Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Flash Season 7, Episode 11: Family Matters, Part 2

This week on The Flash we get the welcome wrap up of the clumsy and nonsensical Four Forces Saga. 

As storylines go, this was an odd one. In addition to the substandard writing that's become the norm lately, it was very poorly paced, as it somehow felt ponderous and rushed at the same time.

Worst of all, there was no proper villain! Western literature typically requires a protagonist and an antagonist to move the story along. At various points in this arc, each of the Four Forces took turns being the villain, but they turned out to be just confused and misguided, and by the end they all kissed and made up and became the good guys. What the hell?

This episode also marks the second time in just a couple weeks that Barry's nonchalantly visited the past in order to solve a plot complication— something we've been repeatedly told is forbidden. I guess all those dire warnings go right out the window when the plot needs it to happen.

On the prediction front, ehh, I didn't do so well this time. I got one partially right, but utterly and completely botched another.

We'll start with the one I sort of got right. At the end of The People V. Killer Frost, our favorite resident Ice Queen was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. I knew there was no way they'd permanently write her off the show, and was confident she'd eventually return. In fact, at the time I predicted this: 

Personally I don't think we've seen the last of Frost. I'm betting at some point this season we'll get a storyline where we'll check in and see how she's doing in Iron Heights. She might even encounter fellow ice-meta Chillblaine while she's there. Who knows, he may instigate a riot that somehow threatens Kristen. Then Frost will save her, and Kristen will realize she's not so bad after all and get her sentence commuted.

Eh, some of that happened, just not in the way I expected. While Chillblaine didn't start a riot and endanger Kristen, he DID escape from Iron Heights, and Frost battled, captured and brought him back in. And the Judge somehow overturned her previous ruling and let her out on probation. So I'm giving myself half credit on that one. 

Unfortunately my second prediction was totally wrong in every measurable sense. 

For weeks now I've been saying that the Speed Force wasn't actually the Speed Force, but was secretly Barry's arch nemesis Eobard Thawne in disguise. I reasoned that Thawne somehow took on the form of the late Nora West in order to gain Barry's trust. Once he'd insinuated himself into Team Flash, he'd strike at the opportune moment.

Turns out I was WAYYYYY off base there, as nothing even remotely like that happened.

In my defense, I didn't just pull this prediction out of my ass. Before Season 7 even began, there were rumors that Thawne would be returning one last time before actor Tom Cavanagh exited the show. So what better way for him to go out than to disguise himself as Barry's source of power?

Ah well. Can't win 'em all! That'll teach me to believe everything I read online! On the other hand, my Thawne In Disguise idea would have been much, much better than the plot we actually got!

This week's episode was directed by Chad Lowe, of all people. He's the younger brother of Rob Lowe. Apparently he's become quite the prolific TV director in recent years, helming numerous episodes of series like Bones, Pretty Little Liars and Life In Pieces.

Lastly, some ominous news— Family Matters, Part 2 is the all-time lowest rated episode of the entire series. It could only manage to scrape up a shockingly low 670,000 viewers! Yikes! That ain't good, guys!

For comparison, Season 6's average ratings were around 1.2 million per episode. This one was about half that number!

I'm assuming the writing is the culprit here, as viewers were likely driven away by the wrap up of the horrifically awful Mirrorverse Saga. The fact that the show's seemingly traded superhero action for talking the villains to death ain't helping matters either.

And things aren't likely to get better after Cisco leaves the show next week! Look for the ratings to drop even more. It's entirely possible that this may end up being the final season.


The Plot:
Picking up right where we left off last week, Barry gazes in horror at the dead bodies of Iris, Alexa and Bashir, who were killed by the Speed Force. Suddenly their bodies vanish, and the three of them appear— healthy & alive— behind Barry. He realizes that Bashir (aka Psych) secretly created an illusion to convince the Speed Force that she'd killed them. Barry wonders why the Speed Force seems to hate Iris so much, and she says it's because she sees her as "competition." Ewww.

A huge storm then begins brewing over Central City, complete with thousands of lightning strikes per hour. Barry says the Speed Force is behind it, and it won't take long for her to figure out she's been fooled. He says he needs to hide the other Forces someplace she'll never find them. Iris asks where they'll be safe from a virtual god. Barry reminds her and the audience that the Speed Force was dead for much of last season, so he'll stash everyone in the brief period in the past in which it didn't exist.

At the West House, Joe— who quit his job as Chief Of Police last week— sees a news report about the storm damaging Iron Heights Prison and allowing dozens of inmates to escape. He tells Cecile he feels helpless and wishes he could do something. Just then a bolt of lightning smashes through the window and hits Cecile, knocking her out.

Barry takes Iris, Alexa and Bashir into the past to the Dead Zone, which inexplicably contains a copy of his childhood home. He says they'll be safe there, and 
gives Iris a Transmat Orb that can take them back to the present if need be. 

Suddenly Barry vanishes from the Zone, and finds himself in his apartment in the present. The Speed Force is there, now decked out in goth attire to let us know she's turned evil. She demands he bring the other Forces to her, threatening to destroy Central City if he doesn't. She then zooms away for no good reason.

Back at STAR Labs, Chester gives Barry an isotopic sensor that'll help him locate Deon. He then uses it to systemically sweep the city & find him.

Meanwhile, we see that Chillblaine was apparently one of the prisoners who escaped from Iron Heights. Inexplicably, he's fully suited up in an ice-themed costume as he robs Ivo Labs. He's then unexpectedly confronted by Frost, who's also wearing her costume for some reason. He asks her out for a drink, but she says she's busy rounding up escaped convicts. The two then charge at one another.

Joe brings the unconscious Cecile to STAR Labs (rather than the hospital), and says the Speed Force attacked her. Caitlin says she'll do everything she can to fix her up.

Barry finds Deon chilling out at Central City Stadium. He tells Barry he regrets killing Iris & the other Forces, and wishes he could take it all back. Barry tells him it was all an illusion, and warns him the Speed Force is coming to kill him. He tries to get him to hide out with the others, but Deon says he'll handle things his own way and teleports away.

Back in the Dead Zone, Bashir speaks telepathically to Alexa (which is apparently a thing the Forces can do now). He says he's tired of waiting and asks if she wants to escape with him. She says yes, and the two attack Iris and try to grab the Transmat. Iris throws it to the ground and smashes it, trapping them all in the Zone. Bashir reveals it was an illusion (?) and he actually has the device. He activates it and pulls them all back into the present.

Barry returns to STAR, where Cisco & Chester say they have no clue how to stop the Speed Force. Barry says he doesn't know how they're going to win this one.

Just then they detect the Speed Force, and Barry zooms off to confront her. Barry tries defeating her with the Power Of Love again (Jesus Christ!), but she tells him SHE didn't create the storm that's threatening the city— the OTHER Forces did. Wha...? She says they need to die before they tear the place apart.

Just then Deon appears and attacks the Speed Force. There's a huge explosion, which knocks everyone on their asses. Deon's rendered unconscious, so Barry speeds him back to STAR for treatment. Barry tells Cisco & Chester that the other Forces are the problem, not the Speed Force. Suddenly Iris enters and says Alexa and Bashir are going after the Speed Force.

Elsewhere, Frost & Chillblaine continue their fight. Despite her denials, she begins sensing some chemistry between them. She eventually fires a blast of ice and knocks him out.

Meanwhile, Central City's being ravaged by lightning. Barry tells Iris that based on how their "children" are running amok, maybe they just weren't meant to be parents. Joe convinces them otherwise (?), which somehow makes Barry & Iris realize they need to bring the Forces together instead of keeping them apart.

Apologies if all this seems really confusing— such is the nature of this week's script, and I'm desperately struggling to make sense of all this myself.

Deon recovers, and Barry tells him he needs to work together with the other two Forces to take down the Speed Force. Wait, what? He just told everyone that she wasn't the problem! What the hell is going on?

Just then Alexa and Bashir appear, and they explain that things are different now. Deon apologizes for trying to kill them, and everyone's one big happy family.

Barry & the Forces then zoom out into the storm to confront the Speed Force. She says she knows they're there to betray her, and says so be it. She calls down lightning, which strikes the four of them and makes them vanish

Everyone then finds themselves in a chaotic realm, and Barry realizes they're inside the Speed Force (???). We then get a big CGI setpiece battle, as the Speed Force appears and Barry and the others attack. They combine their powers against the Speed Force and blast her, and are suddenly transported back in the real world.

The others figure they beat the Speed Force, but Barry says it shouldn't have been that easy. Sure enough, a massive Force Tornado (I guess?) appears above the city. Cisco & Chester analyze it, and realize it's made of some sort of energy that'll cause a "Big Bang in reverse," whatever the hell that means. Cisco says Barry has less than three minutes to save the city.

Barry zooms off to try and dissipate the tornado. Just then the Speed Force reappears, intent on destroying the others. Alexa and Bashir distract the Speed Force, while Deon uses his power to stop time for her. 

Smash cut to the Speed Force wandering around in a completely empty and silent world in which no one else exists. For some reason, this causes the Speed Force to freak the hell out, as she suffers a complete mental breakdown. She wails that this is worse than dying, and begs to go back.

Deon brings the Speed Force back, and she collapses and begs the others not to leave her alone ever again. Alexa says it's up to her— suffer alone, or choose a future where she's part of a family. The Speed Force asks them to forgive her, and Alexa offers her hand in friendship (oy).

Meanwhile, Barry's still battling the tornado. The other Forces (who apparently caused the thing, mind you) lend their power to Barry, allowing him to move faster than ever and dissipate it. They all share a group hug.

Sometime later, Barry & Iris take the Forces to the Dead Zone. They clean it up, making it a bright & cheery place. The Speed Force says they all plan on staying there and expanding it "to bring light to everyone in the universe (?)." They tell Barry that now that they're all working together, he'll be faster than ever before.

Back at STAR, Cecile wakes and sees Joe sitting at her side.

At Jitters, Cisco, Kamilla, Chester & Allegra are all having coffee. Cisco & Kamilla begin shamelessly and aggressively flirting with one another, making Chester & Allegra uncomfortable. They glance at one another awkwardly, no doubt setting up a future romance subplot.

Cut to Caitlin in her apartment. She answers the door, and is stunned to see Frost there. She asks if she's a fugitive, but Frost says that due to her rounding up the escaped criminals— plus a good word from the Flash— she's been paroled for good behavior. Boy, will we be talking about THIS plot development below!

Frost also says she has a crush on a certain bartender, causing the audience to hurl the contents of its collective stomach.

In the tag scene, Barry & Iris bask in the glow of another successful mission. He wonders if they'll be good parents when their own children leave the nest, apparently forgetting they already had a future kid. Iris slowly sashays into the bedroom as she says it's time to find out. Barry eagerly follows.

• As I said in the intro, this episode is filled with bafflingly bad moments, as well as a few relatively decent and well-thought out scenes. In an effort to not be completely negative here, I'll be calling out a few instances of Credit Where Credit's Due.

Credit Where Credit's Due #1: At the end of the previous episode, the Speed Force & Deon appeared in STAR Labs and seemingly murdered Iris, Alexa & Bashir in front of Barry. This week we found out that the Speed Force only thought she killed them, as Bashir created a convincing illusion in her mind.

So when did he have time to do that? Welp, if you go back and watch the end of Family Matters, Part 1, the instant the Speed Force appears, the camera focuses on Bashir for a split second as an odd look crosses his face. 

Obviously this is the moment he recognized the danger and created the illusion that saved everyone's lives. It goes by so fast though that most audience members probably didn't even notice it (I definitely didn't the first time I watched the episode).

Kudos to the writers for planning ahead and setting up this little moment last week and paying it off here! Well done!

• Barry finds out that Iris & the others are still alive and says:

Barry: "I don’t get it. Why would Nora attack you?"
Iris: "I think she sees me as competition."

Yikes! So let me get this straight— Barry & Iris fully believe they created the Four Forces and consider them their "children." One of these children is an actual, honest to goodness Force Of Nature, which took the form of Barry's dead mother. It then fell in love with him and wants to eliminate his wife— who's really his foster sister— so it can have him all to itself. 

Holy crap! The whole idea of the Speed Force being jealous of Iris is more than a little skin-crawly. If I didn't know better I'd say someone on the writing staff just took a Psychology 101 class, learned about the Oedipal Complex and couldn't wait to incorporate it onto a script.

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. Look at the 
lighting on this desk in STAR Labs. I can only imagine how pleasant it must be to stare at a monitor while a series of glaring neon lights shines right in your face. 

And why's that guardrail there in the first place? What's it supposed to be protecting?

• When Joe hears that dozens of prisoners have escaped from Iron Heights, he tells Cecile he feels powerless to help. Well, Joe, maybe if you hadn't thrown a hissy fit and foolishly quit your job as Chief Of Police last week, you could do something about it.

• We get another Baby Jenna mention this week, but still no appearance. I'm telling you guys, next time we see her she's gonna be a wisecracking twelve year old through the magic of Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome.

• Of the many perplexing elements in this episode, the most confusing has to be the so-called Dead Zone. Barry explains his plan to keep Iris and the others safe:

Cisco: "Guys, there’s nowhere on Earth to hide from the Speed Force."
Barry: "Then we won’t hide them on Earth. There’s only one place Nora can’t go. A place where she didn’t exist for a few months."
Cisco: "Like, in the past?"
Iris: "When Nora first died? Does that place still exist?"
Barry: "It’s a moment in time. A Dead Zone that she can’t access, but a Speedster can."

LOTS to unpack here:

First of all, Barry, Iris, Alexa & Bashir casually time travel back to last year. If you'll recall, just two episodes ago Team Flash begged him not to mess with time again, lest he cause another Flashpoint. He then sought out the help of Timeless Wells, who used his powers to make sure Barry didn't alter the present by screwing up the past.

Of course there's no mention of Timeless Wells in this episode, and no one lifts a finger to stop Barry from going back to the past again. Barry does mention that the Dead Zone somehow isn't on Earth, so maybe traveling there doesn't endanger time?

Secondly, once Barry & the others arrive in the Zone, they see what appears to be his rundown childhood home, which seems to be the only structure in an endless black void (?).

So far most of the FX this season have been top notch. Annnnnd then there's this scene, brought to us by the best CGI that 1995 had to offer. Seriously, what the hell happened here? Did they let one of their interns animate this shot?

When Barry first outlines his plan, he specifically says he's taking the group to a point in time when the Speed Force was deceased. Once they arrive in the Zone and enter his old house, he says they're actually INSIDE the dead Speed Force! See for yourself:

Alexa: "This is the Speed Force?"
Barry: "It was."

Confusing! So which is it? Are they inside the Speed Force or not? Did anyone proofread this script before they filmed it?

Thirdly, whatever this Dead Zone is, the point of hiding there is so the Speed Force can't find them. But shortly after arriving there, Barry vanishes from the Zone and appears in his apartment, where he's confronted by the Speed Force. She says she couldn't "feel" him anymore, so she somehow brought him there.

So let's review
— Barry takes the others to the Dead Zone, which may be a moment in time when the Speed Force didn't exist, or may be the actual deceased Speed Force itself. He assures everyone that the Speed Force can't find or harm them while they're in there. But the Speed Force gets angry when it can't sense Barry, and yanks him out of the Dead Zone— which she allegedly can't access. Got it.

Lastly, at the end of the episode, all four Forces— including the Speed Force— return to the Dead Zone and decide to fix it up and live there. So the Speed Force couldn't go to the Dead Zone until she could, and she may or may not be living inside herself.

Oh, and the Forces tell Barry & Iris they're going to somehow expand the Zone, "to bring light to everyone in the universe." Whatever the hell that means.

If none of that made any sense to you, you're definitely not alone!

• I couldn't help but laugh when I saw the Speed Force's new Evil Goth/Hot Topic look. Jaysis, they didn't miss a trick here did they? Pale makeup & black lipstick, dark clothing... I'm surprised they didn't give her a Mirror Universe Spock goatee while they were at it.

Something about this look seemed familiar, but I couldn't quite figure out what it was. Then in the third act the Speed Force goes full medieval on everyone's asses, and it finally clicked. She's Dark Phoenix from X-Men: The Last Stand.

She even flies and shoots energy beams out of her hands, just like the evil Jean Grey did!

• In this episode the Speed Force announces— completely out of nowhere— that she has a crippling fear of "death." 

Speed Force: "Do you have any idea what death is like? It’s an agonizing emptiness that turns your soul inside out. And that loneliness it brings? It burns."
Barry: "Iris and I brought you back."
Speed Force: "You brought them back too. As soon as I was reborn, I could feel those new Forces trying to snuff out my existence. They wanted to drag me back into the darkness, Barry. But I won’t let them. Now bring my brothers and sister to me… or your city dies."

So where did the Speed Force's sudden fear of "death" come from? She's never said anything about it up to now. Methinks the writers realized she was too powerful for Barry and the others to defeat by simply battling her, so they needed to come up with some bullsh*t psychological weakness they could exploit.

As silly as it seems at first glance, I guess it does make a certain amount of sense. After all, the Speed Force actually did die last season— when it was poisoned by the Spectre's energy during the Crisis. Maybe she remembers that experience, and doesn't want to go through it again.

• Back at STAR, Cisco monitors the cataclysmic weather caused by the Speed Force and says, "We’ve got Category 3 winds and over twenty two lightning strikes a minute."

In case you're wondering, Category 3 winds are between 110 and 129 mph! According to the interwebs: "Well-built frame homes may sustain major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes."

Sounds pretty serious! Too bad we never see ANY evidence of that level of damage during the entire episode.

• In one of this episode's more preposterous and uncomfortable scenes, Frost confronts Chillblaine, who's apparently escaped from Iron Heights and is looting Ivo Labs. Wow, so much to talk about here.

First of all, this whole scene seems very out of place here. It comes completely out of nowhere, and almost feels like it was hurriedly filmed long after the fact and clumsily edited into the episode.

And then there's Chillblaine's laughable and ridiculous costume. Wow. That is one stunning little number he's sporting there, consisting of black pants & boots, a bright yellow leather jacket and nothing else. 

Jaysis, Freddie Mercury would have taken one look at that thing and said, "Nah, too gay." I think it's the fake fur trim around the collar that really elevates it to a whole new level.

So where did this costume come from? Chillblaine wasn't wearing it in his debut back in Growing Pains, so this is the first time we've ever seen it.

Similarly, Frost also has her costume in this scene, even though the last Last time we saw her she was wearing her conservative "court outfit."

The only explanation I can think of is that the minute these two broke out of Iron Heights, the first thing they did was hightail it to their respective apartments and change into their supervillain duds!

Chillblaine's also wearing the gauntlets that give him cold powers as well. Note that he was wearing those when he was arrested a couple episodes back. Maybe they were being kept in the prison's storage locker, and he liberated them during his escape?

Lastly, the whole Frost/Chillblaine relationship is creepy, cringeworthy and downright embarrassing. Especially considering this is The CW, the network that constantly trumpets how progressive and woke it is.

Basically we have a toxic male asshole of a character who's aggressively pursuing Frost, to the point of sexual harassment. Frost is initially appalled by inappropriate advances, but eventually his relentless efforts "wear her down" until she becomes intrigued.

Seems like an odd message to send to the young males in the audience, doesn't it? "No Means No, Unless The Woman's Aroused By Your Abs!"

Credit Where Credit's Due #2: As stupid as the Frost/Chillblaine scenes were, at the very least they gave us some cool fight scenes & stunts— something that's been sorely lacking on the show lately.

• After a thorough search, Barry finally locates Deon inside Central City Arena (that's Barry's speed lightning trail at bottom right).

Oddly enough, this particular arena looks a LOT like the BC Place in Vancouver! Ironically, it's played the role of STAR Labs for the past seven seasons on The Flash, whenever they need a location shot of its exterior.

We get to see the interior of BC Place as well, when Barry tries talking Deon to death. I bet it was pretty easy for the crew to rent out the entire stadium in the middle of a pandemic!

• So who's the actual villain in this episode? Logic would dictate it's the Speed Force, but of course since this is The Flash, it can't be that simple. You could get whiplash trying to figure it out.

At the beginning of the episode the Speed Force & Deon attempt to kill Team Flash & the other Forces, making them the bad guys. Got it. 

But then a bit later Deon repents and goes off to kill the Speed Force on his own. Meaning he's now one of the good guys (sort of).

Then Barry confronts the Speed Force, but she tells him she's not responsible for the massive storms ravaging Central City. She says they're being caused by the other three Forces— meaning they're now the villains. She then demands that Barry bring the other three to her, or she'll destroy the city. Which makes her both the hero AND the villain, I guess?

Of course the other three Forces aren't the enemy after all, as they join together to confront their "sister" the Speed Force, and convince her to stop with the evil schtick. 

Of course they're successful, and in the end the Four Forces make nice and live together in peace and harmony.

Which all boils down to the fact that there is no real villain in this episode, which pretty much makes the entire storyline pointless.

Credit Where Credit's Due #3: All through the Four Forces Saga, there've been some seemingly random and incongruous occurrences.

At the beginning of Central City Strong (the start of this storyline), Barry & Iris were having a quiet night in when out of nowhere, an earthquake struck the city.

A few weeks later in Timeless, Team Citizen encountered a vintage 1950s auto parked on the street for no reason. Note that at the time, neither of these occurrences were ever explained in any way.

This week we find out that the presence of the Four Forces was inadvertently causing these anomalies. The quake was caused when the Strength Force (aka Fuerza) first appeared, while the out of time car was a side effect of the Still Force (aka Deon). And for some reason, the random lightning bolt that hits Cecile this week was due to the presence of the Sage Force (aka Bashir).

That's amazing! Good on the writers for actually doing some good old fashioned setup and payoff! Unfortunately it happens so rarely I didn't recognize it as such, and just assumed they'd screwed up.

• At one point Barry confronts the Speed Force on the street and tries talking her to death, of course. He then looks up and sees the bizarre sight of a cargo plane made of green energy flying overhead. Wha...?

It looks for all the world like something Green Lantern would conjure up with his power ring. Deon's time energy is always green, so I'm assuming the plane is his doing. Is that really something he can do? Does he really fly around in a little Time Energy Plane? If so, why? We've never seen him do anything remotely like this before. In every previous episode he just snapped his fingers and teleported away. Did he make this cute little plane so he & his Force pals could ride around in it?

What the hell is even happening on this show right now?

• Joe gives Barry & Iris a Patented The CW Pep Talk
© about what great parents they are (insert eyeroll here). This somehow causes Barry to realize the answer to their problems. They've been trying to keep the Four Forces apart, when they should be bringing them together

Um... they've already been together now. Several times. In fact all four of them were in the same room at the beginning of this very episode. I guess maybe he meant "bring together" as in family?

• In the third act, Barry, Alexa, Deon & Bashir go out on location and walk down a VERY familiar-looking staircase before their final confrontation with the Speed Force.

Of course these stairs belong to Oceanic Plaza in downtown Vancouver, and are instantly recognizable to fans of The Flash, as they've appeared dozens of times on it and all the various Arrowverse shows. They've popped up so much they should be listed in the main cast. Heck, I've never even been to Vancouver and I recognize them!

• The final setpiece battle takes place inside an otherworldly realm filled with swirling energy and lightning. Iris herself confirms that Barry & the others are inside the Speed Force. But this place looks completely different than the Dead Zone, which is supposedly also the Speed Force after it died. Got it? No? Me either.

Credit Where Credit's Due #4: Deon uses his power on the Speed Force to isolate her in a single, empty moment in time.

As he does so, the soundtrack instantly goes dead silent, as we're treated to a montage of a desolate and empty Central City. For a second or two I honestly thought something went wrong with the sound on my TV. It was very effective! Well done, guys!

Kudos to actress Michelle Harrison as well, who really went all in this week. Her depiction of the Speed Force's sense of anguish and isolation during this scene was nothing short of amazing. She really sold it here, as her reaction was genuinely brutal to watch. 

I'm not sure why ten seconds of alone time would cause a complete and utter mental breakdown in her though, but whatever. Great job!

That said, I just have one question/complaint about this scene: Why the hell is DEON— who controls time— showing the Speed Force her worst fear? Isn't that Bashir's thing? He's the Sage Force after all, and has the ability to control people's minds. Seems like it'd made much more sense if HE was the one who isolated her inside a nightmare world.

• Annnnnd just like that, just the threat of being forever alone causes the Speed Force to stop being a jerk, make a 180° turn and join the Forces' "family." 

I guess that's better than Barry defeating her with the Power Of Love— as he's done with every other villain this season— but not much.

Even though I should have seen it coming, this is NOT how I thought the Speed Force Saga would end.

I assumed Barry would be forced to destroy "Nora" and then HE'D somehow become the Speed Force's new avatar. Much the same way Alexa, Deon & Bashir became avatars for their various Forces.

That would have made for a much more satisfying wrap up in my opinion, but alas, it didn't happen.

• For some reason, even after the Forces make nice with one another, the massive tornado their powers created remains active. Barry then uses his speed (boosted by the combined might of the Four Forces) to run rings around the funnel cloud and dissipate it.

Note that he did this exact same thing wayyyy back in the Pilot episode, making this a nice little bookend to that scene.

• In the wrap up (which has more endings than The Return Of The King), the Four Forces return to the Dead Zone, clean it up and talk about expanding it. If you'll recall, earlier in the episode it was stated that this was the one place and time in the entire Universe where the Speed Force could not go. And yet here she is.

So let's talk about Alexa, Deon & Bashir. Why the holy hell would the three of them decide to stay in the Zone? Unlike the Speed Force, which is just a mass of energy in human form, the three of them are actual people. People who somehow became avatars for their respective Forces. People who had their own lives before all this happened to them. I guess they just summarily decided to throw all that away and live inside a formless void?

Alexa's actions in particular seem suspect here. She seemed to have the most going on, as she ran a free health care clinic and was all about helping those less fortunate. Her change of heart seems very abrupt and unbelievable.

Also, the Speed Force tells Barry that as a result of the Four Forces combining their powers, he'll now be faster than ever before. That doesn't make any sense, since the Strength, Still and Sage Forces have nothing whatsoever to do with speed, but again, whatever.

• At Jitters, Cisco & Kamilla's shameless PDA embarrasses Chester & Allegra, who shoot uncomfortable glances at one another.

Dollars to donuts that this scene's setting up a Chester/Allegra pairing in the back half of the season. That seems to be the go-to plotline whenever the writers can't think of anything else to do with their characters.

• Last week Cisco got a call from ARGUS Agent Chip Cooper, but didn't take it. I assumed it was likely something to do with his job hunt, but there was no follow up and the matter was left dangling.

Chip texts Cisco again this week, telling him they need an answer. Looks like the job theory was correct! So will Cisco leave Team Flash to work for ARGUS? Or will he pass & move to Miami, where Kamilla apparently has a job lined up?

 We then see Caitlin chilling (heh) in her apartment, reading a steamy romance novel called Rawhides

Note that this isn't the first time we've seen this particular book in the Arrowverse. It was written by Rebecca Silver, the nom de plume of Mick Rory, aka Heat Wave, over on Legends Of Tomorrow, where it was featured in the Season 4 episode Egg MacGuffin.

• And then we come to the all-time stupidest scene in the episode, and maybe the entire series itself (which is saying something!).

Apologies to Ryan George, but I couldn't help but think of his Pitch Meetings during the big Caitlin & Frost reunion at the end of the episode.

This entire development is so monumentally boneheaded it practically defies analysis. Let's take a look at the actual dialogue:

Caitlin: "Frost! Oh, my God. Are you okay? Are you a fugitive now? Because of this jailbreak?"
Frost: "Eh, slipped out of Iron Heights just like the rest of the meta-wing during the storm."
Caitlin: "But… W-Why would you do that? After everything you’ve been through?"
Frost: "Yeah. Get some much needed exercise. To beat up and put away a dozen meta-humans."
Caitlin: "And what about your sentence?"
Frost: "Oh, even the D.A.’s office has a heart when it sees you on the news, saving lives. That, and a good word from the Flash. And I got out on probation for good behavior."

Wow. I honestly don't even know where to start.

First of all, a few weeks back the show devoted an ENTIRE EPISODE to Frost's trial and ultimate conviction. We saw the whole thing play out in excruciating and laughably inaccurate detail, ending in a tear-jerking scene of Frost saying goodbye to her friends as she was hauled off to the slammer.

Frost's return this week completely undoes that episode, making the entire thing moot. Did you sit down in front of your TV and watch The People V. Killer Frost? Then congratulations— you just wasted an hour of the time you have left on Earth!

Secondly, right after Frost was arrested, Team Flash began desperately trying to find a loophole to prevent her from going to prison. Surprisingly she firmly told them to knock it off, as she freely owned up to her past crimes and was determined to pay for them. She then pled guilty to all charges and insisted on receiving a life sentence.

Then in this episode she nonchalantly sashays back into Caitlin's apartment, as if nothing ever happened. I guess all that stuff about paying her debt to society went right out the window after a few weeks in stir!

Also in this episode, the big Force storm knocks down a wall in Iron Heights, allowing dozens of prisoners to escape. Frost then walks out as well, without any sort of authorization mind you, and uses her powers to round up the escaped convicts and return them to prison.

She seems quite proud of her actions here— smug even. Thing is, she doesn't seem to realize that she just committed the same crime as the other prisoners! Her reasons don't matter  she's an escapee as well!

Think of it this way— if you see a convicted mass murderer walking the streets and you shoot him in the head, you're not a hero. YOU'RE now a killer too!

Back in The People V. Killer Frost, I spent a huge amount of time discussing the episode's ridiculous courtroom gymnastics, and how wildly and cartoonishly inaccurate they were. The whole thing culminated in Frost setting her OWN needlessly harsh sentence, and the Judge inexplicably going along with it (!). Frost gave herself a life sentence without possibility of parole, and the episode very clearly assured us there was no mechanism to change it.

Annnnnd then just like that, this week she's out on probation. It doesn't work like that, guys! "No possibility of parole" means just that! It can't be overturned by one good deed! Jesus, somehow the writers of this episode managed to top their previous preposterous courtroom antics.

Frost mentions that the Flash testifying on her behalf went a long way toward her probation. Nope! That's bullsh*t as well. There's no way a real court would allow testimony from a witness who hides their identity. I suppose it's possible Barry may have revealed who he really is to the Judge. Heck, at this point his true identity's the worst kept secret in Central City, so why not?

And who cares if the Flash put in a good word for Frost? Yes, Barry's a cop (sort of), but the Flash isn't! He's basically a vigilante who operates outside the law. The Judge probably should have had him arrested on the spot!

We've seen numerous times now that Kristen Kramer hates all evil metas, and is making it her life's work to punish them to the fullest extent of the law. After all, she's the one who called for Frost's arrest in the first place. Once they were in court, she demanded the meta-cure be forced onto Frost to neutralize her. She then seethed with rage when Frost outsmarted her by agreeing to a life sentence instead of the cure.

Given all that, there's no way in hell Kristen's going to let this development stand! She's gonna flip out, take the law into her own hands and go after Frost with her new meta-cure gun.

Lastly, this entire scene is a complete gamechanger for Frost, and is such a major development in the series that it warranted its own episode— just like the trial did. 

And yet... the entire thing happens COMPLETELY OFF SCREEN! Instead of actually seeing Frost rounding up prisoners and going before the Judge to be paroled, we have to settle for HEARING about it long after the fact. Unbelievable!

Incompetence, they name is The Flash!

• In the tag scene, a very horny Barry hints to Iris that they should think about starting a real family, instead of one composed of primal Forces Of Nature. Iris coldly demonstrates some of that amazing chemistry she has with her husband and basically says, "Eh, might as well." Barry nearly breaks his neck as he races to the bedroom and says, "I love that impulse."

HAW! Did you hear that? Barry said the thing! GET IT??? HAW HAW!

Of course his comment refers to Bart Allen, aka Impulse. In the comics, Bart is a speedster from the future who's the son of Don Allen (one of the Tornado Twins) and the grandson of Barry & Iris Allen.

Rumor has it Bart will be joining the cast at some point in the back half of this season. Oddly enough he'll reportedly be Barry & Iris' SON here on the show though, not grandson as he is in the comics.

Which all means two things: 1. This scene just gave us Bart's origin story, as his parents head off to the boudoir to bone, and 2. They're doing the goddamned "Barry & Iris' Future Kid Comes Back In Time" plotline AGAIN. A season and a half after they just did it!

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