Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Flash Season 4, Episode 6: When Harry Met Harry...

The lightheartedness continues on this week's The Flash!

Several months back, the producers of The Flash promised that this season would have a lighter, less serious tone than the previous one, hearkening back to the early days of the series.

Well, they've certainly made good on that promise. And how! In fact, I'm starting to think they may be going a bit too far in the opposite direction! When Harry Met Harry... was one of the goofier episodes they've aired in quite a while, as the humor went way over the top— especially the scenes with the "Council of Wells." 

Don't get me wrong, I don't like constant doom and gloom, and I'm all for having humor in my superhero shows. Unfortunately the antics on display here weren't nearly as funny as the producers thought they were.

The aforementioned Council of Wells scenes might have worked a bit better if the various versions of Harry hadn't been so... blatantly cartoonish. The whole thing seemed like just an excuse for actor Tom Cavanagh to ham it up in funny wigs and outrageous accents. Much like every part Johnny Depp plays these days!

I did enjoy Ralph's character arc this week, even if it was predictable and you could see exactly where it was going. Still, it was nice to see him actually start to resemble the comic book character he's based on.

This week's Villain Of The, er, Week was Black Bison, a character from the comics who's of course virtually unrecognizable here. Her appearance was mostly wasted, but the writers did attempt to give her some motivation for her actions. Trouble was, she turned out to be more sympathetic than the heroes!

See, Black Bison didn't rob banks or jewelry stores, she stole ancient Indian artifacts from museums, which she believed rightfully belonged to her tribe. I actually found myself siding with her, even though her methods were wrong. Her people should get their artifacts back!

Note to The Flash writers— there's nothing wrong with a villain who has a bit of depth to them. It's probably not a good idea though for the audience to root for the bad guy.

And now a small rant: At the end of the episode, Ralph takes the Indian artifacts and secrets sends them back to the Sioux people. While researching this episode online, I saw that quite a few people were upset with that little denouement.

Apparently a lot of people are complaining that Ralph's actions were a nefarious example of the White Savior trope. The poor, ignorant Injuns were too dumb and stupid to get their own artifacts back, and it took a White Man (one of the most vile creatures in existence) to return it to them.

Sigh...

Jesus Jetskiing Christ! You idiotic, easily-triggered SJWs know goddamned good and well that was NOT the intent here! The incident was meant to simply tie a nice little bow on Ralph's redemption arc, plain and simple. It was completely innocent, and the only "tone deaf" elements present were the ones you brought in with you.

Every little thing that happens in the world is NOT offensive. Go back to your dormrooms and finish your latest stack of protest posters.

And if anyone's offended by any of this, good! Get the hell out and stop reading my blog. We don't need your kind here!

Rant over.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
In The Thinker's secret lair, The Mechanic worries that Team Flash is getting close to discovering his secret identity. He assures her that everything's going according to his plan, which is of course too complex for her to understand.

At STAR Labs, the gang's still trying to find out who DeVoe (aka The Thinker) could be. They're not having much luck though, as he apparently has no social media presence. Harry says they need more brain power to solve the mystery, and he's going to ask his "friends" for help. The others are shocked that Harry has any acquaintances outside STAR Labs.

Barry then says they should concentrate on finding the other eight metahumans who were exposed to dark matter on the Central City bus. They asks Ralph, who was on the bus in question, if he remembers anything about the other passengers. When he says no, Caitlin suggests hypnotizing him.

Cut to Barry and Iris taking Ralph to their couples' therapist, Dr. Finkle. Ralph assures the Doc he can't be hypnotized, and of course she puts him under in a second. Com-O-Dee! How many times has that joke been used? Anyway, Ralph says under hypnosis that he saw an image of a bison on the bus.

Meanwhile, an art dealer walks out to his car, unaware he's being watched by a woman with a large bison decoration on her jacket. Hey, I wonder if there's a connection? She sees a stone statue of a panther nearby and gestures at it. The panther comes to life and tears the dealer to bits (offscreen, of course!).

The next day Barry and Joe visit the crime scene. There's nothing there but the panther statue. On a hunch, Barry swabs its mouth and finds the victim's blood inside. He and Joe realize they're dealing with a new bus meta.

Back at STAR, Cisco finds out what Harry meant by working with "friends." He's somehow contacted three other versions of himself from various worlds within the multiverse: Herr Harrison Wolfgang Wells from Earth-12, H. Lothario Wells from Earth-47 and Wells 2.0, a cyborg from Earth-22. He dubs the group the Council of Wells. Cisco's appalled.

Cisco then presents Ralph with his very own superhero costume, which will stretch along with his pliable body. Unfortunately it's the butt-ugliest thing ever made, as it's just a plain grey bodysuit.

Meanwhile, a Native American woman meets with another antiques collector named Christoph Banks. He shows her an ancient peace pipe from his collection and she flips her lid, claiming it's a sacred relic and he's defiled it by touching it with his mouth. She announces her name is Black Bison, and animates a suit of armor in his study. The armor lumbers forward and chokes Banks, while Black Bison retrieves the artifact.

Just then Barry and Ralph enter. The animated armor throws Ralph across the room, momentarily stunning him. Barry chooses to save Banks by phasing into the armor and vibrating it apart from the inside. In the confusion, Black Bison gets away. Ralph is shocked, saying Barry could easily have destroyed the armor AND caught the meta. He's got a point. Barry tells him safety's more important than catching criminals.

Back at STAR they identify Black Bison as Mina Chaytan, a former anthropology professor who gained superpowers in the bus incident. She's apparently collecting three pieces of an ancient Indian artifact, so she can return it to the Sioux people or something. Meanwhile, the Council of Wells falls apart, as the four members begin fighting with one another and Harry shuts down the whole thing.

Black Bison then targets an armored car that's transporting museum exhibits, including another Sioux/Lakota artifact. She animates a caveman statue (?) which overpowers the guards and steals the item. Barry and Ralph show up again, and the Caveman attacks them. Black Bison hops in her car and peels out, but Ralph grabs her bumper and keeps her from getting away. Somehow the slow moving Caveman manages to punch the super-fast Barry, knocking him hard into a utility pole. The pole tilts, threatening to fall on a family of innocent bystanders.

Barry yells to Ralph to let Bison go and save the family. He refuses, and just then Bison guns her engine and breaks free. Fortunately for justice, she loses control and crashes into a building, knocking her out. Just then the pole falls over and lands on a little girl, pinning her leg. Whoops!

Cut to the hospital, where a doctor tells Barry and Ralph the little girl will be OK, after a lengthy series of expensive operations that'll bankrupt her family (OK, I may have made up that last part). Ralph is finally contrite, as he realizes Barry was right about people coming first. Barry gives him a 
Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling him he'll eventually get the hang of superheroing.

Meanwhile, Cisco gives Harry a Pep Talk as well (Jesus, two in the same episode!) telling him he didn't get along with the other Wellseses because he hates himself. He says Harry needs to like himself if he wants others to like him. Oy, what is this, Mister Rogers? Anyway, this inspires Harry to contact his other selves again and kiss up to them. Miraculously they all agree to work together this time and find out who DeVoe is.

At the CCPD, Black Bison's cooling her heels in jail. Elsewhere a police captain meets with his fellow cops, showing off a mannequin outfitted in the latest high tech law enforcement gear. Suddenly the mannequin comes to life, knocks out the cops with "onion gas" and breaks Bison out of her cell.

For some reason, Black Bison then goes to the Central City Museum to assemble the pieces she's collected into an amulet. Barry and Ralph show up to stop her. Bison animates a T-rex skeleton and runs off. The T-rex attacks Ralph, who's able to wrap his elastic body around its mouth. Barry runs after Bison and manages to cuff her.

Back at STAR, Barry tells Ralph that "someone" mailed the Indian amulet back to the Sioux nation. Ralph acts like he doesn't know what he's talking about. Ralph then says he can't stick around to chat, as he has to go meet a girl. We then see him visiting the injured little girl in the hospital. He's happy to see she's OK, and uses his powers to make "balloon animals" out of his hands for her, which is a truly disturbing spectacle.

Harry announces that with the help of the Council of Wells, he's discovered DeVoe's first name is Clifford, and he lives right under their noses in Central City. Barry and Joe pay a visit to his house. The Mechanic, disguised as a suburban housewife, answers the door. They ask to see her husband, and are a bit taken aback when Clifford DeVoe rolls into view, sitting in an ordinary wheelchair.

Thoughts:
• When the mugger confronts Barry and Ralph, he ends up accidentally shooting himself twice. Barry— who's in his street clothes— picks up the man and runs him to the hospital. Sigh... congratulations, Barry! You just revealed your secret identity to yet another person in Central City!


• When the mugger shoots Ralph, the bullet goes harmlessly through his body, stretching his elastic skin forward for a couple of feet. His skin then snaps back, flinging the bullet at the mugger.

Fortunately for the show's TV-PG rating, the mugger shoots Ralph in the chest, not in the crotch.


• This week's villain is Black Bison, a Sioux/Lakota metahuman woman with the power to bring inanimate objects to life.

Since this is the Arrowverse, this version of the character looks nothing like the one in the comics, and is Black Bison in name only. In the comics, Black Bison was a male supervillain named John Ravenhair, who often clashed with Firestorm. He carried a staff that gave him a variety of mystical powers, including telekinesis and weather manipulation.

The Arrowverse version of Black Bison actually looks more like Silver Deer, another Firestorm villain (geez, what'd he have against Native Americans?). She was an acquaintance of Black Bison, and had the power to take the form of anyone, or turn herself into any animal. She also had the power of flight, telekinesis and superspeed.

Note that neither comic character had the ability to control inanimate objects as the TV version does.

• Cisco spouts an amazing bit of technobabble in this episode. When Barry asks him why he doesn't just use his vibe powers to find the identity of the bus metas (echoing what the audience is thinking). Cisco claims he can't, saying, "I tried, but, you know, the the dark matter we released was such a massive space-time event that my energy just reflected back and I ended up vibing myself. I'm pretty sure I relived my own birth."

Wow. Bravo, writers! You deserve a day off for coming up with that cockamamie excuse!

• Inside STAR Labs, Ralph sits on a console and accidentally presses a button which initiates an "Oxygen Purge" countdown. 

So... it's possible to evacuate all the oxygen inside STAR Labs? That seems like a really bad idea.

• Team Flash comes up with the bright idea to hypnotize Ralph so he can see his fellow bus passengers, who were all transformed into metas. To that end, Barry and Iris have their couples' therapist Dr. Finkle hypnotize him.

Funny how no one at STAR Labs could do it themselves. Didn't they just hypnotize Julian last season, when he was being possessed by Savitar? Seems like the whole scene was just an excuse to bring back Donna Prescow as Dr. Finkle.

• Ralph finally gets a costume this week, and it's a doozy— a plain, bluish-grey unitard that's the butt-ugliest thing anyone's ever seen. I'm hoping this is just a prototype introduced for laughs, and he eventually gets a suit that looks more like his comic book costume.

• This week's B-plot involves Barry trying to teach Ralph that saving people is always Priority #1, even if it means letting a bad guy get away.

When Barry saves Banks instead of catching Black Bison, an exasperated Ralph says, "You're the Flash! You could have save him AND caught her!"


I have to go with Ralph on this one. If Barry's fast enough to calmly reach over and pluck a goddamned bullet out of the air, then there's no reason he couldn't deal with two poke-ass people in between blinks. 

As usual, his speed fluctuates wildly depending on the needs of the script.

• In this episode we meet denizens from Earth-12, Earth-22 and Earth-47. I hope someone on The Flash staff is keeping track of all these Earths, so they don't accidentally reuse a number!

• In order to help discover DeVoe's identity, Harry contacts three versions of himself from the multiverse to help. 

I really wanted to like this scene more than I did, but I thought it was way, way too goofy, and gave new meaning to the phrase "over the top." 

I'm sure actor Tom Cavanagh had a blast putting on wigs and speaking in funny accents, but he played the scene much too broadly, to the point of burlesque. His Herr Harrison Wolfgang Wells was a thinly disguised Dieter clone from SNL, H. Lothario Wells was a very poor man's Matthew McConaughey and Wells 2.0 was a shoutout to Mel Gibson as Mad Max.

And we won't even mention "Wells The Grey."

It didn't help that the Wellseses' costumes looked... cheap, for want of a better word. Like something you'd see in a high school play. Seriously, I've seen better quality cosplay costumes at conventions.

• Speaking of the Council Of Wells— was that a not-so-subtle a Rick & Morty reference?

The episode Close Rick-Counters Of The Rick Kind introduced us to The Council Of Ricks. It's a governing body made up of Ricks from all over the multiverse. It was formed to protect all Ricks from their enemies, and they met in a secret HQ called the Citadel of Ricks.


• The Flash loves to name Central City's streets and buildings after famous DC Comics creators. We're given two different addresses in this episode— the first is Brookfield Heights, where the Central City Museum is transporting a priceless Sioux artifact. I checked around the interwebs, but couldn't find anyone involved with the flash comic by that name.

The second address is 43 Hibbard Lane, the home of Clifford DeVoe, aka The Thinker. I had a bit more luck with that one, as there was an artist named Everett E. Hibbard who drew many a Flash cover back in the 1940s.

• Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Flash! The superhero who's so fast he's able to literally run backwards in time, yet can somehow still be captured and pummeled by a lumbering animated caveman statue.

• A couple weeks ago in Elongated Journey Into Night, Ralph used his powers to grab a fleeing helicopter, and keep it from flying off. I noted that he must have superstrength as well as stretching powers if he was able to hold a chopper in place without being lifted into the air.

Cut to this week, where Ralph grabs onto Black Bison's bumper with one hand, and braces himself by holding onto an armored car with the other— exactly as he should. 


The producers are reading my blog...

• After Ralph inadvertently causes a little girl to be hurt, he returns to his detective agency and mopes.

I can't believe I didn't notice this before— why does Ralph's office look exactly like that of a 1940s-era film noir private eye? Sam Spade and Mike Hammer both would look right at home here!

• In the third act, Barry and Ralph confront Black Bison at the Central City Museum. She gets away by animating a T-rex skeleton that attacks them.

Quick question: How the hell does a fossilized T-rex skeleton roar?

• Near the end of the episode, Barry says Black Bison's locked up tight in Iron Heights Prison, away from any kind of objects she could possibly animate.

Wait a minute... she was sitting in a CCPD jail cell when she animated the police mannequin that was in a completely different part of the building. She was controlling it without even being able to see it. So why couldn't she do the same from her prison cell? Whoops!


• Once Black Bison's captured, Ralph stands vigil over the young girl he accidentally injured. When she wakes up and sees him, the two have a nice little chat. Oddly enough she doesn't ask who the strange, weird man in her room who the hell he is and why he was watching her sleep! She was unconscious when Ralph and Barry brought her to the hospital, so there's no way she could recognize him.

Ralph then entertains the girl by forming balloon animals out of his hand. Disturbing, unsettling, fleshy balloon animals. The little girl's so horrified by this nightmarish display that her screams of terror catch in her throat, and she can only stare in abject revulsion as Ralph's quivering, misshapen appendage.

• So far, every time we've seen The Thinker he's been sitting in his floating, high tech Laz-E-Boy chair. That makes me wonder can The Thinker walk? Or is he so smart he's figured out a way to never have to move again?

Based on the tag scene in which we see Clifford DeVoe roll up in a wheelchair I'm guessing he can't walk for some reason.

• When Barry and Joe go to confront The Thinker, they're taken aback when the frail, paraplegic Clifford DeVoe answers the door.

The way the scene plays out, it looks like the two immediately come to the conclusion that DeVoe doesn't pose a threat, simply because he's in a wheelchair. I hope that's not the case, because if it is, the writers have forgotten their own show's history. Back in Season 1 Harrison Wells was in a wheelchair, and he definitely wan't harmless, as he turned out to be the Reverse Flash.

• This Week's Best Lines:
Ralph: "Owe you for the java, rookie. Can't believe I left my wallet at home."
Barry: "Don't worry about it. It could happen to anyone five times in a row."

Barry: "And could you please stop calling me rookie?"
Ralph: "Sorry, uh, old habit from when I was your superior officer. You know, before you got me fired. Ruined my career. Destroyed my life. Crushed my spirit. Left me alone, without a friend in the world."
Barry: "Don't forget how I turned you into an amorphous, stretchy blob."

Barry: "No, a superhero's first job is to protect people."
Ralph: "Oh, God. What's the second job? Long-winded lectures before noon?"

Ralph: "So I see you didn't go to Harvard."
Dr. Finkle: "No. Did you?"
Ralph: "I see what you did there."

Cisco: (to Harry) "So, remember when I said 'make friends?' I didn't mean with yourself!"

Wells 2.0:  (to Cisco) "We had a Cisco on my Earth once. He was delicious."

Cisco: (to Ralph, who's not happy with his new suit) "Dibny needs to wear the prototype Cisco so lovingly made for him. Either that, or you fight crime naked!"
(Ralph starts to comment on this) 
Cisco: "Nope! Don't fight crime naked!"

Harry: (to the Council Of Wells) "Guys, guys! All right gentlemen! Clearly, this isn't working. And by the way, it's not me, it's you."


Harry: (seeing the T-rex skeleton) "Don't. Move. Their vision. Is based. On movement."

(T-rex lunges at Ralph and Barry)
Ralph: (running) "That movie is filled with lies!"

Ralph: (after being thrown across the room by the T-rex skeleton) "We have a T-rex."

(this is of course the exact same thing that John Hammond says to an incredulous Dr. Grant in Jurassic Park)

2 comments:

  1. I presume Ralph's lame costume here is a nod to the Elongated Man's original costume, which was ... quite lame. Most fans of the character tend to remember the classic red and black suit best, but he had quite a few costumes over the years, and the color scheme in this episode is not dissimilar to something he sported in the ... late 80s? 90s?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, I should have mentioned it was vaguely the same color as his lavender & white costume. I'm hoping they'll eventually alter it to match that one a bit more.

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