Monday, May 21, 2018

The Flash Season 4, Episode 21: Harry And The Harrisons

This week on The Flash, the writing team pads out the season to the requisite twenty three episodes, as they spin their wheels for forty two minutes. Nothing's resolved, little's gained, and the characters end up pretty much exactly where were at the beginning of the episode.

This is frustrating, to say the least. There're only two episodes left in the season, so the writers should be using what little time's left to kick out the stops and ramp up the action, as they prepare for the big season finale. Oddly enough, just the opposite happens.

For example: At the end of last week's episode, Marlize finally made her move and left her husband Cliffored DeVoe, aka The Thinker. This episode should have been all about the ramifications of the big split. Sadly the DeVoe's are MIA, and don't even appear in the episode! What the hell?

Instead we get the return of Amunet Black, as she temporarily joins Team Flash before her sudden and inevitable betrayal. Normally I'm a sucker for a good "Villain Teams Up With The Heroes" storyline, but this one went absolutely nowhere and was tedious to boot. Katee Sackoff seemed to be having a blast camping it up as Amunet again though. Unfortunately that just made her appearance even more grating.

If that wasn't bad enough, we get another appearance from the Council Of Wells, or in this case, Harrisons. Tom Cavanagh's done a great job the past few years playing subtly different versions of the same character, each with subtle nuances and variations.

The same can't be said for these Council members though. They're all incredibly one note, and little more than caricatures. Just because Cavanagh can do funny accents doesn't mean they should be written into the script. Let him do 'em between takes to entertain the crew.

There's also a cringe-worthy subplot involving Barry and Iris, which gives us an uncomfortable look at the inner workings of their marriage. It seems Iris wants to write an article exposing the DeVoes and publish it on her blog or something. Barry's not sure that's a good idea, and tries to talk her out of it. 

I am far, far from being a feminist, but hell, even I was yelling for Iris to tell Barry to f*ck off here. Jesus Christ! Why the hell does she need his permission in the first place? Especially after he did everything but tell her to get back into the kitchen. Incredibly she eventually give in and lets him decide whether to publish the thing or not! What year is this?


The Plot:
Barry wakes up in the middle of the night and hears noises downstairs. He goes down to investigate and finds Iris up, writing an article exposing DeVoe and his Enlightenment. She feels the public needs to know about the supervillain plan, and what will happen to them if he pulls it off.

That morning at STAR Labs, Team Flash discusses how to destroy DeVoe's Enlightenment satellites. They can't simply fire a missile at the satellites, as DeVoe could use Kilg%re's powers to disable them. They decide a non-tech, organic weapon is the only answer.

Meanwhile, Harry's upset that his worsening brain condition prevents him from coming up with any solutions. Cisco suggests they contact the Council Of Wells (a trio of versions of Harrison Wells from across the multiverse) and see if they have any ideas on how to reverse Harry's condition.

They contact Herr Harrison Wolfgang Wells, the snooty German intellectual from Earth-12 who we first met back in When Harry Met Harry... Unfortunately Herr Wells refuses to help, saying the Council is for the most brilliant intellects in the multiverse and Harry no longer qualifies. Cisco says if the original Council of Wellseses won't help, maybe it's time to form a new one.

Caitlin comes up with a doozy of a solution to the DeVoe problem
— contacting supervillain and former metahuman trafficker Amunet Black. She says Amunet's metallic alnico shards could destroy DeVoe's satellites, as they're immune to any of his powers. All they need to do is convince Amunet not to kill them long enough to help. Barry and the others are less than enthusiastic about this plan, but they don't have any other options.

Barry and Caitlin visit Amunet's hideout, where they're greeted by her henchman Norvok. He tells them he's the captain now, as Amunet disappeared and hasn't been heard from in months.

Back at STAR Labs, the team tries to locate Amunet. They find out her real name is Leslie Jocoy, and she was an airline stewardess who disappeared after the particle accelerator explosion. They discover a few of her old work addresses, and Joe and Caitlin leave to check them out.

Iris is anxious to publish her article, but for some reason Barry doesn't think it's such a good idea. He says Team Flash has always operated in secret before (well, sort of), and he isn't sure how the public will react. Iris says she'll finish the article and then ask the entire team what they think she should do. Barry reluctantly says OK.

Meanwhile, Cisco introduces Harry to the Council Of Harrisons, a new group of alternate versions Wellseses from the multiverse. They consist of the extremely French H.P. Wells of Earth-25, the very Brooklyn Sonny Wells of Earth-24 and H. Lothario Wells of Earth-4, who was kicked out of the original Council Of Wells. Harry's horrified by this motley collection, calling them a "Council Of Rejects."

Joe and Caitlin investigate a grocery where Leslie Jocoy used to work. Joe says he's surprised Caitlin would suggest working with a criminal like Amunet, and she sheepishly admits she had an ulterior motive. She says Amunet has some sort of tech that helped her "split" Killer Frost last year (whatever that means), and hopes to use it again to remedy her current condition.

Joe notices a couple slip through the back door of the store, and he and Caitlin follow. Inside they see Amunet's running an illegal poker parlor. Joe clears the room, much to Amunet's annoyance. She pulls out her bag of metal and powers up, firing a barrage of deadly shards at Joe & Caitlin. Fortunately Barry speeds in and catches the shards. Caitlin asks Amunet for her help.

They take Amunet back to STAR Labs, where she looks around and gets an eyeful of all their secret tech. She asks Barry why he's bothering to wear his mask, as she figured out who he was long ago. Hey, join the club, sister! And just like that, I'll be damned if Barry doesn't remove his mask once again! Why even bother with it at this point?

Team Flash fill her in on DeVoe and his plan. Amunet says she'd love to help, but she'd need a huge supply of alnico shards to take down five satellites. Unfortunately, her stash of metal was recently stolen from its hiding place.

Caitlin tells Amunet about Killer Frost's disappearance, and asks for her help. She says the transmodular genetic splicer was stolen along with her metal. Caitlin makes a deal with her— if Amunet can get Killer Frost to reemerge, she'll agree to perform one last job for her. Amunet agrees.

Meanwhile, Harry and Cisco meet with the Council Of Harrisons. Unfortunately they're absolutely no help, telling Harry he needs to put himself in DeVoe's shoes, as well as get in touch with his "feelings." Harry says they're all worthless and leaves.

Barry, Caitlin and Amunet arrive at an old boxcar, which served as her "storage locker." They find traces of hematoxic venom on the door, and Amunet realizes her henchmen Norvok is the culprit. Barry zips back to Norvok's HQ and instantly comes back, saying he's gone.

Back at STAR, Barry and Iris discuss her article again. She finally says she'll leave it up to him as to whether they should publish it or not. Caitlin badgers Iris, feeling she's not searching hard enough for Amunet's stash. Joe asks if Caitlin's upset about not finding the shards or the splicer. Caitlin finally admits to the others that she only called Amunet hoping she could help her get Killer Frost back. The others seem to take this bit of deception very well, and the whole thing's immediately dropped.

Harry apologizes to Cisco for blowing up earlier. Cisco says maybe the Council wasn't worthless after all, as they've seemingly taught Harry empathy. Harry says it's been a long time since he's considered anyone else's feelings, and says he's going to try and put himself in DeVoe's shoes.

Amunet sees Caitlin brooding, and tells her she doesn't need the splicer. She says it was only a placebo, and Caitlin resolved the Killer Frost problem all on her own (?). Just then Amunet says she's figured out where Norvok is. Barry, Joe, Caitlin and Amunet leave to intercept him. Team Flash warns Amunet not to kill Norvok.

Cut to a rail yard, where Norvok is selling a trunk full of alnico shards to an Asian mobster. Suddenly Barry and the others appear, and the thugs speed off. Barry and Amunet deal with Norvok, while Joe and Caitlin stop the thugs and recover the metal. Against orders, Amunet fires her shards at Norvok. Barry plucks them out of the air at superspeed.

Novok, who's power is he has a snake-like thing that emerges from his eye socket, 
sprays Barry with hematoxic venom. He collapses on the ground, writhing in pain. Fortunately he's able to vibrate at superspeed and phase the toxin out of his system.

Meanwhile, Amunet draws on the extra metal in the thugs' car, and uses it to form an impenetrable mask over Norvok's face. He begins suffocating, as the others warn her not to kill. She finally removes the mask, but uses a shard to slice the eye snake in two.

Amunet then says "ta ta" and prepares to sashay away. They ask about their deal, and naturally she admits she only used them to get her metal back. They remind her that if DeVoe successfully launches his satellites, she'll be lobotomized along with the rest of humanity. She says that's a good point, and forms a small grenade from her shards. She gives it to Caitlin, saying that should be enough to defeat DeVoe. She then forms a metallic tornado around herself and flies off.

Back at STAR Labs, Harry's excited to tell them all something. He says he put himself in DeVoe's shoes and figured out why he hasn't launched his Enlightenment satellites yet. It's because his wife is no longer around to share in his victory. Barry tells Iris to go ahead and publish her article.

That night Iris wakes Barry, and says her phone's going crazy with emails and texts. The public read her article, and is sending her hundreds of DeVoe sightings and other info, which will help them to bring him down.

• I want a computer interface like the one they have at Star Labs! At one point Caitlin says she thinks Amunet was a flight attendant on a plane the night of the particle accelerator explosion. Iris says, "OK, that we can work with!"

Iris then taps the screen...

She taps a second time...

And then swipes down. Somehow these three little gestures generates a list of the thirty five flights that were in the air over Central City that night! Wow! She didn't even type a single word to find this bit of incredibly specific information! I could definitely use a search algorithm like that at work!

• Um... is Danielle Panabaker (aka Caitlin Snow) alright? All through this episode she does this weird thing where she talks out of the right side of her mouth. Sort of like a young, female Buddy Hackett.

Once you spot it, you can't not see it. I never noticed her doing this until this week's episode. Has she always had this odd facial tic, or am I just now noticing it? I wonder if she's even aware she's doing it?

I'm not making fun or joking, and am being completely serious here. I'm wondering if there might actually be something wrong with her. Like a neurological problem or something? Hopefully not, and it's just nerves.

• Once again, kudos to The Flash's design team, who seem to have great fun creating license photos, passports and other fake documents for the various characters.

• Joe and Caitlin search for Amunet, and find her running a secret poker den. As Joe steps into the room, he says, "Damn. Somebody saw Molly's Game," referencing the 2018 movie.

There weren't many people who saw it, Joe! That movie could only manage to rake in a pitiful $28 million. WORLDWIDE!

• When Joe and Caitlin first encounter Amunet, she speaks with an American accent, rather than her traditional "British" one. Caitlin asks, "What's with the accent?" Amunet replies, "It's part of my disguise. Had to blend in. Now I'm just your average American blonde making an honest living. Well, a more honest living, yeah?"

I'm betting this scene was a little nod to the fans who've commented on actress Katee Sackhoff's um, less than convincing English accent. It's pretty bad. In fact it gives Dick Van Dyke's atrocious Cockney accent in Mary Poppins a run for its money!

• This week Tom Cavanagh gets to indulge himself and play dress up again, as he appears as the Council Of Harrisons. Unfortunately it looks like he could only think of two new voices to do this time, as H. Lothario Wells is recycled from When Harry Met Harry...

H.P. Wells was a little too silly for me, but I did kind of like Sonny Wells (in small doses). By the way, at one point Sonny says, "What are you, stunods?" As you might have guessed, stunad is an Italian word that means "stupid."

The Flash loves to use the names of comic book creators for its streets and buildings. This week the abandoned Reynolds substation is mentioned, along with intersections 5th and Knoll and Crescent and 10th.

I couldn't find anyone by those names who's ever worked on the comic. Sometimes a cigar's just a cigar, I guess.

• Barry's incredible variable plot specific speed strikes again! In this episode, Barry disarms Norvok's goons faster than the eye can even see. And yet somehow he's slow enough that Norvok's able to spray him with his hemotoxic venom. Weird.

• I'm with Amunet here— I just don't get Norvok's power. He has a snake-like appendage that can emerge from his eye socket and spray a cloud of venom. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It seems like it'd be a pretty limited range weapon, which would put him in danger of breathing in the toxin as well. Unless he's immune to it?

• The entire point of this filler episode was for Team Flash to get an alnico grenade from Amunet. That's it! There was nothing else of note that happened in the entire forty two minutes! In fact you could skip this ep when you binge-watch the series, and you wouldn't miss a goddamned thing. 

The whole grenade thing could have easily been a minor subplot in an episode that featured some actual consequences. But no... let's devote an entire forty two minutes to Amunet providing the minimum amount of help possible to Team Flash.

• Amunet's entire motivation for helping Team Flash was to get her precious stock of stolen alnico metal back. She eventually recovers it all, then forms it into a tornado that whisks her into the air and out of the episode.

Note that as this metallic tornado sails across the screen, hundreds of tiny shards of alcino fly off it and land on the ground. So... does she not care that this mode of travel costs her a good percentage of this irreplaceable metal? C'mon, writers! Is it valuable or not?

This Week's Best Lines:
Barry: (discussing Amunet with Caitlin) "I mean, she kidnapped you. She tried to sell me into meta slavery."

Iris: "And she ruined my bachelorette party, I mean..."
Barry: "That's not..."
Iris: "I mean, you're right. It's it's admittedly not as big of a deal, but you know what I'm saying."

Sonny: 'Ey! Oh, whoa, whoa! Who you calling rejects? 'Ey, look at this guy. What are you, stunods? Allow myself to introduce myself. Sonny Wells. Earth-24. At your service. They call me Sonny on account of my sunny disposition."
Cisco: "You know, I think that name kind of works for him."
Sonny: "'Ey, oh, the guy who must be Cisco! My motto, personally, for me, my motto? Be kind. Rewind."
Harry: "Be kind, rewind?"
Cisco: "They're still on VHS."

Sonny: "You see his scarf? I like that scarf. Gonna get myself one of them classy scarves like this guy. That's a $10 scarf right there."

Amunet: "So On the one hand, I am more dictator than team player. But on the other Professor DeVoe stupefying the planet would be bad for business. So I'll do it."

Barry: "Okay, Amunet, look, I know how you usually work, but I can handle this fast and without an casualties."
Amunet. "'Tis a bit time-consuming to remove blood from metal."

Amunet: (to Norvok) "I've never understood your superpower. Are you a man with a snake or a snake with a man?"

Cisco: (discussing Norvok, while channeling Indiana Jones) "Eye snakes. Why did it have to be eye snakes?"

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