Monday, April 30, 2018

The Flash Season 4, Episode 19: Fury Rogue

This week on The Flash we get a surprising subversion of expectations in Harry's storyline, the return of an old friend (sort of), a pointless new villain and one more reason for Marlize to betray her husband Clifford DeVoe.

On the Harry front, I was certain the writers were going to use his Thinking Cap addiction to turn him into a secondary version of The Thinker that Team Flash would have to deal with. That could have been an interesting twist, in the right hands. Instead they decided to go in the exact opposite direction. Instead of becoming an unstable brainiac, Harry's turning into a drooling moron. Meh.

This week we get another of actor Wentworth Miller's "final" appearances as some version of Captain Cold. Although it's always a treat to have him back, even for a guest shot, it feels like his farewell tour's been going on for a couple of years now.

Cold was an intriguing character when he was first introduced back in Season 1, as he was far more than just a run of the mill villain of the week. The writers also developed a fun relationship between Cold and Barry, as they became sort of "friendly enemies."

Annnnnd then Cold was torn out of The Flash and inserted into Legends Of Tomorrow. Cold, along with his pal Heat Wave, quickly became the highlights of that Legends' first season. It's just a shame that we never got to see the Barry/Cold relationship develop like it should have on The Flash.

For some reason, the writers decided to throw Siren-X into this episode as the villain of the week. I'm honestly not sure what purpose she served here, as she had little or nothing to do, and contributed absolutely nothing to the story. I get that she was someone for Citizen Cold to chase around on Earth-X, but there was no good reason to bring her to Earth-1, other than to muddle the plot.

Not to mention that her plan to avenge her fallen Earth-X comrades by killing off the Earth-1 CCPD was flimsy at best.

To absolutely no one's surprise, it looks like Killer Frost isn't gone after all. How shocking.

Lastly, two episodes ago in Null And Annoyed, Breacher offered Cisco his old job on Earth-19. This lead me to predict that Cisco would be getting the old "Will He Or Won't He Leave His Friends" plot that's been done a thousand times before. Welp, two whole episodes have gone by now and there hasn't been so much as a peep about that subplot. Did the writers forget about it already? Or are they saving it for the season finale?


The Plot:
Inside the secret Time Vault within STAR Labs, Harry has Gideon run a scan on his head. She reveals that his prolonged use of the dark matter-infused Thinking Cap has damaged his brain, causing him to slowly lose his intelligence.

Barry and Iris return to couples therapy with Dr. Finkle, where they discuss Ralph's recent "death." Iris tells Finkle she's coping as best she can, while Barry seems suspiciously nonchalant about it. He says he's experienced so much death in his life that one more doesn't make much of a difference to him. This worries Dr. Finkle, who tells him he'll eventually have grieve for his fallen friend (FORESHADOWING ALERT!).

Meanwhile, The Thinker and The Mechanic celebrate their recent victory over Team Flash. Marlize hopes that now that DeVoe's won, he'll relax and they can spend some time together as husband and wife. Unfortunately DeVoe's
 too consumed by his thoughts (heh), and immediately begins working on his new Master Plan. Another one?

At STAR Labs, Cisco's trying to think of a way to locate and defeat DeVoe, with no luck. He eyes Harry's discarded Thinking Cap, and decides to put it on. Harry walks in, sees him wearing the thing and snatches it off his head. He's terrified that if Cisco uses it he could lose his mind as well, so he 
makes up a lame excuse that it's calibrated for him only. Cisco suggests they start working on a second Cap, just for him. Harry can't think of a way to discourage him, so he reluctantly agrees to help.

Cut to Earth-X, the formerly Nazi-ruled planet from the big Crisis On Earth-X crossover event from earlier in the season. Citizen Cold (the Earth-X version of Captain Cold) is sneaking around in an old warehouse (of course). He sees Siren-X, the Earth-X version of Black Canary, and tells her the war's over and she and her Nazi pals lost.

This angers Siren-X, causing her to blast Cold with her sonic scream. Just then Cisco and Barry vibe in and whisk Cold out of harm's way. They ask him for his help, and when he hears Siren-X approaching, he agrees. Cisco vibes them all back to Earth-1. Unknown to them, Siren-X blasts the portal with her scream, holding it open just long enough for her to jump through as well.

Team Flash gives Cold a brief recap of the season, telling him all about DeVoe. They reveal that Fallout is the last of the bus metas, and they want to keep DeVoe from absorbing his powers as well. Barry says they intend to move Fallout to a remote ARGUS facility, where DeVoe will never find him. They've built a high-tech hazmat suit to contain Fallout's radiation powers during the move, but they need Cold's gun to cool him down in case he starts going critical. Cold agrees to help.

We then see Siren-X listening in from several blocks away, as she somehow uses her sonic powers to eavesdrop on Team Flash's conversation (?).

Meanwhile, Cisco completes his Thinking Cap 2.0 and eagerly tries it on. Harry purposefully overloads it, shorting it out. A disappointed Cisco examines it and says it'll take weeks to fix. Barry tells Cold about Ralph, and how he feels responsible for his death. Cold, who's something of a therapist himself, tells Barry he needs to grieve for Ralph, then accept his loss and move on. Barry says ain't nobody got time for grieving right now.

Team Flash loads Fallout— outfitted in his snazzy new containment suit— into a modified, high tech semi trailer for the transfer. Joe drives the rig, while Cold, Caitlin and Fallout ride in the back. Barry scouts their rural route at superspeed. He then zips into the semi and reports that everything's going smoothly.

Right on cue, the semi rises into the air, as everyone inside becomes weightless. Suddenly the truck crashes violently back to the ground. Barry and Cold exit and see DeVoe standing in the middle of the road, using Null's powers to disable the truck. Barry uses the Sonic Scepter to blast DeVoe with a barrage of sound waves. Unfortunately he uses Elongated Man's rubbery powers to withstand the attack.

Suddenly all three of them are bowled over by a blast from Siren-X. DeVoe quickly opens a portal and escapes. Instead of attacking Siren-X at superspeed, Barry freezes, as his grief apparently picks that moment to catch up with him.

Inside the truck, Fallout begins freaking out, which causes his radiation powers to ramp up. He says he's getting the hell out of there, as Caitlin tries to stop him. He opens the door of the trailer, and sees Siren-X holding Joe hostage with Cold's freeze gun.

Back at STAR Labs, Cisco's figured out a way to fix his Thinking Cap, much to Harry's horror. He grabs the Cap from Cisco and smashes it to pieces. When Cisco asks what the hell's wrong with him, Harry's forced to confess. He takes Cisco to the Time Vault and shows him the results of his brain scan. Cisco scolds Harry for being an idiot and frying his brain with dark matter, but says Team Flash will do whatever it takes to cure him.

DeVoe returns to his lair, furious that lost Fallout despite all his calculations. Marlize says he considered every possibility except emotion, and that's he's lost the ability to feel. He pretty much pats her on the head, says her job is to assist him, and he'll do the thinking for both of them, thanks. Somehow she manages to control herself and say, "Of course, my Love."

At STAR Labs, Cold addresses the fact that Barry froze in the field. He tells him he needs to start grieving for Ralph so he can hurry up and move past it. Cold gives him a big speech about how he remembers every single person he killed during the war on Earth-X, and how their deaths affected him.

Meanwhile, Siren-X brings Joe, Caitlin and Fallout to CCPD HQ. She says nothing can bring back her fallen Earth-X comrades, but maybe killing a bunch of cops on an alternate Earth will make her feel better (?). She forces Fallout to take off the helmet of his hazmat suit, which floods the room with radiation, knocking out all the cops. For some reason she's completely unaffected.

Iris detects Fallout's radiation spike, and Barry and Cold speed to the CCPD. Siren-X begins blasting Fallout, causing his radiation to rise to critical levels. If he's not stopped, he'll explode and destroy the entire city. Once again, Barry has the chance to stop her, but freezes as he thinks of Ralph. Cold gives Barry a Patented The CW Pep Talk™, and he eventually gets up and knocks Siren-X across the room. Caitlin and Cold then use their freeze guns on Fallout, cooling him to safe levels.

Later Joe finds Barry in his old office, finally grieving properly for Ralph. He tells Barry that what happened wasn't his fault.

Back at STAR Labs, Iris says Fallout's been successfully transferred to ARGUS' super secret off-the-grid facility, and is hopefully safe from DeVoe. Cisco gives Cold a mini-breach unit, so he can visit Earth-1 whenever he wants. Cold bids everyone a fond farewell and returns to Earth-X.

Caitlin tells Iris she misses having Killer Frost inside her (get your mind outta the gutter!). She runs some tests on herself, and detects Frost's faint presence. She says now all they have to do is figure out how to reactivate her, probably in time for the season finale.

Barry and Iris visit Dr. Finkle again. This time Barry's finally able to open up and share his feelings about Ralph's death.

Cut to the secret ARGUS compound, where Fallout's being kept. Unfortunately we see that DeVoe's hacked into the allegedly off-the-grid facility and knows exactly where he is.

• As I've mentioned before, DeVoe's plan was a damned clever one. He used his exceptional smarts to cause the creation of the twelve bus metas, just so he could absorb all of their powers and become virtually unstoppable.

What I don't get is how he knew just what powers the bus metas would get from their exposure to dark matter. As it turns out, each of them was gifted with a very specific and useful power. But they could have just as easily developed bizarre and impractical abilities, such as the power to change the color of objects, fly six inches off the ground, or grow freakishly long arm hair. 

Did his plan somehow involve figuring out who'd get what power, and he manipulated them to make sure they were all on the bus at the same time?

• This week DeVoe tells Marlize he doesn't have time for mushy love stuff, as he wants to get started on "The Enlightenment" right away. He then pulls up plans for some kind of bomb or space capsule or something.

Wait... DeVoe's cooking up ANOTHER scheme now? I thought creating the bus metas and absorbing all their powers was his Master Plan. Now he's got a second one?

Eh, I dunno. There're only three more episodes left in the season. Seems a bit late to start up this Master Plan business all over again. Why weren't we told about this Part B months ago?

And what the heck is DeVoe's Enlightenment anyway? Based on the fact that he's building some kind of contraption, I'm gonna guess he'll use it to absorb the minds of everyone on Earth, making him the most intelligent person on the planet. That, or it'll download his mind into everyone else's head, so he in effect becomes humanity.

• This week we get yet another mention (but no appearance) of Tracy Brand. She was a temporary member of Team Flash in Season 3, and helped the Gang take down Savitar. She was also sweet on HR, which may explain why she's been keeping her distance, what with him being a doppelganger of Harry and all.

• Fallout's real name is Neil Borman. That name sounds familiar for some reason. I'm wondering if it's supposed to be a shoutout to Niels Borh? He was a Danish physicist who won the Nobel Prize in 1922 for his work in atomic structure and quantum theory. The names aren't exact, but they're close enough to make me think it might be an in-joke.

• At one point Barry explains the situation to Captain Cold-X. Cold nods and replies, "Sounds like a plan, Barry. You know how I feel about plans." Hmmm.

In several episodes, the Earth-1 Captain Cold famously lived by the motto, “Make the plan. Execute the plan. Expect the plan to go off the rails. Throw away the plan.” It sounds like Cold-X lives by the same code. Apparently people living on completely different Earths develop the exact same catchphrases.

• I've been beating this dead horse for weeks now, so I might as well flog it a bit more. 

Whenever DeVoe transfers his mind into a new body, he then speaks in their natural accent. He normally speaks with a South African accent, but when he occupied the body of Izzy Bowen, he spoke in her characteristic Southern drawl. 

Then in Null And Annoyed, DeVoe transfers his mind to Ralph's body, and immediately begins speaking like him. He then uses Ralph's stretchy powers to morph into a reasonable facsimile of his original body, and instantly begins speaking in his original accent again.

It's like the writers think a person's accent is intrinsically tied to their body. That just doesn't seem right to me. Normally I speak like the Southern Indiana hillbilly that I am, but if I had to I could do a passable British, German or French accent. It's my brain that drives the way I speak, not my body.

This week DeVoe's still inhabiting Ralph's body. Note that he's using Ralph's pliable powers to impersonate his old self, and is using his South African accent. But then at one point DeVoe confronts Barry, and tries to get under his skin by saying, "Right, Rookie?" in Ralph's voice and accent.

This completely contradicts everything the writers have previously established about bodies and accents. Apparently DeVoe CAN speak in any accent he wants, regardless of what body he's currently inhabiting. Make up your minds, writers!

• Speaking of DeVoe's powers, I'm still not quite clear how they work. When he absorbs a bus meta's powers, does he consume their mind as well? I feel like that's what should happen during the process, but so far the show's been pretty vague about this particular detail.

There's a possible clue in this episode, when DeVoe momentarily slips into Ralph's voice and calls Barry "Rookie." That would imply that Ralph's memories are rattling around in DeVoe's head.

On the other hand, DeVoe used a Samuroid head to spy on Team Flash for several episodes, so he could have just overheard Ralph teasing Barry with that term.

See what I mean? There's no definite answer here!

• Harry enters the Time Vault to have Gideon run some scans on his head. Once again, the production crew's wide angle lens gets a real workout during this scene. I have a feeling this set is probably about the size of my bathroom, but that lens magically turns it into a vast interior space.

They use this particular trick on a weekly basis over on Legends Of Tomorrow, to make their Waverider sets look much, much bigger than they really are.

• At one point Cisco's working in his lab and sees Ralph's discarded Whoopie Cushion. This floods him with emotions, as he wistfully remembers his fallen teammate. 

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say this is the first time in TV history that a character's gotten all misty-eyed over a Whoopie Cushion.

By the way, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't point out that this cushion appears to be white, while the one we saw Ralph holding in Null And Annoyed was orange. I suppose it's possible he had more than one, but...

• Look at this scene of Team Flash prepping for the big mission to transfer Fallout. Notice anything about it? How about the fact that once again, Barry's not wearing his motherfraking mask. He just revealed his secret identity to Fallout! Goddamit Barry!

Honestly, at this point I don't know why he bothers with the mask at all. He might as well fish around in Iris' sewing basket, get out her stitch-ripper, tear the goddamn mask of his costume and flush it down the effing toilet!

• During the mission to transfer Fallout to an ARGUS facility, the semi truck is lifted into the air and then smashed to the ground. Barry and Cold zoom out the back of the truck, looking for the cause. DeVoe then opens a portal behind them and steps out of it.

Note that the portal makes a very loud, sizzling energy sound. Somehow Barry and Cold don't hear it though, as they both keep staring intently in the opposite direction.

DeVoe stands there for a few seconds, seemingly amazed that these two superheroes are completely unaware of his presence. He finally says, "Mr. Allen. As usual you're a step behind me."

Then and only then do Barry and Cold hear DeVoe and whip around to face him.

How the hell did they not hear the whooshing sound of the portal opening and closing? It can't be that it was too far away to be heard, because they react to DeVoe's voice, and he was nowhere near as loud as the portal.

Is this one of those deals where the audience can hear a particular sound, but the characters can't? Or is it just bad writing and editing?

• Barry uses the Sonic Scepter to fire off a blast of sound waves at DeVoe. Unfortunately, DeVoe uses the Elongated Man's stretchy powers to withstand the assault.

Eh... I don't think so. I will accept that Ralph's rubbery body (which DeVoe is now inhabiting) is immune to sonic blasts, but look at that scene! How the hell do DeVoe's feet stay firmly planted on the road like that? He should have been flung backwards a thousand feet by the blast! Did DeVoe glue his shoes to the road when we weren't looking?

I suppose it's slightly possible that DeVoe used Null's gravity powers to keep his feet planted on the road, but that seems like a stretch (see what I did there?).

• Right after Barry's Scepter attack fails, Siren-X shows up and knocks everyone— including DeVoe— on their collective asses with her sonic scream. While Barry and Cold try to shake off the effects of her blast, DeVoe opens a portal and gets the hell out of there.

Um... so why exactly did he turn tail and run? Siren-X has the exact same powers as the Sonic Scepter, and we literally just saw him withstand a blast from that! There's nothing she could do that would hurt him. So why'd he run away like a little girl?

• Poor Marlize. She finally gets her beloved husband back in his original form (sort of), but then is horrified when she discovers he's now a cold, calculating emotionless automaton.

She's even more appalled when he basically tells her not to worry her pretty little head with any problems, and to stay in the kitchen while he takes care of his plan.

In the coming weeks, I fully expect her to inadvertently help out Team Flash by turning on her now-monstrous husband and destroying his plan.

• For the most part the Siren-X effects are pretty well done, and a decent visualization of her sonic powers.

There are a couple of scenes though where her sonic blast is tinted brown for some reason, which makes it look for all the world like she's projectile vomiting!

• I'm puzzled by the CCPD scene. Siren-X marches Fallout into CCPD Headquarters, and forces him to take off his protective helmet. The second he does, all the cops in the building are overcome by his radioactive output and pass out. Only Joe, Caitlin and Siren-X herself remain standing.

Joe and Caitlin get a pass because they're both immune. Before the mission, Caitlin injected Team Flash with a "cocktail of atomized DTPA and potassium iodide" to protect them from absorbing too much radiation. But what's Siren-X's excuse? Did she force Caitlin to inject her between scenes? Or is she just naturally immune to radiation?

• Speaking or radiation... Siren-X begins blasting Fallout, causing him to emit dangerous levels of radiation. Harry monitors the situation from STAR Labs, and at one point we see Fallout's energy rise to over 9,000 rads! Yikes!

OK, I'm not a scientist, but based on a few minutes of googling, there're a few problems with this scene.

First of all, Team Flash is measuring Fallout's radiation output in rads. A rad is a unit of absorbed radiation, equal to 100 ergs of energy absorbed by one gram of matter. In other words, it's the amount of radiation absorbed by the human body. 

This would be fine if Harry was detecting how much radiation Team Flash is being exposed to. But he seems to be using rads to describe Fallout's radiation output, which is a completely different thing. The radioactivity of a substance or object is measured in becquerels, which refers to the number of nuclei that decay per unit of time. Radioactivity can also be measure in units called curies.

I'm pretty sure they're mixing up their units here. It's like saying you have an 8.34 pound jug of water, instead of just calling it a gallon.

Whether rads is the proper term or not, it seems like everyone in CCPD should be dead at the end of this scene. 400 rads generally causes acute radiation syndrome in humans. Exposure to 1000 rads over a period of a few hours will cause serious illness, with "poor outlook." Anything over 1000 rads is almost invariably fatal. Fallout was outputting almost ten times that!

• When Harry tells Cisco about his condition, we get a pretty good glimpse at the wall of the Time Vault. It looks surprisingly bad. The little domes look like they were very sloppily glued to the wall, then hurriedly painted over. 

Also, I assume the domes are supposed to be arranged in straight lines, but they're all way, way off. Look at the ones to the left of Cisco's face! It's like they didn't even use any kind of guideline and just tried to eyeball a straight line! Sloppy!

• So what happened to Siren-X? In the third act, Barry speed punches her across the room at CCPD and that's the last we ever see of her. She's never mentioned again, and Cold returns to Earth-X by himself.

Did Team Flash imprison her in their Secret Super Jail? Did Cold send her back to the Earth-X authorities when we weren't looking? Or did Barry kill her when he punched her?

This Week's Best Lines:
Caitlin: (to Cold) "You're getting married? That's so exciting!"
Cold: (looking at Barry and Cisco) "I figured if you two could make it, so could we."
(Barry and Cisco look puzzled and uncomfortable)
Barry: "What?"
Cisco: "No, we..."
Cold: "I tease."

Harry: (as he tests the second Thinking Cap on Cisco) "Okay, here we go. Connection established."
(The Cap begins glowing)
Cisco: "Hmm, tingles. Yeah. Kinda feels like my conditioner!"

Caitlin: (discussing Killer Frost with Cold) "We were starting to become close lately. And I know how crazy that sounds considering we're talking about someone who actually lived inside of me."
Cold: "I'm on an alt-Earth transporting a human bomb with an escort that can literally run back to the future. Your story is the least crazy thing I've heard all day."

DeVoe: "Mr. Allen. As usual, you're a step behind me."
Cold: "Yay, puns. You Earth-1 villains sure are a hoot."

Barry: "Okay, well, what do you know about Laurel Lance's doppelganger? And why was she hunting you?"
Cold: "That was Siren-X, all that's left of the Reichsmen. An elite assassin gone mad, and she is relentless. Carried a torch for Dark Arrow, unrequited, so she's none too pleased with those responsible for his death, present company included."
Iris: "So she has the same powers as Black Siren? The Laurel Lance of Earth-2."
Cold: "And Earth-1's Laurel Lance?"
Barry: "She died."
Cisco: "She was the second Black Canary after her sister, who also died and came back, but as White Canary, cause..."
Barry: "Cisco!"
Cisco: "It's complicated."

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