Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Flash Season 3, Episode 12: Untouchable

This week's The Flash feels a bit like a throwback to Season 1, complete with the old "Disposable Metahuman Of The Week" plotline.

There's some interesting stuff between Barry and Wally, as the Flash realizes it's not enough to just teach Kid Flash, he has to inspire him. But these scenes are undercut by the fact that for weeks they've been telling us that Wally's actually faster than Barry, except when he's not. As in this episode.

Also this week Iris is endangered yet again and almost dies. Except we all know there's no way she's going to die yet, as Savitar's scheduled to kill her in the season finale. 
I hope this "Oh No! Iris is Going To Die Before She's Supposed To!" subplot isn't going to become a weekly occurrence from now until May. It's already old after just two weeks.

We also get several more "Patented The CW Believe In Yourself™" speeches this week. I wonder if the actors on the show are as sick of saying these as the audience is of watching them?

And once again, the Gang's insistence on keeping secrets from one another backfires dramatically (which of course was the whole point) as Iris finally decides to tell Joe about her potential death. Joe's anger over just now finding out rang very true. I was practically cheering when he ripped 'em all a new butthole for keeping him in the dark. 
When are these characters (and the writers) going to learn that it's never a good idea to keep a secret from someone "to protect them?"

Savitar's prophecy is brought up this week, after the writers seemingly forgot about it the past few weeks. For those who came in late, his prophecy says, "One shall betray you. One shall fall. One will suffer a fate far worse than death."

I'm betting Caitlin, aka Killer Frost, will end up being the one who betrays the Gang. Killer Frost resurfaced a few episode back, but was dealt with very quickly and easily, making me think it was all setup for a huge return at the end of the season.

It's also possible this could refer to Julian, who may end up betraying the Gang somehow. I guess it depends on whether Tom Felton signed a long term contract with the show or not.

As for the one who shall fall, obviously we're supposed to think that refers to Iris. That seems way too obvious though, and after Barry's talk about changing the future, I can't see that NOT happening. I'm starting to think that Joe's days may be numbered. There was a little bit of ominous foreshadowing in this episode, as he said he's do anything for his "baby girl." I get the feeling he's going to sacrifice himself to save Iris, and Savitar won't care which member of the West family he kills.

As for the one who will suffer a fate far worse than death, most fans— myself included— think this refers to Wally, as he's somehow going to transform into Savitar. As possible proof, this week Wally finally learns how to phase. He gleefully plays around with his newfound power as he shoves his hand through a wall. Gosh, that couldn't possibly have been foreshadowing, could it? I have a feeling it won't be long before he's shoving that same vibrating hand through his sister's chest.


The Plot:
Barry wants to increase Wally's speed so he can save Iris from Savitar in the future. To that end, they race through Central City. Wally pulls head, but Barry phases through a building, while Wally has to run up and over it. This split-second delay causes Wally to lose the race.

Later Barry, Joe and Julian investigate a dead body at Luigi's diner. They're puzzled as to why the body is extremely decomposed, even though it's only been dead for eight hours. Barry suspects a metahuman was involved. Julian takes the body to STAR Labs to examine it.

Back at STAR Labs, Iris tells Barry that this incident will likely close down Luigi's diner. She says one of the headlines he saw in the future read, "Luigi's Opens After Murder." She's afraid that her doomed future is coming all too true. Barry assures her he'll do whatever it takes to save her, and says she needs to finally inform Joe about what's going on. Because this is The Flash and the characters are all incapable of not keeping secrets from one another, she refuses, saying he doesn't know.

Julian and Caitlin examine the decomposed body and find it's turned completely to dust, something which no disease can do. I think they meant "no KNOWN disease could do this" here.

Meanwhile, a jazz musician named Julio Mendez (who should be familiar to fans of the 1990 Flash) exits a club. He's approached by a man who shakes his hand. Julio's arm immediately begins decomposing, spreading over his entire body. He collapses and dies.

Barry tries to train Wally how to phase through objects.This "training" consists of having Wally run full speed at a solid wall, over and over. Needless to say, it doesn't go well. Barry gets a CSI call and zooms to the scene of Julio Mendez's murder. Barry recognizes Mendez (well, his name at least, since his body's now unrecognizable) as the Captain of the CCPD in the Flashpoint timeline. Barry checks the I.D. of the Luigi's diner murder victim, and realizes he was a cop in Flashpoint as well. Barry says somehow there's a metahuman out there targeting Flashpoint cops, and tells Joe he needs to lay low, as he may be next on the list.

Julian and Caitlin then examine Mendez's decomposed body. They examine DNA on the body and match it to a Clive Yorkin. His DNA also contains traces of the husks that Alchemy used to transform people into metahumans. Julian, who was secretly Alchemy earlier in the season, gave Yorkin his powers and feels responsible for the murders.

Joe asks Barry, Wally and Iris to meet him at CC Jitters. He wants to introduce them to his girlfriend Cecile's daughter Joanie, who's been away at college. Joanie seems disinterested in meeting the rest of them and in Central City in general. According to her the only good thing about the city is Kid Flash, which makes Wally perk up. Just then, Clive Yorkin walks in and threatens to kill Joe. Joe fires at him, but the bullets disintegrate the instant they touch Yorkin's body. Wally zips away and returns as Kid Flash (much to Joanie's delight). He doesn't dare touch Yorkin, so he uses his superspeed to create a vortex that blows him out of the restaurant.

The Gang regroups at STAR Labs and Iris finally tells Joe about her future. Joe explodes at them for keeping yet another secret from him, basically saying everything the audience has been thinking for weeks. He storms out.

That night Iris is writing in her apartment, when Yorkin dissolves the door and storms in. He says he decided he could hurt Joe more by killing his daughter rather than him. Iris presses the panic button on her phone and Wally responds, zooming to the scene. He zips across the room to save Iris, but is too slow (!) and Yorkin brushes against her arm. Iris' arm immediately starts decomposing. Wally has no choice but to let Yorkin escape so he can save Iris.

At STAR Labs, the Gang tries to save Iris. Cisco comes up with the bright idea to freeze her arm to prevent the decomposition from spreading, and that Caitlin is the only one who can do it. She reluctantly takes off her power-dampening pendant, grabs Iris' arm and freezes it. Amazingly this slows the decomposition, and somehow doesn't give her irreparable frostbite.

Cisco then tells Barry that he and HR have figured out how to see who Yorkin will strike next. All he has to do is vibe to Flashpoint. Barry reminds him that the Flashpoint timeline no longer exists, as he erased it earlier this season. Cisco says this is true, but Flashpoint has to be happening in one of the infinite Earths in the multiverse, and he can vibe to that particular world. Comic book science! I defy even the writers to make sense of this scene!

Cisco grabs Barry's arm and sure enough, somehow vibes into Flashpoint. He sees CCPD Captain Julio Mendez talking to Joe. Suddenly an Officer Stone brings Yorkin into the station, parading him around and humiliating him before throwing him in a jail cell. After the vibing's over, Joe recognizes the name Stone, and says she's a private investigator in this timeline.

Joe finds Stone at a train station and warns her that she's in danger. Naturally she has no idea what the hell he's talking about. For some reason they both board a train so they can talk, as Yorkin looks on.

Back at STAR Labs, Iris begins convulsing. Caitlin ups her powers to freeze her arm even colder (which somehow still doesn't permanently damage her). She begins changing into her evil persona Killer Frost. Julian springs into action and talks her back to Caitlin. The Gang also somehow comes to the conclusion that if a speedster's blood is injected into Yorkin's body, it would neutralize his power. More comic book science!

Yorkin somehow gets several miles ahead of Joe & Stone's train. He disintegrates the support beams of a bridge, causing rubble to tumble onto the tracks. Joe presses the panic button on his phone (man, that panic button's gettin' a workout in this episode) and Barry and Wally show up. Barry says there's not enough time to get everyone off the speeding train (even though he's done something similar before). He says the only way to save everyone is for him to phase the entire train so it'll pass through the rubble. Yep, you read that right. He hops onto the train, places his hands on the floor of the car and begins vibrating. Amazingly, the entire train passes harmlessly through the rubble.

Yorkin then approaches Wally, intent on disintegrating him. Barry tells Wally he needs to get some of his speedster blood into Yorkin, and the only way to do that is to phase. Problem is, Wally hasn't mastered that trick. Barry gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk.™ Wally slices open his hand, runs full on toward Yorkin, and amazingly passes right through him. For some reason, this transfers some of his blood into Yorkin, even though that's not how phasing is supposed to work. Yorkin grabs Wally's arm, but nothing happens. His powers are gone!

Back at STAR Labs, it's time for the weekly Thirty Second Wrapup.™ Iris wakes up, and Julian says once they had a sample of Yorkin's stabilized blood, they were able to create an antidote. Still more comic book science! Joe tells them if they want to beat Savitar, there can be no more secrets. Julian says he's going out to hunt for the last hush metahuman he created. Caitlin asks him out for a drink, and he changes his mind and accepts. Awww... now that Caitlin/Killer Frost tried to kill Julian, he's sweet on her.

Wally practices his phasing in STAR Labs. Suddenly a breach opens and Jesse Quick from Earth-2 leaps out. She says she needs his help, because Grodd has kidnapped her dad Harry and taken him to Gorilla CIty!

• In the "Previously on The Flash" montage, HR tells Wally, "
I'm saying that at this point in his training, you're faster than Barry!" In fact pretty much every character on the show has said the same thing at some point during the season.

Then in this episode, Wally's suddenly slower than Barry. He even loses their big race!

Did the writers forget about all the "faster than Barry" comments? Or is Wally simply slower this week because the script needs him to be, so Barry can train him?

• Since the second half of the season started up, everyone's been wringing their hands over Iris' possible death in May, as they try to figure out a way to alter the future and save her.

I've got the perfect solution for them— tell Iris to leave Central City and lay low somewhere until after May!

Barry got a glimpse of the future and saw Savitar stab Iris in Central City's main square, right? So just remove her from the location. Boom! Savitar can't kill her if she ain't there. Future changed, problem solved!

• Julio Mendez returns! Well, for a few seconds at least. He was a police chief in the Flashpoint timeline, but for some reason in this new one he's a jazz musician. Eh, cop, musician— same thing.

Julio was Barry Allen's best friend and fellow police scientist on the 1990 The Flash series. Oddly enough, Julio never learned the Flash's true identity, because the Barry on that show didn't blurt it out to everyone he saw like the current version does.

• Joe asks his kids to meet his girlfriend Cecile's daughter Joanie, who's home from college at Coast U. 
Wally asks Joanie what she misses most about Central City, and she says "Kid Flash." 

Huh? At this point, Kid Flash has only been in the public eye for a couple of weeks. That doesn't seem like enough time for Joanie to become infatuated with him, move away and then start missing him.

• Clive Yorkin, the metahuman of the week, can disintegrate objects just by touching them. Apparently he can turn his power off and on, because at one point we see him in CC Jitters, holding a coffee cup. Oddly enough, the cup doesn't decay and spill coffee all over his lap.

By the way, apparently Yorkin was such an unmemorable villain that Cisco didn't even bother coming up with a code name for him!

• Yorkin's motivation in this episode seems pretty sketchy at best. Try to follow it with me...

Barry deliberately goes back in time and inadvertently creates the Flashpoint timeline. I think Yorkin is a metahuman in Flashpoint, with the ability to disintegrate objects with his touch. He's captured by the police, and for some reason they parade him around the station, which humiliates him.

Barry then erases Flashpoint and restores the original timeline (sort of). Yorkin no longer has his powers in this timeline (as near as I can tell). Alchemy, aka Julian, then seeks out Yorkin and restores the powers he had in Flashpoint (I think).

Yorkin then somehow remembers his life in Flashpoint (I think) and vows revenge on the cops who humiliated him there, even though that timeline no longer exists and his public disgrace technically never happened.

Jesus, what a tortured and convoluted plotline!

• This week's Fun Earth-19 facts: Gambling is referred to as "a game of speculation." Financial wagering was banned there "after an unfortunate incident with Vice President Al Capone." And Lincoln is on the $100 bill instead of Franklin.

• I just realized this week that Caitlin's glowing pendant, which suppresses her ice powers, is shaped like a snowflake. Cute. Cisco made it for her (with some inexplicable help from Julian, who's a CSI, not an engineer), so I assume that was his idea.

• When trying to figure out a way to save Iris, CIsco says, "Okay, what do you do when a banana ripens too quickly? Put it in the freezer!"

Really? I dunno how things work in the Arrowverse, but here on my world putting a banana in the freezer turns it jet black and makes the insides all soft and creamy. Is that gonna happen to Iris' arm too?

• After Yorkin touches Iris' hand, the decay begins spreading up her arm. Note the t-shirt she's wearing. It looks like some kind of Rorschach test, but it also perfectly echoes the pattern of the decay on her arm. Was that intentional? If so, that's actually pretty cool. Well done, Costume Department!

By the way, I'm proud of myself that I correctly wrote "Rorschach" just now, with no help from spellcheck!

• Is there anything Cisco's vibing powers can't do? In previous episodes he's used it to send his mind into the past, so he can have a look around at historical events. Then a couple weeks ago he sent his (and Barry's) minds into the future for a peek.

In this episode he somehow able to vibe into one of the millions of parallel Earths in the multiverse, in which the events of Flashpoint are happening!

The constant ramping-up of his powers reminds me of Wolverine over at Marvel Comics. When Wolverine was first introduced, he had a healing factor that was fairly believable, as it allowed him to recover from an injury in a day instead of a week. 

Over time Wolverine's healing factor became more and more powerful, ballooning to ridiculous levels. He recovered after the Hulk ripped his body in half (!), and was able to somehow regenerate his body after it was completely vaporized (!!).

Cisco's vibing power seems to be undergoing a similar sort of bloat.
• Does Clive Yorkin have superspeed as well? He watches Joe and Stone get on a train so they can talk. Several minutes later, he's somehow several miles ahead of the train, and uses his power to collapse a bridge onto the tracks. 

How the hell did he manage to get so far ahead of the train?

• The commuter train speeds toward the pile of rubble, unable to stop in time. Barry says there's no way to get everyone out in time, and the only way to save them is to phase the entire train, so it'll pass harmlessly through the rubble (!). It's a Herculean task, but amazingly he manages to do it. A couple things here.

First of all, Barry claims there's just not enough time to get all the passengers off the train before it crashes into the rubble. I guess he forgot he did something very similar way back in the Season 1 episode Going Rogue. Back then he actually rescued people from a train as it was tumbling through the air! And he did that by himself. This time he's got Wally with him to help, so... I don't get why he couldn't try this again.

Secondly, I guess in all the excitement it didn't occur to Barry to phase the pile of rubble (which was relatively small) so the train passes through it, instead of the other way around. Oh well.

• The STAR Labs Gang somehow figures out that speedster blood will neutralize Yorkin's powers. Barry, who's worn out after the train ordeal, tells Wally he'll have to phase some of his blood into Yorkin's body.

Wally steels himself, cuts his hand to make it bleed, then phases through Yorkin's body. Hmmm.... that doesn't make any sense.

The whole idea of phasing is to pass harmlessly through something without affecting it. 
How would Wally transfer his blood to Yorking by phasing? Their molecules shouldn't have interacted at all. 

I suppose we could say that once a drop of blood drips off of Wally's hand, it would stop phasing and enter Yorkin's body that way.

Man, Wally's blood sure works fast (heh). He phases through Yorkin and less than five seconds later his power is completely neutralized!

• When Wally finds out he'll have to phase to defeat Yorkin, he doesn't think he can do it. Barry tells him, "I know you can do it. I need you to believe it, too. Run, Wally. Run."

This is a nice little callback to Season 1, and the many times that Harrison Wells said much the same thing to Barry. It first happened in the Pilot episode, when Wells said, "You can do this, Barry. You were right. I am responsible for all of this. So many people were hurt and when I looked at you all I saw was another potential victim of my hubris, but you, Barry, you can stop it. You can do this. Now RUN BARRY, RUN!"

• It would appear that Caitlin and Julian are now becoming an item. That means one of two things will happen: She'll turn into Killer Frost and attack him again, or her late husband Ronnie Raymond will return due to time travel shenanigans and ruin everything.

• After everything's wrapped up, Julian says he has no time to celebrate as says he's going out to find the last of the husk metahumans he created when he was secretly Alchemy. Then Caitlin bats her eyes and asks him out for a drink, and he immediately accepts. I guess hunting down the last metahuman he created isn't that important to him after all.

In a similar vein, Barry assures Iris he won't stop until he figures out a way to save her. Note that two weeks from now he and the Gang will be traveling to Earth-2 to rescue Harry from the clutches of Grodd in a special two part episode. Eh, there's plenty of time to save your girlfriend, Barry! Might as well take a side trip to another Earth for a few weeks!

• This week's best lines:

Caitlin: "Julian, you can't change what happened to you. It's not your fault."
Julian: "You keep saying that. But it is my fault. People are responsible for their own actions. To say otherwise is just a way to make yourself feel better."
Caitlin: "Is that what you think I'm doing? Making excuses for things I've done in the past You know I'm really starting to regret bringing you in here."

Caitlin: (to Julian) "You know, I used to think Barry was overreacting when he complained about sharing a lab with you. But now I understand his frustration."
Julian: "Believe me, no one is more frustrated than I."
Caitlin: "You do realize it's possible not to be a jerk all the time, right?"

Joe: "Barry, I'm a cop. If I canceled my plans every time I'm in danger, I'd never leave the house."

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