Friday, June 3, 2022

The Flash Season 8, Episode 16: The Curious Case Of Bartholomew Allen

This week on The Flash we get another standalone "interlude episode," as an accident causes Barry to begin rapidly aging without actually aging. We also get a visit from an old character, Joe has a midlife crisis and Barry crosses a line by shutting down Caitlin's crazy experiment. Oh, and Iris is still lost in time, but no one cares! Literally!

Might as well talk about that last item first and get it out of the way. Candice Patton, aka Iris, is AWOL again this week, as her self-imposed break continues. I don't know anything about the actress, and for all I know she may well have a perfectly good reason for leaving in the middle of filming. It just seems kind of... unprofessional to me. As well as unfair to her fellow performers, who all managed to show up for work.

Whatever her reasons for skipping out are, she needs to seriously reevaluate what she's doing and how its affecting her situation. So far the show's doing just fine without her! In fact it's better than it's been in a long time! Not only that, but the other actors all seem energized and... almost cheerful in her absence!

Her situation reminds me a bit of an old episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. For those too young to have seen it, the series was about Mary Richards, a producer in the newsroom of a small local TV station. Their news anchor was Ted Baxter, a pompous, arrogant buffoon who was completely incompetent at his job.

Mary discovered that in the ten years Ted had worked at the station, he'd never taken even one day off. Eventually he revealed he was afraid if he ever took a vacation day, they'd hire a substitute and everyone would like the replacement more. Mary forced him to take some time off, he did so, they hired a substitute and everyone did indeed like him better.

Ted was about to be fired, but at the last minute the replacement anchor was poached by a bigger station and ended up taking the better gig.

It's not quite the same thing, but I have a feeling something very similar could happen here with Candice. She needs to be careful here, because once the producers realize the show can survive without her and the audience doesn't miss her, they may decide to make her temporary leave permanent.

Elsewhere, there was plenty of great acting in this episode! Part of that's due to the performers of course, but I credit the direction as well. This week's outing was directed by Caity Lotz, better known as Sara Lance/White Canary over on Legends Of Tomorrow. As an actor first and a director second, she clearly knows how to get the best performances out of her fellow thespians.

This isn't Caity's first time in the director's chair. She previously helmed several episodes of Legends Of Tomorrow, including Mortal Khanbat, The Satanist's Apprentice and wvdr_error_100 not found (no, that last one's not a typo).

Lastly, the episode ends on a shocking note, as Barry takes it upon himself to end Caitlin's plan to resurrect Frost. We'll talk about that in more detail below, but it felt over the top and out of character to me, as well as needlessly cruel. It's definitely gonna come back to haunt him later in this season or the next.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We open on the Flash speeding through Central City, stopping various crimes and saving old ladies crossing the street. He then zooms back to the West house just in time to roll a twenty-sided die in Team Flash's weekly Dungeons & Dragon's game. Wait, what? Are they really playing games while Iris is still lost in time. Yes. Yes they are. And they're doing so cheerfully!

Joe plays his Old Man Card as he says he doesn't understand the game and it's not for him. The rest of the team decides to take a break, and Barry admits to Joe he wasn't into the game either till Iris made him try it. This finally causes Joe to worry about her, but Barry says Nora told him that Iris is alive and well in the future. Which makes her Time Sickness Saga completely irrelevant.

Barry gets a text from CCPD and zooms to his CSI lab, where he finds Chief Singh waiting for him. He tells Barry he covered for his absence with Kristen, so she doesn't find out he's the Flash. Barry says she already figured it out a while back, which seems to irritate Singh.

Anyway, Singh tells Barry there's been a break-in at Mercury Labs, and the thief got away with a Gamma Absorption Array. Barry researches the case at superspeed (actually doing his job for once) and determines the thief is likely hiding out in the Central City shipyards.

He zips away to the shipyard and searches the area in an instant. He finds a van that matches the description of the thief's, and when he opens the back door he sees the Array inside. Chester radios that he's picking up a spike in dangerous gamma radiation.

Just then the thief steps into the light and activates the Gamma Array. It emits a pulse of radiation, knocking out Barry. The thief tells him to enjoy what time he has left and drives off with the device.

Sometime later at STAR, Chester and Gideon (!) run a full body scan on Barry. This seems more like a job for Caitlin, but she's curiously absent... Anyway, Chester says every cell in Barry's body has deteriorated, meaning he's aged thirty years overnight! Strangely enough he looks exactly the same, and Chester explains he's only aging on the outside
Seriously? THAT was certainly convenient for the Makeup Department!

Gideon says Barry's power levels have decreased by 20%. He tries phasing and making "wind arms", but fails spectacularly at both. He then speeds out of the Med Lab and crashes into a wall.

Singh pays a visit to Joe, who's struggling to program a Roomba (?). He realizes Joe's not frustrated by the tech, but with his retirement. He offers to help with the vacuum.

Back at STAR, Chester reports there's been a break-in at Magnus Labs. Cecile suggests Barry let the rest of the team deal with it (how?), but he insists on going himself. He speeds to the scene, and catches the same thief in the act. He tries to throw a Speed Force Lightning blast at him, but it fizzles out (don't worry, it happens to all guys now and then).

The thief then tosses a thermal detonator at Barry, who tries to grab it at superspeed (?). He misses (!) and it hits him in the chest and shocks him into unconsciousness (again!).

Barry comes to and returns to STAR. Team Flash notices his hair's turning slightly gray, and he's now become near-sighted as well. Chester confirms he's aged another ten years. He warns Barry that his speed's causing his rapid aging, and suggests he rest. Barry refuses, and checks the Magnus Labs security footage. He discovers the thief's name is Pyotr Orloff, who was fired from Corbin Taft Industries for performing unauthorized experiments. He starts to zoom off to search Corbin, but Cecile suggests he let her drive him.

Barry & Cecile sneak into Corbin Taft and search their files. Barry finds an old laptop that belonged to Orloff, and when he starts it up it scans his face. The laptop doesn't recognize him of course, and starts a countdown to wipe its hard drive. Barry wants to run it back to Chester to stop it, but Cecile points out that'll age him even more. He says there's no choice, grabs her and they zoom off.

Cut to Barry & Cecile atop the Great Wall Of China, as his rapid aging apparently caused him to overshoot the mark by seven thousand miles (!).

Sometime later at STAR, Gideon scans Barry again and determines he's now suffering memory loss. Chester warns him that if he uses his speed again he'll die. He also says he somehow managed to stop the countdown on the laptop, but it'll take some time to recover the data on it. Barry says he's going to the Starchives to look for something to stop Orloff.

Meanwhile, Joe & Singh make a coffee run at Jitters. Joe laments that the world's changing and he can't keep up with it anymore. Singh says the world's not the problem— it's Joe and his inability to ever try anything new.

Back at STAR, Cecile finds Barry wandering the halls. She asks if he's OK, and he says he can't remember where the STARchives are. They go to the Lounge, where he tells her he's afraid of forgetting the people he loves— including Iris. Cecile tells him an inspiring story about her grandma, who never feared old age and made the choice to embrace whatever time she had left.

Chester manages to decrypt Orloff's laptop, and discovers his diabolical plan— he means to de-age himself by stealing the life energy from others. With the tech he's burgled, he can make himself immortal by absorbing the life from everyone in Central City, killing them in the process.  

Elsewhere, Orloff's set up his array out on the street in the middle of downtown Central City— an activity that's apparently ignored by the entire population.

Orloff's device triggers an alarm at STAR, and Chester says they have only minutes to act. Barry determines the Array can't be shut down for plot reasons, and decides the only logical course of action is to bombard it with more life energy than it can handle, burning it out. Sure, why not.

Team Flash warns him once again that using his speed will likely kill him. He says he's not afraid of aging anymore, and zooms off.

Barry speeds downtown and confronts Orloff, who says Central City's out of time. He fires up the Array, which sends out a pulse of glowing blue energy. Barry springs into action, running circles around the pulse, which somehow holds it in check. Back at STAR, the monitors indicate Barry's having a heart attack (!).

Despite this, he's able to pour on the speed even more. He finally begins visibly aging, as his face looks positively ancient. Eventually the Array explodes, knocking Barry and Orloff on their asses.

Barry stands up, and sees he's become young again. Orloff's not so lucky, as he now looks like a ninety year old man. Barry tells him to enjoy the time he has left... in prison.

Back at STAR, Barry checks himself in the mirror and sees his hair's no longer gray. Chester confirms the energy blast reversed the state of both men— Barry was "old" so he became young again, while Orloff was relatively young and grew old.

Sometime later, Team Flash plays D&D again (man, they just do NOT care about Iris' disappearance). Chief Singh even joins in on the fun this time. Allegra says they're willing to tweak the game so Joe can understand it, but he's apparently taken Singh's advice to heart and has embraced the game— even going so far as to dress in full wizard gear!

Just then Barry gets a call from Caitlin's mom Carla Tannhauser, saying she hasn't seen her in weeks. Barry says he thought Caitlin was staying with her, and realizes something's wrong.

He goes to Caitlin's apartment, but there's no answer. He phases through the door, and sees all the high tech equipment she's set up. Just then she enters the room and is startled to see Barry there. He asks what she's doing, and she says she's just working on some "stuff."

He looks over and notices Eva McCullough's Mirror Gun, which generated a separate body for Frost last year. Caitlin says she believes there's still a piece of Frost in her subconscious, and the gun could bring it out and restore her again. Barry gently tries to tell her that Frost is gone for good, and she needs to accept that and start living her own life again. She says she doesn't want to give up, and has to try.

Barry says he's sorry, and powers up. He unleashes a massive blast of Speed Force Lightning in the apartment, frying everything inside it. He then takes the gun and leaves. Caitlin collapses to the floor, clutching Frost's flannel shirt to her chest as she looks around the room in despair.

Thoughts:
• As the episode opens, Barry's zooming around Central City stopping numerous minor crimes. First he spins a bank robber around so he runs into the arms of a couple of pursuing cops, who promptly arrest him.

But then Barry speeds through Jitters, where he replaces an armed robber's gun with a banana. For some reason it appears that this crook doesn't get hauled off to jail. Why not? He was clearly attempting to rob the place. Isn't criminal intent reason enough for an arrest? Why let this obvious criminal go free?

Barry also saves an old lady from being mowed down by a driver who's diddling with his phone instead of watching the road. Note that the driver's listening to Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer on his phone. Wakka wakka!

Not only is this joke incredibly corny, it doesn't make any sense. The Flash happens more or less in real time, so this episode most likely takes place in May. Why the hell's anyone listening to an Xmas song now?

Barry also mentions that he took the phone-diddling driver to CCPD. I know using your phone while driving is illegal, but why'd the driver go to jail and the would-be armed robber got off Scot-free?

• Barry finishes his superhero business and zooms back to the West home, where Team Flash (including Joe!) is playing Dungeons & Dragons. They all seem to be having a great ol' time rolling their twenty-sided dice as they laugh and carry on— all while Iris is still lost somewhere in the Still Force. HAW!

I guess they can't be expected to wail and gnash their teeth twenty four hours a day for the duration of her absence. That said, I didn't expect them all to be so... cheerful either. Why, it's almost like the gang doesn't miss her at all!

OK, Joe does look slightly sad when Iris' name is mentioned, but only for a second. Amazingly they actually play again at the end of the episode— and this time Joe's all in, going so far as to dress up like a wizard— all while his "Baby Girl's" still missing! These people just do not care about Iris!

I can just imagine the awkward conversation that'll ensue when Iris eventually returns and finds out about all this:

Iris: "OK, let me get this straight— I was stuck in a timeless, nightmare realm for months, while you were all playing a goddamned game?"

• At one point Barry mentions that Nora told him Iris is alive and well with her in 2049.

I brought this up in the previous episode, but it's just as valid this week— this is a HUGE mistake on the part of the writers. If we know Iris is just fine in the future, that makes this whole Time Sickness Saga completely pointless! There's no drama or tension, since we know everything eventually turns out OK.

In fact all Barry has to do is ask Nora— or even Future Iris herself— how he saved her, and he could just go do it right now! Whoops!

• Chief Singh makes a guest appearance this week, for the first time since Season 7's execrable Mother (still my vote for the all time worst episode of the series). This episode treats his cameo like it's a festive reunion, as Barry's downright overjoyed to see him. 

Was Singh ever that popular a character though? In the early days of the series he was little more than a roadblock for Barry, existing solely to yell at him. Not sure why he's being presented as everyone's beloved pal here.

• Singh reveals he's at CCPD to present Barry with a sensitive case— the theft of high-tech equipment from Mercury Labs. Wait, shouldn't Kristen be the one assigning him to cases? Why's Singh getting involved here?

• Singh tells Barry a Gamma Absorption Array was stolen from Mercury Labs. When Barry hears this he says, "Arrays like this use bursts of gamma radiation to interact with cellular structures."

Was... was that an Incredible Hulk reference?

Not A Nitpick, But An Over The Top Rumination: When Singh gives Barry the Mercury Labs file, he instantly springs into action, researching the case in a flash (heh), even using his computer at superspeed.

Wait a minute... would that really be possible? No matter how new and powerful that computer is, there's still gonna be an upper limit on its processing speed. Barry could tap away on the keyboard at the speed of light, but the program would never be able to keep up. It'd be incredibly frustrating, like the computer was moving in slow motion to him.

The only way this could work is if he somehow used his aura to speed up the computer too.

As I said, I'm not complaining here and I don't expect the writers to put this much thought into whether Barry could actually use a computer at superspeed. It's just fun to think about how his powers would work and affect objects in the real world.

• Wow, Barry actually does his REAL job as a CSI this week. He uses observation, research and deductive reasoning to figure out where the Mercury Labs thief is likely hiding out. Well done!

• Chester doesn't utter any of his typical Black History Month oaths this week. Instead he just makes up a couple catchphrases that actually pertain to the onscreen action. Well, sort of.

When Barry discovers the Gamma Absorption Array in the perp's van, Chester says, "Great Gamma Gadgets!"

Then a bit later when Barry starts prematurely aging, Chester cries, "Holy Benjamin Button, Barry!" 

I get why he says this second one, but unfortunately it doesn't make any sense. In The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (which this week's title is obviously based on), the titular character is born an old man and then ages in reverse, eventually becoming a baby. Barry's doing just the opposite— growing old at an accelerated rate. Either Chester got confused or he's embarrassed he never saw the movie and tried lying about it.

• When Barry opens the perp's van and finds the Gamma Array inside, Chester radios, "Barry, that van must have been shielded, 'cause as soon as you opened it up the radiation readings spiked through the roof!"

Sounds pretty serious, right? Apparently not to Barry, as he nonchalantly takes a moment to gaze at the Array, completely unconcerned with the amount of gamma radiation his body's absorbing! Eh, gamma rays, schmamma schmays!

• The Mercury Labs thief turns out to be a plain old middle-aged, lab-coated professor named Pytor Orloff. Exciting!

Oddly enough, Orloff's actually from the comics. There he was a brilliant Soviet geneticist who worked at the Puleski Institute. His research let to the development of Red Trinity, a trio of Russian speedsters who clashed with the Flash. 

Note that this live action version has absolutely NOTHING to do with the comic version. 

I'm kind of wondering if they used the name Orloff because it sounds kind of like "Orlok"— the vampire in Nosferatu. When you think about it, Orloff's sort of acting like a vampire here, sucking the life force out of Barry in order to make himself younger... Eh, I'm probably reading too much into it.

• Orloff activates the Gamma Array, which emits a blast of blue (not green!) energy from the back of his van. It envelops Barry and knocks him across the dock, and if you look closely you'll see it dissipates before it hits Orloff himself.

Well THAT was a lucky break! So what would have happened to Orloff if HE'D been hit by the blast too? Would he start rapidly aging as well?

• After Barry's blasted, we see a closeup of Orloff's watch, which reads "Energy Consumption Complete." Whatever the hell that means.

Since Orloff is absorbing the life energy from Barry, I think the alert on his watch is supposed to mean he just consumed a healthy dose of it from him.

• Check out this 1000th (at least!) establishing shot of STAR Labs. I think this is the first time I've ever noticed the large number of cars in the parking lot! What the hell?

We see like four people who regularly work there, and two or three more who show up from time to time. So that takes care of seven of the cars, I guess. Who do the rest belong to?

Is there some large maintenance and managerial staff that takes care of the day to day running of STAR, and they're just on a floor we never see? That would actually make a lot of sense, as there's no way Barry, Chester and Caitlin could possibly run such a massive facility themselves. 

Or maybe Barry rents out the parking lot to the public to generate some extra cash?

• A few weeks back in Death Falls, Barry actually utilized his helpful AI Gideon to scan for Deathstorm, and to try and find a cure for Iris' time sickness.

In my review I noted it was about time he finally started utilizing this valuable resource, and should have Chester patch her into the Cortex so she could function as another member of Team Flash.

Welp, once again, it looks like the writers are reading my blog, because my wish was apparently their command!

This week Team Flash is in the Cortex, and Barry asks Gideon to run various medical scans on him to find out what's wrong with his body. FINALLY, they're using their version of Gideon the way the team did over on Legends Of Tomorrow! Why did it take EIGHT SEASONS for them to figure that out?

• Chester reports that the gamma blast has caused Barry to start rapidly aging. Ah, but there's a twist!

Chester: "Every cell in your body has deteriorated suddenly. It says here you've aged thirty years overnight."
Allegra: "How's that possible? He looks exactly the same."
Chester: "It looks like the blast that hit Barry was mostly absorbed by his internal biology. Organs, cardiovascular system, bones, joints. He may look young on the outside, but on the inside, things are very different."

Well THAT was certainly convenient! Barry's aging, but only on the INSIDE! That way the producers didn't have to strain the budget by springing for costly prosthetic makeup.

Yes, he does start sprouting a few gray hairs toward the end, and there's one very brief CGI shot of him turning into an old man in the third act, but 99.99% of the episode featured plain old thirty-something Barry attempting to act elderly.

Jesus wept... 

Look, the whole point of doing a "Character Rapidly Ages" episode is the fun of seeing the actor in old man makeup. Think The Deadly Years over on Star Trek. If they're not gonna bother SHOWING the character aging, then what the hell's the point? I cannot overemphasize how positively stupid it is to do an aging show with no outward aging.

• You know, Barry could have really used Caitlin's expertise in this episode. I get that Team Flash probably thinks she's still in mourning, but did no one ever think to call her and tell her there's an emergency?

• Barry ignores his creaking elderly bones and says he's going out to look for Orloff, in order to find a way to reverse his aging. Cecile pipes up and says, "Hang on, hang on. Do you really think it's a good idea for you to go in the field like this?"

Who else is supposed do it? Cecile herself? What's she gonna do, tell Orloff how he's feeling?

• Barry tests his powers to prove to Team Flash that he's still got it, even in his "elderly" state. Unfortunately it doesn't go well. First he can't manage to phase through a mug (hey, it happens to all guys now and then!). 

Then he tries doing "wind arms" to create a superspeed vortex, but is barely able to swing them in a circle, making him look incredibly silly. He then tries to run at superspeed but crashes into a supply closet.

Ah, nothing like making fun of the elderly!

Note that just a few seconds earlier, Chester was dead serious as he solemnly old Barry he was now the equivalent of sixty or seventy, and recited a laundry list of his various physical ailments. It gave the episode a real body horror tone. 

Then seconds later they turn right around and give us this wacky, "humorous" scene of Barry desperately trying to use his powers. Heck, even the music thinks it's funny, as The Flash's "quirky and lighthearted" theme plays on the soundtrack.

So which is it, writers? Is Barry's accelerated aging ghastly or hilarious?

One last thing about this scene before we move on— note that Barry attempts to do "wind arms" inside the Cortex! It's probably a good thing he couldn't manage to do it, else Chester and the others would have been pinned against the wall by gale-force winds!

• Singh pays a visit to Joe, who's desperately trying— and failing— to program his new Roomba. A couple things here:

First of all, Joe's the only one home, so Singh apparently let himself in! Are they really such close friends? Apparently so. Personally I only walk right into my immediate family's homes. With friends I always knock on the door and wait for them to open it.

Second, I've never owned a Roomba, but are they really that difficult to program? IS there even any programming involved? Pretty sure you just turn it on and forget it.

An Observation: Back at STAR, Cecile checks in with "Old" Barry, who's running in the Speed Lab:

Cecile: "You look better. How you feel?"
Barry: "Um, just a little tired. But as long as I keep it under Mach 10, I can maintain control of my speed. And that's more than fast enough to catch this guy."

For the record, Mach 10 is 7672 mph.

• Chester alerts Barry that Orloff just broke into Magnus Labs. It's a facility run by Dr. Will Magnus (natch), the world's foremost authority on robotics. Magnus Labs was previously mentioned in Season 7 of Arrow.

In the comics, Will Magnus was the creator of the Metal Men, a team of sentient, shape-shifting robots— each one based on a different metallic element in the periodic table. As a kid, Metal Men was one of my all-time favorite comics. I loved the personalities of the various robots, and the way they could form their limbs into weapons or morph into virtually any shape. I'd love to see a good live action Metal Men movie someday, but since they're a DC property, that's never gonna happen.

• Orloff's watch is quite the piece of tech. Earlier it monitored the amount of life force energy he'd absorbed (I think?). The next time we see it, it's apparently detecting Barry's approach as it displays, "High Velocity Object Incoming." Eat your heart out, Apple Watch!

• Barry confronts Orloff again, and this time the crazed inventor stops him by lobbing a "thermal detonator" at him.

This whole thermal detonator scene deserves some scrutiny. First off, Orloff— who's an ordinary middle aged man— throws it toward Barry. Even though he (or any normal human) could have easily caught the gently-tossed object in midair, he tries to catch it at superspeed. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe he planned on using his speed to catch and disassemble it or something? Who knows.

Anyway, Barry's rapid aging suddenly causes him to become nearsighted, and even though he's moving at superspeed he still he misses the thing! The detonator hits him square in the chest, releasing an energy pulse that shocks and knocks him out again.

Secondly, the term "thermal detonator" implies a device that releases a high temperature explosion. Orloff's gadget is 
more like a spherical taser! Get your terminology right, Orloff!

• Back at STAR, Team Flash determines that Barry ages every time he uses his speed. You know, that's actually a pretty cool idea for an episode! Just imagine how much better it would have been if Barry had actually LOOKED older each time he ran. 

Instead, we get a brief shot of Barry noticing a couple gray hairs on his head, in lieu of proper prosthetic old age makeup. What a missed opportunity!

• Barry discovers that Orloff worked at Corbin Taft Industries, until he was fired for conducting unauthorized experiments on company property.

As we all know by now, The Flash loves naming streets and buildings after prominent comic book creators. I looked it up, but couldn't find any instances of anyone named Corbin, Taft or Corbin Taft working at DC Comics. Maybe it's named after someone on the production crew?

By the way, the Corbin Taft building isn't located in Vancouver as usual, but is actually a piece of Shuttstock video clip art! Not a problem, as that's exactly what clip art is for. Just thought I'd point it out.

• Barry & Cecile apparently break into Corbin Taft and ransack the place's files (!). Seriously! The episode just glosses right over this, but it's clearly what happens. At no time do we see anyone let them in, and they're obviously sneaking and trying to be quiet as they snoop through the company's records. They're both straight up guilty of breaking and entering here!

Anyway, Barry finds Orloff's old laptop, and stupidly turns it on. It runs a facial scan, and when it doesn't recognize him it starts a countdown before wiping the hard drive. A couple things here:

First of all, why bother with the countdown? If it's a security feature, wouldn't it make sense if it happened instantly? Why give a hacker time to stop the wipe?

Second, Barry must indeed be addled from his rapid aging. All he had to do was a hard shutdown, and the hard drive wipe would have been averted. Instead he tries to zoom it back to STAR Labs so Chester can take a leisurely thirty seconds to fix the thing.

• Desperate to stop the countdown, Barry zooms himself and Cecile back to STAR. Unfortunately in his decrepit state, he overshoots the mark— and they end up in China!

Wait, that's not true. Instead they end up in front of a green screen, courtesy of one of the best special effects 1995 had to offer. Look at that awful shot! For Christ's sake, they're clearly not even outside!

Seriously, this shot is bad. Like reeeeeeeally bad. So bad it rivals the laughably inept green screen rooftop scenes in The Room. I half expected Barry to say, "Ha ha ha. What a story, Cecile."

I fully realize this is a TV show on the perpetually cash-strapped The CW network, so I'm not expecting Marvel Studios quality special effects. But this is a simple green screen background shot— the kind TV shows have been successfully and effortlessly pulling off for DECADES now. How the hell did they fumble the ball so badly here?

Cecile then looks down and sees they're atop the Great Wall, confirming they're in China. You know, I went to China several years ago, and one of the things that struck me most about the place was the beautiful yellow skies like the one seen here. What the hell?

For the record, China is approximately 7,230 miles from Missouri, where Central CIty's located. Now THAT'S an overshoot!

• Joe and Singh take a break from the Roomba at Jitters. There, Joe laments how he's getting old and no longer understands the world:

Joe: "Sometimes, I feel like time's chasing me. I spend half my day trying to keep up with the changes all around me. Like, I had to set a reminder on my phone to pick up Jenna from her playdate, an hour from now. It's like I don't recognize my life. But maybe that's what happens when you have more years behind you than you have ahead of you. You spend so much time looking back that it's really hard to move forward."

Wow! As a person of a certain age myself (never mind how old!), that hit pretty close to home! Well done, writers!

Singh's advice to Joe is equally well written, as he tells him:

Singh: "Joe, um, your life isn't the problem. Retirement isn't the problem. It's you. You don't wanna move forward. You've always been like this. Stuck in your ways. Not really willing to embrace anything new."

Fortunately I don't think I'm as rigid as Joe, as I'm still willing to give new things a try. Except hominy. Hominy's the Devil's anal polyps, and I don't believe ANYONE who says they enjoy eating it.

• Back at STAR, Cecile spots Barry in a corridor, lost and confused as he tries to remember where the STARchives are.

It's a heartbreaking and poignant scene, as we realize Barry's rapid aging is beginning to addle his mind as well as cripple his body.

But once again, just think how much more effective this scene could have been if Barry had actually LOOKED like an old man, instead of a thirty year old attempting to act scared and confused. WHY DO AN AGING SHOW WITHOUT ANY VISIBLE AGING?

• Kudos to actress Danielle Nicolet for a subtle little bit of acting. When she finds the addled Barry wondering the halls, she guides him over to a table to sit. As she does so, she shoots a quick, worried glance at his hand, which is tremoring in his "old age."

It goes by in an instant, and is easy to miss if you're not paying attention. It's a nice little addition though. Well done!

• Barry tells Cecile he feels his mind going, and is terrified of forgetting the people he loves. He's especially afraid he'll no longer remember Iris before he gets her back.

It's a pretty effective scene, as losing one's memories must be one of the most terrifying feelings there is. Grant Gustin does a terrific job here of conveying Barry's anguish too— even without the old age makeup he should have been wearing.

• Cecile manages to avoid being annoying this week, as she tells Barry about her grandmother who was her "superhero," and how she didn't fear old age or death.

• Eventually Team Flash figures out Orloff's plan— he wants to use the Gamma Absorption Array (along with the other tech he pilfered) to steal the life energy from everyone in Central City and make himself young again.

That's a pretty standard comic book villain plot. Nothing wrong with that though, as it's a nice break from the show's typical convoluted arcs. Sometimes simple is better!

• Barry and Chester discuss Orloff's evil plan:

Barry: "Chester, what happens when he finishes connecting the amplifier to the gamma Chester: "He becomes immortal. And the city, everyone in it, all age hundreds of years in an instant. We'll all be dust."

Really? Everyone will age HUNDREDS of years? How's that work? Wouldn't most people die after aging sixty or seventy years? How could Orloff get life energy out of a corpse?

• When Orloff activates his Array, Chester announces, "We've got a massive radiation spike. I'm reading 2,000 millisieverts." 

A millisievert is a real term, used to measure radiation doses. It's pronounced, "Mill-ah-SEE-vert." Unfortunately Chester, who should really know better, fumbles his pronunciation and says it as "Melissa-Vert." Like he's saying the name "Melissa." Eh, no need for another take, guys. Keep on rolling!

To his credit, the second time he uses the term he actually says it mostly right.

• The technobabble is strong with this episode. When Allegra suggests just pulling the plug on Orloff's machine, Chester says that's impossible, proclaiming "If we shut it down too suddenly, there would be a cascading degradation cycle in the gamma isotopes."

Wow, that sounds like a Star Trek: Voyager line if I ever heard one!

• Barry comes up with the idea to overload the Array by giving it more energy than it can handle (which is also a common comic book trope). When Cecile points out he'll die in the process, he uses her grandma's story against her, saying he no longer fears aging and death. 

Cecile (of all people) then gives us our very first "Run, Barry, Run" of the season.

I think this puts The Official Run, Barry, Run Counter at 11 (I'm not counting variations, like "Run, Mr. Allen, Run).

• We then see Orloff as he readies his Gamma Absorption Array.

I love how he's set up this flashing, humming contraption out on the street in the middle of Central City. Despite the fact it allegedly has a population of 14 MILLION (making it larger than New York, LA and Chicago COMBINED!), there's absolutely NO ONE around. Not one single solitary person. No pedestrians, no cars, and especially no interfering cops! Amazing!

I guess despite its large size, Central City rolls up its sidewalks as soon as it gets dark!

• Orloff activates the Array, unleashing a ball of glowing blue energy. Barry then begins running superspeed circles around it to try and contain it.

As he runs faster and faster, his aging finally begins to show, as his face becomes wrinkled and gaunt. Like he should have looked all through the episode. Note that we only get a proper Old Barry for a total of about five seconds. Ten tops. Feh.

If these shots of Barry speeding around a roiling mass of energy and aging right before our very eyes seems familiar to you, there's a reason for that. 

The entire scene is lifted straight from 1985's Crisis On Infinite Earths #8. In that issue, the evil Anti-Monitor planned to use an antimatter cannon to destroy the handful of remaining universes. The Flash found the energy core that powered the cannon, and began running circles around it in an effort to overload and destroy it.

His actions come with a price though, as he ran so fast he began aging and eventually crumbled into dust before destroying the power core.

The scene in this episode is clearly an homage to Barry's death in Crisis, and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise.

• Wow, Barry can run at Mach 10 (or faster!) even while he's having a heart attack! He really IS a hero!

• Barry succeeds in overloading the Array, which of course restores him to his proper age, while turning Orloff into a doddering old man. Sure, why not.

• Chester tells Barry he not only reversed his rapid aging, he actually went a little too far back. According to the official Arrowverse wiki, Barry was born in 1989, which would make him currently 33. Chester says he's now the equivalent of 29. Not sure what the point of all that was, but I'll allow it. 

• In the wrap up, Chief Singh joins the Team Flash D&D game, as Allegra serves as Dungeon Master again. He's nonplussed when he finds out she's a meta, and asks why she doesn't have a codename. She claims she never thought about it before, as she likes to "keep a low profile."

Where's Cisco when we need him?

In the comics Allegra's a radically different character, whose father was the supervillain Wavelength. I would not be surprised if Arrowverse Allegra eventually adopts that same name.

I'm also betting her line about liking to keep a low profile was setup for the inevitable scene of Taylor outing her as a meta.

• Joe takes Singh's earlier advice to heart, and decides to embrace his inner geek and go all in on the D&D game, going so far as to cosplay as a wizard!

Wow! I said it earlier, but it's worth a repeat— these people really DO NOT miss Iris at all!

• In the tag scene, Barry pays a visit to Caitlin and is horrified when discovers her unhinged plan to resurrect Frost. She tells him she's confident she can do it, which makes her sound even more crazy.

Barry decides to stop the madness, and destroys her experiment with a blast of Speed Force Lightning...

Leaving Caitlin heartbroken, devastated and without hope.

Holy Crap!

I had some half-baked theories as to where the Caitlin Tries To Clone Frost storyline might go. I can honestly say I did NOT see Barry trashing Caitlin's lab and triggering her supervillain origin!

Yes, Caitlin's attempts to revive her sister are ill-advised and borderline ghoulish. Especially after her recent disastrous attempt to restore her late husband Ronnie— which freed Deathstorm and nearly got all of Team Flash killed (herself included). 

Caitlin's obviously mentally unbalanced, as she can't accept the fact that Frost is gone for good. She clearly needs help though, and Barry's savage brand of "tough love" seen here isn't the answer.

Instead of unilaterally making the decision to end her experiment by frying her lab, why not have Chester (or even Cisco!) look over her notes and see if her plan is possible? Then if they agreed she's onto something and there's a real chance to bring back Frost, proceed from there. Do a controlled test to see if the procedure's safe (and won't conjure up another demon) and then cautiously move forward

Instead Barry appointed himself judge, jury and executioner, without even discussing the situation with the rest of the team. At the very least he should have involved them and asked their opinion. He went wayyyyy overboard and definitely crossed a line here. I will not be surprised if this action comes back to bite him in the ass soon— and not the good kind of biting!

By the way, I was joking about this incident causing Caitlin to snap and become a supervillain, as that's obviously never going to happen. Heck, at this point you could argue that BARRY just became a supervillain! I mean, he already took the Mirror Gun from Caitlin, preventing her from performing any more experiments. He didn't need to trash her lab too.

So while I don't think we'll get Evil Caitlin from this, I do think it's gonna drive a massive wedge between her and Barry though— to the point where she may even leave Team Flash.

Also, since she can't clone Frost now, I think maybe she'll figure out a way to give herself ice powers and become sort of a Frost 2.0.

It's also worth noting that Chillblaine was absent this week. In the previous episode, Caitlin told him she needed a fresher sample of Frost's DNA in order to properly clone her. Is that why he's AWOL? Did he spend this episode digging up her body?

And how's HE gonna react when he learns what Barry did? Will He be the one who snaps and reverts to his supervillain ways instead of Caitlin?

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