Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Flash Season 5, Episode 13: Goldfaced

This week's The Flash is a lean, stripped-down affair that features little or no superpowers. 

Last week I praised the writers, as it looked like all their padding and wheel-spinning was serving a purpose, and they seemingly revealed an awesome new plot twist. I may have been a little premature with my accolades.

This week the wheel-spinning returns with a vengeance, as the characters spend the entire episode trying to find a McGuffin that'll allow them to defeat Cicada. Instead of, you know, just teaming up and capturing him. And to make things even worse, they fail to get the gizmo, making this possibly the most irrelevant episode ever!

There was some good news this week though! As we all know by now, actor Jesse L. Martin, aka Joe West, has been on medical leave from the series for the past two or three months. According to showrunner Todd Helbing, Martin's back on the set, and is schedule to return in Episode 15! That's great news, as Martin's absence has been keenly felt these last few weeks.

But don't go celebrating just yet. Helbing's comments were strangely cryptic, as he said, "There’s an explanation, and then there’s another sort of thing down the line that will give more explanation as to why Joe was gone for so long. I’ll just say there’s some technology that STAR Labs has, via which he’s gone and he’s not gone at the same time."

So what the hell does all THAT mean? Sounds to me like he's not actually going to be back for real, and is going to appear either on a viewscreen or as some sort of hologram. I guess we'll find out in a couple weeks.

Speaking of being AWOL, Cisco sits out yet another episode this week. What the hell? This is at least the third time this season he's been absent. I've no proof of this, but I'm starting to wonder if actor Carlos Valdes is planning on leaving the show for some reason, and these absences are the creators' way of gradually writing him out. 


The Plot:
As STAR Labs, Nora watches nervously as Sherloque attempts to translate her journal and figure out who her accomplice is. She returns to 2049 and tells Eobard Thawne she's worried Sherloque is onto them. He says if that were true, he'd have already told Barry about their plan. He says he knows how to distract Sherloque— with love.

Meanwhile, Iris complains to Barry that the readers of her newspaper (both of them) think her stories are boring. She says if she could only write about Cicada, she'd gain tons of readers. Barry tells her to go ahead. Not sure why this was an issue, or she needed his permission, but let's just move on.

Cisco's AWOL again this week (?), so Caitlin works on his meta cure. Barry says that's great, as he wants to use it on Cicada as soon as possible. Oddly enough, even though she opposed creating the thing in the first place, she has no qualms about forcing it on Cicada against his will. She tells Barry the cure's ready to go, but there's a catch— once injected, it'll take a full minute to negate Cicada's powers. In their previous encounters, they've never been able to hold him still anywhere near that long.

Caitlin mentions that Van Horn Industries has a Neuro-Stasis Field Generator that could render Cicada immobile for as long as they want. Unfortunately it was recently stolen. Ralph says he may know where to look for it.

Ralph meets with his old friend Earl Cox, who says the Field Generator is available on the Central City Black Market. Barry's reluctant to get involved in such shady dealings, as the Market's run by Amunet Black's boyfriend Goldface. Earl tells them to say "Big Raf" (?) sent them, and they'll be fine.

Nora drags a reluctant Sherloque to Jitters for tea. As he waits at the counter, she sets up an "accident," which causes a woman to slip in a puddle of spilled coffee. Sherloque manages to catch the woman before she falls. She thanks him, and he's instantly smitten by her. 

The woman introduces herself as Renee Adler (cute). Sherloque correctly deduces she took ballet as a child, impressing her with his observational skills. He then goes overboard and rattles off a list of other personal details he's inferred. Naturally this creeps her out and causes her to flee.

Sherloque tells Nora he blew it, saying he's destined to be alone. She tells him not to give up so easily and says there may be a way to apologize and win her back.

Meanwhile, Barry and Ralph go to the coordinates Earl gave them. Suddenly the ground opens up and they drop into a secret underground facility below. They're instantly surrounded by armed guards who put power-dampening bracelets on their wrists. A man named Carver says the bracelets are insurance against metas, and warns that they'll explode if the two get out of line. Carver then menacingly asks who sent them. Ralph replies "Big Raf," and suddenly Carver's all, "Well why didn't you say so?" and takes them into the Black Market.

Ralph goes off to find the Field Generator, while Barry tries to look inconspicuous. A dealer demos a new cop-killer blaster that tears tears through police armor like it was butter. Barry's so horrified he offers to buy them all in order to keep them off the streets. This makes the dealer suspicious, causing him to trigger a silent alarm.

Elsewhere, Iris interviews Orlin Dwyer's former boss Brent Osmark. He's nervous and afraid to talk, which makes Iris wonder if Orlin threatened him. She tells Osmark that anything he says could help the Flash defeat Cicada. He finally gives her the address of Robbie Byrnes, Orlin Dwyer's cousin.

At the black market, Ralph pulls Barry away from the cop-killer guns and tells him not to blow their cover. They're then escorted to a lounge, where they meet Goldface. He glares ominously at the two of them, and says he can always smell scum. He says Ralph is obviously scum, but Barry isn't. Carver then forces Barry to his knees and holds a gun to his head. Goldface asks him who he really is.

After a tense moment Barry replies he's "nobody." He says he has no arrests or convictions, despite the fact he's committed numerous crimes. He claims he's "The Chemist." Apparently this impresses Goldface, and he asks what they want. Barry says they're looking for a Field Generator. Goldface agrees to sell it to them— in exchange for helping him steal a 3D organ printer from Ivo Labs.

Elsewhere, Iris goes to Byrnes house by herself, like an idiot. No one's home, so she breaks in and snoops around, looking for evidence that Orlin Dwyer's living there. Suddenly Orlin comes home, trapping Iris inside. She hides behind the couch as a weary Orlin flops down on it. Suddenly he hears a noise and summons his dark matter dagger. He looks behind the couch, but nothing's there.

At STAR, Nora calls Sherloque to the Speed Lab, where she's contacted four of his five ex-wives from the multiverse. As you've probably already guessed, they're ALL versions of Renee Adler. The four of them begin squawking at once, demanding he pay the alimony he owes them. Sherloque is horrified, as they now all know which Earth he's on. Nora shushes them, saying she called them all here to help Sherloque, not berate him. They laugh at this notion, and tell him to pay up or they'll send Breacher after him to collect.

Meanwhile, Iris is still stuck in Orlin's house. She sees her purse on a table behind the couch, but realizes there's no way to get to it. She tries to sneak out the front door while Orlin's reading the paper. Hey, I wonder if it's Iris' news rag? 

Orlin hears the door squeak and gets up to investigate. Iris pretends she was actually coming in instead of sneaking out, and says she's a reporter looking for Robbie Byrne. Orlin lies and says he's Robbie. They sit at the kitchen table, Orlin glaring relentlessly at Iris. She asks him some questions about lead poisoning in the neighborhood, and he says he doesn't know anything about it. Iris sees the dusty doll house in the background, and asks "Robbie" if he has a daughter. "I used to," he growls.

Back at the Black Market, Barry tells Ralph that stealing medical equipment is more than they bargained for, but he says they have no other choice. They suit up along with Goldface's goons and climb in the back of a van. They arrive at Ivo Labs, and Carver tells them all to set their blasters to kill. Barry and Ralph exchange worried glances.

Everyone begins exiting the van, with Barry & Ralph bringing up the rear. Ralph holds back a second and then suddenly locks Barry inside. He says he's OK with what comes next, but Barry shouldn't have to do it. Ralph enters the building, and tells Carver that Barry stayed behind to "dispose of evidence" they left in the van.

The goons split into groups and search the lab. Ralph's group finds the organ printer first. He's ready to take it, until he sees a file containing photos of the kids who need it. This causes Ralph to change his mind, and he knocks out the rest of his group. Suddenly Carver enters and has his men capture Ralph and take the printer.

The goons take Ralph back to the van, where we see the door's been kicked open. Suddenly Barry appears and stuns the goons detaining Ralph. The two of them then arm themselves and sweep through the lab, expertly stunning everyone they see like they're in a video game.

Eventually they dispatch every one of Goldface's goons. Suddenly their wrist bracelets light up, and they realize they're seconds from becoming one-handed. They throw down their weapons and exit the lab with their hands up.

Goldface is there waiting for them, and says he's gonna kill them in a more traditional way. He begins monologuing, and actually turns his back on the two for a second (!). As he does so, Ralph and Barry pull out pistols and stun Goldface several dozen times. They think they've won, but amazingly Goldface gets back on his feet. They see his skin is partially torn away, revealing a solid gold skeleton (I guess?) underneath.

Barry bashes Goldface in the head with a metal beam, but he's unfazed. Goldface removes the massive gold chain from his neck and uses it like a whip to knock Barry to his feet. He then wraps the chain around Ralph's neck and begins choking him. Barry gets an idea and stands in front of a circuit box. He taunts Goldface, who hurls the end of the chain at him. He ducks out of the way at the last second, and the chain gets caught in the box. Electricity courses through the chain and into Goldface's body, frying him. He collapses, molten gold running from his eyes and ears.

At Orlin's house, Iris thanks him for the interview and nonchalantly grabs her purse as she leaves. Orlin notes she didn't have a purse when she entered, and realizes she was snooping earlier. She makes a run for it, but he throws his dagger at the front door, preventing it from opening. He lunges at Iris, but she maces him right in the face, causing him to double over in pain. She runs through the house, accidentally knocking over the doll house and destroying it. This causes him to roar with rage.

Iris runs to the kitchen, looking for a weapon. In desperation she takes her pen ( I think?), and when Orlin approaches she jabs it into the dark matter wound on his chest. He wails in agony, instantly incapacitated. She tells him they're going to beat him, and escapes.

Back at STAR Labs, Barry's upset that they didn't get the Field Generator. Caitlin says the mission wasn't a total loss, as they took down Goldface without their powers, meaning they can do the same with Cicada (even though they've never been able to do so before).

Iris calls Barry and tells him what happened. He, Ralph and Killer Frost rush to Orlin's house. Barry searches it at super speed, but no one's there. Iris returns as well, and picks up her bloody pen. She says they don't need the Field Generator now, as she knows Cicada's weakness. ??? I have no idea what she's talking about here.

Sherloque returns to Jitters and sees Renee Adler there reading. He tentatively approaches her and says he hasn't been stalking her, but is a master detective and simply deduced details about her life. She tells him to prove it, and he expertly "reads" another patron. She forgives him and gives him her phone number. As she leaves, the door opens without her touching it. Sherloque realizes Renee's a meta.

Cut to STAR Labs, where Sherloque forgets all about Nora, and vows to protect Renee from Cicada. Nora watches smugly, and returns to the future. She tells Thawne their plan worked.

• Note to The Flash writers: In future, maybe don't give episodes titles with "faced" in them. Every time I see Goldfaced, it reminds me of "Sh*tfaced." Yes, I'm twelve years old.

• When Cisco first brought up the concept of a meta cure, Caitlin and Killer Frost both strenuously objected. They said it posed a threat to metas everywhere, and could be used on them against their will. Cisco promised that wouldn't happen, and Barry backed him up.

It really felt like this cure was going to become a major issue on the show, and possibly tear Team Flash down the center as various characters lined up on both sides.

Nope! This week Barry wants to use the meta cure to defeat Cicada by injecting him with it against his will. Oddly enough there's not a peep of protest from Caitlin OR Killer Frost. In fact Caitlin even helps manufacture the cure!

I guess her earlier objections were there just to pad out the runtime. The only reason the cure was created at all was as a plot device to defeat Cicada in the season finale.

• Caitlin says the meta cure's ready, but they'll have to immobilize Cicada for an entire minute to administer it. Everyone begins wringing their hands, trying to figure out how they  can hold him still for that long. Eventually they cook up a plan that involves stealing a Stasis Field Generator.

Gosh, it's too bad they don't have someone on their team who can literally freeze people in their tracks, and is immune to Cicada's powers. Yep, too bad. 

• Of all the hundreds of preposterous things that've happened on this show in the past five years, the idea of Iris publishing a newspaper BY HERSELF has to be at the top of the list.

Is she the only employee? Does she really write EVERY article, as well as go out on assignments and interviews? Every single day?

Let's hope her little newspaper is a monthly! Or at the very least a weekly. I'm assuming it must be more like a flyer, printed front and back. If we're to believe it's an actual multi-page newspaper, then she's never going to see Barry again, because she'll be working twenty four hours a day.

This is all hogwash, pure and simple. There's no way in hell one person could create a newspaper's worth of content on a daily basis. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about— I worked at a newspaper from 2001 to 2008, and it was the longest thirty years of my life.

• At the beginning of the episode, Barry arranges the furniture in Iris' newspaper office while she's hard at work. Did he really need to use his superspeed to drag her couch three feet to the right? How much time could that possibly have saved?

• Is there a reason why Barry, Ralph, Earl Cox and Brent Osmark all have the exact same hairstyle in this episode? Was there a sale over a the Central City Supercuts this week?

• When Nora drags Sherloque to Jitters, he claims he doesn't have time for tea. When she asks what he's working on, he replies, "Well, I'm working on a mystery, if you must know, nosy parker."

At first I thought Tom Cavanagh accidentally used part of actress Jessica Parker Kennedy's real name. But then I realized it was a phrase. I'd never heard anyone use it before, so off to google I went. Turns out a "nosy parker" is a person of an intrusive or overly inquisitive nature.

I'm still convinced Cavanagh meant it as a little in-joke though, and wouldn't be surprised if he calls Kennedy "Nosy Parker" on set.

• Thanks to Nora and Thawne, Sherloque has a meet cute with a woman named Renee Adler.

I see what you did there, The Flash writers.

Obviously Renee is supposed to evoke Irene Adler, who appeared in exactly one Sherlock Holmes story (A Scandal In Bohemia) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Adler's often depicted as a love interest for Sherlock Holmes in various modern movies, TV and literature. That's simply not true, and is a huge departure from the official canon. 

In Doyle's stories, Holmes was an asexual being who was above such petty concerns as love, romance and relationships. He simply admired Irene Adler for her sharp mind and cunning wit, and was impressed that she was the only woman who was ever able to best him. They were never in any kind of romantic relationship. In fact, Adler was married to a lawyer named Godfrey Norton! Holmes was even a witness at their wedding!

I suspect these modern adaptations tend to play up Irene Adler's importance in an effort to give Holmes and Watson a case of the Not-Gays.

• In a surprising little plot twist, we later find out that four of Sherloque's ex-wives are versions of Renee Adler from various Earths in the Multiverse.

All the versions of Renee are played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley. She does an amazing job here, as I had no problem believing I was watching five completely different women. Williams-Paisley is no stranger to her co-star Tom Cavanagh either. The two of them starred as "Mom" and "Dad" in 2006's How To Eat Fried Worms.

• One of the Renees (the one in the black leather jacket and Daisy Dukes) says, "We know you had Superman deliver your alimony to your ex on Earth-38!"

This is a callback to Elseworlds, Part 1, in which Sherloque approached Superman and did indeed ask him to drop off a check to his ex-wife on Earth-38! Cool!

Cowgirl Renee also threatens to call Breacher if Sherloque doesn't pay up. Breacher is of course Gypsy's terrifying father (played by Danny Trejo), who works as a dimension-hopping bounty hunter. Although I thought he retired last season?

• Luckily no one else slipped on a the large puddle of coffee that Nora deliberately spilled on the floor in Jitters. In fact the puddle seemed to magically disappear once it caused Renee to slip!

• Apparently this is how Barry & Ralph think all arms dealers dress— like early 2000s Eurotrash singers.

Shouldn't the two of them have at least made a slight attempt at disguising themselves here? Ralph was a private detective long before he became the Elongated Man. No doubt he was often called upon to testify in court, and helped put away quite a few crooks. His face is probably quite well known in the underworld.

And then there's Barry. He's a goddamned CSI at the CCPD— he's literally a cop! And if that wasn't enough, just last year he on trial for the murder of Clifford DeVoe. No doubt his face was plastered all over the news for weeks. 

How the hell did Goldface not recognize one or both of them?

• How were Barry & Ralph planning on paying for the stuff they wanted to buy in the black market? Did Barry sell some more STAR Labs stock?

• Inside the black market, Barry tries to buy the entire supply of cop killer blasters, in order to keep them off the streets. This makes the dealer suspicious, causing him to activate a silent alarm.

By all means guys, ALWAYS put a bright red glowing light on your secret alarm button!

• Sigh... For years now The Flash has been vexing me with the way it depicts DC Comics characters. The show has two extremes— the characters are either incredibly faithful to the comics (ala the Flash, Kid Flash, King Shark and The Monitor) or they don't even try and stick everyone in black leather (Gypsy, Mirror Master, Abra Kadabra and a hundred others).

Goldface definitely falls into the latter category. He's the comic character in name only, as he's dressed in— you guessed it black leather and wears a thick gold chain around his neck. Yawn.

Stuff like this pisses me off because they've demonstrated they can give us comic-accurate characters when they want to. I guess it was just too much trouble this week.

Toward the end of the episode we find out he actually has a gold skeleton or a layer of organic gold or something underneath his skin. It appears his gold inner core can actually cover his skin when needed too. None of this is ever adequately explained, of course.

Goldface's gold chain is apparently some kind of meta-tech, as he can control it and even alter its length.

These surprise powers are almost enough to make up for his bland and uninspired look. Almost.

In the comics, Goldface was Keith Kenyon, a scientist who drank a gold-based serum that granted him strength and invulnerability. He invented a gun which sprayed liquid gold, for some reason. His criminal plans often involved stealing gold to use as ammo for his gun (?).

Later on Kenyon's origin was revised, and he gained his powers after discovering a sunken chest of gold that'd been contaminated by toxic waste.

Kenyon's ex-wife was Blacksmith, aka Amunet Black. Here on the show she's his ex-girlfriend.

Goldface started out as a Green Lantern villain (because of yellow), but eventually became associated with the Flash as well. In recent years he's given up his life of crime and become a respected union leader (!).

• Barry lies and tells Goldface that he's a criminal mastermind known as The Chemist. Oddly enough, this isn't the first time the character's been mention on TV. The Chemist was a minor character on Batman: The Animated Series.

• Now THIS was a tense and uncomfortable scene! I was honestly worried about Iris there for a minute, and wondered if she'd actually make it out of Orlin's house alive. Kudos to Chris Klein and Candice Patton for turning in some stellar performances this week.

• For months now, Team Flash has been trying to figure out how to take down Cicada. Who knew the best way to defeat him was with plain old every day pepper spray!

• Ivo Labs appeared in the big Elseworlds crossover earlier in the season. They were the ones responsible for building the AMAZO robot.

• Did Goldface's crew really need the high-intensity flashlights when they were searching Ivo Labs? It looks like the place was fairly well illuminated without them. I guess they turned 'em on because they thought all those stabbing beams sweeping back & forth looked kewl.

• Whoever wrote this week's script really likes first person shooter games! Barry & Ralph sweep through Ivo Labs like they're playing a real-world version of Call Of Duty! All set to the music of Rob Zombie's Dragula, natch!

Jesus Christ, I just looked it up and that Dragula song is twenty one years old! How the hell did that happen?

• Lucky for Barry & Ralph that Goldface decided to be a good sport and not blow off their arms after they turned on him and knocked out his entire squad. He actually showed admirable restraint.

• Somehow Goldface is still alive after his gold skeleton literally melts from the inside. Because we can't have our hero kill anyone, right? If/when Goldface ever returns, I'm assuming he'll be blind, right? Unless his eyeballs can withstand molten gold pouring over them?

• Iris manages to escape from Cicada and live to tell the tale. Later she, Barry, Ralph and Killer Frost check out Orlin's house, but he's long gone. Iris asks Barry if he found the Field Generator he was looking for, and he shakes his head no. Iris says they may not need it. She picks up her bloody pen, smiles knowlingly and says, "I know how to give the cure to Cicada. I know his weakness."

What the hell is she talking about here? Is she referencing the blood on the pen she used to stab him? If so, how would that make him stand still long enough for the cure to work? Is she talking about stabbing him in his dark matter wound again? That certainly seems like a weakness, but... you'd need to get within a foot to stab him again— and he's unlikely to allow that. Is she trying to say that despite his powers he's still human, and can be hurt? I honestly don't know what her cryptic comment means.

• At the end of the episode it's implied that Renee yet another meta character on the show— most likely a telekinetic. I wonder... would she be able to use her mind to hold Cicada still long enough for the meta cure to work? Is that why they're introducing her?

This Week's Best Lines:
Renee: "Can I buy you a scone or something to repay you for saving my life?"

Sherloque: "Scone? Yes, all night. I mean yes."
Renee: "Great."
Sherloque: "Thank you very much. Um, uh... What we shall talk about while we eat our scones, I wonder? Maybe about, given your grace and your posture, your years of ballet training?"
Renee: (amazed) "Since I was four."
Sherloque: "Hmm."
Renee: "Wow, you're really perceptive."
Sherloque: "Well, it's a modest talent, I suppose."
Renee: "Notice anything else about me?"
Sherloque: "Challenge accepted. Um, well, East Coast girl?"
Renee: "Yes."
Sherloque: "From a small village, maybe, um, by a bay? Work with books? A librarian? At a university? Live by a train station, small split-level pad? You, um, have a dog. Older dog. Corgi. Anyway, about that scone..."
Renee: "Okay, stay away from me.:
Sherloque: "What?"
Renee: "I don't know how long you've been watching me, but it ends now."
Sherloque: "No, no, no."
Renee: "Or I'm calling CCPD, stalker!"

Ralph: (to Barry) "New game plan. The antihero of our dynamic duo will find the Field Generator. And you're just gonna stay here and try not to look like a cop. Or a superhero."
Barry: "Okay."
Ralph: "Or really anything you actually are."

Goldface: (to Ralph) "See, here's the thing. Scum recognizes scum. I'm scum. And I've survived this long by recognizing the same. Like you. You're scum. I sniffed you coming a mile away."
Ralph: "Thanks?"
Ralph: (after he and Barry wipe out all of Goldface's grunts) "I knew all that Red Dead would pay off.

Goldface: (to Barry & Ralph) "Good boys.I was hoping you wouldn't make Daddy use his belt."

Ralph: (to Goldface) "All right, Goldie Hawn. Let's do this."

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