magnitude of impact and potential difficulty."

Hang on... I thought Rip and his Agents swept in last week and cleaned up all the aberrations in a matter of seconds?

By the way, Gideon's "Time Aberration Map" reminds me a bit of van Gogh's Starry Night!

• When the Legends are trying to decide which aberration to fix, Atom suggests the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912. Professor Stein hisses, "Absolutely not! I refuse to set foot on the TitanicWhoever built that ship ought to be shot!"

Of course this was a not so subtle joke by actor Victor Garber starred in James Cameron's Titanic as Thomas Andrews, the Chief Designer of the ship.


This is second time they've made a joke about Garber's Titanic role on the show. Back in the Season 1 episode Blood Ties, Atom shrinks down to microscopic size and enters Hawkgirl's bloodstream, Fantastic Voyage style. As he looks for knife fragments in her bloodstream, he and Professor Stein have the following conversation.

Atom: "Alright, where am I headed?"
Stein: "You're exiting the tracheal artery. You should see the first fragment."
Atom: "No sign of it. Did I miss it?"
Stein: "It's the size of an iceberg, it seems highly unlikely that you could miss it."
Atom: "Heh. That's probably what they said on the Titanic."
(cut to Professor Stein as he winces in exasperation)


Sadly, this will likely be the last of the Titanic jokes, since Victor Garber's leaving the show sometime this season.

 Billy Zane plays PT Barnum in the episode, and to his credit, he throws himself into the role like a real trooper. He even added a subtle little touch to the character— when he slips into his ringmaster persona, he speaks very eloquently, with no trace of an accent. When he's offstage though, he has a definite New Yawk accent. Kudos!

By the way, Zane also starred in Titanic, as the villainous Cal Hockley. This episode's a regular Titanic reunion!

• When the Waverider arrives in 1870, Gideon says, "The anachronism is located at the grounds of PT Barnum's Roving Museum of Freaks and Hypnotic Hippodrome. Although he is erroneously credited with the phrase 'There's a sucker born every minute,' in truth, Mr.
Barnum would have never belittled paying customers."

Gideon's right about the phrase, as Barnum never actually said it. She's wrong about him never belittling his customers though. Barnum gleefully promoted many famous hoaxes during his lifetime, and said his sole personal aim was "to put money in his own coffers."

• In addition to being a fraud and a conman, this episode would have us believe that Barnum wasn't above abducting people and forcing them to work in his circus. Yeah, I'm gonna say that likely never happened.

• For some reason, the tiger sounds like a kitten whenever it's shrunken. Jesus, writers, the tiger just shrank! It didn't somehow become younger!

• Wondering why Canary took a time shuttle to 1942 to pick up Vixen, instead of just flying the Waverider there? Because if she'd taken the ship, then Steel would have known Vixen was coming back. By using the shuttle, Canary could spring Vixen's surprise reappearance on Steel, making for more melodrama. 

• So Canary goes all the way to 1942 to pick up Vixen specifically so she can help catch the sabretooth tiger. Yet when they spot it, Vixen makes the lame excuse that using her animal powers would only provoke it. Dude, THAT'S THE ONLY REASON SHE BROUGHT YOU! And then you refuse to use your powers! You had one job...

 After Atom, Jackson, Vixen and Steel are all captured, Barnum says, "We're gonna need a bigger tent!" I'm assuming that was a Jaws reference?

 After Steel finally "steels up" and shifts to his metallic mode, Barnum amuses himself by shooting him several times— at pretty close range! He's lucky none of the bullets ricocheted off Steel's body and killed someone. Or even worse, lodged in his head!

 When Agent Sharpe finds out that Canary has a time portal device, she says it's stolen government property. So the Time Bureau is a government agency? That's NOT the impression I got last week.


 Speaking of the Time Bureau: last week we saw their HQ was filled with futuristic transparent flatscreen computer monitors. So why are their communicators so clunky-looking, like they were made in the 1970s?

They reminded me a bit of the Merlin game I had as a kid!

 The epic battle between Canary and Agent Sharpe goes on for so long, that the two of them end up taking a break! OK, I have to admit, that was pretty funny.

 Recognize Barnum's musclebound, costumed henchman?

He's B'wana Beast! Well, I'm not sure if he's supposed to be the actual character here, but he's definitely dressed like him. If you've never heard of him, he's pretty much Tarzan with superpowers.

B'wana Beast is probably the last superhero I ever expected to see on TV, especially in the politically correct hellscape that passes for our current society.

See, in the comics, Mike Maxwell was the pampered son of a millionaire, who decided to throw away his birthright and become a ranger in Zambesi (the fictional African country that Vixen's from— small world!). Unfortunately Maxwell's plane crashed on top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Maxwell was nursed back to health by a mutant red ape, who gave him radioactive cave water or something. This caused Maxwell to grow stronger and larger. The ape then gave him an ancient helmet it found deep inside the cave. When Maxwell put it on, he could read the mind of any animal and control it. In addition, the helmet also gave him the power to combine any two animals into a chimera (????). He then called himself B'wana Beast, and became protector of the jungle.

That all sounds pretty cool, but unfortunately B'wana Beast is an example of the "White Savior" trope. You know the one— a white person finds an exotic jungle land, and immediately begins teaching the poor, stupid black natives, eventually even saving them from some deadly threat.

For good or ill, that sh*t don't fly here in 2017, and a character like that cannot be allowed to exist. Tossing out his entire backstory and turning him into a simple henchman is probably the only way you could feature him on TV without triggering today's hyper-sensitive audience.

I should point out that this is actually B'wana Beast's first live action appearance. Back in 2009, he guest starred in six episodes of the Batman: The Brave And The Bold animated series. That version of the character had the same odd powers, but a slightly tweaked origin that played down the political incorrectness. Oddly enough, the animated B'wana Beast was dating Vixen before he was killed!

(Thanks to reader Dr. OTR for reminding me of the animated version)

 So what's up with Vixen's powers and her sudden berserker rages? It looks like the show may be adapting The Red storyline from the comics.

In DC Comics, there's a "morphogenic" field that connects all forms of life. Certain metahumans can tap into this field as the source of their powers. Vixen can access "The Red," which is the part of the field that connects all animals. There's also "The Green," which connects all plant life. Metas such as Swamp Thing and Poison Ivy are connected to The Green.

I'm betting whatever's going on with Vixen and her powers is somehow connected to The Red.

 Once again, murder doesn't seem to be a crime in the Arrowverse.

After everyone's safely back on the ship, Vixen confesses to the Legends that she killed a squad of Belgian soldiers in last week's episode. Amazingly, they're all completely unconcerned by this startling revelation. They pretty much all pat her on the back and say "There, there," as they promise to help her work through her murderous rages (!).

The same thing happened in Finish Line, the Season 3 finale of The Flash. In that episode, Iris tries to talk the evil Future Barry into being good. He says that's impossible, as he's a murderer many times over. She what does Iris do? Does she immediately call the police so they can lock up this time travelling killer? Nope! Instead she says, "And you are going to have to live with that. But we won't give up on you, OK? That is not what we do!"

Eh, no need for incarceration or a pesky trial. Just talk it through! Apparently in this world, murder's pretty much on the same level as shoplifting or jaywalking.

 Gideon announces that thanks to the Legends, 1870 Wisconsin is now aberration-free. Of course she says this seconds after the uncloaked Waverider flies right over the heads of three small boys from the 19th Century. Eh, no worries. I'm sure they'll never tell anyone or be affected by the fantastic, futuristic flying machine they just saw.

 At the end of the episode we see a mysterious hooded figure summon a watery woman called Kuasa. So who the heck are they supposed to be?


I'm assuming they're from The CW's animated Vixen series. There, Kuasa is a water elemental who turns out to be the sister of Mari McCabe, aka the present day Vixen (!). That would make her the 1942 Vixen's granddaughter as well. 

In the animated series, Kuasa was evil and tried to steal Vixen's amulet (which is the source of her powers) for herself. She eventually switched sides and worked alongside Vixen before eventually being killed (Oops! Spoilers!). Apparently Kuasa's been plucked from the timeline before that happened? Who knows?

• This Week's Best Lines:
Jackson: "You built a shrink ray." 

Atom: "I'm not particularly fond of that name. I'm calling it the hyper-molecular compressor. It's a more powerful and portable version of the tech from my suit."
Steel: "So a shrink ray?"
Atom: "Essentially."

Heat Wave: "If I see a clown, I'm outta here."
Jackson: "What? You afraid of clowns?"
Hear Wave: "No. I just don't like their stupid faces and funny shoes and razor-sharp teeth."
(apparently Heat Wave took time out from time travelling to see It!)

PT Barnum: "Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome, one and all, to the Best Show On Earth! That is a working title.
(Barnum's attempt to come up with his familiar catchphrase is a running joke throughout the episode)

Jackson: "Yo, what's that smell?"
Steel: "Oh." 
Atom: "Where there's poop, there's a prize. Check it out."
Jackson: "Well, do we have to?"
Atom: "This is definitely feline feces, but unlike any I've ever seen."
Steel: "You've studied a lot of poop, big guy?"
Atom: "As an Eagle Scout, I can interpret 175 different droppings!"
(yeah, I didn't need to know that about Atom)

Steel: (to Vixen) "But we're fine without you. Everything is running smoothly."
Heat Wave: "Is that right? Haircut here "embiggened" an extinct tiger."
(apparently Heat Wave is also a fan of The Simpsons!)

Steel: (attempting to "steel" up) "Okay. I got this. Ahem"
(he tries several times, but can't transform)
Steel: "I must be dehydrated, man. This never happened to me before, I swear."
Vixen: "Where have I heard that one before?"
Steel: "Not from me. She never heard that from me."

PT Barnum: "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Greatest Show On The Planet!"
(he still doesn't get it quite right!)

PT Barnum: "Let me make it very simple for you. Become the "Man of Steel"... that is very catchy, make a note of that Or get shot."
(Barnum's quite the quip machine in this episode)

Wotta Deal!

Saw this sign in my local Party City over the weekend. I dunno why, but the idea of a sale on tombstones strikes me as hilarious.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Flash Season 4, Episode 2: Mixed Signals

This week's The Flash is a muddled and incomprehensible mess, with yet another poorly-realized version of a classic comic book villain. Somehow though it manages to coast by due to the charm and chemistry of the cast.

The highlight of the episode was definitely the interplay between Barry and Iris as they decide to go to couples therapy. "Charming" is not a word I use easily or often, but it definitely applies here. It was also nice to see Barry enjoy being a superhero again and revel in his powers, especially after last season's mope-fest.

Wally continues to devolve into little more than set dressing on the show. He did absolutely nothing in this episode, except stand around and somehow get knocked on his ass by an energy blast (um... speedster powers?). 


I hate to say it, but it's beginning to look like he was only brought onto the series as a way to eat up a few Season 3 episodes, and now that his origin story's played itself out, the writers have absolutely no idea what to do with him. Maybe he could move over to Legends Of Tomorrow? They could use a good speedster.

Last week Barry returned from his self-imposed exile in the Speed Force, and suffered a few odd side effects for exactly ten minutes before snapping completely back to normal. I was sure this was just a diversion on the part of the writers, as they'd tip their hand this week and show us that the Barry who returned isn't quite the same as the one who went in. Nope! If this episode is any indication as to how the rest of the season's going to go, Barry was completely unaffected by his time in a bizarre dimension. Strange.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
A real estate agent shows a penthouse suite to tech billionaire Kurt Weaver. He says he'll take it and gets in the elevator. Halfway down the elevator stops, then begins jerking rapidly up and down (heh), as Weaver's shaken around inside like a rag doll. Finally the elevator plummets and crashes to the bottom of the shaft, killing Weaver. On the ground floor, an overweight man in a hoodie ominously watches, as his eyes glow purple.

Barry cheerfully makes breakfast at superspeed. Iris says she needs to get busy planning their wedding, and Barry says he's already done it— at superspeed, of course. Iris is hurt and angered that he didn't consult her first.

Barry, Cisco and Joe inspect the scene of the deadly elevator crash. Cisco hooks up a computer to the elevator's computer memory (?) and proclaims it was no accident— it was hacked by someone.

Back at STAR Labs, Cisco reveals the latest Iron Man, er, I mean Spider-Man, er, I mean Flash costume he's made for Barry. This one's the most advanced yet, full of all sorts of unnecessary high-tech bells and whistles. Iris says she's looking forward to their "training session," whatever that means, and Barry says he cancelled it and blissfully rushes off. Again, Iris is irked that Barry didn't discuss it with her, prompting Caitlin to suggest they go to couples therapy.

The Breach Alarm goes off, and Iris, Caitlin and Wally rush down to confront whatever comes through. It turns out to be Gypsy, who's apparently visiting Earth-1 to go on a date with Cisco. Um... isn't dimension-hopping illegal on her Earth?

Cut to Tim Kwon, another tech billionaire, as he drives along in his expensive new car. Suddenly it stops in the middle of the street, right in front of the same purple-eyed man we saw by the elevator. The man glares at the car, causing its dashboard screen to start glitching and display the word "KILG%RE." It then speeds down a crowded Central City street at 120 mph (well, sort of). Barry zooms to the scene and stops the car by completely taking it apart with a large wrench (!).

Cisco examines the car's computer and finds it was hacked as well, with the same virus that was in the elevator. Cisco can't find any link between the two victims online, so he searches through his stash of old tech magazines (?).

Iris approaches Barry and announces they're going to couples therapy. Barry reluctantly agrees. They visit the therapist, and their session is both humorous and painfully awkward.

At CCPD, Joe's questions Tim Kwon, asking if he can think of anyone who'd want to kill him. Ramsey Deacon, the purple-eyed man, shows up at the station and uses his power to take control of a bomb squad robot. The robot grabs a grenade and crashes into Joe's office. It tosses the grenade, and Joe and Tim dive for cover. Just then Barry enters and grabs all the grenade shrapnel at super speed, saving them.

Cisco talks with Gypsy and says he's got to call off their date because of the Kilg%re crisis. She says she understands and wanders off. Caitlin tells Cisco he's in big trouble, as whenever a woman says she understands, she means the exact opposite. Cisco discovers a photo of Kurt Weaver, Tim Kwon, 
Ramsey Deacona and a woman named Shelia Agnani, who were all computer science students years ago. Kurt, Tim and Shelia later started up a tech company called "Kilg%ore," apparently shutting out Deacon. Cisco theorizes that Deacon must have a grudge against the others and is targeting them somehow. He says Shelia is likely next on Deacon's list.

Barry and Iris return to therapy (is all this happening on the same day?). Iris breaks down and tearfully asks why Barry left her to join the Speed Force. Um... maybe to save the world? She tells him that he's not the Flash— they both are, and they need to do this together. Oy.

Tim goes to Shelia's mansion to warn her about Deacon. Just then Deacon appears and uses his tech-manipulating powers to hack her insulin pump, which puts her in shock. Luckily for her, Wally appears (hey, he finally gets something to do in this episode!) and gives her a shot of glucose to save her. Shelia tells Wally that Deacon abducted Tim.

Back at STAR, Cisco tries to apologize to Gypsy. She says she's angry he canceled their date because today's One/One/One Day, which is a special occasion where she's from on Earth-19. It symbolizes "one soul plus one soul equaling one soul." This sparks an idea in Cisco's head and he takes off again to test out a theory or whip up a solution.

Cisco whips up some kind of technobabble serum that'll theoretically cancel out Deacon's powers. Tim Kwon then appears on all TV channels, confessing that he, Kurt and Shelia stole the Kilg%re malware software (?) from Deacon and sold it for billions, leaving him destitute. It's unclear if Deacon is just trying to ruin the others or wants their money or both. Cisco traces the source of the TV signal and Barry and Wally rush to the scene, where they confront Deacon.

Deacon hacks into Barry's new high tech suit, causing him to incapacitate Wally with an energy blast (that he apparently couldn't dodge?). Deacon then makes Barry's suit run amok, toying with him like a cat does a mouse. He even shuts down the suit's comm system, so Barry can't talk to Team Flash. Somehow Barry's able to gain enough control to call STAR Labs on a pay phone (ask your parents, kids).

Deacon then activates the self destruct system in Barry's suit. Cisco says there's no way to shut it down, and Iris suggest Barry through speed lightning at himself. He does so, which fries the suit and severs Deacon's control over it. Deacon then makes a last ditch attempt at killing Tim by shooting him, but Barry stops the bullet. He then injects Deacon with Cisco's magic serum, rendering him powerless.

Cisco and Gypsy finally have their date.

Cut to Iron Heights Prison, where Deacon's being held in a shielded room with no tech of any kind— it's even lit by candles! Joe says Deacon wasn't in Central City when the particle accelerator exploded, and wonders how he got his powers. Deacon refuses to tell him, but says he's not the only metahuman coming for them.

In the Thinker's lair, he monitors Deacon in his cell (um... didn't they just say there's no tech in there?). He says it's time to find the others, and the Mechanic activates a screen with spaces for eleven other metas.

Thoughts:
• The episode begins with Barry lip synching in his underwear, recreating Tom Cruise's iconic dance number from Risky Business.


Really, writers? That scene was just downright painful. Not to mention the fact that three fourths of your audience wasn't even alive when that movie premiered, so the reference is gonna sail a mile over their heads. 

• Last week Cecile mentioned that now that Julian and Barry were both gone, she was going to have to hire a new CSI. Barry's back of course, but this week Cisco also stepped in to take a look at a crime scene. Is Cisco the new CSI hire? Is he doing that in addition to his duties and inventing at STAR Labs? When the hell does he sleep?


• Iris, Caitlin and Wally arm themselves and run to the Breach Room, ready to attack whatever comes through the portal. No, wait, that's wrong. The others run, while Iris minces in her pencil skirt and lace-up stiletto heels, like the floor's make of solid ice.

Why the impractical getup? She works for a crime-fighting think tank! There's likely going to be chaos and running on a regular basis! Why's she dressing like a supermodel?


• In the Breach Room, Caitlin brandishes a freeze gun which looks exactly like Captain Cold's. It even has the same glowing "V" shaped cryo-emitters on the end! This makes sense, since Cisco invented the gun (to stop Barry in case he ever went Rogue) and Cold stole it from him.

Funny how Caitlin's struggling to control her Killer Frost persona, but her weapon of choice is a freeze gun.

• In this episode Gypsy pays a visit to Earth-1 for a date with Cisco. Um... isn't dimensional travel forbidden on her world of Earth-19? Last season she came to STAR Labs to arrest HR for violating the "No World Hopping" law.

I guess that law doesn't apply to special bounty hunters like her, and she can breach to any Earth anytime she wants— even for something as non-essential as a date!

Not a fan of Wally's new Cab Calloway hairdo.


Sigh... once again, The Flash seemingly goes out of its way to underwhelm with its live action depiction of a long-time comic book character. This week, they completely botch Kilg%re.


Kilg%re first appeared in The Flash (Vol. 2) #3 back in 1987. It was an evil alien entity that could infect and animate any kind of machinery or electronics, and usually took the form of a constantly changing metal robot or monster. Later runs of the comic depicted Kilg%re as a silvery metallic man.

So of course it's only natural that the TV show would depict Kilg%re as an overweight schlub in a hoodie, with eyes that occasionally glow purple. Jesus Christ. It's like they're not even trying anymore! If they're not gonna put any more effort into their villains than this, then why bother producing a superhero show at all?

• I was excited when I read that Kilg%re would be appearing this season on The Flash, if for no other reason than we'd finally get an answer to that age old question— just how the hell do you pronounce that name?

See, I used to read The Flash comic back in the 1980s, and when Kilg%re first appeared there was a HUGE controversy as to just how you were supposed to say his name. The book's letter column was abuzz for months, as fans practically came to blows over the matter. Half the readers passionately argued that it was simply "kill-gore," and the percent sign was there just to make it seem more high tech or alien. The other side vehemently contended that the symbol represented electrical static, and it should be pronounced "Kill (squeeeeee) Gore" or something like that. 


Turns out it's just plain old "kill-gore" after all. Disappointing!


• The Flash has featured some lame villains in the past, but Deacon's gotta be the lamest. Everything about him is muddled and unclear, as the writers don't even understand him. I've watched the episode twice now, and I still have no idea what the hell he is or how his powers are supposed to work. Just listen to Cisco and Caitlin discussing him:

Cailin: "This guy is a living computer virus. That’s a new one.
Cisco: "Look at this code. From the elevator, to the car, to the bomb robot, this code keeps changing [grumbles] But I can’t figure out why."
Caitlin: "Okay, we have to remember that it’s not just digital. It’s bio-digital. Most organic viruses mutate to avoid being killed."

Cisco: "So, if we managed to create digital antibodies, then we can shut this guy down. Oh, nice one!"

A bit later they say:

Cisco: Deacon's powers are derived from the binary code in his DNA. So we created a compound encoded with a numerical string pattern of ones and zeroes, to invert the order of the code.
Caitlin: "Ones become zeroes and vice versa."

I... I don't understand what any of that means. So Deacon is a living computer virus? Or he can infect electronics with a living computer virus? Is he no longer human? Is he a piece of computer code in human form? I honestly have no idea.

Deacon has the ability to infect and manipulate electronics. That's a pretty formidable power in this day and age, but how's it supposed to work? All we ever see him do is stare at an object as his eyes glow purple and his pupils become square. At no time does he ever actually touch anything. How can he infect a device without ever touching it? Is he using wi-fi?

• The whole Kilg%re software thing is just as bewildering. Listen to Cisco try to explain what it is:

Cisco: "Four years ago, Kurt Weaver and Tim Kwon created an app in their garage with two other programmers. Some kind of malware called Kilgore. And then they sold it off to a big tech company."

So Kilg%re is an app, but it's also a piece of malware. Um... those two things aren't even remotely alike, writers! An app is a program written for a mobile device. Malware is a piece of software that's intended to damage or disable a computer. I could see a tech company being interested in an app, but no one would ever BUY a piece of malware!

• Deacon takes control of Tim Kwon's car and causes it to drive 120 mph down a busy Central City street. We'll have to take the show's word for that, as it looked for all the world like it was puttering along at 30 mph— at the most!


• Credit where it's due: Barry and Iris' couples therapy scenes were very well done. Grant Gustin has a goofy, nerdy charm, and he and Candice Patton have some great chemistry together. 


Gustin also has some pretty good comedy chops, and I loved his increasing awkwardness as Doctor Finkle jotted down everything he said. It's a shame he rarely gets to be funny on the show.

By the way, Doctor Finkle ought to have a field day with the fact that Barry and Iris grew up as foster siblings and are now engaged!

• Cisco recognizes the names of Deacon's victims, but can't seem to find anything about them online (???). He then starts leafing through his collection of old tech magazines in order to figure out who they are. Wha...? This show IS set in 2017, right? Does Google not exist in the Arrowverse?

And how could there not be any online info about a trio of startup billionaires? Are we really supposed to believe that people who made their fortune in computer science have no social media presence of any kind? Nothing about this scene makes the least bit of sense.


Yes, yes, at one point Tim Kwon does say that Kurt Weaver "scrubbed any connection between us from the net." If that's true, then Kurt must be one of the world's most brilliant scientific minds indeed. The idea that a person can erase their presence from the entire internet is more unbelievable than a man who can run at the speed of light!


By the way, Cisco's old computer magazine (complete with a centerfold of a mother board) is called "Noughty Bytes." OK, I'll admit that was kind of amusing.

• Whenever there's an establishing shot of STAR Labs, we can always see that one of the upper pylons is riddle with holes, presumably damaged during the particle accelerator explosion four years ago.

In this episode we get a different angle of the building, and it looks like a huge chunk of the side was completely blown away! Has that hole always been there? I suppose it has, although I honestly don't remember ever seeing it before.

You'd think after four years they might want to get that patched up, before the entire building's ruined.

• When Cisco decides to talk out his problems with Gypsy, he reaches up and vibes a breach into thin air. Gypsy INSTANTLY walks through it and nonchalantly says, "What's up?"

So... was she just standing there on Earth-19 waiting for him to call? Or did the portal he opened somehow drag her away from whatever she was doing on her world?

• When Cisco unveils Barry's new high-tech suit, he hands him a comically thick user manual and tells him to read up on its new features. Barry gives the manual a disdainful look and tosses it aside, as if reading something that huge is out of the question.

OK, I get that this is supposed to be funny, but it doesn't make any sense. In the past we've seen Barry speed-read (literally!) lengthy technical manuals and science papers to instantly bring himself up to speed on a topic. And earlier in this very episode, Barry catches up on six months' worth of DVRed TV by watching it at a thousand times normal speed. So what's the problem here? Why can't he read through this gigantic manual in ten seconds and be done with it?


Answer: Because if he did read the instructions, then we wouldn't have the "comical" scenes of Barry fumbling with the new suit's features as he tries to figure out how to control it.


• So Barry now has a suit that's pretty much identical to Iron Man's armor and Spider-Man's Homecoming costume, complete with dozens of weapons and defensive capabilities. It even has an onboard A.I. assistant (which uses Cisco's voice)!

Among its new features are retractable HUD goggles, self-repairing armor, nano-liquid circuitry, full spectrum scanning, a pulse cannon and full weapon system, a targeting scanner, a defibrillator (!), an inflatable flotation function, fire suppression, temperature control and navigation.

I can't say I'm a fan of all these fancy gewgaws. It's hard enough for the writers to come up with a believable opponent for Barry when he just has superspeed. Adding even more abilities is gonna make it virtually impossible for anyone to ever defeat him.

The suit gets fried near the end of the episode, so I'm hoping this is the last we'll see of it.


• When Gypsy talks about One-One-One Day, she triggers the old, "Someone Says Something Mundane That Inspires A Bright Idea" cliche, causing Cisco to come up with a way to defeat Deacon.


• When Deacon takes control of Barry's suit, he forces him to fire an Iron Man repulsor ray at Wally. Despite the fact that Wally's a speedster, he can't dodge a simple energy blast and is thrown across the room and knocked out.

• Deacon then uses the suit's built-in defibrillator function to try and kill Barry. At the very least, it's good to see that Deacon knows a defibrillator actually STOPS the heart, not jump starts it!

• Barry's new suit has a self destruct function called "The Babel Protocol."


This is probably a reference to the Tower Of Babel storyline in the Justice League comic. In that tale, Batman accumulated files on how to take down his team members in the event any of them ever turned bad. 


Cisco sort of references this, saying he added the function to the suit in case he ever had to stop an evil version of Barry.

• As the self destruct timer counts down, Iris gets an idea and tells Barry to generate speedster lightning to short out the suit. He's not sure he's up to the task, so Iris whispers, "Run, Barry, Run!"


I wish I'd started a counter listing every time they've used that phrase throughout the seasons. It'd be up to twenty by now, at least.

• Earth-19 Watch:
According to Gypsy, Earth-19 celebrates Saint Shaquille O'Neal Day. That seems unlikely, on ANY Earth!

Also they definitely don't have Santa Claus. It's unclear if they have Xmas or not.


Gypsy throws around the word "schmoopy" a lot in this episode. Does that mean Earth-19 has Seinfeld, or is it just a coincidence?

• At the end of the episode, Joe's puzzled and says, "
How is it possible that Deacon’s a meta if he didn’t get his powers from Wells’ particle accelerator blowing up?" This implies that the explosion is responsible for every metahuman who's ever appeared on the show. That can't be right, can it? Surely they've faced villains who got their powers some other way before now?


• So the head of Iron Heights Prison is Warden Wolfe. Gosh, that's not a sinister name at all. Who named this character, Charles Dickens?

• Something just occurred to me: The Thinker appears to be built into his high tech chair, and is completely immobile. He's literally the exact opposite of the Flash, who's main power is movement! Interesting.


• This Week's Best Lines:

Cisco: (at a crime scene) "Excuse me. Coming through. CCPD Tech Consultant. That’s right. Look at the badge. That means it’s official."
Captain Singh: "He’s aware that badge is plastic, right?"

Barry: (at couples therapy) "I love therapy."
Dr. Finkle: "Oh. Have you been before?"
Barry: "Just once, when I was a kid, after my mom died."
Dr. Finkle: "Oh, your mom."
(she writes in her notebook)
Barry: "Oh. But I’m okay with that. I mean, I’m not okay with it, obviously. I mean, I’d prefer that she was alive. I just meant that I’ve already dealt with it is I don’t think it’s worth writing down."
Dr. Finkle: "These notes are just for me. No one is judging you guys."
Iris: "Yes, we know."

Barry: "Oh, my dad died too. Just for your notes."
Dr. Finkle: "So, Barry, Iris filled me in a little bit about the two of you on the phone before. Getting married?"
Iris: "Yeah. Yeah, it’s been a long road getting here."
Barry: "Mm-hmm."
Iris: "First, um us growing up together, and then, um, I was engaged to someone else."
Dr. Finkle: "Oh, okay."
Barry: "That’s worth a write-down?"
Iris: "He’s actually dead too."
Dr. Finkle: "Oh, you two have had to deal with a lot of trauma."
Iris: "Well..."
Barry: "No, not a... "
Iris: "Eddie and Ronnie."
Barry: "I mean, a little."
Iris: "My mom. HR."
Barry: "Not too much."
Iris: "Laurel."
Barry: "Some."
Iris: "Snart."
Barry: "We’ve been... to a few funerals."
Iris: "Yeah."

Caitlin: (angrily) "How much tech did you put in this suit?"

Cisco: (sheepishly) "Sooooo much."
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