Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Flash Season 1, Episode 5: Plastique

The Flash is back after taking last week off for election day. See, pretty much every TV show was a rerun last week, because the networks believed that people would be demand to see their local election returns instead of watching televised dancing and competitive cooking. HAW HAW! Sheeeoo! Election returns! Hoo boy! The general public actually caring what happens in their local government! Ha har... mercy, I'm having trouble breathing. Elections. Can you imagine such a thing? Hoo hoo!

Welp, another week, another Firestorm character who makes an appearance on The Flash. Somebody on the staff really has a thing for Firestorm and his villains. 


The Plot:

Barry has a run-in with Plastique, a meta-human with the ability to cause objects to explode by touching them. She was a former soldier who's being hunted by General Wade Eiling. Dr. Wells once worked with Eiling until they had a falling out. 

Barry brings Plastique to STAR Labs to see if they can help her. Unfortunately her condition is beyond their scope. Dr. Wells secretly convinces Plastique to kill General Eiling. The plan backfires and Eiling shoots Plastique, killing her.

After she dies, her body begins to glow, and Barry realizes she's becoming a giant bomb. He  picks up her lifeless body and runs across the water, disposing of it far from Central City where the explosion will do no harm.

Meanwhile Detective West wants Barry to get Iris to stop writing her blog, Barry tries, she says no, and this drives a wedge between them. Drama!

• During a night out with the gang, Barry sadly announces that due to his souped-up metabolism, alcohol no longer has an effect on him. I hope the writers remember this little fact, because that's a detail that could end up biting them in the ass somewhere down the line.

• Plastique causes an explosion in the upper floors of a skyscraper– at night. This explosion endangers the life of a window washer who's working hundreds of feet above ground.

Do window washers really crawl around the sides of building after dark? I'm going to bet no.

Oddly enough, the day after this episode aired, a window washer's scaffolding collapsed on the side of the brand new World Trade Center building here in the real world. Where's the Flash when you need him (don't worry, the guy was rescued)?

• Barry discovers three new powers in this episode: the ability to run vertically up the side of a building, running on water, and vibrating his vocal chords to disguise his voice.

A couple things here. Barry calls the STAR Labs gang and asks them how fast he'd need to run in order to dash up a building and across the ocean. Both times, Caitlin and Cisco formulate equations to come up with an answer (!). 

The actors sell this bit pretty well, so it takes you a few seconds to realize that there is no answer. He'd have to run zero miles an hour, because it doesn't matter how fast he's going (especially over water) because eventually gravity's going to win. But nice try, episode.

Also, when Cisco tells Barry he needs to run 600 mph or whatever, he nods as if that actually means something to him. Does Barry have an internal speedometer in his brain? Is there any possible way he can tell when he's running 600 or 800 mph? I know, it's a comic book.

When Barry demonstrates his vocal disguising power, Detective West reacts with a rare burst of laughter. Obviously they electronically processed Grant Gustin's voice in the scene, but Jesse L. Martin's reaction was so natural and spontaneous I almost believed it was really happening.

By the way, in the comic, the Flash regularly ran up the sides of buildings and across water. He also vibrated his face at super speed to hide his identity. Not sure about the voice thing though.

• Plastique is yet another in the seemingly endless stream of Firestorm characters parading thorugh this show. I don't mind it, but this seems very odd to me. I could see trying to set up a spinoff in Season 3 or 4, but we're only five episodes into Season 1. How about we set up the Flash's world first?

Plastique first appeared in Fury Of Firestorm #7, way back in 1982. She wore a purple costume in the comics, and it looks like they paid very slight homage to that here by giving her a purple shirt. I'm still hoping they'll start using actual supervillain costumes some day on this show.

Plastique's name is Bette San Souci in the comic. Someone on this show's really doing their homework. She had a different origin in the comics though. There she was a Quebecois terrorist trying to force Quebec to secede from Canada. She originally wore a costume covered with plastic explosives, but later gained the power to cause objects to explode simply by touching them. 

A different version of the character appeared in Season 8 of Smallville, which is set in a completely different universe than The Flash, so you don't need to worry about it.

I noticed that Plastique made Barry's Flash suit explode by touching it, but when she touches her own clothing (as she's doing above) nothing happens. She puts on gloves at one point, presumably to control her power. Shouldn't the gloves explode as well?

Can she consciously turn her power on and off? If so, then what's the problem? Just be sure and keep it in the off position until she needs it.

• General Eiling, played here by the always great Clancy Brown, first appeared in Captain Atom #1 back in the late 1980s. He popped up in many DC comics over the years.

• Detective West says, "So. A human bomb. Must be Tuesday in Central City."

Was that a little meta-comment about the CW's primetime lineup?

There was actually a DC character called the Human Bomb, who was a member of the Freedom Fighters.

• Once again Barry brings someone into STAR Labs and makes them privy to his secret. By now the only person on the show who doesn't know he's the Flash is Iris. And maybe Eddie Thawne.

• Caitlin scans Plastique and determines how she got her powers. She was a demolition expert in the army, and was injured when a bomb exploded, riddling her body with shrapnel. She was in Central City the night Dr. Wells' particle accelerator explodes, and the dark matter wave reacted with the shrapnel inside her body, giving her the power to cause objects to explode.

Makes perfect sense to me. If that's not comic book science, I don't know what is!

• When Plastique asks if the STAR Labs gang can cure her, Dr. Wells says, "The technology necessary hasn't been invented yet."

Yet. We get it, Dr. Wells. You're from the future.

I'm wondering if Dr. Wells could possibly be some version of Abra Kadabra? In the comic, Kadabra was (Is? Will be?) from the 64th Century, and time traveled back to the 20th Century, where he used his advanced futuristic science to commit crimes and pester the Flash.

Obviously Dr. Wells probably isn't going to turn into some kind of futuristic stage magician, but he's obviously not from our time, so I'm betting he'll end up being some form of the character.

• Joe disapproves of Iris' new blog, in which she writes in detail about "The Streak," and asks Barry to get her to stop. 

Barry gives Iris a bunch of lame reasons for shutting down her blog, but he skips the most obvious one– that blogging about meta-humans is going to get her killed. Maybe he just didn't want to scare her, but I think once the limp excuses didn't work, it was time to bring out the big guns.

I could have done without this whole little subplot. Obviously it was there just to give Iris something to do, because let's face it, if she's not going to be with Barry, then there's not much reason for her to be on the show. I also didn't get why the blog was worth Barry cooling their relationship. It was all a bunch of unnecessary drama, and a bit too CW.

• Dr. Wells convinces Plastique to kill General Eiling. Honestly, for someone who says she's not really a criminal and just wants to live a normal life, it doesn't seem to take much arm twisting to get her to go after Eiling.

And lucky for Dr. Wells that she died before she could tell Barry about him being evil and all.

• All through the episode Cisco is crushing on Plastique. After she's killed, Catilin consoles Barry, who saw her only as an acquaintance, and completely ignores Cisco. I guess he and his feelings can just go screw themselves.

• At the end of the episode, Barry races across the water with Plastique's body, to prevent it from detonating near Central City.

I'd have enjoyed this scene a lot more if it wasn't practically identical to the end of The Dark Knight RisesAnything that reminds me of that dreary movie is double plus ungood in my book.

So given what we saw here, it appears Central City is near the ocean? I kind of figured it was the middle of the country. You know, what with the "central" in the name and all.

• In the tag scene, Caitlin gives Barry a special super potent shot of alcohol that will hopefully be too much for his hyper metabolism to counteract, allowing him to get drunk. She tells him it's basically 500 proof. 
Um... that's not possible. 200 proof is the highest the scale goes, and indicates 100% alcohol. You can't have something that's more than 100%.

She does say that it's "basically" 500 proof, so it's possible she knows that and this is her little attempt at humor. It's hard to tell though with her chilly and distant personality (where's Felicity Smoak when you need her?).

• During this bar scene there's a slow, soulful rendition of A Flock Of Seagulls' I Ran (So Far Away) playing in the background. Appropriate!

I can see this becoming a running (!) theme on the show. I can't wait to hear slow, jazzy versions of Band On The Run, Born To Run, Long Distance Runaround, Nowhere To Run, Da Do Run Run, and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. Oh, and The Streak by Ray Stevens.

• In this episode's obligatory How Is Dr. Wells Being Evil This Week? scene, we see that five years ago he was actually working with General Eiling, but ended their partnership over the treatment of a patient.

The name of the patient? Grodd. As in Gorilla Grodd, another longtime Flash villain. In the comic Grodd was a super intelligent ape with abnormal strength and psychic powers. He lived in Gorilla City, an advanced community populated by talking apes, hidden deep in the jungles of Africa.

You have no idea how much I'm looking forward to seeing the Flash fight a talking gorilla.

I wonder if they'll really have him talk, or if the characters will just "hear" his telepathic voice inside their heads? I'm assuming they probably won't have a live gorilla on the set and Grodd will be a CGI creation, so it probably wouldn't be that much more difficult to make his lips move. We'll find out soon!

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