Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Flash Season 7, Episode 15: Enemy At The Gates

This week on The Flash, we FINALLY, at long, long last get the official start to the long-awaited Godspeed Saga. 

It's about freakin' time!

I tapped out of comics years ago, when the cover price broke the four dollar barrier, so I'm not as well-versed on newer Flash characters as I am with the old ones. From what I understand, Godspeed seems to be a VERY popular character with current comic fans, so they've been eagerly awaiting his live action appearance for years now. 

Unfortunately his introduction has been... muddled, to say the least.

Godspeed first appeared way back in Season 5, in an episode appropriately titled— what else— Godspeed. In that story we flashed forward to the year 2049, where Barry & Iris' daughter Nora encountered Godspeed and was attacked by him. 

We didn't see him again until Season 6's Into The Void, when Barry captured a white-clad speedster that he assumed was Godspeed. Turns out this particular version was a clone— the fourth one he'd encountered that year. Oddly enough, we didn't actually get to see these previous Godspeeds, we were just told about them. Hey writers, what happened to show, don't tell? Isn't that Screenplays 101?

Anyway, this week we get more Godspeeds than you can swing a dead speedster at, as their storyline finally kicks off. I'm just hoping that after two full years of setup and hype, the writers do the story justice and don't fumble the ball. Here's hoping!

Elsewhere, the show teases the inevitable return of Nora West-Allen, even though she was erased from the timeline and shouldn't possibly be able to exist. I'm sure they'll come up with some nonsensical reason to explain her presence, and why this new version looks impossibly identical to the old one.

There's also an attempt at light comedy this week— something the show used to feature regularly, but which we haven't seen in a lonnnng time. It's a welcome return to form, but sadly it's in service of a truly baffling and off-putting storyline involving Iris and her urine sample. No, really! 

Speaking of Iris, she sits out again this week! What's up with her sudden absence? Did actress Candice Patton test positive for the 'Rona? Staging a walkout for more money? Get lost on the way to the studio?

According to internet rumor (which is never, ever wrong), Patton allegedly decided she wanted to "spend some time with her family" back in the States and took off for a couple weeks. Wow. Must be nice to have a job where you can just up and leave vacation even when you're contractually obligated to work.

I dunno... there's something fishy about that "spending time with family" statement. That's what Chinese restaurants always say when they get shut down by the Board Of Health. There's definitely something suspicious going on here. 

The writers also double down on the Joe/Kristen subplot this week, to thunderous audience indifference. It's like they're seemingly oblivious to the fact that this arc is dull, sluggish and uninteresting, and that viewers couldn't possibly care less about it. 

This episode also does its best to push the Frost/Chillblaine relationship arc. Sorry producers, but Chillblaine sucks, and he's always gonna suck. He's creepy, unsettling and cringeworthy, as the character feels like he should be on a sex offender list. He needs written off the show with gusto!


The Plot:
Barry's working in his CSI lab, when suddenly he sees Nora standing before him. No, not his late mother Nora, or the Speed Force that took on her form, but his speedster daughter from the future. She tells him she loves him as they embrace. Barry then wakes and realizes he was dreaming. He calls Iris and says he thinks his vision means "they're" finally pregnant.

The next day, Barry gets a urine sample from a curiously unseen Iris and says he's taking it to his lab to do a pregnancy test. Just as he's going out the door he runs into Cecile, who's there to see Iris. For no good reason, Barry lies & says she's not home (?). Cecile uses her powers to sense he's lying, and he shuts the door in her face.

At STAR Labs, Chester tells Frost he saw the news about Mark Blaine (aka Chillblaine) being released from prison after turning state's evidence. He says it sounds like Mark's attempting to change. Frost doesn't believe it, and says she's keeping a watchful eye on him.
Over in the filler subplot, Joe meets with Kristen Kramer, who's impressed by how much info he dug up on her missing "brother" Creyke. Joe has video evidence of Creyke stealing the weapons he used to wipe out Kristen's military unit, and wonders how she was the only one who managed to survive. She claims she doesn't know (which obviously means she's secretly a meta as well). Joe figures out that Creyke's hiding in a schooner in Midway City. She vows not to let Creyke get away from her again, and Joe warns her that this has to be about justice, not vengeance.

Elsewhere, Godspeed zooms into downtown Central City. A second later another one appears, and the two engage in their modem-speak.

Barry drives his car (?) to STAR Labs, because his superspeed will taint Iris' urine sample or something. Unfortunately Caitlin's busy in the Medlab, preventing him from running the test in secret. Iris calls & reminds him he could do it in his CSI Lab. Why is this simple urine test suddenly the most important thing in the episode?

Caitlin examines Allegra's cousin Esperanza, aka Ultraviolet, who's apparently become "good" now. She says she thinks she can fix the damage that Black Hole did to Esperanza's throat and restore her voice. For no good reason though, Esperanza refuses to allow it. Allegra argues with her & says she's the only family she has left and doesn't want to lose her.

Meanwhile, Mark goes back to the bar where he used to work. To no one's surprise, he's attacked by the other thugs there for being a snitch. Just as they're about to kill him, Frost arrives & scares them off. She sees Mark's been stabbed, and stupidly says she'll take him to STAR to be patched up.

Cecile goes to Barry's lab (is she stalking him?), where he's trying to run the pregnancy test. Just then the windows shatter, presumably due to Godspeed activity. Barry & Cecile dive for cover.

They go back to STAR, where it's determined that Godspeed was responsible for the attack. Chester detects multiple incidents, and they realize there are TWO Godspeeds menacing the city (which the audience already knew). Unfortunately they disappear before Team Flash can react. Chester says he'll work on a way to decode their modem-speak.

Meanwhile, Caitlin treats Mark's wounds. He asks her what Frost is into, but she says he can't handle her. Just then Frost enters and tells Caitlin to forget about Mark and focus on curing Ultraviolet. Mark wants to help Frost fight Godspeed, but she says she doesn't trust him. He tells her she can't decide "who someone is going to be based on who they are," and reminds her she used to be "Killer" Frost. She still says no and locks him inside the Lounge.

Caitlin then decides since a couple Godspeeds are currently menacing the city, this would be the perfect time to perform a delicate operation on Ultrviolet. 
Allegra nervously watches, as does Cecile for some reason.

Just then an alarm sounds, and Chester says one of the Godspeeds is attacking the city's power plant. He says if it blows, the blast radius cover 40 square miles! Jesus Christ! Barry tells Frost to stay at STAR as a last line of defense, and zooms off.

Barry arrives at the power plant and confronts Godspeed. Suddenly several more appear, and he realizes it's a trap. He tells Chester to initiate the Babel Protocol, which will seal STAR Labs inside an impenetrable forcefield. Chester pulls the switch, as Barry heads back to STAR. He manages to slip back inside a split second before the field fully activates.

The Godspeed gang starts pounding on the forcefield, slowly weakening it. Chester says at this rate it'll hold maybe an hour. Barry goes out in the hall to talk with Iris and tell her he's doing everything in his power to keep her and the "baby" safe. Jumping the gun a bit, aren't we? Chester overhears and congratulates him. Barry says he wants to keep the fact that he's having a daughter secret, prompting Chester to ask how he knows the gender already. Barry explains about Nora, and Chester warns that even casual knowledge of the future could alter it.

Suddenly the power flickers, as Caitlin hopes she'll be able to finish Ultraviolet's surgery before it goes out altogether. STAR Labs doesn't have its own power source?

Frost makes a decision and visits Mark. She tells him she needs his help to fight off the Godspeeds, and makes him promise not to stab her in the back if she gives him his power gauntlets. He says he's no hero, and she reminds him that if the Godspeeds break in, he'll die along with everyone else. He eventually agrees, and she lets him out and hands him his gauntlets. She hisses that if he breaks her trust, he won't get it back.

Chester figures out a way to jam the Godspeed's modem-speak, preventing them from communicating with one another and slowing them down a bit.

In the Medlab, Ultraviolet's hand starts trembling as Caitlin operates. Caitlin says removing the Black Hole chip from Ultraviolet's throat is causing neural trauma (?). Allegra tells her to do something quick, and Cecile uses her powers to calm Ultraviolet's unconscious mind.

Just then the Godspeeds figure out a way to drain energy from the forcefield. It goes down in seconds and they all zoom into STAR. They surround Barry, who tells Chester to get to the Time Vault, which also acts as a panic room. 
Chester runs to the room and tells Gideon to lock it down.

Gideon says she could broadcast the modem-speak over the intercoms, which will confuse the Godspeeds. Chester tells her to go for it, and the signal staggers and confuses the Godspeeds. For some reason it also causes them to lose their super speed. Barry begins fighting several of them, while Frost and Mark take on a couple more.

One of the Godspeeds breaks into the supposedly impervious Time Vault, smashes the console and stops the transmission. Instantly the others return to full power. They blast Frost & Mark unconscious, and then surround Barry. He speeds off and they all chase after him.

Barry runs through the streets of Central City, with the Godspeeds following close behind. They eventually catch up to him and bring him to his knees, as they begin blasting him and stealing his speed.

Suddenly ANOTHER group of Godspeeds appear out of nowhere and attack the others. They battle one another for a bit before all zooming off.

Back at STAR, Caitlin finishes the operation and reports that Ultraviolet's recovering. Chester wonders why the Godspeeds began fighting one another, and Barry says they're in the middle of a civil war.

In the Lounge, Mark (who used to be a bartender) pours drinks for himself and Frost. He feeds her a line of crap, saying he didn't fear dying when fighting the Godspeeds because they were together. She leans in to kiss him, but stops as she notices smoke coming from the sink. She walks over and sees the shaker he used is smoking & fizzing, and realizes he placed a small explosive in as a distraction. Sure enough, she turns and sees he's gone.

Back at Barry's CSI lab, he finally finishes the pregnancy test, as Cecile looks on (?). Unfortunately it comes out negative. Barry wonders what his dreams were about then, and Cecile tells him thinks will work out eventually.

Meanwhile, back in the subplot that no one cares about, Joe & Kristen investigate the schooner, but find no sign of Creyke. Kristen worries that what could have happened to change her "brother" so much that he'd try to kill her.

Just then someone fires a missile at their car. Kristen somehow senses it and yells for Joe to get out, a second before the car explodes in a huge ball of fire.

• Iris sits out this episode, making her AWOL for two weeks in a row now. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a big deal, but instead of simply acknowledging her absence, the producers went to ridiculous lengths to try and convince us that she's actually in the episode.

Barry's constantly yelling to her from another room, or having one sided phone conversations with her. It's clumsy, awkward and not the least bit convincing.

It's also strange to write a pregnancy storyline in an episode in which Iris doesn't bother to show up. I suppose it's possible they already had the script finalized by the time she bailed, and by then it was too late to write her out.

So why's she absent anyway? Was it a Covid thing, and they needed to quarantine her?

• It was fun to see Nora on the show again, even if only in dream form. I'd bet just about anything that she's NOT a dream though, and will somehow return in physical form. I'm struggling to understand how that would be possible though. Especially since she was erased from existence at the end of Season 5's Legacy. I guess she must have got better?

• Note the prominent look at Barry's nameplate in this shot. I gotta wonder if the producers included it here to remind viewers that technically he's still a CSI, even though we rarely see him perform that function any more.

• This episode spends a HUGE amount of time on Barry trying to sneak Iris' urine sample into STAR so he can determine if she's pregnant. 

The producers clearly set up this situation so they could milk it for maximum yuks. Barry wants to keep the test a secret, so he keeps getting interrupted at the worst times and has to awkwardly make up cover stories for what he's doing. Com-O-Dee!

But why'd Barry have to go to STAR in the first place? Why couldn't he just walk down to the corner drugstore & bring home a normal everyday over-the-counter test that Iris could use in the privacy of her own bathroom?

The writers try to cover this plot hole with a weak excuse, claiming that Iris' meta-DNA signatures could "misrepresent HCG levels." He also says that speeding the sample to the lab could compromise its chemical integrity, so he needs to drive it to STAR Labs instead.

So there you go. Because Barry & Iris (who was once briefly a speedster) both have meta-DNA, an over the counter pregnancy test might not work. Sure, why not.

Also, based on his dialogue, this episode establishes that Barry apparently owns a car for some reason. Has this ever been mentioned or seen before on the show?

• For no good reason, Chester approaches Frost and alerts her that Mark Blaine, aka Chillblaine, has turned state's evidence and is now a free man.

Um... yeah, we know! We were told that at the end of the previous episode. Mark even showed Frost the exact same newspaper headline that Chester holds up here. So why are we getting this info a second time? For people who came in late? Did the producers seriously forget what they just wrote last week?

• When Chester stops by to see Frost, she's busily creating some more of her avant-garde "art." Credit Where It's Due: This piece is a definite improvement over her previous work that we saw in The One With The Nineties.

In that episode she was working on a composition that literally looked like she pulled chunks of garbage out of the trash and glued it to a canvas. 

• Joe & Kristen get together to try and figure out how to track down her "brother" Adam Creyke. For some reason though, they meet in Ralph Dibny's old private detective office, located just across the hall from The Citizen! What the hell?

Why is Ralph's office set still standing? Especially after the producers summarily fired actor Hartley Sawyer and awkwardly wrote out his character?

• Barry tries to sneak the pregnancy test into the STAR Labs Medlab, and of course runs into an overly curious Chester. He sees Barry holding car keys and says, "So, why is the Flash driving a car? Oh, wait. Do you have a Flashmobile?"

Believe it or not, that's a reference to the Justice League animated series from the early 2000s, which featured Wally West— not Barry Allen— as the Flash. In the Season 1 episode Eclipsed, Wally did indeed have a Flashmobile, customized from a van he bought. 

Technobabble Alert! Caitlin examines Ultraviolet in the Medlab and offers her prognosis. 

Ultraviolet: "What did they do to me?"
Caitlin: "Black Hole introduced a deliberate irregularity into your vascular system, one that creates a 40% decrease in your body’s ability to maintain oxygen intake."
Allegra: "He made it so the mask keeps her alive to ensure her loyalty."
Caitlin: "Actually, the mask is hiding the real damage— implantation circuitry grafted to your vocal cords."
Allegra: "Okay, how do we help my cousin?"
Caitlin: "So the software in the chip requires regular software updates just like your smartphone. But no Black Hole means no more software updates. So pretty soon, it’ll stop working and I won’t be able to repair it."

So Ultraviolet's mask has software in it that needs regular updates. Whatever.

Thing is, most people go months, sometimes even YEARS without updating their phone apps or computer operating systems and they get along just fine. The only way this would make sense is of Black Hole put some kind of "kill switch" code in her mask's software, that'll activate if it's not updated at regular intervals.

• Speaking of Ultraviolet's condition— last week she said that Black Hole "ripped her voice from her throat." Based on that statement and the fact that she sounds like a robot, I took it to mean they surgically removed her voice box. 

As such I was skeptical of Caitlin's claim that she could reverse the damage that Black Hole did. I pointed out that transplanting larynxes seemed a bit advanced for a research physician like Caitlin. It reminded me of the typical comic book trope in which all doctors are automatically capable of any kind of operation.

But then this week we find out that Ultraviolet's voice box is still intact. In fact Caitlin mentions Black Hole simply grafted circuitry to her vocal chords, and says she can remove it. 

OK, now THAT sounds more doable! I have no trouble believing Caitlin could perform a relatively simple operation like that. So why didn't they clarify that last week then?

• When Chillblaine returns to his old stomping grounds, he seems genuinely shocked that his fellow thugs give him a royal beat-down and even stab him. What the hell did he think was gonna happen? He just turned state's evidence and squealed on them! Such things are frowned on in the criminal world.

Heck, usually when someone makes a deal like Chillblaine did they have to go into Witness Protection to avoid retaliation.

I'm also puzzled as to why the writers are suddenly trying to paint him as a good guy who's trying to turn his life around. Clearly he didn't turn state's evidence out of some sense of civic duty— he did it to save his own neck and get out of prison! Feh.

• When Frost sees Mark's bleeding from a stab wound, she stupidly takes him to STAR to be patched up. So why didn't she just create an "ice bandage" to plug up the hole, like she's done several times before? Did she forget that's a thing she can do?

 Is Jon Cor (who plays Chillblaine) contractually obligated to appear shirtless at least once per episode? Granted he has an impressive physique, but his constant display of it is extremely obvious and awkward.

I've said it before, but this puzzles me. The CW is almost militant in its "wokeness," so it seems odd that they'd be OK with this blatant and over the top beefcake nonsense. 
Imagine the outcry from the SJW Twitter Posse if the situation was reversed and they featured a female character parading around in a thong.

Heavy Duty Nitpicking Time: At one point Chester says:

"One of the Godspeed clones is attacking the Central City power plant, and if he takes it out like he did with the gas station, the blast radius will be over 40 square miles."

Wait, so will the blast be measured in a radius or over square miles? Those are two different things.

More Credit Where It's Due: I love this scene in which Barry's surrounded by a group of unbeatable Godspeeds, and escapes from them by phasing himself through the floor. What an awesome and creative use of his power! Have we ever seen him do that before? If so, it's been so long ago that I've forgotten about it. I wish he'd remember he could do this and use this move more often!

• Barry orders Chester to initiate the Babel Protocol, and then "slides into home" just as the forcefield around STAR Labs slams down.

This is the second time we've seen the Babel Protocol, and is was first used back in The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen, Part 2.

• Once the Babel forcefield is activated, the Godspeeds begin hammering away at it as they try to get through. Obviously the field was added after the fact, so the stuntmen had to mime banging on it. Looks like a few of them got a little carried away, as you can see them seemingly punching right through the impenetrable field. Whoops! 

The FX Team tries to cover this by making the field bend a bit, but there was only so much they could do.

• Part of the drama this week involves Caitlin trying to finish Ultraviolet's surgery before the Godspeeds invade STAR Labs and knock out the power. This whole scene is a goldmine of illogic and outright stupidity.

First of all, why in the name of sanity did Caitlin start an operation at the beginning of the Godspeeds' attack? This isn't an emergency situation, it's elective surgery. As such it could have been done any time. There was no reason to start slicin' up Ultraviolet right NOW.

As for the Godspeeds knocking out the power— is that really an issue? Surely a massive complex like STAR Labs would have its own power supply, or some sort of backup generator.

But all that pales next to the actual medical procedure itself. To begin with, Caitlin awkwardly bends over Ultraviolet as she performs invasive surgery on her— while not wearing a face mask! 

Even worse, instead of a hospital gown, Ultraviolet's wearing her skintight black catsuit— the same one she's had on every time she's ever appeared on the show! I guess Caitlin must have missed the med school lecture "Sterile Operating Fields And You."

Ah, but we're not finished yet! For some reason, Cecile and Allegra are present for the entire operation, observing from just ten feet away. And of course they're both unmasked as well.

Oh, and lastly, Caitlin's performing an operation without an anesthesiologist to monitor Ultraviolet's condition.

The most amazing thing about all this is that due to the pandemic, the actors probably all have face masks in their pockets that they could have whipped out and put on!

OK, I know what you're all thinking— it's a comic book show, not a true life medical documentary. I get that, but Jesus Christ! Even a child would realize this is NOT how operations work!

I suppose we could say that STAR Labs' Medbay is so advanced it contains some sort of sterile forcefield or high tech air filters that eliminate the need for masks. I suppose we could say that, but I don't see why we should.

• Just last week Allegra demonstrated she now has the ability to charge herself up and go full Super Saiyan/Captain Marvel, unleashing powerful and destructive energies onto her enemies. 

So why the hell doesn't she do that here? Why does she spend the entire episode standing around and whining for Caitlin to hurry up and finish the operation already? She could have easily stepped out of the Medlab for a few seconds and fried several of the Godspeeds and then rushed back in to fret and wring her hands over her cousin. Of course no one ever thinks to suggest that to her.

• Speaking of Cecile and Allegra...

I've been a life-long comic book fan, as I started picking 'em up as soon as I learned to read. I never much read The Flash though until after the Crisis On Infinite Earths, when Wally West took over the book. And I stopped reading comics altogether once they hit $4 bucks each, as I got a mortgage to pay! So I'm really not all that versed in the comic book version of the Flash and his supporting cast.

Because of this, when Cecile Horton & Allegra Garcia were added to the show I naturally assumed the writers made them up out of whole cloth.

Imagine my surprise this week when I found out they're BOTH from the comics!

Cecile first appeared wayyyy back in 1984's The Flash #332. She was Barry's defense attorney during the Trial Of The Flash story arc, in which he was accused of the murder of the Reverse Flash. She looked a bit different in the comics, as she was a white woman with red hair. Naturally that had to change, as part of the Ginger Apocalypse that's currently raging through live action superhero properties.

I can't believe I'd never heard of a supporting character who's been around for nearly forty years!

Allegra's a much newer character, with quite a different background than her Arrowverse counterpart. She first appeared in 2010's Titans #28. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, and was the daughter of the supervillain Wavelength— from whom she inherited her electromagnetic powers. She ended up in Gotham, where she joined a gang and was eventually arrested. 

Wavelength hired Deathstroke to break Allegra out of prison, and she eventually reunited with him back in Rio. She lashed out at him for abandoning her and fried him to death with her powers. She then asked to join Deathstroke's team of Titans, but he refused, telling her to grow up first.

You may be wondering why such a minor character like Allegra's suddenly received so much attention and screen time this season. Welp, that would be because she was co-created in the comics by Eric Wallace, who wrote Titans #28. The very same Eric Wallace who's now the showrunner on The Flash. She's suddenly taking front and center because she's his "baby!"

• This is hitting below the belt, but... keep in mind that the Godspeeds are supposed to all be clones, and as such look identical to one another. Um, about that...

• All season long now I've been giving this show a ton of well-deserved sh*t for abandoning action and replacing it with scene after scene of Barry defeating his enemies with the Power Of Love. 

So it was a welcome— and frankly, shocking— change to actually see a good old fashioned fight scene in this episode! Incredibly, when the Godspeeds breach the perimeter and infiltrate STAR Labs, Barry actually attacks and starts throwing some honest to goodness punches! Amazing!

I can't adequately describe how awesome it was to finally see some genuine superhero action in this superhero show. See, producers? It's not that hard! I knew you had it in you.

• As the Godspeeds breach the field, Chillblaine begs Frost to let him help battle them. She refuses, basically saying he's a scumbag and she doesn't trust him. He then tears her down a few pegs by saying:

Chillblaine: "You, Caitlin, and whoever else is part of your STAR Labs posse think you get to just sit up here in your ivory tower judging who’s good and who’s bad. Well, guess what? Life. Isn’t. Binary. It’s everything in between. Now, you don’t trust me? That’s fine. But you cannot decide who someone’s gonna be today based on what they did yesterday. And you should know that better than anybody else… Killer Frost!"

I can't stand Chillblaine, but I have to admit he has a point here. Since it began, The Flash's central message has been one of redemption and second chances.

That's why it seems a bit smug and sanctimonious of the producers to include this scene about being unfairly judgmental, considering the way they summarily fired actor Hartley Sawyer without giving him a chance to redeem himself. Yeah, he did something stupid, but who hasn't? I guess only fictional characters deserve a chance to do better?

Hypocrisy, thy name is The Flash!

• As the Godspeeds begin trying to break through the forcefield, Frost realizes Team Flash needs all the help it can get. She reluctantly gives Chillblaine his gauntlets and asks for his help.

Wait, so how does she have his gauntlets again? He had 'em on when he was arrested several episodes back, so wouldn't they be in the custody of CCPD? Or locked up in a vault inside ARGUS to prevent this known criminal from getting his hands on them again? I don't understand why SHE'S in possession of them, and is able to produce them at a moment's notice as she does.

• Eventually the Godspeeds break into STAR. Frost & Chillblaine battle a group of them in the Lounge. Oddly enough, they do so by repeatedly punching and kicking the clones. 

Gosh, it's really too bad these two don't have some sort of power they could use to immobilize the Godspeeds. Something that all speedsters are vulnerable to. But no, punching and kicking them is fine too.

By the way, the most amazing thing about this scene is that Frost and Chillblaine's blows all connected with these beings who can move at superspeed. 

While that seems like a serious mistake at first glance, it actually makes sense. Chester figures out a way to blast a sonic signal throughout Central City, which "scrambles the Godspeeds' brains like eggs." This explains why their speed is affected, and how Frost & Chillblaine are able to punch & kick 'em.

• In the comics, Chester P. Runk invented a teleporter that imploded and was absorbed into his body. This accident granted him the power to teleport anywhere, as well as to absorb huge quantities of matter— much like a black hole.

For some reason Arrowverse Chester doesn't have any meta abilities. This week I honestly thought he might develop some though!

At one point Chester hides out in the Time Vault, which doubles as a panic room. Unfortunately one of the Godspeeds breaks in and threatens to kill Chester with his vibrating hand. 

I was sure that this traumatic moment would finally cause some latent meta-power to manifest itself, and he'd triumphantly use it against the Godspeed— surprising it as well as himself. Alas, that didn't happen. I guess Arrowverse Chester just isn't destined to be a meta.

And by the way, how about that Time Vault? Some panic room it turned out to be. The Godspeed clone waltzed through the door like it was made of paper!

• I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that the show could only afford to make six Godspeed costumes. There are a few scenes where they augment their numbers with CGI to make it look there's a crowd of 'em, but generally speaking we never see more than six at a time.

• In order to save his friends, Barry lures the Godspeeds out of STAR and into the street. He's then surrounded by six of the clones (heh) as they begin blasting him and draining his speed. Fortunately he's saved when ANOTHER group of six Godspeeds appear, which distracts the first.

A cool fight scene then erupts between the two groups, and once again it was great to finally see some genuine superhero action. That said, I wish they'd have somehow differentiated the Godspeed factions. I'm not sure how they could have done it, since they're all supposed to be clones, but as is, it's impossible to tell who's beating up who.

• At the end of Family Matters, Part 2 (well, in one of that episode's MANY endings, that is), the Speed Force told Barry that as a result of the Four Forces combining their powers, he'd now be faster than he could ever imagine.

When that episode first aired I knew that statement would end up biting the writers in their collective asses, and I was right. One would think that if he's received a power boost from the Forces, he'd be faster than the Godspeeds and able to defeat them easily. 

Of course that did not happen here, as the only reason he survived his battle with the Godspeeds was due to the timely intervention of their opposing faction. I guess maybe the Four Forces were asleep at the wheel this week?

• Welp, this happens in the tag scene.

So I guess Joe & Kristen are now dead, right? As shown, there's no way they could have possibly survived, as the explosion happened literally one second after Kristen yelled for Joe to get out of the car. We don't see them run off or leap to safety, which means they're both dead.

The only way they could still be alive is if Kristen is secretly a meta, and used teleportation or superspeed to whisk them both out of harm's way.

I'm betting this is actually what happened, as the writers are probably shooting for irony here. Kristen hates metas with the white hot passion of a thousand exploding suns, and will discover that she's actually one of them! She'll then be faced with the unpleasant reality of becoming the very thing she hates. Stay tuned to see if I'm right!

Man Of X

Every know and then I like to remind everyone that the joyless, execrable Man Of Steel movie contained this scene, in which Jor-El sentenced General Zod and his followers to the Phantom Zone— by encasing them inside capsules that look shockingly like gigantic dildos. Wait, make that giant black dildos. No, better make that giant UNCIRCUMCISED black dildos!

Just look at those things! They're freakin' x-rated! They couldn't possibly look more like giant penises if they tried! It's like they pulled images out of a sex toy catalog.

As if all that wasn't enough, these giant uncircumcised black dildos can fly as well! And of course they fly by spurting out a white discharge from their bottoms, because of course they do. 

To this day I cannot believe that not one single person on the set looked at these props and said, "Um… is there another design we can use here?" There's no way anyone could fail to see what they look like.

And just in case you think the giant flying uncircumcised black dildos were a fluke, take a look at this shot of Jor-El's citadel. It's a cozy little bungalow, one that's inexplicably shaped like the head of a massive penis— complete with a giant pee hole!

In a recent interview with Hack, er, I mean Zack Snyder, director of Man Of Steel, he knew exactly what he was doing, as these provocative designs were intentional. 

According to Snyder, he purposefully hid these, and numerous other penises throughout the movie, as they were supposed to subliminally suggest how manly and virile Kryptonians were.

Hid? HID? Those giant flying uncircumcised black dildos were HIDDEN?

On the flip side, years later Clark Kent discovers a Kryptonian ship frozen in the Artic. For no good reason it features a hologram of his father Jor-E, along with some very... feminine-looking storage units!

Jesus Christ! Was this movie rated NC-17? I guess the fact that Kryptonians no longer reproduced or gave birth naturally turned them all into a bunch of sexually-repressed pervs!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Flash Season 7, Episode 14: Rayo De Luz

This week on The Flash... oh, it's an Allegra episode. Time to change the channel!

OK, I'm not being fair here. It's not that Rayo De Luz is a bad episode— heck, compared to some of the show's recent fare it feels like Shakespeare in comparison.

It just feels odd to devote an entire episode to Allegra, as I have mixed feelings toward the character. She's pleasant enough I guess, but I don't really understand why she's on the show. All the other side characters have their own purpose or play a specific part. Frost's there to spice things up with her bad girl persona. Chester's the resident tech guru, and a logical (if subpar) replacement for Cisco. Even Cecile has a role as the team's surrogate mother figure.

But what the hell is Allegra's function? Did the producers add her as an ersatz substitute for Nash Wells? If that was the plan, then it was a huge failure. 

Maybe the producers are aware of this situation, and this episode was an attempt at giving Allegra a purpose on Team Flash. Eh, it didn't work.

For some reason Candice Patton is AWOL this week. This marks the first ever absence from the series, leaving Grant Gustin as the only actor who's been appeared in every single episode.

Rayo De Luz was directed by Danielle Panabaker, aka Caitlin Snow, aka Killer Frost. This marks her third time in the director's chair, as she previously helmed Godspeed and License To Elongate.

I've no problem with her direction here, as she did a decent job given the pedestrian material she had to work with.


The Plot:
We open with Allegra painfully crawling away from her evil cousin Ultraviolet. She pleads with her cousin, begging her not to kill her, but Ultraviolet raises her hands and fires an energy blast right at her.

12 Hours Earlier. Yeah. It's gonna be one of those episodes.

At STAR Labs, Barry announces he & Iris (who's completely absent this week) are taking some time off to "relax" (wink wink), and will be off-grid the whole episode. He leaves Frost, Chester & Allegra in charge. Wow. Why not just shut the place down for a week? Chester invites Frost & Allegra to play D&D, but they quickly find excuses to ditch him and get the hell out of there.

Elsewhere, Joe tells Cecile he found some dirt on Kristen Kramer. Apparently a soldier named Adam Creyke led Kramer's men into an ambush that killed them. Wait, I thought Kramer herself did that? Anyway, Joe doesn't know if Kramer planned the ambush or what, but says he thinks she's still a good cop (?). He's determined to find the truth about her. Don't worry about any of this, because none of it matters much.

Chester goes to Jitters, where he sees Allegra chilling. She tells him she's trying to find her cousin Esperanza, aka Ultraviolet, who's been assassinating various targets lately. She says she has intel indicating she'll strike Central City next.

Right on cue, Ultraviolet appears, announces she's there to kill Allegra and fires a blast of UV energy at her. Allegra says she doesn't want to fight, and then instantly begins fighting her(?). Chester tries to stop Ultraviolet with a stool (??), and she blasts him across the room. Just then Sue Dearbon slinks in and poses provocatively in the doorway as she taunts Ultraviolet. The two prep to fight, till Ultraviolet hears sirens in the distance and teleports away.

Back at STAR, Caitlin tends to Chester's wounds. Sue tells Allegra she heard Ultraviolet was headed for Central City, which is why she decided to stick around. Allegra wants to redeem her cousin, but Sue warns her that the currently depleted Team Flash isn't up to the task. She says Ultraviolet will kill Allegra if she gets the chance. Allegra insists on trying anyway.

Sue looks at a map of Ultraviolet's recent appearances, and determines her next target will be a free clinic downtown. She has a special "photon stun grenade" that'll stop her. Chester wants to go along as well, but Allegra tells him it's too dangerous.

Cut to the clinic, where Ultraviolet is chasing after a doctor. Right as she corners him, Sue drops in and tells him to run. She then tosses her grenade, which stuns Ultraviolet. Allegra swoops in and places meta-dampening cuffs on her. Ultraviolet shrieks at them, saying she was after the doctor who turned her into a monster, and they just let him get away.

Back at STAR, Ultraviolet's cooling her heels in the Secret Super Jail. After many threats, Ultraviolet says Dr. Olsen, who worked for Black Hole, operated on her and cut her voice from her. She then removes her neck piece, revealing a ghastly scar (well, sort of). She blames Allegra for leaving and allowing her to be captured by Olsen.

Allegra says she's sorry for what happened, and says they'll help her. Sue takes her aside and asks if she really plans on helping her cousin murder someone. Allegra ignores her and frees Ultraviolet.

Elsewhere, Joe meets with Kristen (who's now the interim CCPD captain). He shows her the file he found about Creyke, and says he wants to hear her side before he reports it to the authorities. She freaks the hell out, accusing him of trying to get her fired and orders him from her sight before she arrests him.

Back at STAR, Ultraviolet tries teaching Allegra how to fire an energy blast (which I thought she already knew how to do). When Allegra can't do it, Ultraviolet becomes frustrated and berates her. Sue enters and says she was right about Ultraviolet, provoking an attack. The two begin fighting in the Lab. Just then Chester enters, and is knocked on his ass AGAIN by a stray blast from Ultraviolet. She then teleports away.

Later on Chester wakes in the Medbay, and Caitlin says he's lucky he survived. Allegra apologizes for getting him hurt and leaves. Sue tells Chester that Allegra listens to him, so he needs to get her to change her mind about helping Ultraviolet. Chester says he'll try, then gets an idea involving Allegra's yin/yang tattoo.

Kristen texts Joe and asks to meet him. Against his better judgement he agrees to go.

Sue tells Allegra that she needs to forget about Ultraviolet, as some people just can't be changed. She says she tried to save her own family from Black Hole, only to find out they'd sided with the organization. Allegra says Team Flash never gave up on her, and she owes her cousin the same courtesy.

Unfortunately Allegra has no idea how to find Ultraviolet. Chester tells her he's figured it out. He says Allegra & Ultraviolet basically have the same powers. So all he has to do is use Allegra's powers as a filter for their satellite, and it'll reveal her cousin's location. Sure, why not. He then insists on going with Allegra to help.

At the warehouse, Ultraviolet searches for Dr. Olsen. Suddenly the lights come up, and she sees him standing in front of a table. He asks her if she's ready for one last experiment.

Chester waits in the STAR Labs van while Allegra sneaks into the warehouse. She's confronted by several guards, and Chester sets off an EMP to fry their weaponry and knock them out. Just then even more guards arrive, and Chester says the EMP needs time to recharge. Suddenly Sue appears (again) and tells Allegra to go save her cousin while she deals with the guards.

Allegra finds Ultraviolet and says she's there to save her. Ultraviolet says it's a no-go, as she's made a deal with Olsen. He'll restore her voice if she kills everyone who knows of his existence— including Team Flash.

Allegra and Ultraviolet then fight (again), as Olsen looks on. He tells Allegra that fighting back is useless, as Ultraviolet's powers are fueled by hatred. Allegra says she'll never give in to hate. Olsen tells Ultraviolet to finish her off, as we loop back around to the beginning of the episode.

Ultraviolet fires a deadly blast at Allegra, but she stops it with her one of her own. She powers up till she glows like a sun, easily overwhelming Ultraviolet and Olsen, knocking them both down. Sue enters and asks Allegra if she's OK. She smiles and says she's fine.

Back at STAR, Allegra tells Esperanza that Caitlin examined Olsen's files, and believes she can reverse what was done to her (???). She says they'll always be family or some such.

Sue says Allegra's stubbornness has inspired her to try and talk sense into her parents. Allegra thanks Chester for having her back, and offers to play D&D with him. Just then Barry speeds in and says his vacation was amazing, and asks if anything happened while he was gone. Chester and Allegra both shrug and say nothing.

Joe meets Kristen at a dive bar, and she tells him that she and Creyke grew up with one another outside their reservation and are spiritual siblings. She says Creyke tried to convince her not to go on the mission, when in reality he'd already sold out. She says it's her fault that her squad was killed, and asks him to help her find Creyke and punish him.

Elsewhere, Chillblaine's sneaking through an alley. Frost appears behind him and hits him in the back of the head, knocking him down. She says she heard he'd escaped from Iron Heights, and is taking him back in. He tells her not so fast, as he turned state's evidence and had his criminal record erased (???).

• About this week's title— "Rayo de Luz" is Spanish of course, and can mean "ray of light" or "silver lining." Either would work for this episode!

• Ugh, it's another "12 Hours Earlier" episode, where we start in the third act and then rewind back to the beginning. It's one of my all-time least favorite narrative devices, right behind "It Was All A Dream."

• Barry sits out about 98% of this episode, appearing briefly at the beginning and end. And Iris doesn't even appear at all! OK, technically she shows up for five seconds through the magic of stock footage, but she was nowhere near the set this week.

I don't know if this was a Covid precaution, or the actors just needed some time off. Whatever the reason, it felt weird for two of the main characters to seemingly abandon their own show— especially after Cisco just left the series for good in the previous episode!

• This episode heavily features Ultraviolet, Allegra's "prima" (aka cousin). Get used to that word, because the two of them use it a lot. SEVEN times by my count, although it felt more like twenty.

• Did we skip a scene? At the beginning of the episode, Chester tries to get Allegra to play D&D with him. She gets a tip on Ultraviolet's whereabouts, says she's gotta go and rushes off. 

Then two scenes later she's messing with her laptop at Jitters. What happened to the hot tip? Even stranger, Chester's there as well! What happened to his big D&D game? He can't be done so soon, as those games go on for HOURS.

It definitely feels like there's some content missing here.

• I don't have anything to say about this photo— I just wanted to post a pic of Chester wearing elf ears.

• Oh, DC! You and your fake comic book cities!

Recently in my Superman & Lois reviews I've been debating just where Metropolis exists in the Arrowverse. I've always figured it's the Earth-Prime version of New York City, and located in the same spot. However, recent events on Superman & Lois have made it seem like Metropolis is located in Kansas, along with Smallville. There were legitimate arguments for both locations. 

This episode would seem to clear up the matter once and for all! According to Allegra's map of Ultraviolet's activities, Metropolis is indeed sitting in the spot normally occupied by NYC! 

Which means that on Superman & Lois, the Smallville High School football team traveled some 1,200 miles to play their rivals in Metropolis! Yeah, I don't think something like that would ever happen.

By the way, according to this map, Opal City (where Jesse Wells was from) looks to be right on the west central Illinois border. In real life there aren't any major cities in that location— the closest one would probably be Champagne. Note that in the comics, Opal City was in Maryland! Go figure!

This map also places Central City in the same spot as Kansas City, Missouri in our world.

All this tsuris and confusion could easily be avoided if DC would just use real city names like Marvel always has.

• Allegra wants to "save" her cousin Ultraviolet, but doesn't have a clue how to go about it. At one point she says, "What would Barry do?" Holy crap! I hope we're not gonna start seeing wristbands with THAT acronym on them!

• Allegra's chilling at Jitters when Ultraviolet enters and attacks her. Why is it every time she throws a punch, it sounds like some kind of electrical generator or heavy machinery powering up? Is Ultraviolet bionic too?

• Allegra gets a beatdown from Ultraviolet, but is saved by the timely appearance of Sue Dearbon. Ultraviolet then tells Allegra to stay out of her business and vanishes. So she can teleport now? Since when? Has she always been able to do that?

• Now that Joe's quit the force, Kristen Kramer's become the new CCPD captain. Joe tells Cecile he's worried about this development, saying, "Babe, CCPD was like my second home. I trained most of the officers there. They're like my family. Now, I can't help but wonder who did I leave my kids with?"

I legit did a spit take when he said that last part! This from the man who's constantly handing off his infant daughter to anyone and everyone who agrees to watch her.

• Hands down the best part of this episode— and possibly the entire series— is Sue's reaction when she realizes that Caitlin, Chester and Allegra are all that's left of Team Flash. 

Her horrified and astonished expression is absolutely priceless, and actually made me laugh out loud. Mostly because I made pretty much the same face when I saw the team.

• Sue looks at a map showing Ultraviolet's recent activity, and instantly figures out where her next target will be. A couple things here:

First off, Sue draws a spiral shape between the dots on the map, and says it's a "typical Black Hole recon pattern." Yeah, here's the thing about those dots— no matter what configuration they're in, it'd be possible to draw a spiral through them. Their position doesn't mean anything!

Heck, you could connect and draw virtually ANY shape between them. Circle, square, lopsided triangle, or a zigzag line. All would be equally as valid as an arbitrary spiral.

Secondly, Sue uses a permanent marker to draw her random spiral right on the flat screen monitor! What the hell? 

• Once they figure out where Ultraviolet will strike next, Allegra asks how they'll stop her. Sue hold up a technobabble device and says, "With this. It's a photonic stun grenade. Procuring it required two trips to New Delhi, a helicopter crash, and a very deadly quinceanera."

I had no idea what that last word meant, so I had to look it up. Turns out a 
quinceanera is a celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday, and takes place in Latin American countries.

• Allegra & Sue eventually capture Ultraviolet and toss her in the Secret Super Jail. Ultraviolet then bitterly lashes out at her prima, demanding she let her go so she can get revenge on the man who mutilated her. To illustrate her point, she removes her neckpiece to reveal the sight of her grisly scar. 

Wait, that's it? THAT'S the ghastly-looking defect she's been hiding all this time? Sure, having her voice box cut out was a horrifying thing to happen to her, but I expected the resulting damage to look a little more gruesome. Jeez, I've seen acne worse than this barely noticeable imperfection. It isn't even worth covering up.

• As I've stated time and again, murder doesn't seem to be a crime in the Arrowverse. Nowhere is that more evident than in this episode, as it's all about Allegra's attempt to rehabilitate her cousin Ultraviolet.

As a professional assassin, it's a given she's killed numerous victims. Apparently none of that matters though, as Allegra says Ultraviolet is family, and she knows there's still good in her.

Congratulations, Prima! By not turning in Ultraviolet to the proper authorities, you're now an accessory to her murders!

• In a somewhat related story arc, Chillblaine appears in the tag scene and tells Frost he was freed from prison after turning state's evidence. But he's a convicted murderer, having killed at least once that we know of. How the hell could he be set free?

While it's technically possible for a murderer to receive immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony, it's HIGHLY unlikely. Such action is usually reserved for petty crooks who have info on drug lords or organized crime figures.

Also, criminals who testify against other criminals generally place their lives in danger, and are often the target of retaliation from their peers. They're usually forced to keep a VERY low profile or even go into Witness Protection. 

They most definitely would NOT be strutting around showing off the newspaper headline trumpeting their state's evidence deal, as Chillblaine does in this episode! I know, I know, this is a comic book world and all that, but Jaysis!

• This is some Heavy Duty Nitpicking, but whatever. Joe goes to CCPD to confront Kristen about his findings. Check out the TV in the background (tuned to Channel 52, of course!). The one displaying a weather report stating that it's currently 92° in Central City.

So why's Joe dressed in three or four layers, topped off with a hat & heavy wool overcoat? An even bigger question is how the hell is he not sweating his ass off in the sweltering heat?

• Eventually Allegra and Ultraviolet come to an agreement, and they begin training. Ultraviolet tries to teach Allegra how to fire UV blasts from her hands— without much success. Wait a minute... doesn't Allegra already know how to do that? I don't have time to sift through every one of her episodes, but I could swear we've seen her blast things before.

• Heh. Preach it sister! Everyone in the audience is wondering the same thing about your prima.

• Sue tries to get Chester to convince Allegra that Ultraviolet's no good and is never going to change. She says, "She's gotta realize that sharing a back alley yin-yang tattoo with someone doesn't mean you're bonded forever." Her words trigger an idea in Chester as he exclaims, "Yin-yang tattoo? Ha! Great Rao!"

OK, first of all I swear I never noticed that Allegra had a yin-yang tattoo on her neck until this week. Has that really always been there, or is it a quick & dirty retcon? Her hair's usually covering that area, so I honestly have no idea.

Secondly, regarding Chester's "Great Rao:" In the comics, this was Superman's catchphrase, as Rao was the Kryptonian version of God. Not sure how Chester would know that (unless Superman goes around trying to convert humans to Kryptolacism), but there you go.

• Was this episode written by a horny fourteen year old boy? Because it's basically three shapely gals in skintight black catsuits striking provocative poses and fighting one another for forty one minutes.

This is especially surprising for a show on The CW. After all, they're the network that prides itself on its inclusivity, diversity and wokeness. They're constantly touting their "Strong Female Character" quotient, so it's baffling to see them resorting to jiggling T&A like this.

• Not a nitpick, just an observation. On a related note, when Sue Dearbon first appeared in the comics, she was an intelligent, attractive and urbane socialite. Later she married Ralph Dibny, and the two of them solved mysteries together, ala Nick & Nora Charles (as your grandparents who they were, kids). She had no powers of her own, and was a normal loving wife.

Compare that to the Sue of the Arrowverse, who's been transformed into a successful international thief, spy and assassin. She's basically Black Widow now.

Note that I don't really have a problem with this, as I think this version of Sue is much more interesting than the one in the comics. It's just interesting to see the contrast between the two.

I'm sure the fact that Sue's cavorting around in a skintight leather catsuit couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that Marvel's new Black Widow movie— featuring a similarly-clad shapely heroine— is coming out shortly after this episode airs...

• In the third act, Allegra finally defeats Ultraviolet by going all Super Saiyan on her ass. Or maybe by turning into Captain Marvel, I can't tell which.

Either way, you gotta admit that's quite a glow-up!

So what fueled this startling and impressive transformation? Ugh... the Power Of Love, of course.

For MONTHS now I've been tearing this show a new asshole over the fact that Barry's stopped using his superspeed to thwart evil metas, choosing instead to use the Care Bear Stare and defeat them with love. It's happened over and over and over all goddamned season.

I don't know if this is a result of Covid restrictions or it's a misguided attempt on the part of the writers to push a "Rehabilitation Over Punishment" philosophy.

Whatever the reason, Barry's new kill 'em with kindness approach has become laughable, enbarrassing and annoying. I thought we'd be spared it this week though, since Barry was pretty much AWOL this episode.

Nope! Despite the fact that he took a break from his own show this week, Allegra stepped up and defeated her prima with the Power Of Love. She even confirms it herself! When Ultraviolet asks how she powered up like she did, Allegra replies, "Dr. Olsen said our powers are fueled by hate, but... I thought about something else. Family."

Jesus Christ. Now even the side characters are killing the evil metas with kindness.

• Back at STAR, Allegra tells Esperanza that Caitlin examined Olsen's files, and believes she can reverse what was done to her. Really? Caitlin can transplant voice boxes now? That seems like a pretty advanced medical procedure for a research physician like Caitlin.

• According to Kristen, she and her "brother" Adam Creyke are both Native American. Huh. I just thought she was a bitchy white woman.

• A few weeks back it was established that Kristen hated meta-criminals with the white hot passion of a thousand exploding suns. In fact in Family Matters, Part 1, Joe discovered that Kristen had requisitioned special weaponry and ordnance, and was planning on walking around Central City shooting every meta-criminal she saw with meta-cure cartridges— without benefit of a trial! Holy crap! 

This entire scenario was presented as a HUGE deal, and a major plotline being set up in the back half of the season that would pit Joe against Kristen for the fate of Central City.

Annnnnnnd this week that entire subplot is totally abandoned, never to be spoken of again. In fact, Kristen infodumps her backstory to Joe, causing the two of them to bond and become best friends. They even set out on a road trip together to find the missing Creyke! 

What the hell is even happening on this show right now? What happened to her all-consuming hatred of meta-criminals? At the time she claimed it was because she cared about the citizens of Central City and was doing everything in her power to protect them. Suddenly all she seems to care about is finding her brother Creyke, who she says betrayed her. Is HE an evil meta? Is that why she hates them so much? If so, it doesn't explain why she's suddenly dropped her vendetta against them as a group.

Who sets up a major plotline, only to forget about it a month later?
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