Friday, October 27, 2017

The Flash Season 4, Episode 3: Luck Be A Lady

So far the producers of The Flash are living up to their promise to make the series fun again. Luck Be A Lady ramped up the comedy to eleven, possibly making it the funniest episode of the entire series. That's a good thing, by the way!

This week's storyline was also much more coherent and focused than last week's murky, muddled plot. It also didn't hurt that this episode's villain Hazard was much more fleshed out than last week's awful Kilg%re. Hazard was sympathetic and even likable, despite her villain status.

Luck Be A Lady also features several major cast changes as well. So far it's been traditional to feature a new version of Harrison Wells in each season. First we had the actual Harrison Wells, then in Season 2 we had Harry (who was from Earth-2) and last year we got HR, who hailed from Earth-19. Apparently there's not going to be a new Wells this year, as Harry's returned to the show. He's probably the best of the Wellses so far, so that's probably for the best.

The other big change this week (SPOILERS!) is the not-so-surprising departure of Wally West. As I've been saying for the past few weeks, Wally no longer has any actual function on the show, as the writers seemingly have no idea what to do with him anymore. Looks like they finally realized that as well, as he leaves the series at the end of this episode.

It seems like the writers realized STAR Labs was getting a bit too crowded, and decided to do some pruning this season. First Julian was summarily banished between seasons, and now Wally's getting the boot. 

Although I liked both characters, it's probably a good idea to whittle down the cast a bit, so we don't get more characters standing around in the background like extras.

This week Team Flash discovers Barry accidentally created twelve new metahumans to menace Central City. I have a feeling we'll be meeting one per week until the mid season finale, when the Flash will face off against The Thinker, making room for a new story arc in the second half.

There's one other big revelation this week, involving Joe and Cecile, who announces she's pregnant. Hopefully this doesn't immediately mark her for death. In past years I could easily see that happening, but surely the writers wouldn't do something like that in this lighter, more fun season.

I do have to wonder though... if the producers thought there were too many Wests on the show, why are they bringing in another?


The Plot:
In his lair, The Thinker observes a Central City resident named Becky Sharpe, a mousy, unassertive and disheveled young woman who may be the unluckiest person on the planet. On this particular day she comes home to find her boyfriend cheating on her, groped by a gambler at her casino job, and ultimately fired for spilling a drink on a customer. Her luck changes though when she boards a bus filled with eleven other passengers, including Ramsey Deacon (see last week's episode). As the bus pulls away, an explosion bathes the passengers in a bright light.

Cut to STAR Labs, where Wally's anxiously waiting in the Breach Room for a visit from Jesse Quick. A portal opens, and Harry, (the Harrison Wells of Earth-2) steps through. He tells Wally that Jesse's breaking up with him (and apparently couldn't bother to tell him in person). Wally's crushed.

Meanwhile we see Becky, who now looks like a beautiful, confident young woman, saunter into a bank and simply take a million bucks from the vault. Apparently the bus explosion somehow changed her luck for the better. The more good luck she has, the worse things go for everyone around her, as Central City experiences disaster after disaster. Barry rushes to the scene to stop Rebecca, but slips on thousands of marbles that accidentally spill into the street (!).

At STAR, Team Flash realizes that Becky is a metahuman  who somehow generates a luck field. They're puzzled as to where she got her powers though, since she wasn't in town during the particle accelerator explosion that created all the city's other metas.

At Joe's house, Cecile calls a plumber to check the house's noisy pipes. Joe's shocked when he finds out it'll cost $15,000 to replace them. Cecile suggests selling the place and buying a new one, but Joe's reluctant to leave his family home. Meanwhile Barry and Iris' wedding plans are scuttled when they can't seem to find a venue. All this bad luck leads Cisco to believe that Team Flash has been cursed by Becky.

Cisco, Harry and Barry examine CCTV footage and discover that Becky got her powers from the bus explosion. Barry realizes it's all his fault. Back in The Flash Reborn, he exited the Speed Force right next to the bus, which caused an explosion that exposed the passengers to dark matter and gave them all powers.

The pipes burst in Joe's house, and he tells Barry that Cecile wants him to sell. Barry says it's no big deal, as Joe will still have his memories of raising his family no matter where he lives. Good Ol' Sentimental Barry!

Cisco tracks Becky to Jitters, and Barry rushes there to try and talk her out of using her good luck powers. Note that he doesn't try to arrest her, so... I guess that means he's OK with all the money she stole from the bank? Becky says she's not gonna stop, as she's had bad luck her entire life, and the universe owes her. Barry lets her leave, since getting too close to her will cause him to have bad luck (which he's already having, so... I don't see the problem).

Iris calls Barry and says to meet her in a church. When he gets there, she tells him she wants to get married NOW. As in this instant. She says bad luck has canceled their wedding plans dozens of times now, and she's afraid if they don't get married immediately, they never will.

Barry agrees, and they approach the altar. The priest begins the ceremony, but suddenly starts choking, as he's allergic to cinnamon incense and has to be carried away. Cue sad trombone.

At STAR Labs, Cisco and Harry are arguing just like in the old days. Cisco asks why he came back to Earth-1 if he's just going to fight. Harry admits that he helped his daughter Jessie form her own Team Flash on Earth-2 (even though the last time we saw her she was moving to Earth-3 to help out there). Jesse then summarily kicked him off the team he founded, proving she's really quite the piece of work.

Suddenly alarms start blaring, as Becky's luck field inexplicably begins spreading throughout the city. 
Cisco gives Rebecca the code name "Hazard." She returns to the casino where she worked, this time as a customer. Every time she wins, Central City residents lose. Suddenly the STAR Labs particle accelerator comes back online and threatens to explode (which seems impossible, since it already did so four years ago, but let's just roll with it or we'll be here all day). 

Cisco and Harry try to shut down the accelerator while Barry rushes to the casino to stop Hazard. Unfortunately her powers cause him to slip on a pile of loose quarters, and he falls and handcuffs himself. Wah-wahhhhhh.

With seconds to go, Harry gets the brilliant idea to just let the accelerator explode. For some insane reason, Cisco agrees. The accelerator overloads and sends out a blast of blue energy that reverses Hazard's powers (but apparently no one else's). Barry's then able to free himself and haul her away. When Cisco asks Harry how he knew the accelerator wouldn't destroy them all, he replies, "Lucky guess." Oy.

Hazard's taken to Iron Heights prison. Cisco tells Harry he doesn't have to return to Earth-2, as he'll always have a home here. Awwww. Harry shows the gang an infrared image of the bus that was exposed to dark matter, and they see there were twelve people aboard. They realize there are still ten metas out there.

Harry theorizes that someone wanted Barry to exit the Speed Force at that exact place and time to create an army of metas. But who? In the background we see the Samuroid head from The Flash Reborn lying on a table. We then see The Thinker is using the helmet to spy on Team Flash.

Wally enters and says he has no purpose on the show anymore, er, I mean no place on the team anymore, and is going off to find himself in Blue Valley, wherever the hell that is.

Joe comes home to see Cecile fixing up his house. He says he's decided to sell, but she says she's changed her mind (of course) and wants him to keep it. She then tells Joe she's pregnant, leaving him completely and motionlessly stunned.


• When the Thinker's listing Becky Sharpe's run of bad luck, he mentions that she writes "I am jinxed" on her MySpace page. I think that was supposed to be a joke. MySpace fell far out of favor over ten years ago, so only a loser would still be using it.

• During Becky's run of bad luck, she walks up to her car and sees it's been booted. She shrieks and says, "Great! There goes another car!"

Um... does that mean whenever the city boots her car, she just abandons it and buys another one?

The Flash often follows what I call "The Inverse Superhero Costume Accuracy Rule." This means that whenever a major character like Mirror Master appears on the show, he'll be dressed in a normal men's suit instead of anything resembling his costume from the comics.

On the other hand, when an extremely minor character appears— like Hazard, for instance— she'll look EXACTLY like she does in the comic, as if she just stepped off the printed page. Frustrating!

• Believe it or not, Hazard's actually a villain from DC Comics. She first appeared back in 1987, in Infinity Inc. #34. She's the granddaughter of The Gambler, a Golden Age villain who often faced off against Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern.

In the comics, Hazard used a pair of special dice that she'd roll to influence probability, and cause a person to have good or bad luck.

By the way, Infinity Inc. #34 was drawn by Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn and one of the co-founders of Image Comics.

• I love Becky's awkward I.D. photo, that looks like it was taken before she was ready!

• After a rousing game of Laser Tag, Joe buys lunch for Team Flash. We see Barry order three burgers, five churros and six funnel cakes (!).

It's been a while since the show reminded us that due to his speedster powers and increased metabolism, Barry needs to eat a huge amount of food every day.

• Jesse Quick makes a very brief cameo in this episode, to give Wally the brush-off in her Breakup Cube message.

I dunno why they didn't just have her appear for real in the episode— maybe actress Violett Beane just wasn't available (although a quick check of IMDB shows she's currently not doing much). 

Whatever the reason, her absence this week didn't do the character any favors. Between breaking up with Wally long distance and throwing her dad off the team he helped create, Jesse really comes off as an enormous asshole in this episode. 

• Harry tells Cisco that his daughter Jesse kicked him off the team he helped her form on Earth-2. Wha...? The last time we saw Jesse was in the Season 3's Into The Speed Force. In that episode, Jesse announced she was moving to Earth-3, to protect it while its resident speedster Jay Garrick was off occupying the Speed Force.

I guess once Barry entered the Speed Force in the Season 3 finale, Jay was free to return to Earth-3 and Jesse must have moved back home to Earth-2. All while we weren't looking!

• Once again, Team Flash implies that every metahuman that appears in Central City had to be created by the particle accelerator explosion. I don't have time to go through every episode for proof, but I'm sure that's not true. What about all the metas Zoom sent from Earth-2 to challenge Barry? What about Grodd? And King Shark?

• This week we find out that when Barry exited the Speed Force, he accidentally exposed the passengers on a city bus to dark matter, creating twelve new metahumans.

You know, it really is very nice of these metas to politely take turns and show up one per week, instead of attacking the city all at once.

• Last week I said I didn't understand how Kilg%re's powers worked or how he got them. I still don't understand how they work, but at least this episode explains how he came by them— exposure to dark matter. Better late than never, I guess.

• Iris gets a STAR Labs alert and says there are two 211s (aka robbery) at both the First National and O'Sullivan Bank.

The Flash loves to use comic book writer and artist names in its Central City landmarks. I can't seem to find any DC personnel named "O'Sullivan" though. I guess sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

• When Becky enters the bank, her powers cause everyone around she passes to experience bad luck. First her Uber cab glitches, so the driver can't charge her for the ride. Next a bank guard chokes for no good reason, knocking a repairman off his ladder and causing him to grab hold of a security camera. Then a customer knocks his coffee over, which shorts out the teller's computer. Lastly a woman on her phone runs by, yelling at her presumably senile mother not to touch the oven (meaning Becky's power must be able to reach through phone lines!).

This all happens in one long tracking shot, and reminds me a lot of the opening "slapstick" scene of Superman III (aka The One With Richard Pryor).

• By the way, Becky sashays into the bank vault to the tune of Luck Be A Lady, sung by Frank Sinatra. Although the song was written by Frank Loesser, the version heard here was conducted by bandleader Nelson Riddle, who frequently worked with Sinatra.

So what's all this got to do with anything, you ask? Welp, Riddle also composed most of the music for the 1966 Batman TV show! Neal Hefti wrote the opening theme, but Riddle did all the rest.

The Flash is famous for its ridiculous comic book science, which often outdoes the most outlandish technobabble on any of the modern Star Trek series.

In this episode though, Harry explains Becky's luck powers in a way that comes dangerously close to making sense! Check out the following conversation: 

Harry: "Okay, Ramon, what you call juju, I call quantum entanglement. Discrete quantum particles are connected, and when triggered, they simulate a synchronicity that, to the untrained eye— to the common eye— could seem like luck."
Barry: "So if Becky can affect the particles around her in a positive way, then their connected particles start spinning negatively."
Caitlin: "So when good things happen to her, bad things happen all around her."
Cisco: "Great, she's got a good luck field."

Quantum entanglement is a real scientific phenomenon, and connected particles really can affect one another over great distances! This is actually a pretty clever way to attempt to scientifically explain something as esoteric as "luck." Well done, writers!

• This week we learn that Iris' middle name is Ann. Good to know.

• Cecile calls Joe in a panic because the ceiling pipes in his rapidly decaying house are leaking. Barry shuts off the water at superspeed to prevent further damage. Later during Hazard's Bad Luck Spree, the ceiling starts leaking even more. How's that happening if the water was shut off? Did Joe or Cecile turn it back on in between scenes?

• Cecile calls a plumber, who says it'll cost $15,000 to replace the pipes in Joe's house. Joe moans and says, "My great uncle paid less for this whole place. I guess I'm gonna have to open the piggy bank."

Wow. Joe must have a sizable piggy bank indeed, if he can draw $15 grand and not clean it out! How much do CCPD detectives make per year?

• At the beginning of the episode, Hazard's fired from her dealer job at the casino. Later after she acquires her good luck powers, she enters the casino as a customer and wins millions.

Eh, I don't think so. It's highly unlikely any casino would ever let a former employee in to gamble.

• Late in the episode, Becky's powers increase exponentially, which sets off an alarm in STAR Labs. Caitlin says, "Guys, there are low probability events happening all over the city! Becky's quantum field is expanding!"

In other words, STAR Labs has sensors that can detect bad luck. Got it!
• Becky's bad luck field causes the STAR Labs particle accelerator to power up and threaten to explode. Um... just how's that possible? Didn't it already explode four years ago, in the very first episode? How can it explode again? Did Cisco rebuild it? And if so, why?

• Becky's powers cause a goose to be sucked into the engine of a plane flying over Central City, causing the pilot to attempt a water landing.

The plane's pilot looks a LOT like Captain "Sully" Sullenberger. He's the pilot who landed US Airlines Flight 1549 in the middle of the Hudson River back in 2009. There's no way you can convince me that the resemblance wasn't intentional.

• When Harry and Cisco let the particle accelerator go ahead and explode, it expels a massive wave of blue energy that shorts out Hazard's powers. 

First of all, I don't see why the wave would interfere with Hazard's powers, since she didn't get them from the original accelerator explosion. Secondly, it's lucky (heh) for Barry that this second wave didn't shut down HIS powers as well! Especially since he got his speed from the initial explosion!

• Once the crisis has passed, Wally announces he's leaving the show, and is going to stay with a friend in Blue Valley. A couple things here:

First of all, it's odd that he doesn't go to Earth-2 to be with Jesse, since she's the source of all his angst and soul-searching.

Secondly, in the comics Wally West grew up in Blue Valley, so I assume this is a nod to that big of trivia.

There's a rumor that Wally may be leaving to show up on the upcoming Titans TV series. In the comics, Kid Flash was an integral part of the Teen Titans from the beginning, so it would make sense for him to show up on the team.

I have a feeling Wally's not gone for good. Hopefully when he eventually comes back, the writers will figure out something to do with him.

• At the end of the episode, we see The Thinker's monitoring Team Flash through the Samuroid helmet they picked up in the season premiere. What a lucky break for The Thinker that Cisco just casually plopped it on top of a backup drive in the STAR Labs Cortex, perfectly placed so its eye cameras could capture the gang's every movement. I guess The Thinker really thought that through!

 The funniest part of the episode— heck, of the entire series— was when Cecile told Joe she's pregnant, and he simply froze in place for several seconds before they smash cut to black. The actual video looked pretty much identical to the still image above!

• This Week's Best Lines:
Barry: (as he's hit while playing Laser Tag) "They got me!"
Cisco: "Oh, you have failed this city."
(this is of course the catchphrase Oliver Queen growls to villains and corrupt businessmen over on Arrow)

Cisco: (to the kid who shot Barry at Laser Tag) "You better watch yourself, Chad. Come at me at the paintball field next time. I'll kick your little... (sees Chad's mom) Hey! Mrs.
McConnell. How you doing? Chad's a treasure. He really is."

Wally: "What is what is this thing?"
Harry: "Break... Breakup cube. You don't have breakup cubes on your Earth? Oh, that's not good. Okay. Okay. A breakup cube is, uh... kind of what it sounds like. You know, you record a message for the person you want to... the person, and you, uh, pick a music setting, and then there's a tissue that pops out if you need that. You know, a breakup cube."

Iris: (as Barry enters the room while she's trying on her wedding dress) "Barry! Oh, my God.
Turn around!"
Barry: "I did!"
Iris: "Did you see?"
Barry: "No, I didn't see."
Iris: "You saw!"
Barry: "I did see. But just for a second."
Iris: "Which is like an eternity for a speedster!"

Barry: (trying to avoid a funeral procession as he and Iris rush to be married) "Sorry, sorry."
Iris: "Sorry, excuse me. Beautiful service."
Barry: "So sorry."
Iris: "I love this coffin. Is that cedar?"
(once again, these two have terrific comedic timing, so it's nice to see them get to use it for a change!)

Harry: "But then, Jesse goes and kicks me off the team, all right? Apparently I'm too much like me, whatever that means. I push too hard. You know, too many tests. Too many training sessions. You know, I don't allow the team enough time for their personal bonding. I don't understand millennials."
(apparently millennials are a thing even over on Earth-2!)

Harry: "This is not my world."
Cisco: "Oh, and Earth-2 is? Did you make a bunch of friends there that I don't know about? What, are they all tall, brooding dudes with bad haircuts?"
Harry: "I have I have colleagues. Work colleagues. And, uh... some of them I don't dislike."

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