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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