Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Flash Season 4, Episode 13: True Colors

This week The Flash goes full Suicide Squad, as Barry's forced to work with the very metas he captured, in order to escape from prison before they're all sold into slavery. 

Seeing Barry forced to work alongside his former enemies could have been a fun and interesting plotline. Unfortunately it was marred by the complete and utter lack of characterization on the part of the supervillains. They're all ridiculously shallow, and with the possible exception of Hazard, have little or no characterization at all.

Heck, they can't even stop bickering and cooperate slightly with one another, even when doing so means freedom!

The Thinker's Big Plan finally became clearer this week, as we find out he caused the bus metas to be created so he could absorb their powers. This is a pretty clever idea— one that could potentially make him the most powerful and dangerous foe Barry's ever faced.

As I predicted a few weeks back, it looks like The Mechanic may be Team Flash's best hope, as it's starting to realize her husband is just plain nuts. Look for her to betray him in an upcoming episode.

Also this week, Ralph learns yet ANOTHER valuable lesson in what it means to be a hero. Jesus Christ, how many times are they gonna repeat this exact same B-plot? How many times does he have to be shown how to be super? Is Ralph really that dense? 

Speaking of Ralph, the end of this episode may have placed his future in doubt. As I said earlier, The Thinker's Plan involves absorbing the powers (and minds) of the bus metas— a very exclusive club that Ralph belongs to. Will he get absorbed as well? He is still listed as a "guest star" in the credits and not a regular, so... maybe!

Killer Frost's decent into inanity continues this week, and just makes me angry. Her character has so much potential, but each week they fritter it away piece by piece.

Lastly, Team Flash finally figures out a way to outsmart The Thinker this week, as they use Ralph's conveniently newfound (and extremely silly) power to free Barry from prison. It's good to see Barry free again, but this subplot was so silly— even for a comic book show— that it's likely to cause any lawyers in the audience to spontaneously combust.


The Plot:
Deep inside Iron Heights Prison, we see Warden Wolfe's Super Secret Metahuman Wing— a special jail-within-a-jail complete with power-dampening technology, and no cameras. Wolfe brings 
Amunet Black to the wing, where he presents his special inmates— Hazard (aka Becky Sharp), Kilg%re (aka Ramsey Deacon), Black Bison (aka Mina Chayton) and Dwarfstar (aka Sylbert Rundine). For some reason he introduces his crown jewel Barry Allen only as "a speedster." Amunet's so impressed with the metas she decides to buy them all.

Ralph visits his private detective office, and is surprised to find his seedy pal Earl Cox waiting inside. Earl offers him a shady job, but Ralph declines, saying he has new friends and a respectable profession now. Earl says Ralph inevitably lets people down, and when he does his new friends will drop him like a hot potato. For no good reason other than to give Ralph something to do, this little dig really gets under his pliable skin.

Iris and Cecile go to Iron Heights to visit Barry. They're met by Warden Wolfe, who tells them they can't see Barry as he was involved in an "altercation," and is being held in solitary. He assures them this is only temporary, and they'll be able to see him next week. Cecile uses her pregnancy-induced ESP powers (!) to read Wolfe's mind, and discovers the truth— that he's trafficking metas.

At STAR Labs, Cecile tells Team Flash about Wolfe's plan. As the Gang tries to figure out what to do, Ralph walks in, grumbling about Earl. As he does so, his body begins changing and he slowly morphs into a perfect replica of Earl (!). Iris realizes they can use Ralph's conveniently new-found power to rescue Barry.

Meanwhile, DeVoe (still in Dominic Lanse's body) and Marlize monitor the metahuman prison (despite the fact that Wolfe bragged the cells were camera-free). Marlize still isn't completely over the fact that her husband is in a new body— one that can read her mind. She continually thinks of a song (Goin' Out Of My Head) to try and hide her thoughts from him. This makes DeVoe suspicious, as he realizes Marlize doesn't quite trust him. He tells her that soon he'll "erase every doubt from her head," which sounds pretty ominous.

Inside the meta prison, Barry uses a food-soaked napkin to clog his toilet. When a maintenance worker comes in to fix it, Barry stealthily steals a couple of batteries from his toolbox.

At STAR, Cisco and Caitlin work with Ralph to help him impersonate Wolfe. Ralph's eventually able to mimic him, but has trouble moving or walking while in an unfamiliar form.

Barry uses the batteries to create an acid that eats through the lock on his cell door. He frees the other metas, and they escape through a conveniently large sewer drain in the middle of the floor. They then move through the tunnels below the prison, looking for a way out.

Ralph, in Warden Wolfe's form, enters a dive bar and meets with Norvok, Amunet's right-hand man. Ralph says he wants to meet with Amunet before the sale, but Norvok says nothing doing. Joe gets on the comm system and tells Ralph he needs to get tough. Ralph steps up and threatens Norvok, who instantly backs down. He says he'll arrange an early meeting.

In the tunnels, the meta prisoners run into a maintenance worker. Kilg%re, Black Bison and Dwarfstar all want to kill him, but Barry & Hazard both say it's not necessary. Barry knocks out the worker and they continue on their way. Meanwhile, the real Warden Wolfe stands in the now empty meta jail, seething that his valuable prisoners have escaped. He orders his men to find them, pronto.

Meanwhile, Ralph (as Wolfe) meets with Amunet and tells her the meta sale is off, as the cops are aware of it and are planning a raid. Amunet is suspicious, and says there's something... wrong about Wolfe/Ralph. Just then Ralph loses control, reverts to his true form and dashes out of the meeting. 

Ralph returns to STAR Labs and tells the Gang he failed. They then decide to raid the prison themselves and rescue Barry the hard way. A depressed and dejected Ralph says to go without him, as he fears he'll screw up the mission. He slinks back to his office.

The meta prisoners exit the tunnel and enter the ruins of the original and abandoned Iron Heights. Unfortunately there's a locked door in their way, preventing them from escaping the power-dampening field. Kilg%re says he doesn't need powers to hack a door, and begins tinkering with its electronics. As he does, Barry asks Hazard what she plans to do when she escapes. She says she's done using her powers, and never wants to hurt anyone again (Foreshadowing Alert!). Barry tells her he didn't kill DeVoe.

Caitlin shows up at Ralph's office to talk. Again, he whines that he's a big screw-up and always lets people down. Amazingly, Caitlin willingly transforms herself into Killer Frost, who honest-to-god gives Ralph a goddamned pep talk. He realizes she's right, and says he has an idea how to help save Barry.

Kilg%re opens the door and the metas enter the old prison, instantly regaining their powers. Just then, the REAL Warden Wolfe appears, surrounded by a squad of guards with hi-tech gear. The metas gear up for a fight, but Wolfe suddenly informs them that Barry is actually the Flash— the hero who put them all in prison. Uh-oh!

The metas then turn against Barry, except for Hazard. She takes his side and uses her luck powers to knock them all out. Wolfe tells his guards to capture Barry & Hazard. Just then Amunet shows up and angrily confronts Wolfe. Just as she's about to kill him, The Thinker appears in his flying Barcalounger. Amunet exercises the better part of valor and slithers away.

DeVoe then deploys a series of tentacles from his chair. They clamp onto the heads of all the metas (except for Barry and extract their minds and powers, leaving them empty husks. While he's at it he absorbs Wolfe'a life force as well. For some reason, DeVoe then takes over Hazard, as Dom's body slumps over in the chair. She bids Barry farewell, and she and Dom teleport away.

Cisco and Killer Frost vibe onto the scene, and try to rescue Barry. He still insists on staying in prison and being released the "right" way. He then zooms over to his cell and phases through the wall, acting like nothing happened.

Cecile then appears in court to file Barry's appeal (I guess he didn't need to be there?). The Judge orders her to present her evidence, but she sheepishly replies that it "isn't here" yet. The Judge, angry that she wasted his time, denies the appeal. 
Just as he's about to bang his gavel and make it official, the courtroom doors fly open and a very much alive Clifford DeVoe enters in his wheelchair!

The Judge sputters and fumes, asking what's all this then? DeVoe— who's actually a shapeshifted Ralph— says he doesn't quite know what happened. All he remembers is hearing a voice discussing they were framing someone, and then he blacked out. When he woke up, he was back in his own home. None of this makes any since, but since DeVoe's apparently still alive and the writers don't know how the law works, the Judge dismisses the case and orders Barry released from prison.

Cut to the West house, where Team Flash celebrates Barry's parole. Barry notes that DeVoe could have stolen powers from ANY meta in the city, but specifically chose the ones who were created on the bus. They realize they all know a bus meta, just as Ralph walks in. He wonders why they're all looking at him like he's dead.

In The Thinker's lair, DeVoe— still in Hazard's body, for no good reason— chats with Marlize. She's furious that DeVoe went against their plan and stole the metas powers before they were all collected. Now he only has four new powers instead of twelve. DeVoe tells her not to worry, and says he has everything under control. 

While Marlize's back is turned, DeVoe takes a vial of Weeper's glowing blue tears (last seen in Girl's Night Out) and puts a few drops in her drink. She takes a swig and all her concerns melt away, as the mood altering tears take effect.


• The episode seems to be confused as to whether or not  the bus metas are aware of Barry's secret identity.

When Wolfe presents the meta prisoners to Amunet, he introduces them all by name except for Barry. He just says he's "a speedster." Why awkwardly skip his name? Was Wolfe trying to hide Barry's identity from the other prisoners? If so, there was no point. They all have to know Barry has powers, else he wouldn't be in this special meta wing. And Dwarfstar somehow knew Barry's name, his former profession and even why he's in prison! 

When Wolfe says Barry's a speedster, how is it none of them put two & two together and figured out he's the Flash? Did they just assume he's a completely different speedster? Or are they all just really, really stupid?

It's not until the third act, when Wolfe reveals that Barry's secretly the Flash, that the metas finally realize the truth.

• Why the holy hell doesn't Wolfe's secret meta prison have any cameras in it? He even boasts about this fact to Amunet, as if it's a plus. There's no in-universe explanation for this as far was I can tell. The only reason there are no cameras in the cells is so the plot could happen, and Barry and the other metas could escape unhindered.

Also, if there really are no cameras in this wing, how are DeVoe and Marlize monitoring Barry & the others? Did they somehow install their own secret— and invisible— cameras in the room?

By the way, I don't care what anyone says—that is one stylish metahuman prison! Look at that thing! It's like they built it from leftover Waverider pieces from Legends Of Tomorrow!

• Let's take a look at Warden Wolfe's plan, shall we? He took all the meta prisoners out of the general population and placed them in his secret jail-within-a jail. He then intended to hand them over to Amunet to sell, and then split the profits with her.

But then what? Does he really think no one's going to notice the disappearance of five prisoners? Do inmates routinely just disappear in prison in Central City?

The evil metas may not have had family or loved ones to miss them, but Barry definitely did. Iris and Cecile would have eventually obtained a court order forcing him to let them see Barry. Was Wolfe planning on fleeing to Mexico by then?

• Did... did Iris wear her bathrobe to the prison to visit Barry?

• Ralph's pal Earl Cox is played by actor Paul McGillion. You may recognize him as Dr. Carson Beckett on Stargate: Atlantis.

• Ralph's newfound shapeshifting powers seems like quite a stretch (HAW!). OK, I'll buy the fact that he can alter his features to look like another person, since he's done so in the comics (to an extent). But how can his rubbery skin mimic facial hair? Does he carefully stretch his skin into thousands of tiny strands? No wonder he has trouble maintaining Warden Wolfe's form!

I'm also puzzled as to how the ability to stretch can change his hair color. Or alter the pigment of his skin to look like a black man. And are we to believe that changing his shape also causes his voice to perfectly match that of the person he's copying?

I know, I know. It's a comic book show. But still... this is stretching things a bit far (see what I did there?).

• When Ralph first tries to impersonate Wolfe, the results are... terrifyingly less than perfect.

Cisco comments on his attempt, saying, "You know that painting in It— the one that comes to life? It's like that." Hmm... I'm sure this reference had nothing to do with the fact that the movie just came out on home video a couple weeks ago. Or that It and The Flash are both owned by Warner Bros. Nope! Totally coincidental!

• Trigger Warning! I fully expect the SJWs in the audience to start complaining about a white male masquerading as a black man in 3, 2, 1...

That said, actor Richard Brooks does an amazing job in this episode. He plays the villainous Warden Wolfe to evil perfection of course, but also shows his comedic side as he portrays a disguised Ralph. Kudos! Too bad he was killed off at the end of the episode.

• At one point Joe says, "Damn it, Ralph, nobody talks to Wolfe like that. He's the Warden of the most dangerous prison in the Midwest."

Is this the first time ever hinted at Central City's location? I feel like maybe they mentioned the Midwest before, but I honestly can't remember.

• Ralph (as Wolfe) goes to a dive bar and says, "Gingold on the rocks. Hand it to me, please."

We've seen Gingold before, back in Elongated Journey Into Night. In that episode, Ralph had a bottle of Gingold cola stashed in his desk drawer.

In the Arrowverse, Gingold just seems to be a popular drink. In the comics, a concentrated elixir of Gingold is what gave Ralph his stretching powers. 

• Where's Harry this week? We get a line that he "went to Earth-2 to check on Jesse." Wait, I thought she became the Flash of Earth-3? Did that change at some point and I forgot about it?

So what was the real reason for Harry's disappearance? Did Tom Cavanagh have a previous engagement? Did he catch the flu? Decide he needed a vacation day?

• This week Marlize begins to doubt her husband's Plan. DeVoe reassures her, saying, "I will erase every doubt from your head." Well THAT doesn't seem the least bit ominous, does it? Sounds like he's intending to absorb her brain as well!

It's starting to look like I was right, and Marlize is slowly going to become appalled by her husband's antics and turn against him. Don't be surprised if she even starts working with Team Flash to bring him down!

Sigh... Once again it's time for the weekly "Ralph Overcomes His Self Doubt" storyline. How many times this season have we seen him lose his confidence and learn to become a superhero? Five? Eight? Ten?

Amazingly, this week it's Killer Frost (!) who gives Ralph a Patented The CW Pep Talk™ this week! Killer. Effing. Frost! I give up!

• As Barry and the other metas sneak through the tunnels under the prison, they discuss what they'll do when free. Black Bison pipes up and says, 
"If you wanna use your powers for something useful, you could help me steal back some native artifacts."

Jesus Christ! Is this really the best time to be obsessing about her tribe's goddamned artifacts? Give it a rest, honey! We get it, you're Native American. A smug, humorless Native American, who worries about trinkets and peace pipes when she should be concentrating on escaping from prison.

• While traipsing through the tunnels, Barry tells the other metas, "I wouldn't take a life."

That can't be true, can it? Surely he's killed at least one person in the past three seasons. He definitely did when he was Savitar, but that probably shouldn't count.

• So it looks like The Thinker's plan was to create the bus metas, wait for the Flash to toss 'em all in Iron Heights, then bust in and absorb their powers into his own body. That's actually a pretty good plan! With his brilliant intellect plus the powers of twelve other metas, he'd be virtually unstoppable.

The question is, did he somehow know what powers specific people would develop, and cleverly arranged for them all to be on the bus when the dark matter hit? Or was the whole thing random, and he's just taking whatever powers he can get?

Knowing The Thinker, I'm sure it was all planned.

• After the metas are killed by DeVoe, Barry still refuses to leave prison. He runs back to his cell, phases through the wall and pretends he was there the whole time. 

Um... wouldn't the security cameras have recorded the fact that he wasn't in his cell for the past couple of days?

• At the end of the episode Ralph impersonates DeVoe, makes a surprise appearance in court and just like that, Barry's freed. Jesus Christ! Have any of the writers ever seen a court trial?

OK, so DeVoe's apparently still "alive," and the court rules that Barry didn't kill him. But Barry was found inside his own apartment holding a bloody knife, while standing over DeVoe's lifeless body. Surely that should count for something, even if DeVoe isn't dead! 
At the very least the court should still find Barry guilty of attempted murder or aggravated assault.

Also, everyone seems awfully accepting of DeVoe's unlikely appearance here. Is no one going to suggest fingerprinting him or testing his DNA to make sure he's who he says he is? What about Marlize? She should be screaming at the top of her lungs that this imposter can't possibly be her husband.

Again, I get that this is a comic book show, but this is possibly the stupidest plot resolution the show's done so far. And that's saying something!

• I'm having trouble understanding why DeVoe decided to switch bodies with Hazard now. Did he get tired of Dominic's body, and decide to see what it's like to be a woman?

Also, when DeVoe first spots Hazard, he says, "Oh, what an inconspicuous body. This will be quite useful." Maybe he thought Dom's body was becoming too recognizable, so he wanted to swap it out? If so, then jumping into Hazard was the last thing he should have done. Her body is far from "inconspicuous," since she's a known felon who terrorized Central City a few months back!

• This Week's Best Lines:
Ralph: (sniffing outside the door to his office) "Drakkar Noir, onions, and liverwurst? Oh, no. Earl Cox."
(Hey, now! There's nothing wrong with Drakkar Noir!)

Earl: (to Ralph) "Ow, oh, look at you. You went all Zac Efron on me. You drank so many six packs you've grown one!"

Earl: "Clear your calendar, slim, 'cause I've got a score that'll knock your honey glazed holiday ham into next Christmas!"
Ralph: "Yeah, I don't think any of those words mean what you think they do."

Joe: "Wolfe is trafficking meta-humans? Is everybody crooked in this town?"
Cisco: "Ah, he always did look smug in those Italian wool suits. Oh, my God, he's literally wolf in sheep's clothing!"

Joe: (after finding out Wolfe is trafficking metas) "I'm gonna go talk to Singh."
Cecile: "And say what? Your pregnant girlfriend with gestational psychic powers told you?"

Ralph: (disguised at Wolfe, as he talks to Norvok) "Listen, you lapdog. Set the meeting with your boss now, or I'll pull on your eye snake and strangle you with it, understood?"
(pretty sure that last sentence has never been said before in the history of the English language)

Ralph: (to Killer Frost) "I know how to fix this. I gotta see a girl about a guy. Thank you, Frosty Oprah."

Black Bison: "Join us, or get out of the way. Either way, we're taking him."
Hazard: "Good luck with that."
(her powers then cause a series of mishaps that knocks out the other metas)
Hazard: "Toldja."

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