Friday, April 22, 2022

The Flash Season 8, Episode 11: Resurrection

This week on The Flash, we finally find out the identity of the Fire Meta, someone from Caitlin's past returns, no one listens to Barry as usual and Iris takes a powder from the show.

The highlight of this episode was Danielle Panabaker, who continues to hit it out of the park. She played Caitlin to perfection this week, giving her a heartbreaking and believable vulnerability as she was blinded by her obsession with bringing her late husband back from the dead.

At this point I'm 100% convinced that Caitlin and Frost are played by two different actresses, and have to keep reminding myself that they're played by the same person.

So far the theme of this season has been "Old Home Week," as the series has brought back a veritable parade of old characters. It started with the Royal Flush Gang, then Impulse & X-S, Goldface, The Hotness, and even Chester's father (sort of).

If I'm being honest, I actually don't mind this new recycling trend— but why's it happening? Welp, this is just my theory, but I'm convinced it's because showrunner Eric Wallace hasn't had the greatest track record when it comes to creating NEW characters and Big Bads (Allegra? Eva McCullouch/Mirror Master/Monarch/Mistress?), so he figured he go back to the beginning and stick with what worked.

The recycling continues this week, as Ronnie Raymond— who figured prominently in Seasons 1 and 2— returns. To refresh your memory, he was one half of the superhero Firestorm, as well as Caitlin's husband (till he died).

I remember back in the day the producers of The Flash devoted a HUGE amount of time to setting up Firestorm— who they intended to join the cast of Legends Of Tomorrow. Then the minute the character was established, Robbie Amell— who played Ronnie Raymond— announced he was leaving the show, which required the producers to scramble to find a replacement.

Supposedly Amell (cousin of Arrow's Stephen Amell!) jumped ship because he wanted to make the jump to feature films. So how'd that work out for him? Welp, starred in such epics as The Duff, Max and The Babysitter. Yeah. Which probably explains why he's returned to The Flash for a few episodes!

Speaking of absences, Iris disappears again this week— literally! I'm convinced that this whole "time sickness" storyline was concocted to give her some time off from the show. In fact they did something similar last year when she requested a leave. This may be an unpopular opinion, but if she needs to take time off in the middle of the damn shooting schedule, then maybe it's time for her to leave altogether. Feh.

In a related note, this week actor Jesse L. Martin announced he's leaving the series at the end of Season 8— but was open to returning for a handful of guest appearances if the show gets a ninth season. 

Eh, he might as well leave, as the writers clearly haven't been able to figure out what to do with him for a long time now. Especially after they had him retire from CCPD! He's been relegated to set dressing at this point, standing in the background and occasionally saying a stray line or two.

One more reason why I think it's time to end the show. I still like watching it (despite the tone of my reviews!), but when the actors all start jumping ship on a series, it's time to pack it in!

I wonder... if Joe leaves, does that mean Cecile will follow? It'd be awkward if he disappeared and she still hung around STAR Labs every week! On the plus side, losing the two of them might actually help the show, as there are WAYYYYY too many cast members on this show!

Lastly, there's something I've noticed about the series lately— apparently the writers think it's necessary for EVERY character on the show to be in a relationship. You've got Barry & Iris of course, Joe and Cecile, Caitlin & Marcus, Caitlin & Ronnie (or something pretending to be him), Chester & Allegra (as awkward as they are, it's still a relationship), Sue & Ralph— heck, even FROST has a soulmate now in Chillblaine!

Jaysis! You don't have to pair up everyone in the cast, guys! Single people do exist, you know! How about just letting someone be unattached and happy?

Apropos of nothing, this week I found out there's actually a real-life Central City not all that far from me, in nearby Kentucky! Wow, who knew? Supposedly there are ten other Central Cities in the U.S.!


The Plot:
At STAR Labs, Caitlin has a meet cute with Ronnie Raymond, who's injured himself while working on the Particle Accelerator. They're immediately attracted to one another, and awkwardly chat/flirt as she patches him up.

The Present
Picking up where we left off last week, Caitlin's in her apartment, where she's confronted by the Fire Meta. It claims to be Ronnie, asking her to join him so they can finally be whole. She asks how she can save him, but he disappears.

Over in Coast City, Iris is reeling after her time sickness flared up and disintegrated Tinya's birth mother, Renee Wazzo. Tinya screeches at Iris, demanding to know what she did to the mother she just met. Iris says she doesn't know, and has another attack. Sue tries to call Barry but her phone vanishes in her hand. Sue tells Tinya to get out for her own safety.

At STAR Labs, Joe & Cecile report they've found several more potential Fire Meta victims— all of whom were experiencing grief like the others. Barry's confident they can capture the Meta now with the modified Fusion Sphere. 

Just then Caitlin arrives, and when she sees the list of victims she recognizes all of them. She says the Fire Meta must have attacked the others because of their connection to her.

She also points out that she just got a visit from the Fire Meta, which spoke to her. She tells Team Flash she's convinced it's really Ronnie, who's somehow still alive and wants her to save him.

Barry points out that the Fire Meta just got done manipulating Chester by impersonating his late father, and says it could be doing the same to Caitlin. This makes perfect sense, but of course she denies it.

Caitlin claims she somehow determined the Meta's radiating "singularity energy." She reminds them that Ronnie died while closing a massive singularity hanging over Central City. She points out that matter can't be destroyed, and believes Ronnie still exists in some form. She says they can use the Quantum Stabilizer (that separated Firestorm into Ronnie and Professor Martin Stein) to restore him.

Barry's skeptical, and suggests they slow down and study the situation to make sure they're doing the right thing. Caitlin reluctantly agrees.

Later Caitlin meets with her new beau Marcus at Jitters. She tells him she's a member of Team Flash, and more importantly, that her late husband's seemingly returned from the grave. She says they should separate "temporarily" for his own safety, but he says he sees no future for them with Ronnie in the picture and breaks up with her.

Back at STAR, Barry tinkers with the Fusion Sphere as Frost walks in. He says the whole Ronnie thing feels too good to be true, and worries that Caitlin can't see it. Frost agrees, but says she has her sister's back. She points out that Team Flash supported him and Iris on numerous occasions, so she owes Caitlin the same courtesy.

Meanwhile, Chester decides this is the absolute best time for one of his podcasts. Allegra comes in and sees him discussing the specs for some technobabble equipment, and asks if it's a good idea to share such knowledge with the public. He says his fans could adapt and use it to save the world, but she points out someone else might use it to destroy the planet. Eventually he realizes she's right and ends the podcast. Was there a point to this scene that I'm missing somehow?

Elsewhere, Cecile's walking through STAR when she's hit by a psychic blast from the Fire Meta, which demands to know where Caitlin is. Barry sees her in pain and asks what's wrong. She says she felt Ronnie's mind, and thinks he wants to die rather than be saved.

Barry and Cecile tell Caitlin that Ronnie's being tortured by the black flames and wants his suffering to end. She doesn't believe them, as she's clearly blinded by her obsession. She says as Ronnie's
 wife she knows him better than they do. Cecile suggests Caitlin's thinking about herself and not Ronnie, and it might be best to let him go. Caitlin angrily says if they won't help then she'll save him herself.

Ronnie wakes up and notices Caitlin's packing. She tells him she's planned an elaborate trip to celebrate their one year anniversary.

Coast City— The Present
Iris wakes again in her hotel room, and tells Sue that maybe it's time she returned to Central City. Just then Tinya enters, intent on punishing Iris for disintegrating her mom. Sue threatens to fight Tinya, warning her to stand down. Tinya effortlessly phases right through her and grabs Iris by the shoulders. Somehow she makes her vanish, and tells Sue she'll do the same to her if she tries to follow.

Back at STAR, Barry says he's gonna use the Fusion Sphere to capture the Fire Meta and end Ronnie's suffering. Frost suggests using the Quantum Stabilizer to separate Ronnie from the Meta (I think?). Chester warns that won't work unless Ronnie's willing, and could end up causing a massive explosion.

Caitlin and Ronnie get stuck in the snow (heh) on their way to their vacation cabin in Piedmont State Park. Caitlin says their weekend's ruined, claiming she was going to propose to Ronnie. He admits he planned on proposing to her as well! They both get down on one knee and propose to one another.

The Present
Frost tattles to Caitlin, telling her what Barry & the others have planned. She says she was still inside Caitlin's head when she was with Ronnie, and felt her anguish when he died. She says she's ready and willing to help her save him. 
Caitlin says she knows where to find Ronnie, as Frost hands her the Stabilizer she somehow palmed.

Cut to Piedmont State Park, where a group of campers are telling ghost stories around a fire. Suddenly the Fire Meta appears above them and roars.

Back at STAR, Chester somehow picks up the Fire Meta's energy signature. Barry grabs the Fusion Sphere and speeds himself, Cecile and Allegra to the park. He tells the campers to beat it, and activates the Sphere. It pulls the Fire Meta into it.

Just then Frost and Caitlin somehow arrive at the camp as well (presumably courtesy of one of Frost's ice ramps
?). Frost fires an ice blast at the Sphere, knocking it out of Barry's hands. It shatters on the ground, releasing the Fire Meta.

Caitlin then confronts the Meta, saying she knows it's really Ronnie. She reminds him of all the good times they had together before he died, and the flame suddenly takes on human proportions. She places the Quantum Stabilizer on it, and the shape solidifies into Ronnie. He instantly collapses, but claims he's OK.

The next day at STAR, Caitlin reports that Ronnie's in stable condition. Everyone says they're happy for Caitlin, and Barry apologizes for doubting her. Cecile says she sorry as well, wondering how her psychic powers were so wrong.

That night Barry tries calling Iris, but there's no answer. Sue arrives at the apartment, and tells him Iris has disappeared, and she has no idea where to find her.

Back at STAR, Caitlin checks on Ronnie but sees he's not in the Med Lab. The lights go out, and she wanders through the darkened corridors. She sees a light ahead in the Lounge, and finds Ronnie there, staring out the window.

Caitlin says he should be resting, but he says he feels stronger than ever, thanks to her and the Stabilizer. 
He tells her Ronnie died back when he sacrificed himself to close the singularity. That act unleashed chaos and gave life to a new entity. It turns, revealing solid black eyes. It reaches up and adjusts the Stabilizer, and the entity transforms into a flaming being that calls itself Deathstorm.

• The episode begins with a flashback to 2012, and an establishing shot of STAR Labs.

Hey, wouldja look at that! All three of the pylons were whole and undamaged back then!

• In the 2012 flashback, Ronnie Raymond pays a visit to STAR's Med Lab, where he meets Dr. Caitlin Snow. It's love at first sight, as the two immediately fall for one another.

Is it just me, or does Caitlin look noticeably younger in this flashback? 

Here she is alongside her present day self for comparison. I think she may be wearing a wig in the flashbacks, but there's more to it than that. Did they CGI her face to make her look younger? Digital de-aging ain't cheap, so I can't imagine The CW would spring for it. Whatever they did, it worked, as she definitely looks ten years younger. Good job!

• Over in Coast City, we get this establishing shot of Renee Wazzo's apartment building. 

I assumed this was yet another location in Vancouver (where the series is filmed), but it's actually 10 Columbia Place in Brooklyn! Weird.

• Iris has another of her time sickness spells in Renee's apartment. This causes the normally calm Sue to grab her phone and say she's calling Barry. Whoops! 

I realize Sue's panicking and not thinking straight here, but she should have said she was calling the Flash. I don't think Tinya knows Barry's secret identity yet, but she definitely would if he zoomed into the room at superspeed wearing his street clothes!

In the end it doesn't matter, because Sue's phone vanishes in a burst of temporal energy before she can call anyway.

• At STAR, Team Flash tries to figure out a common link between the Fire Meta's victims.

This shot right here is why I keep saying the show has wayyyy too many characters, and needs to thin the herd a bit. Jaysis, just look at 'em all! There're so many current cast members they can barely all fit on the screen at the same time!

Even worse, Iris isn't there! If she was, that'd make a whopping EIGHT main characters!

That's far, far too many for a weekly series, as it makes it difficult for the writers to properly service them all and give them something to do each week.

As it stands now, instead of one character simply saying a paragraph of exposition, they split it up among everyone, so they ALL speak a sentence of it. No one talks like that in real life, and it just comes off as strange and awkward.

• When Caitlin says she believes the Fire Meta is her late husband Ronnie, Barry's immediately skeptical. He brings up a reeeeeally good point too, gently reminding her that just a couple weeks ago the Fire Meta manipulated Chester by taking on the physical form of his father. He wonders if it might be doing the same to Caitlin, which makes a lot of sense. 

Of course she completely ignores the idea so that the episode can happen. I get it— she's so intent on getting her husband back that it's blinding her to logic— but it's pretty stupid to refuse to even consider the possibility that the Fire Meta's playing her.

Maybe someday the members of Team Flash will listen when Barry objects to something. They could save themselves a lot of time and heartache by following his gut instincts.

• Caitlin provides proof to Team Flash that the Fire Meta's really Ronnie:

Barry: "Are you sure it didn't just want you to think it was Ronnie?"
Caitlin: "I wasn't sure at first. But that's why I downloaded the data from when the fire was in the NCCU. This is cold fusion radiation, but these readings are 10 to the negative 28 watts."
Chester: "That's Hawking radiation. You can only pick up rads like that from inside a singularity."

First of all, I have no idea what the "NCCU" is. In the medical field it can stand for "Neuroscience Critical Care Unit," but that doesn't make any sense here. I dunno what it means.

Secondly, Hawking radiation is a real thing. It's thermal radiation (aka heat) released outside a singularity's event horizon due to relativistic effects. Unfortunately I'm not smart enough to understand if Caitlin's "10 to the negative 28 watts" makes sense in context or is just technobabble regurgitated by the writers.

• Caitlin tries to explain why the Fire Meta/Ronnie is drawn to people experiencing grief:

Caitlin: "When Ronnie died, his brain was flooded with ACTH. It's the hormone the human brain creates when it experiences grief. So maybe when he was reborn as a sentient fire, that same process gave him an overwhelming attraction to the same hormone."
Cecile: "So he's been eating people's grief because of some primal urge?"
Caitlin: "I think he needs it to survive, which is why he's been trying to reconnect with me so I can help him."

OK, I was about to shout my usual mocking battle cry of "Comic Book Science!" here, but if you strip away the Fire Meta's motivation, it's actually accurate. ACTH, or AdrenoCorticoTropic Hormone, is a substance secreted by the anterior pituitary gland in the brain, and is often produced in response to biological stress— aka grief.

Good job, writers!

• Unfortunately, the writers flush all that previous goodwill down the crapper with this next exchange:

Chester: "The Quantum splicer?"
Caitlin: "It's what made him Firestorm in the first place. I think if we can use it to make Ronnie human again, his mind will regain control."
Cecile: "And the killings will stop."
Barry: "Even if you are right about this, the splicer needs two people to work, and we can't ask anybody to volunteer. It's too dangerous."
Chester: "Yeah. But we wouldn't need another person if we use one of Eva McCulloch's R-CEM chips, 'cause if we fuse one of Eva's chips to the splicer, it'll do all the heavy lifting by duplicating Ronnie cells and coalescing another body for him, right?"
Frost: "Like it did with Katie and me."
Allegra: "Okay, but raising the dead, that's intense, even for us."

Comic Book Science!

• Excited by the prospect of resurrecting her late husband, Caitlin goes off to find the Quantum Splicer. Chester leaves as well, saying, "I'll get an R-CEM chip from the Starchives."

Wait, what? First of all, how do they still have any of Eva McCullough's mirror-based tech? Didn't she take all her crap with her when she disappeared back into the Mirrorverse? And even if she didn't, why in the name of sanity would Team Flash keep and store such dangerous technology inside such an unsecure location as STAR Labs? This sounds like something they should have handed over to ARGUS.

I could probably find the answers to these questions by rewatching the Mirrorverse Saga from Season 6, but there's no way in hell THAT'S ever happening!

• Caitlin finally remembers her new beau Marcus, and meets him at Jitters to fill him in on her secret life.

I can't remember for sure, but I don't think I've ever looked for the actual real-world location of Jitters. It's in Victory Square in downtown Vancouver.

• Marcus takes it surprisingly well when he hears that Caitlin's a member of Team Flash and is trying to resurrect her dead husband. I guess it makes sense— stuff like that happens in Central City all the time, so its residents are probably more accepting of such outlandish ideas.

I was also impressed with how Marcus handled the situation. Caitlin used the classic, "I Hope We Can Still Be Friends" line when she told Marcus about Ronnie. He shut that sh*t down right quick though, telling her to have a good life as he walked out. As he should have. 

Caitlin's clearly trying to be a dog with two bones here, which never, ever works out. 

• Incredibly, no one says "Leveled up" in this episode. That makes two weeks in a row now. Which is odd, as it's become the show's favorite new catchphrase and has been uttered at least once in every one of the first nine episodes this year.

They did use Leveled Up's cousin "All in" though, as Caitlin tells Marcus about her past relationships. She says, "That's why I'd given up on finding a meaningful connection with someone until I met you. And you showed me that when I go all in with us..."

• The Fusion Sphere makes yet another appearance this week, as Barry preps it to capture the Fire Meta/Ronnie. Hey, those props ain't cheap, so they gotta get their money's worth out of 'em!

As I pointed out in the previous episode, I'm actually impressed that Team Flash is attempting to use this device to capture the Fire Meta for a third time. On most series, the characters will come up with a plan, try it once and if it fails they instantly discard it for all time. 

So it's great to see them attempting and adjusting their plan till it works— just like real scientists would do!

• I loved the scene between Barry & Frost as they discussed Caitlin's unhealthy obsession with bringing Ronnie back:

Barry: "So what, we just let her go through with this?"
Frost: "What if it was Iris, and there was some dangerous experiment that would cure her time sickness? You'd risk everything to save her. So even if this fails, we at least owe her the chance to try."

Frost is absolutely right here to point out that Barry's not the only member of Team Flash with a loved one. Not to mention the others have risked everything to help him save Iris on numerous occasions, so it's about time he repaid the favor.

Of course Barry's ultimately right here, but still... he needed a reminder that it's TEAM Flash, not just Flash.

• What was up with the Chester & Allegra scene? She walks in on him sharing sensitive hi-tech specs on his podcast, and asks if it's really a good idea to unleash such info onto the world.

Was there a point to any of this? It had nothing whatsoever to do with the plot, and went absolutely nowhere. And it dragged on forever, seemingly lasting a full ten minutes. 

Maybe the episode came up short and they needed to pad the runtime. Or more likely it's setup for a future episode, in which an evil meta does indeed use Chester's specs against Team Flash. If it was the latter then it was clumsy, awkward and went on wayyyy too long.

At least their "relationship" didn't sicken and anger me this week, as they acted more or less like normal adults.

• If nothing else, The Flash is notorious for its Instant Flashbacks, in which a character references something and we immediately cut to a flashback of that very thing.

Case in point, Allegra mentions how her cousin Esperanza died in her arms last season, and sure enough— half a second later we get a flashback illustrating it for us.

Apparently the writers think the audience is composed of morons, who need to have everything spoon-fed to them.

• Allegra tries warning Chester against using technology indiscriminately, saying, "Death shouldn't be some kind of science experiment. It's a part of life and it's finite. It's what my abuelita used to call "noche mas negra." The blackest night.

Houston we have a reference!

Blackest Night was a storyline that ran through Green Lantern and various other DC comics from 2009 through 2010. I could easily write 50,000 words or more explaining the plot of it, but I don't have the time, space or energy right now.

Basically it involved the demon Nekron, who reanimated numerous deceased superheroes into dark, twisted, zombiefied versions of themselves, forming the Black Lantern Corps. He then used the Black Lanterns in an effort to eliminate all life and emotion from the universe.

This is yet another Green Lantern reference that's popped in in the Arrowverse recently. A couple years ago the Arrow series finale featured John Diggle finding a Green Lantern power ring. Then a couple weeks ago in Phantoms, Iris & Sue visited Coast City (hometown of Green Lantern Hal Jordan). While there, they passed a Ferris Airlines billboard (a company owned by Jordan's gal pal Carol Ferris, who's secretly the villain Star Sapphire). And now a freakin' Blackest Night shoutout.

And yet for all these numerous references, the creators seem dead set against ever actually bringing any version of Green Lantern into the Arrowverse. C'mon, guys, what's the problem? The fans are clearly hyped for the character to appear, so why the holdup? 

Is there some sort of complicated rights issue that's preventing Green Lantern from appearing? If not, then why the endless parade of shout outs and teases? At this point you're giving GL fans the world's largest case of collective blue balls!

• At one point Cecile's strolling through the corridors of STAR Labs (instead of working at her actual job as a Meta Attorney), when she's psychically attacked by the Fire Meta.

Sometimes I feel bad for the actors on this show. Imagine having to get up early, drive to work and then be required to act a scene like THIS. Sure, they're likely getting paid well, but... at what cost? No amount of cash would be worth having to do this!

• I've brought this up in numerous reviews of the show, but it still makes me laugh every time I see it. If that sign behind Cecile is to be believed, then STAR Labs goes down at least SIX HUNRED LEVELS below the ground.

For comparison, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai has 163 floors, and is 2,717 feet tall. STAR Labs would have almost FOUR times that many floors or levels, and be around 10,800 feet deep.

I'll let you decide how likely/feasible/believable any of that is.

• Much like Frost did earlier, Caitlin tears Barry a new one for not believing in her and helping to save Ronnie:

Barry: "We can't resurrect the past. It's too dangerous."
Caitlin: "This is not another Flashpoint. We are not creating another timeline. We are saving my husband from a nightmare."
Barry: "Then maybe it's time to help him let go."
Caitlin: "I thought family was supposed to have your back, no matter what. Even when they think you're making the wrong choice. God knows, we've all fallen in line for you and Iris on more than one occasion!"

Ouch! That last line hit home! Similarly to the Frost/Barry exchange, Caitlin is absolutely right here, as Team Flash has selflessly helped Barry & Iris too many times to count. I'm not sure we needed to hear this exact speech twice in the same episode from both Frost AND Caitlin, but whatever.

On a different note, I'm having trouble with Caitlin's statement that "family's supposed to have your back, even when they think you're making the wrong choice." Yeah, that's not a thing. Your family's the ones who're supposed to STOP you from doing something dangerous and destructive. If your family can't tell you you're making the wrong decision, who can?

• Caitlin flashes back to another memory of Ronnie, in which she plans a trip to Mapleville for the two of them.

There's a Mapleville in DC Comics (Superman visited the place in Action Comics #179)
, but this appears to be the first mention of it in the Arrowverse.

Cute Moment: During Caitlin's flashback, Ronnie tells her, "We're like two atoms sharing a strong covalent bond." She replies with, "I love it when you talk science to me."

A few years ago I used to put exchanges like this in a "This Week's Best Lines" section at the end of each review. I haven't done that in a lonnnnnng time now. It seems like all the fun lines dried up around the time Cisco left the show.

• Back in Coast City, Tinya confronts Iris for erasing her birth mother.

I love how Sue tries to stop her with her cat burglar moves, but Tinya just phases right through her. Ha!

So what exactly did Tinya do to Iris here? Obviously she didn't just kill one of the main characters, so I'm guessing she must have some secondary power— such as the ability to shunt her to another dimension or something.

• Ever since this Fire Meta appeared, its true nature has been muddled and grossly inconsistent. Originally it was described as a form of cold fusion, and burned its victims with a "freezing fire." In other episodes it seemed to be a conventional flame that burned hot.

This week was no exception, as we get this exchange:

Barry: "We'd use the Cold Fusion Sphere, just like before, only this time without putting anyone in danger."
Chester: "And then once it's trapped inside, you just need to remove the oxidizing agents, and it's bye-bye flames for good."

An "oxidizing agent" is a substance present in a chemical reaction. So now the black flames have gone from cold fusion to normal flame to chemical process. Jaysis, writers, make up your damn minds! At this point I have no idea what the hell it's supposed to be.

• I've said it before, but it's worth a repeat— the FX Team's getting really good at the Caitlin/Frost "twinning" scenes. There are times when I totally believe I'm looking at two different people.

In the past, a scene like this would have required them to lock the camera down tight in order to film a clunky split screen with the two characters rooted to the spot. Here the camera never stops moving, and at one point Frost even walks behind Caitlin! All this really goes a long way in selling the idea that they're "twins." Well done, guys!

• At one point Frost tells Caitlin that even back when she was buried in her subconscious, she still felt her anguish over Ronnie's death.

Hmm... Since they were both part of the same mind & body when Caitlin was married to Ronnie, shouldn't Frost have feelings for him as well? Or was she a completely different psyche living in Caitlin's head?

• This week's episode pulls out the old "Someone Says A Random Word That Gives Another Character An Idea" trope, that's been around for a hundred years or more:

Frost: Let's go find Ronnie.
Caitlin: Okay, great. How do we do that?"
Frost: "We'll search this whole damn city to find him, day or night, rain or snow, or whatever. We're gonna find him."
Caitlin: That's it. Rain or snow. 'Memories in the snow.' That's what he was trying to tell me!"
Frost: "What are you talking about?"
Caitlin: "I know where to find Ronnie."

And of course the place to find him is Piedmont State Park, where Caitlin and Ronnie proposed to one another— in the snow.

• We're then treated to this scene of campers at Piedmont Park, sitting around a fire while one of them tells ghost stories to the others.

Typically it's kids that tend to do this when they're camping. Or an adult will tell a spooky story to a group of cub scouts. Note that the people seen here are all well into their thirties.

Heck, this guy's forty if he's a day! What the hell? Is he really gonna be scared by The Vanishing Hitchhiker story?

• The Fire Meta's incredibly confusing nature strikes again, as it appears out of the campfire and menaces the campers.

Seconds later at STAR, Chester tells Barry the Fusion Sphere's ready, saying, "Okay, the sphere is ready. Once the fire's trapped, this deoxygenator node will activate and the flames will be snuffed out."

So now it's reverted back to a plain old fire thats fueled by oxygen, as all talk of it being cold fusion are completely forgotten.

• Barry then speeds himself, Cecile and Allegra to Piedmont State Park. This same thing happened at the end of Impulsive Excessive Disorder, where Barry zoomed ALL of Team Flash across the Atlantic for dinner in Paris.

Once again, I gotta ask— just what happens when he does this? Is he shoving them along in front of him a superspeed? Pulling them behind him? Carrying them? Or does he somehow grant them a bit of his Speed Force energy so they temporarily can run fast as well?

Apparently it's none of our goddamned business, as it's never addressed or explained.

• The Flash arrives at Piedmont State Park, where he sees the campers being threatened by the Fire Meta. He tells the terrified civilians to get the hell out of there, and head for the brightest light they see.

He's talking about Allegra here, who's presumably using her EMP powers to create a beacon for the citizens. This all happens off camera of course, as apparently it must be prohibitively expensive to depict Allegra's powers, since we haven't actually seen her use them in... weeks? Months? A year?

• Barry manages to successfully trap the Fire Meta in the Fusion Sphere. Unfortunately Frost appears out of nowhere (along with Caitlin) and knocks the Sphere out of his hand with an ice blast, destroying it.

How in the name of Zeus' Mighty Taint did the two of them get to the park just a few seconds after Barry? Technically they did have a bit of a head start, as we saw them leave a few minutes before Barry. But still— he's a goddamned speedster for corn's sake, yet they somehow arrived in almost the same amount of time as him.

I have to assume they got there so fast via one of Frost's ice ramps— last seen in Snow Pack.

• Once the Fire Meta's free of the destroyed Fusion Sphere, Caitlin strides forward and confronts it. 
Barry warns that she's gonna get herself killed, but Frost stops him, saying, "Let her."

Wait, what? 
Just last week Caitlin tore Frost a new one, saying she was being reckless and needlessly endangering herself. Now suddenly this week their positions have reversed, and Caitlin's being the reckless one. Except this time Frost doesn't seem to care!

• Caitlin talks to the Fire Meta, which then morphs into a rough human form. She places the Quantum Splicer on its chest, and it transforms into Ronnie.

That was easy! Too bad she didn't try that three weeks ago when the Fire Meta first appeared!

I just realized THIS is why Caitlin was AWOL for the first two episodes of the Fire Meta storyline. I assumed she didn't appear because Danielle Panabaker was tired of constantly having to change her makeup back & forth, and said she just wanted to be Frost for a while.

But in reality they kept Caitlin off the show for a couple episodes because the Fire Meta/Ronnie would have recognized her and she would have "saved" him right off the bat. By keeping her out of the loop, they were able to stretch the arc out for another two episodes!

• By the way, when Ronnie's reconstituted from the energy of the Fire Meta, he's fully clothed. It was awfully thoughtful of whatever agency or process that restored him to conjure up an outfit for him along with his body, so he didn't reappear buck naked.

• Ronnie recovers in the Med Bay, as Caitlin gives him a clean bill of health. Team Flash all take turns apologizing for not believing her. Barry in particular begs her forgiveness.

Of course anyone who's ever seen a TV show before will know this is all just the calm before the storm, and this isn't really Ronnie or there's something seriously wrong with him.

• Caitlin then finds "Ronnie" in the Lounge. She says he's scaring her, and he tells her he's not Ronnie. According to him, Ronnie died while stopping the singularity back at the end of Season 1. Several things here:

This is now the second time Ronnie's returned from the dead— well, sort of. He came back in Season 1, after being disintegrated in the Particle Accelerator Explosion. And now he's seemingly been resurrected again— except it's not really him this time.

Earlier in the episode, Cecile was psychically overwhelmed by Ronnie, who told her he was in agony and just wanted to be put out of his misery and die already.

If Ronnie really did die seven years ago, then who the hell was Cecile sensing? It seems unlikely that a demonic entity like Deathstorm could convincingly impersonate Ronnie and his human emotions.

I'm pretty sure what's happening here is that Deathstorm is an "unreliable narrator," and Ronnie— in one form or another— is actually still alive. That's clearly who Cecile was sensing during her psychic assault. 

I'm betting that at some point in the next episode, Ronnie's spirit or whatever will rise to the surface and take control of Deathstorm just long enough for Team Flash to defeat him. He'll then stick around for a few seconds to share a tearful goodbye with Caitlin before dissipating forever. It's just the way things work on this show.

• So in the final seconds of the episode, "Ronnie" transforms into the ghastly figure of Deathstorm.

Once again, it would take another 50,000 words to adequately explain Deathstorm and his complicated backstory. For now, let's just say that his origin's tied to Nekron— the demon mentioned above who resurrected dead superheroes and turned them in the Black Lantern Corps. 

One of these resurrectees was Ronnie Raymond, who became Deathstorm— an evil version of the superhero Firestorm. When the Black Lanterns' Power Rings were destroyed, many of them perished. Deathstorm managed to merge with the Firestorm Matrix, allowing him to become an independent entity.

Since there's no Nekron or Blackest Night story arc in the Arrowverse (yet!), obviously this version of Deathstorm has to have a completely different origin. And he does, as he tells Caitlin:

Deathstorm: "Ronnie Raymond sacrificed himself to the storm in the Singularity, gave his life to its power, his future to ensure its demise. But in that uncontrollable, irreversible chaos, his death gave me life. Now I'm something greater, something beyond death."

It's unclear from that exactly who he's supposed to be here. Maybe a new version of Nekron? Or just a mass of evil energy given form by Ronnie's death? Stay tuned to find out. 

• I'm impressed by how closely the Deathstorm seen here on the show matches the comic version. Based on the quick glimpse we got, he looks just like him! 

Compare this to the early seasons of the series, when most of the villains wore black leather outfits and looked nothing like their comic counterparts. I'm glad to see the show's FINALLY embracing its comic book roots and giving us characters that look like they should. Well done!

• One last thing about Deathstorm— I love how his mouth lights up when he talks, and is synched with his speech. Pretty cool!

Pixar? More Like Grift-ar!

This week Disney/Pixar debuted the second trailer for their upcoming opus Lightyear.

I mentioned this film last year, pointing out that it supposedly features the real Buzz Lightyear, whose space-faring adventures inspired the action figure seen in the Toy Story movies. It's an admittedly cool concept, but there's just one problem with it— Lightyear clearly takes place in a future filled with advanced technology, such as warp drives and android cats. Which would mean the Toy Story movies weren't set in the present day, but in the future as well!

Ah, but it gets worse!

As I watched this new trailer, I started noticing that some of the tech looked a bit... familiar.

Like the spherical spaceship seen on the left. I can't help but think it looks a LOT like the Aries Ib Lunar Lander from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sure, it may just be a coincidence, as a sphere is the simplest form in the universe. 

On the other hand... why design a ship that's a dead ringer for one from one of the most famous space films of all time? 

And then there's this shot, which is a bit harder to defend. 

Buzz stands in the middle of a fog-filled, swampy planet while wearing a bright orange flight suit. Just like Luke Skywalker, who stood in the middle of a fog-filled, swampy planet while wearing a bright orange jumpsuit in The Empire Strikes Back.

They could have made Buzz's suit literally ANY other color besides orange here. I can't think of any reason to go with that hue other than to evoke Luke's ensemble.

We then see some sort of aliens in battle suits. Yeah, those are Zakus from the Gundam franchise.

Especially when you see their "faces," what with the single red eye in the middle of the black visor. Jaysis, they're not even trying to hide it here!

OK, I'm not accusing Pixar of outright plagiarism here, but... OK, yeah, I am. And it's not even the first time they've done so. They knowingly swiped all these elements, and thought no one would ever spot 'em. But I noticed, Pixar. I noticed.

Friday, April 15, 2022

The Flash Season 8, Episode 10: Reckless

This week on The Flash we get the sudsiest storyline yet, as the series pretty much ignores the superheroics and goes into full Soap Opera Mode.

We're treated to more of Iris' interminable time malady, lots of relationship drama between Caitlin, Frost and their mother Carla, friction between Barry and the rest of Team Flash, more histrionics with Tinya, who's inexplicably become a member of the cast, lots of hand-wringing about the Fire Meta and even a shocking last-minute revelation about its true identity! Whew! That's a lot of melodrama to pack into forty two minutes!

All that said, I did enjoy the Snow Family scenes this week, as they gave us some new, well-written and badly needed insights into the characters.

The Recycling Theme that's been going on all season (in which the show dredges up old characters) continues this week. So far they've brought back the Royal Flush Gang, Goldface, The Hotness and Chester's father Quincy. This episode features the return of Caitlin's late husband Ronnie Raymond— last seen way back in Fast Enough— who may or may not turn out to be Deathstorm.

Believe it or not, we're halfway through the twenty episode season already! It's been a mixed bag, but so far it hasn't been nearly as bad as the execrable Season 7 (nothing could be!).

Personally I think it's time to wrap up the show. Despite my overly nitpicky reviews, I still enjoy watching it for the most part. Even so, the series is clearly showing its age, as it rapidly sheds actors and the plots become increasingly repetitive and outlandish. Better to end it now and go out on a relatively high note than to circle the drain.

That'll never happen though, as The CW's notorious for never knowing when to voluntarily end a show (I'm lookin' right at you, Supernatural and your FIFTEEN seasons!)/


The Plot:
We pick up right where we left off last week, as Deon appears in Coast City and tells Iris he knows what's wrong— something's causing time to fracture around her. She realizes she didn't "catch" any time sickness— she's somehow generating it.

For no good reason she hits the panic button on her phone, and Barry speeds in from Central City. She fills him in, and he asks Deon what can be done. Deon says he's working on a way to stabilize her, but in the meantime she needs to stay put— meaning she can't leave Coast City. He teleports away to try and find a cure.

Barry says he's going to stay with Iris, but she tells him she'll be fine and to go back home and deal with the Fire Meta. He reluctantly agrees.

Back in Central City, Frost is in her apartment working on one of her terrible art pieces. She realizes she's sweating, which isn't a thing for her. Suddenly black flames erupt from her canvas and blast her, singeing her arm.

Team Flash meets at CCC Media for some reason to discuss the Fire Meta. Joe confirms none of the Meta's victims had anything in common, but says he & Cecile are gonna dig into it further to find a connection.

Just then Barry gets an alert and speeds to STAR Labs, where he finds Frost has accidentally tripped the Med Lab alarm (?). She says the Fire Meta attacked & burned her, and she's looking for bandages. Barry patches her up, and says the fire must have attacked her for a reason (durr...).

Later Frost visits Tannhouser Industries, where she meets with her "mother" Carla. She fills her in on the Fire Meta, and figures it's coming for her. She wants to use herself as bait to catch it, and needs Carla's help.

At STAR, Frost & Carla tell Team Flash their plan. Carla says the Fire Meta runs on cold fusion, so it must be after Frost for her icy powers (that makes absolutely no sense, but let's just move on). She says they can use that to their advantage to lure the Meta and catch it. 

Barry objects, pointing out they have no way to trap and contain it. Chester says they could modify the Fusion Sphere from the ASF (Artificial Speed Force) to amplify Frost's energy signature and trap the Fire Meta in it.

Barry says it's too dangerous, but Frost insists, saying the Meta's gonna come after her whether they act or not. She says she wants the same chance to help as the rest of the team, and Barry reluctantly gives in.

Team Flash sets up the trap, and Chester activates the Fusion Sphere. Within seconds the Fire Meta bursts through the ceiling and heads right for Frost. Oddly enough, this week it takes the form of a giant black skull. Suddenly it stops and pulls back, as if it senses the trap. Frost fires a blast of ice at it, and it knocks her across the room as it hightails it outta there.

Barry takes Frost to the Med Bay, where Caitlin (hey, remember her?) checks her out. Frost wants to try capturing the Fire Meta again, but Caitlin forbids it, saying she won't allow her to place herself in danger again.

Over in Coast City, Iris, Sue and Tinya Wazzo arrive at an adoption agency. Iris asks for Tinya's records, in order to locate her birth mother. Quite rightly, Agency Director Mrs. Washington says she can't give out that info because the records contain a no-contact order. She says they'd need permission from the board of directors to release that info.

Sue makes a call to her uncle, who just happens to be on the board. He barks an order to the flustered Washington, who nervously downloads Tinya's file to a flash (heh) drive.

The trio leaves, prompting the frazzled Mrs. Washington to say she needs a break. She leaves the office for a few seconds, and when she returns the room's completely empty— no doubt a side effect of Iris' time shenanigans.

Outside, Tinya's nervous and unsure if she wants to go through with it. Iris gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling her about her own estranged mother and how she wishes she'd reconnected with her years earlier. She convinces Tinya, who takes the flash drive.

Back at STAR, Caitlin scolds Frost for risking her life and being so reckless. She goes after Carla as well, saying she sees Frost more as a science project than a daughter. Frost ignores Caitlin and decides to try trapping the Fire Meta again anyway. Caitlin tells Carla that if anything happens to Frost, she'll have no daughters left and storms out.

Meanwhile, Barry sulks in the Lounge. Joe enters and Barry fills him in, saying it's his job as team leader to keep everyone safe. Joe gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling him that part of being a leader is trusting his people.

Carla finds Frost and says maybe Caitlin's right, and she is being too reckless. She says they need a secondary cyro-signature to properly lure the Fire Meta, and reveals she has potential ice powers as well. She thinks if they combine their cold signatures they can trap the Meta for sure.

Just then Barry enters and says he's decided to authorize the plan. Not sure why the others need his blessing, but whatever.

Frost & Carla are hooked up to the modified Fusion Sphere, and Barry activates it. Sure enough, the Fire Meta appears, and this time it's sucked into Sphere. Unfortunately the Sphere begins losing its integrity, as the Meta tries breaking free.

The strain proves too much for Carla, who goes into cardiac arrest. She assures everyone she's OK and to continue with the trap, but Frost shuts it down to save her. Carla's upset with Frost for aborting the experiment, but Barry says she did the right thing. He says they'll find another way to trap it.

Caitlin, Frost and Carla then reconcile with one another. Carla tells Frost she regrets missing so much of her life, and wants to get to know her better.

Back in Coast City, Iris & Sue accompany Tinya to her birth mother's apartment, where they've apparently shown up completely unannounced. Tinya knocks on the door, and her mother Renee answers. Tinya says she's her daughter.

Cut to Tinya chatting with Renee in her apartment. Renee says she regrets giving up Tinya for adoption, but had no choice as she was only sixteen and her parents pressured her into doing so. She says the only thing that's kept her going all these years was the hope that Tinya had a better life without her. Tinya says she didn't, and needed her mother.

Just then Iris, who's eavesdropping on all this, winces in pain as her eyes glow green with temporal energy. Renee rushes over and asks if she's OK. Unfortunately the second she touches Iris she's enveloped in green energy and vanities. 
Tinya looks on in horror, and asks what the hell Iris just did with her mom.

The next morning, Caitlin's in her apartment when the Fire Meta appears out of nowhere. This time it actually speaks, saying, "The world's different now. There is no normal life for us." Caitlin realizes with horror that her late fiancé Ronnie Raymond said the same thing to her years ago, and calls out his name.

• Man, they are reeeeeeally dragging out this whole Iris' Time Sickness plotline— to the point where they're now spreading conversations about it over multiple weeks! 

For example, at the end of the previous episode, Deon appeared with news about Iris' condition and said, "It ain't good." We then had to wait an entire week before he actually told her what was wrong with her!

• Last week we saw Barry (who was in Central City) having a Zoom call with Iris (who was in Coast City). I wondered why he did this, since he could literally sprint across the country in under a second to see her in person— prompting me to ask what the hell's wrong with the writers on this show.

In this episode, Iris is so distraught by Deon's diagnosis that she hits the alert button on her computer, and sure enough— Barry literally sprints across the country in under a second to see her in person— prompting me to ask what the hell's wrong with the writers on this show.

By the way, when Iris hits her panic button and Barry zooms to the scene, he's wearing his civvies. Um... since he had no idea what kind of crisis it was, shouldn't he have arrived in his Flash costume to preserve his "secret" identity? Whoops!

• The show goes full soap when Barry arrives and asks Iris what's wrong. We're then treated to this hilarious scene as the three leads worriedly look back and forth at one another as they wait for the opening credits to start. It's like a scene ripped straight out of General Hospital!

• Back in the big Armageddon crossover, Thawne created an alternate timeline in which he ruined Barry's life and caused Joe to be killed. In this brave new world, Alt Iris had Alt Deon reverse her time sickness treatments for reasons. At the end of the crossover Barry erased this nightmarish timeline and restored the original one.

In this episode Deon says Iris' worsening condition is due to him reversing her treatments. Wait, what? As I just said, his reversal happened in an aborted timeline. So how can something that never really "happened" be affecting her in the here and now? 
That... that doesn't make any sense. Even for this show!

• The show's rumored budget cuts are on full display this week, as Barry does little or nothing speedster-related. In fact we get exactly two shots of his Speed Force Lighting in this episode, and that's it.

For the majority of the episode he zooms away off camera, as his speed is represented by an orange light and a puff of wind blown at the actors. How cheap can they get?

• Deon promises to fix Iris and returns to wherever he goes when he vanishes. I'm continually amused by how Deon disappears by snapping his fingers— while wearing gloves!

• Amazingly, no one says "Leveled up" this week. I dunno why, but it's become the show's favorite new catchphrase, as it's been uttered at least once (and often many times more) in every other episode so far.

They did trot out "all in" though, this season's secondary catchphrase. Frost utters it when discussing Caitlin's new beau Marcus, saying, "What happened to going all in?"

• At one point we see Frost in the apartment she apparently shares with Caitlin, as our resident ice queen creates more of her terrible, terrible "art." Even for abstract collage, this is pretty bad. Like something a little kid would do.

Apparently the Fire Meta has good taste, as it suddenly appears and seemingly burns a hole in her horrible canvas before blasting across the room at Frost!

• For some reason Team Flash meets at CCC Media to discuss the Fire Meta. But why?Doesn't it seem like they should do this at STAR Labs, away from an office full of nosey journalists who don't know the group's composed of 60% metas?

I can think of two reasons for this oddity: One, the producers built the CCCM set, and by god they're gonna get their money's worth out of it. Or two, they had them meet elsewhere so Frost could enter STAR's Med Lab and set off the alarm, making the audience think the Fire Meta was attacking. Neither are particularly compelling reasons though.

• Hey kids, it's Nitpicky Grammar Nazi Time! At CCC Media, Joe says, "Kramer pulled files for every suspicious fire-related crime since the Particle Accelerator exploded, so me and Cecile have to go through all of it."

C'mon, Joe, you know better than that! He should have said "Cecile and I." When it doubt whether to use "I" or "Me," just remove the other person from the sentence and see how it sounds. If we eliminate Cecile, then Joe just said "Me have to go through all of it."

• This is some more Heavy Duty Nitpicking, but whatever. At one point the members of Team Flash all get SR37 Alerts on their phones. Allegra asks what that means, and Chester has to tell her someone broke into the STAR Med Lab.

So why didn't it just say that then? Why couch it in obscure code that everyone isn't familiar with? It's a text, so it could have just as easily said Med Lab Break In.

Also I find it hilarious that Frost tripped a security alarm inside STAR. For eight seasons now it's been the least secure facility on the planet, as friends and strangers alike seemingly enter it at will. 

And why is Frost setting off alarms anyway? Shouldn't she have the same access and clearance as everyone else? As I said above, this entire scene was concocted solely to make the audience think the Fire Meta was responsible.

• Frost pays a visit to her "mother" Carla at her office at Tannhauser Industries.

As regular readers know, I like to try and find the show's various filming locations in Vancouver. Despite the fact that I've never been within a thousand miles of the place, it's usually surprisingly easy. 

The part of Tannhauser Industries is played by the Anvil Center, located on Columbia street in downtown Vancouver.

• Frost fills in Carla on the Fire Meta, and asks for her help. Take a close look at Carla's face here. THIS is the expression she makes when Frost says she's being targeted by black flames that burn super cold, are somehow alive and even sentient. Can you blame her?

Once again, Carla's played by actress Susan Walters. You may remember her as Jerry's girlfriend Delores on Seinfeld. You know, the one whose name rhymed with a female body part!

• At STAR, Frost tells Barry her plan to capture the Fire Meta by using herself as bait. We then get this jaw-dropping explanation of cold fusion:

Barry: "But Carla, you can't actually be considering this?"
Carla: "I wasn't at first. And then Frost laid out the facts in the case. How it's killing innocent people, and now it's coming after her too— with flames that generate a cold so intense, it burns. That last item is almost an exact description of how cold fusion works."

Yeah, that's not how cold fusion works. At ALL. The writers clearly just heard the term somewhere but never bothered to look up what it actually means.

Oh, but it gets worse!

Allegra: "But why is the Fire attracted to Frost?"
Carla: "I believe it's because her meta-abilities are cryo-kinetic, just like our cold fusion fire."
Chester: "So you think it's hunting her for fuel to recharge itself?"
Carla: "Correct."

So unlike a conventional flame which is fueled by combustable matter, this one's powered by cold temperatures. Comic Book Science!

Incredibly, things then get even stranger!

Barry balks at Frost's plan, saying that even if they manage to catch the Fire Meta, they've no way to contain it. Carla responds by saying, "Cold fusion is still a fusion reaction, one that occurs at a low molecular temperature."

Amazingly, that's a fairly good definition of what cold fusion actually is! So the writers DO know what it means, they just choose to ignore it and come up with their own bullsh*t explanation that's convenient to the plot. Got it. 

• As I just said, Barry forbids Frost from using herself as bait to catch the Fire Meta, saying it's too dangerous. Thing is, they've done this "Using A Member Of Team Flash As Bait To Catch A Villain" thing dozens of times over the seasons, and it was never a problem then. Why's Barry so reluctant to try it this time?

Answer: Because they've got 42 minutes and 23 seconds to fill up, and they need to stretch this plot out as long as possible to fill it.

• The budget restriction strikes again! Chester repurposes the Fusion Sphere to trap and contain the Fire Meta.

If this device looks familiar, there's a reason for that! The Fusion Sphere was last seen in the execrable Mother— still my vote for the all-time worst episode of the entire series. It was used in that episode to jumpstart the Speed Force or something.

Hey, these props ain't cheap! Why blow money on a new one when they can just dig an old one out of storage?

• Carla's so impressed with Chester's technical knowledge and resourcefulness that she offers him a job at Tannhauser Industries. She even mentions that she pays more than STAR Labs too!

It always makes me laugh whenever the show points out that the members of Team Flash are EMPLOYEES of STAR Labs. I guess it makes sense, but it just seems weird to think that they're all punching a time clock and have dental and 401K plans.

Ultimately Chester turns down Carla's offer, implying he wants to continue working around Allegra. What a dope! Allegra supposedly has her own career over at CCC Media (even though she doesn't put in a lot of time there). She's not at STAR every minute of the day! He could easily work for Carla and still see Allegra after hours.

• Team Flash activates the Fusion Sphere to lure the Fire Meta to it. Seconds later it arrives, and Allegra looks up and says, "Somebody turned up the heat!" Wait, what?

Just a few minutes ago Frost told Carla that the Fire Meta's black flames were so cold that they "burned the victims like frostbite, only a thousand times more lethal." So why the hell's Allegra babbling about heat?

As I've said before, my main complaint about this whole Fire Meta storyline (so far) is how confusing and muddled it is. The Fire Meta's flames are somehow both cold and hot, it feeds on its victims' grief except when it doesn't, sometimes it kills instantly, other times it takes the form of a loved one, it needs cold to fuel itself and on and on. 

At this point I have no clear idea just WHAT the Fire Meta is and how it functions, and it's clear the writers don't either!

• Hey everyone, Caitlin's back! This is the first time she's appeared since Lockdown, which made me wonder if actress Danielle Panabaker was getting tired of constantly having to change her makeup and portray two characters and demanded she play Frost for a while.

There was actually some good stuff between Caitlin, Frost and their mother Carla this week. Caitlin brought up some good points about Frost and her reckless (Houston, we have a title!) nature. Not only was Frost literally created by Thomas Snow to protect Caitlin, but she's still not used to having a physical body of her own. It makes perfect sense that she'd be careless and daring.

And Caitlin was absolutely right about Carla— she DOES seem to look at Frost as some sort of science experiment!

It was a subtle bit of character insight and development that we don't often see on the show these days. Well done, writers!

That said, it felt a bit off to me to see Frost and Carla being so chummy this week. Back in Season 6's Pay The Piper, Frost was very apprehensive about meeting Carla— going so far as to say she thought of her as Caitlin's mom and not her own. Similarly, Carla was very cool (heh) toward Frost in Success Is Assured, which I believe was the first time she ever spent much time around her.

Suddenly in this episode it's like they've been a loving family all their lives. I suppose it's possible they reconciled and got to know one another offscreen when we weren't looking, but it felt like a major retcon to me.

• Over in Coast City, Iris & Sue accompany Tinya to the Regency Adoption Agency. 

Naturally I assumed this was yet another instance of the producers using a Vancouver location to stand in for a Coast City one.

Nope! Turns out this is a piece of Shutterstock video clipart. The FX team just CGIed a new sign to the exterior and were good to go.

Nothing wrong with this, mind you, as that's literally what clipart is for! Just thought I'd mention it is all.

• At the adoption agency, Iris asks to see Tinya's files in order to find out where her birth mother lives. Mrs. Washington, the Agency Manager, says the files are locked due to a no-contact order put into place by Tinya's mother (who's name is Renee).

Of course that doesn't matter to Iris, who demands to see the records anyway. Poor Mrs. Washington says only the Board of Directors can unlock the files. Sue then calls her Uncle Leroy, who just happens to be Chairman Of The Board— and immediately overrides the no-contact order.

First off, I can't believe Iris' actions here. She insists on opening Tinya's records, completely ignoring Renee's wishes. After all, she promised she'd help this teen she barely knows, and by the gods she's gonna do so— no matter how many lives she has to destroy in the process!

What the hell happened to respecting the choices of others? Isn't that one of the main SJW tenets? Giving up her child was no doubt an agonizing decision for Renee, and she probably put the no-contact order in place so she wouldn't have to relive her trauma some day. Iris clearly couldn't give two sh*ts about her feelings though, and bulldozes her way into the private records. 

Birth parents have right too, you know! The lack of respect and empathy shown for Renee here was downright appalling, and actually made me angry. And it made Iris look like a colossal asshole.

• When Sue calls up her Uncle Leroy, I assumed she was bluffing— much like she did last week when she pretended a paperweight was a "molecular destabilizer." Apparently not though, as she really is randomly related to the Chairman Of The Board of the Regency Adoption Agency! How odd.

• During Sue's call we get a shot of this plaque, commemorating the agency's chairmen past & present. Quite often the show's production designers like to hide their names in such props, and this one's no exception. 

I couldn't find anyone on The Flash's staff named Leroy Davis, but Malcolm Dunn is the Assistant Art Director on the show, while Laura Cawker is the Art Department Coordinator.

• After Iris & Co. finally leave, the frazzled Mrs. Washington says she needs a break. She leaves her fully furnished office...

And comes back a second later to see it's completely empty!

Obviously this is some side effect of Iris' time sickness. But what exactly's happening here? Did Iris send the furnishings back in time? Or did she send Mrs. Washington to another year— much like the Weeping Angels did to their victims over on Doctor Who?

• Normally on The Flash and shows like it, the characters will come up with a plan, try it once and if it fails, immediately discard it— never to attempt it ever again. It's an idiotic and frustrating trope.

In this episode Team Flash tries using the Fusion Sphere to capture the Fire Meta. When it doesn't work on the first go, they act like real scientists— discussing what went wrong and perfecting the plan till they get it right! WOW! That's amazing. Well done, writers!

• Team Flash determines they need two ice meta signatures to properly lure the Fire Meta into their trap. To that end, they recruit Carla to combine her burgeoning ice powers with Frost's.

Good to see the producers finally acknowledging the fact that Carla has the potential for cold powers as well— something the audience has known about since Season 5's Snow Pack. In that episode, Carla's ex husband Thomas Snow, aka the villainous Icicle, threw her into a cryo-freezing chamber for reasons. The chamber somehow ended up altering her DNA to give her cold powers like his and Frost's.

I'm surprised it's taken the writers three whole seasons to finally address Carla's powers. Oddly enough, at this point Caitlin's the only member of the Snow family who's NOT an ice meta.

• As Team Flash tries the experiment a second time, Chester monitors the Fire Meta's position. As it senses the cryo signatures it changes direction and heads right for STAR, causing Chester to let loose with yet another of his Black History Month oaths, saying, "Oh, Great Otis Boykin!"

For the past few weeks I've pointed out that the scientists he evokes typically have little or nothing to do with the current situation. Case in point: Otis Boykin was an inventor and engineer, who created electrical resistors used in computing and missile guidance. Not sure what that has to do with luring and trapping Fire Metas.

• The Fire Meta finally gets a face this week! Well, sort of. As it's being sucked into the Fusion Sphere, it briefly takes on the form of a giant black skull. It's about time! To be honest I was having trouble working up much concern for a formless mass of fake-looking CGI black flames. 

Big Bads need faces in order to become compelling villains— one of the many reasons why Khan was a way better villain than V'ger over in the Star Trek franchise.

• Hey, remember last week when Iris told Allegra to run CCC Media while she was off galavanting in Coast City? Welp, guess who hangs out at STAR for the entire episode once again?

• As I mentioned in my previous review, the show's devoting a MASSIVE amount of screentime to Tinya and her storyline, despite the fact we never even heard of her before last week. The only reason I can think of for this is they're planning on making her a regular character— which is the last thing the series needs right now.

• Iris, Sue accompany Tinya to the apartment of her birth mother, Renee Wazzo (court-mandated no-contact rule be damned!). Several things here:

First of all, when Tinya & Co. arrive at the apartment, they're greeted by a woman wearing a name tag that reads "Renee." Tinya stares at her and says, "Are you Renee Wazzo?"

OK, I guess I can cut the kid a break here, since she's likely nervous as hell here. But still... nice observational skills!

Secondly, is it standard procedure in these cases for an adoptee to show up completely unannounced like this? I'm gonna guess not. In real life this would be a HUGE shock, and completely blindside the birth mother. The poor woman looks like she just got off work at Walmart, and now she has to deal with the unexpected return of the daughter she gave up years ago.

Once again, the lack of respect for Tinya's mother in this episode borders on criminal. The writers were either lazy here or just thought it'd make for good drama to do it this way.

Lastly, the disrespect this episode shows for Renee continues, as Tinya demands to know why she "didn't want her." Renee— who's obviously distraught by the whole situation— tells her a perfectly rational story, saying she was only sixteen when she had Tinya and was pressured into giving her up for adoption by her parents. Renee then goes on to say she regrets her decision bitterly, and her only comfort was that Tinya probably had a better life without her. 

Instead of understanding her mother's situation, Tinya actually chastises her, saying she's had a horrible life because of Renee's actions, and needed a mom more than anything.

Jaysis! I get that Tinya's an immature teen, but damn! The situation isn't completely about her, and making Renee the bad guy here isn't fair. Isn't this show supposed to be all about understanding and giving people second chances? Apparently not when it comes to Renee!

• Iris has another of her time sickness spells, causing Renee to rush over and ask if she's OK. Renee reaches out and touches Iris' hand, and is immediately enveloped in green time energy before she's seemingly disintegrated.

Boy, I bet Tinya's really starting to regret the day she met Iris! In the space of just two days she's had her life completely destroyed by this pushy stranger!

I wouldn't start mourning for Renee just yet though. The fact that Iris has a time sickness means that Renee's most likely been temporally displaced (again, like the Weeping Angels on Doctor Who) and not really vaporized.

• In the tag scene, Caitlin's in her apartment‚ where she's confronted by the Fire Meta. She's terrified until she hears it say, "Cait, the world's different now. There is no normal life for us."

She recognizes those as the words of her late husband Ronnie Raymond— meaning HE'S actually the Fire Meta! GASP! A couple things here:

To refresh everyone's memories (including mine!): Way back in Season 1, Eddie Thawne sacrificed himself to prevent evil meta Eobard Thawne (aka Reverse-Flash) from being born in the future. For reasons, this caused a massive singularity to open above Central City, threatening to destroy it. 

Barry sprung into action and leaped into the singularity, running superspeed rings around the vortex in an effort to close it. When Ronnie saw it wasn't working, he joined with Professor Martin Stein to become the superhero Firestorm.

Firestorm flew into the heart of the singularity and then split apart. The resulting energy discharge destroyed it, but at the cost of Ronnie's life (Stein somehow survived).

Many fans are speculating that maybe Ronnie didn't die in the singularity after all, and is coming back as Deathstorm!

I could easily write 50,000 words explaining just who Deathstorm is, but for now let's just say he's an evil version of Firestorm and leave it at that. It would be awesome if that's what's really happening in this scene. And even more awesome if Ronnie actually took the form of the Deathstorm seen in the comics, and not a disembodied floating CGI skull.

• As the Fire Meta confronts her, Caitlin flashes back to Ronnie telling her there's no normal life for the two of them.

This scene (minus the blue filter) came from the Season 1 episode Fallout. In it, Ronnie's exact words were:

"Cait, Barry was right. The world is different now. Look, I... I thought we could get away, start a new life, a normal life, together. But there is no normal life for us."

• The writers seem to be making a big deal out of Team Flash searching for a connection between the three black flame victims. What if they all knew Ronnie Raymond, and he— as the Fire Meta— has been systematically killing them all?
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