Monday, March 26, 2018

The Flash Season 4, Episode 16: Run, Iris, Run

This week on The Flash, Iris takes front and center as she becomes yet another in the show's long line of speedsters... for a little while.

Run, Iris, Run had the potential to be one of the worst episodes of the entire series. Fortunately that didn't happen, and it was one of the better hours this season.


I was skeptical when I first read that Iris was becoming a speedster, as it sounded like a terrible idea. The Flash has a bad habit of eventually turning every supporting character in the cast into a superhero. So far the only people on the show who haven't been handed powers are Joe, Iris and I guess Harry. Hell, even goddamn Cecile has pregnancy-related telepathy! CECILE! 

Like Syndrome said in The Incredibles, "When everyone's super, no one will be." 

But as it turns out, Iris' tenure as a speedster was only temporary— her powers lasted just long enough for her to learn a valuable lesson about being a hero. And you know what? I'm OK with that! It was a fun little sidetrack as we lumber on toward the big season-ending confrontation with DeVoe.

The B-plot featured Harry trying to build his own version of DeVoe's thinking cap, which has some pretty ominous implications. Harry's been visibly frustrated the past few episodes, as he realizes his legitimately vast intellect is still no match for DeVoe's mind. To that end, he's willing to do anything he can to boost his own brain power and match wits with him. Even if that means losing what little humanity he has.


I have a bad feeling this subplot may be setting up Harry's departure from the show, paving the way for another version of Wells next season. I hope I'm wrong though, as I've grown to like Harry the past few seasons.

Lastly, I'm disappointed that Run, Iris, Run didn't give us this scene:

Iris: “So Barry, how’s it feel being the fastest man alive?”
Barry: “But, Iris... you have my powers now. I’m not the fastest man alive anymore.”
Iris: “Is that so?”
Barry: “Yeah, you know that. I................ ohhhhhhh.

SPOILERS!


The Plot:
In STAR Labs, Cisco and Harry debate how to protect the remaining three bus metas. Cisco calls it a day and goes home, while Harry spends the night working in the lab.

The next morning, Harry assembles Team Flash and shows them his newest idea— a "thinking cap," much like the one DeVoe first used to supercharge his intelligence. Harry says he can use it to increase his brain power and figure out how to save the bus metas and defeat DeVoe. 

The only downside to Harry's device is that is that it would expose him to dangerous and unpredictable amounts of dark matter. Amazingly, Iris, Caitlin and Ralph feel this is a solid plan. Cisco's the sole voice of reason, refusing to help Harry kill himself.

Since Ralph is also a bus meta, that means he's a target for DeVoe as well. This understandably makes him nervous and on edge. He becomes furious when Cisco won't help Harry and storms off. Iris follows and tries to calm him down. He says she never puts herself in any danger, because as Team Leader, all she does is sit behind a console inside STAR Labs all day (which is kinda true). Ralph's words really hit home, as Iris realizes he's right.

Meanwhile in a local bank, a meta named Fry uses his fire powers (get it?) to burn a hole in the vault. A Bystander approaches and asks him to stop and think about what he's doing. The two scuffle, and Fry shoves the man away. The Bystander falls on top of another man, dressed in heavy metal gear.

Fry then tells the Bystander he's gonna, er, fry him where he stands. He raises his hands, but nothing happens. He wails that his powers are gone as the guards nab him.

Later Joe and Cisco arrive on the scene to examine the melted vault. They question Fry, who says he's had his powers for years and just arrived in Central City. This means he's not one of the bus metas. Cisco examines the security tape, and sees the Bystander touch Fry shortly before his powers disappeared. He suspects the man somehow stole Fry's powers.

At STAR Labs, Cisco checks the bank records and deduces the Bystander is an EMT named Matthew Kim. As Joe goes to find Kim, Iris decides to tag along
 no doubt to get away from her console for a bit. They track down Kim at the hospital and begin questioning him. He becomes suspicious, fearing they want to steal his powers (?). 

Suddenly Kim takes Iris hostage and holds a scalpel to her throat (!), causing Joe to activate the Flash Alarm app on his phone. Barry zips into the room a second later and rushes toward Kim. In the chaos, Kim briefly touches Barry and then Iris. He escapes, and Barry tries to run after him. Unfortunately he discovers his speed's gone. Iris says she just found it, as her hand begins vibrating at superspeed!

Back at STAR, Team Flash run tests on Barry and Iris. They discover that Kim is apparently a bus meta, and somehow absorbed Barry's powers and then transferred them into Iris. Caitlin begins looking for a way to reverse the process and restore Barry's speed. The Gang also realizes that if DeVoe absorbs Matthew Kim, he'll be able to remove all their powers. Not good!

Just then there's a fire alarm at Baldwin Tower, trapping dozens of people on the upper floors. Barry's forced to watch helplessly as Iris dashes to the scene and rescues the inhabitants. This makes her positively giddy, as she's finally out in the field doing something. 

Iris then goes back in the building to try and put out the fire. Unfortunately she's still new at the whole speedster thing, and actually ends up making the fire worse. She's then pinned under falling rubble as the flaming ceiling collapses. Cisco breaches into the building and saves her just in time, making the audience wonder why he didn't just save everyone to begin with.

The next day Barry helps Iris train. Caitlin informs them that she's tried everything, and the power transfer seems to be permanent. Harry badgers Cisco again about helping him create his thinking cap. Cisco finally relents, saying he'll do it on the condition that Harry not use dark matter in the experiment. Harry agrees.

Another alarm goes off, and the Gang sees the Heavy Metal Dude from the bank
 who now has Fry's fire powers  is causing trouble downtown. He lobs a few fireballs at the cops, and threatens to burn the city unless he "gets his money." 

Cisco whips up a new costume for Iris, and she speeds to the scene. Matthew Kim shows up as well, hoping he can steal Heavy Metal Dude's powers from him before he kills someone.

Barry radios Iris and tells her to create a vortex around Heavy Metal Dude to extinguish his fire. Unfortunately the heat's too intense, preventing her from getting close enough. Heavy Metal Dude then creates a massive fire vortex that reaches into the sky. Iris asks the Gang what to do.

Everyone's stumped, until Harry— wearing his newly-completed thinking cap— comes up with an idea. He tells Iris to run across the nearby Central City Bay (?) and return to shore. This'll create a huge tidal wave that'll put out Heavy Metal Dude's fire. With no other options, Barry says, "Run, Iris, Run." We have a title!

Iris runs across the water at superspeed, and pulls a giant wave back with her. It crashes down on the street and puts out the fire, just like Harry said it would. Heavy Metal Dude is knocked unconscious. Yay!

Iris brings Matthew Kim back to STAR Labs (apparently having forgiven him for holding a knife to her neck). He asks Barry and Iris if they're sure they want to go back to the way things were, and they say yes. He touches both of them, transferring Iris' speed back into Barry. Then then explain the threat of DeVoe, and Kim decides to join Team Flash to take him down.

Later Iris decides to start writing her Flash blog again, for some reason.

At STAR Labs, Harry and Cisco test out the thinking cap. Harry tries it on, and says he's figured out the names of the last two bus metas...

Thoughts:

We have a title! I suppose it was inevitable that at some point in this episode, somebody would say, "Run, Iris, Run!" I guess it was only fitting that Barry would be the one to say it.

If I'd known it was going to become the series' catchphrase, I'd have started a "Run, Barry, Run" counter three years ago. I'm sure it would be up to thirty or forty by now.

• At the beginning of the episode, Harry's frustrated because he can't outsmart DeVoe. He stares at a photo of DeVoe on a computer screen and broods, "Maybe you have thought of everything... just like Thawne."

As Harry says this, we see his face reflected on the screen, right next to DeVoe's. It's a clever bit of foreshadowing, as Harry's about to build his own version of DeVoe's "thinking cap" to boost his intelligence and finally outsmart him.

It's also a bit ominous, as if Harry's not careful, he could easily go down the same villainous path as DeVoe.

As I said earlier, I think this is the show's way of setting up Harry's departure from the show. I can easily see him boosting his intellect and becoming another Thinker, forcing the Gang to have to battle him as well. It's been a while since we've had a new Wells, so it wouldn't surprise me if we got a new one next year.

• This episode features my favorite type of nitpick. When Harry's explaining how DeVoe got his Thinker powers, he shows Team Flash a security tape of the event, which happened back in Therefore I Am

Oddly enough, this footage is covered from several different angles, and looks amazingly identical to the way the audience saw it!

Either STAR Labs has numerous security cameras covering the exact same spot, or Harry downloaded the episode and showed a clip of it to the Gang.
• When Iris tries to reassure Ralph, they have the following conversation:

Ralph: "You don't have any concept of how dangerous it is for me out there."
Iris: (defensively) "Yes, I do."
Ralph: "How could you?"
Iris: "Because I'm the leader of this team."

Huh? Since when is she the leader of Team Flash? I know she's been sitting behind her console all season barking out orders to the others, but I'm pretty sure this is the first onscreen confirmation that she's now Team Leader.

Why Iris? How'd she get that job, other than she's married to the Flash? She's a former newspaper reporter! How does that qualify her to manage a team of superheroes?

• At one point a meta named Fry (heh) uses his fire powers to melt a hole through a Central City Bank vault. Later when Cisco examines the vault, he says, "This fire melted through ten inches of reinforced steel. I mean, that would take over 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Ten times the thermal output of Rory's heat gun." A couple things here:

First of all, 6,000 degrees is pretty danged hot! The surface of the sun is around 9,900º F! Seems like that would have vaporized everyone inside the bank. Not to mention incinerating the money in the vault!

Secondly, we now know how hot Heat Wave's (of the Legends Of Tomorrow) flame thrower is! According to Cisco, it's top temperature is 600º F!

• Cisco apparently hacks into the Central City banking system in order to identify and locate Matthew Kim.

The bank computer readout we see was never meant to be seen and studied in great detail. Still, it's kind of fun to give it a closer look. If you click on the image and zoom in, you'll see that the designer used the same few names over and over again to construct the list. J. Paulson, H. Specter, J. Pearson, J. Lamb, W. Dalton, M. Cruz, E. Randolph, H. Hartman, L. Shelton and J. Sheppard appear numerous times in the two columns. Funny!

There's also a T. Cobb and an M. Pence (!!!) on the list. Apparently whoever typed it up is a baseball fan who voted for Trump!

• When Iris accompanies Joe to question Matthew Kim, she's wearing a stylish purple and white leather jacket.

Later in the episode, Cisco grabs her jacket and converts it into her temporary Flash costume!

• The thinking cap, er, I mean "intelligence booster" that Harry builds...

...looks a LOT like the one DeVoe used a while back to increase his smarts. I'm sure that was probably intentional, given the ominous way Harry's paralleling DeVoes in this episode.

• Once again we see Cisco perusing an issue of Noughty Bytes magazine. I'm pretty sure the magazine made its first appearance earlier this season in Mixed Signals.

Noughty Bytes is an school tech magazine that featured centerfolds of motherboards and the like. Cisco dug out his stash of issues to find info on Kilg%re. I'm betting it probably ceased publication years ago, or transitioned to digital format.

• As usual for The Flash, this episode features some wonderfully ridiculous comic book science. Caitlin tries to explain Matthew Kim's transferring powers by saying, "As best I can tell, Matthew's abilities work by melting down the highly concentrated bonds between DNA. That makes them totally pliable so he can extract them and infuse somebody else with the exact same meta DNA."

• After Iris gains Barry's speedster powers, she trains on the treadmill in the Speed Lab. Unfortunately she's not used to being so fast, and stops running, causing the rapidly moving treadmill to fling her backwards across the room.

For some reason, there's a big ol' pile of empty boxes stacked directly behind the treadmill. The perfect thing to cushion her landing. Lucky for her they were there too! As you can see, right behind the boxes is a wall full of spinning fan blades! I can only imagine what would have happened if she'd slammed into that at superspeed!

• Team Flash gets an alert that Baldwin Tower is on fire. As we all know by now, this show lovvvves naming streets and buildings after prominent comic book artists and writers. I did some googling, but can't find anyone named Baldwin who's involved with The Flash comic. 

There's a Greg Baldwin who's written for the Supergirl series. Maybe they named the building after him?

• Iris zooms into the Baldwin Tower and rescues the tenants at superspeed. She then goes back in to try and put out the fire, but is pinned by falling rubble. Cisco ends up breaching her out of there at the last second.

Gosh, it's too bad Cisco couldn't have used his powers to rescue the residents in the first place, and prevent the inexperienced Iris from putting herself in danger. Or better yet, they could have sent them both and rescued everyone in half the time.

Obviously the writers sent Iris alone because the plot needed he to use her newfound powers and realize there's more to the superhero game than she thought.

• When I watched this episode on my TV, it looked for all the world like Iris was generating pink Speed Force lightning. I immediately thought, "Oh, no," as I imagined the tidal wave of complaints from the SJWs in the audience, who'd all be incensed because the producers gave the female speedster pink lightning. I could hear them in my mind— "Why pink? Because she's a dumb old girl? How dare they assume her Speed Force color!"

Fortunately when I watched the episode on my computer to make screencaps, the lightning actually looked more purple than pink. Whew! Crisis averted!

I'm assuming they made her lightning purple to match her costume? If so, that doesn't make any sense for a variety of reasons. First of all, her lightning was purple before she got her official lavender costume!

Secondly, the hue of a speedster's costume has nothing to do with the color of their lightning. Barry wears a red costume, but he always has yellow lightning. The Reverse Flash wore a predominantly yellow costume, but generated a red trail.

Lastly, Matthew Kim transferred Barry's powers into Iris' body. If he has yellow lightning, then so should she.

• Harry locates Heavy Metal Guy by detecting his heat signature. His exact words are, "Satellite strike— the temperature's the same intensity of the bank robberies." 

Wait a minute... the readout says the temperature anomaly they've detected is 700º F. Cisco said Fry used a temp of 6000º F to melt through the vault! Something's off somewhere here!

• When Heavy Metal Guy's monologuing, Matthew Kim approaches him and says, "Stealing is a sin. You shouldn't be using the powers you've been given this way." 

Although he doesn't come right out and say it, it's implied Kim believes God gave him his powers. It's interesting to see a religious character on an Arrowverse show, since they usually give the topic a pretty wide berth.

• Heavy Metal Guy starts lobbing fireballs (that are either 700º or 6000º) at the cops. One just misses Joe as he dives for cover. It's tough to tell for sure, but it looks for all the world like it's really Jesse L. Martin in that scene. 

Most likely there was a healthy amount of CGI trickery going on in this scene, because I can't imagine they'd let an actor stand three feet away from a massive explosion like that. If it was a real stunt though, then kudos to Jesse!

• Iris rushes to the scene to stop Heavy Metal Guy, and has the following conversation with Team Flash:

Iris: "Can't get close to him!"
Cisco: "Temperature's at 800 degrees."
Ralph: :Like, how hot is that?"
Caitlin: "As hot as lava."

I'll say! Bright read lava is typically around 1,165º F!

• So Matthew Kim can absorb a person's powers by touching them. He can then transfer said powers to someone else by touching them as well.

Inside the bank, Kim steals Fry's fire powers and accidentally transfers them into Heavy Metal Dude. He then uses his newfound powers to extort money from the city. Iris whips up a tidal wave to douse his fire, and Joe carts him off to Iron Heights prison.

So... I guess that all means Heavy Metal Dude STILL has his fire powers! We never see Kim take them away from him, and no one ever mentions that he did it offscreen. Does that seem right? Should they really let an unstable psycho like him keep such destructive powers?

On the other hand, I guess there wasn't anything they could do. Kim could steal the fire powers back from Heavy Metal Dude, but then HE'D have them. His only choice then would be to walk around with fire powers, or transfer them to someone else.

• At the end of the episode, Matthew Kim decides to stick around and help the Gang defeat DeVoe. He seems like he could be an interesting character, so I actually don't mind him joining Team Flash. Star Labs is starting to get a bit crowded though, so I honestly doubt he'll last for long. He'll either be killed in the season finale or decide it's time to move on.

• At the tag scene, Iris decides to start writing her stupid Flash blog again. Note that she's writing it the same day this episode aired. The Flash is happening in real time!

This Week's Best Lines:
Harry: "How about this? We alter each bus meta's DNA by performing intercellular surgery." 
Cisco: "And what? And turn them into chickens?"
Harry: "Yeah."
Cisco: "We're not Frankensteining innocent people."

Ralph: "Just so I'm clear on this, someone finally came up with a way to stop this La-Z-Boy riding lunatic and we just might not do it?"

Barry: "Those are innocent people, Ralph."
Ralph: "I'm innocent. I'm still gonna get terminated. Oh, my God. I'm Sarah Connor!"

Cisco: "I'm gonna help you finish the thinking cap."
Harry: "It's an intelligence booster, actually. It's called an intelligence booster.:

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