The Flash s7 e2
Cisco and Caitlin are back just in time for the endgame to begin against Eva McCulloch!
But a strange new set of circumstances for Barry might doom their chances for success before they even begin...
After a bumpy season premiere, The Flash is suddenly firing on all cylinders with its second episode, “The Speed of Thought.” And not coincidentally, this episode sees the return of both Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin “Killer Frost” Snow (Danielle Panabaker).
Like all good ensembles, The Flash relies on the chemistry between its leads to anchor it, both emotionally and storywise. Remove a key piece, or try to hastily insert too many other pieces, and the balance is out of whack. Showrunner Eric Wallace tried to coax us into caring about Allegra last season by obliquely tying her to both Nash Wells and tangentially to Iris (Candice Patton), but forcing her into the ensemble felt forced and unearned. Similarly but to a far lesser extent was Chuck (Brandon McKnight), who is so underdeveloped that it’s hard to see him as his own character besides token science nerd in Cisco’s absence.
No, the Flash needed Cisco and Caitlin back. And so, The Flash delivered this week.
Obviously, Danielle Panabaker’s brief hiatus and subsequent reduced role last season due to her new motherhood was well-earned. And it would be wrong to hold any of the show’s shortcomings due to her absence against anyone involved – but nonetheless, her absence was keenly felt. Cisco’s was a bit more baffling, a quickly exposited “He’s off to explore the new multiverse!” in the wake of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” was all the explanation we got, and suddenly, Flash was missing two of its main characters. Eep.
But in “The Speed of Thought,” there’s a definite, deliberate sense that all is right in the world again as these two fan-favorites rejoin full-time, just as things go impressively off the rails in the ongoing war against Eva McCulloch and the vagaries of the Mirrorverse. Iris, Kamilla, and Singh are all still trapped, and the latter two are in danger of permanently discorporating the longer they remain inside – a fate worse than death, we’re told. But hold on – Barry has suddenly noticed he’s developed super-speed thought as a side-effect from being imbued with power from the newfangled Speed Force cooked up last week. It’s beneficial at first – there’s actually some pretty funny moments where Barry out-Ciscos Cisco, much to his chagrin – but of course there’s a price, and it’s that super-heightened intelligence equates to proportionately decreased emotions. Quicker than you can say “Dr. Spock,” Barry is neck-deep in morally-questionable yet immaculately-intellectual decisions, regardless of cost to those around him.
There’s probably more to be said about how tropey this is, at least on the surface – that people of increased intelligence are inherently less emotionally astute. Fortunately, “The Speed of Thought” sidesteps any lazy Sheldon Cooper-isms and swiftly moves into decidedly darker (but never grimdark) territory, with Barry becoming a genuine threat to those around him. And even though last week’s episode similarly used the “Barry is acting like someone other than himself” gimmick, its reprise this week is genuinely fun and moves the needle forward in a big way for the ongoing Mirrorverse arc. It’s fun because Grant Gustin really, really could have a strong second career as a Borg someday, as well as he conveys emotionless menace. And every time you think the episode has reached an apex, it finds another way to up the stakes a little more, and put the viewer on their heels. As the episode closed for Barry and company, something struck me: “The Speed of Thought” reminded me of why I fell in love with The Flash in the first place (especially with that cliffhanger, but hopefully more on that next week). There’s still some wrinkles to be ironed out – Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) in particular needs to be than just a footnote – but there’s no mistaking that this episode felt like The Flash of old again. More, please.
- Seriously: that epilogue really got my eyebrows arched. What on earth did I just see?
- Barry’s big move against Eva McCulloch was hardcore, and something he’d never do in his right mind – but it pushed the narrative forward exactly where it needed to go.
- The show needs to quit using the high-pitched whine to signify every time Camille uses her powers, even unintentionally. We get it, she reads minds – let’s just let the actors do their jobs, eh?
- Speaking of Camille, she too, suffers from being an appendage character, as her attachment to Barry actually stems from her attachment to Joe. The show needs to find a way to bring her better into the fold, develop a strong subplot for her, or creatively write her out.
- Anyone else wondering where Wally West is? Since his brief stint on Legends of Tomorrow, he’s been relegated to non-existence. The show could have done something truly bold and had Barry die during “Crisis” just like in comics, and replaced him with Wally as The Flash‘s lead, which would have been truly revolutionary – but blinked instead. We need some closure on this guy one way or another.
The Flash s7 e2, "The Speed of Thought," was a legitimately fun outing that felt like old times all-around. With the whole Team Flash gang back in place, it is absolutely go time. The show hasn't felt this fun and engaging since at least season five. More, please!
Flash s7 e2: “The Speed of Thought”
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Music - 7/107/10
- Production - 8.5/108.5/10
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