I hate to say it, but this week’s episode of The Flash, “Plastique”, did not impress me. Between the reckless amount of murder and attempted murder, the weak writing of the relationship between Iris West and Barry Allen, and Harrison Wells being so obviously immoral, it felt like more of a set back than going forward with the story-telling (other than the revelation about a very famous Flash enemy shown in the last scene).
Every episode of The Flash begins and ends with a voice over monologue by Barry Allen, telling us things he has learned, which is usually charming, but this week, I felt it didn’t really fit in with what the episode was about, albeit, I’m not sure I, or the writers, know what the point of this episode was. Barry talks about his friends, how he met them, and how sometimes friends come and go. He met a potential new friend in Bette Sans Souci, fellow meta-human, his friendship with Caitlin and Cisco remained the same, and he lost a friend in Iris West. However, it wasn’t Barry’s friendships that defined the episode, but I’ll get to that later.
The plot line that was supposed to garner the most emotion was the “break-up” of Barry and Iris. Joe West was very concerned with his daughter’s obsession with the so-called “Streak” and her blog dedicated to him. Because Joe thought it was Barry’s fault that Iris was writing the blog (which it sounds like nobody reads), he makes Barry go talk to Iris at an inopportune time, which only forces her into a further obsession. It seems ridiculous that Joe would be so upset about her hobby, considering that at the beginning of the episode, her name was not attached to it. Barry’s conversation with her made things worse, and she decided to put her name on it. How idiotic! Barry shows up to her work as The Flash, and talks to her, but when she doesn’t relent, Barry goes to talk to her and tells her they can’t hang out anymore. The writing for this episode alone was bad, but it brought up a plot point that is inherently problematic.
Comic fans know Iris West as Barry’s future wife. It still seems as though the show is trying to head in that direction, but in a really roundabout way. In addition, it feels icky that Barry and Iris were raised together like brother and sister. It is understandable that Barry would love her, but their relationship seems too familial. Because of that, it didn’t feel like their “break-up” is going to last long, is heart wrenching, or is worthy of time in the show.
The rest of the episode spent time (slightly) focused on its namesake, Plastique herself. Bette Sans Souci, an Iraqi vet who was involved in a car bomb accident in the war, starts making a name for herself by sending explosives at the people who experimented on her, including General Eiling. Bette, aka Plastique, can detonate literally anything with the touch of her hand. She is trying to get information on how she got her powers. When she is found by The Flash and his team, she tells them she thought General Eiling was the one to make her this way. This was another thing about the episode that didn’t make too much sense: if Eiling was experimenting on her before she had her meta human powers, why was she an asset to him? If I’m missing something, let me know.
The most disturbing thing about Plastique’s appearance, other than her bad acting, was the fact that Wells, Cisco and Caitlin were so cavalier about not caring about Plastique’s well-being, despite Barry’s reasoning that she isn’t purposefully hurting anyone. While Cisco has a crush on the pretty meta human, all three S.T.A.R. Labs employees make it crystal clear that she is dangerous and must be stopped. When Wells convinced Plastique to go on a suicide mission of killing General Eiling (again, such a casual attitude towards murder) it became even clearer to the audience that unlike its parent show, Arrow, no one in Central City gives a single bleep about people’s lives. The reckless abandon given specifically to meta humans is appalling. It is hard to believe that this would go unnoticed, and that a man like Barry, who is so driven to do good doesn’t see the flaw in killing. Guess he still has yet to meet Batman, so his sense of justice is a little skewed.
Speaking of skewed, I am about sick of Harrison Wells. Every episode has given a little teaser into his lies. The pilot episode gave the best tease, but there has been nothing of consequence since. This episode alludes to Wells being bad, something we already knew, but forced the issue with long stares into the camera and ominous music as the camera pans up to his face. While Wells seems to take the high road by breaking ties with Eiling in the flashbacks, Wells reveals he has other plans with SPOILER: Gorilla Grodd. While this is the most progressive moment this week, it still revealed nothing about Wells. It’s time to stop with the small reveals and get to the point.
But perhaps my biggest beef with this episode, and quite possibly the show as a whole, is lack of character development, particularly with the women. Yes, every week I roll my eyes when watching Laurel in Arrow. I don’t really care for Thea. I also think that the writers rely too much on Felicity to be the female voice. However, ALL these women are carefully crafted. None of them are the same woman they were when they entered the show. Currently, only Iris and Caitlin are the female voice in The Flash. While Caitlin is a scientist, she has little to no personality. Iris makes up for the personality, and other than her mission to help Barry solve his mother’s death, she seems incredibly shallow. This week, there was the potential for a really cool female character in Plastique, only for her to be senselessly killed off. Ugh.
- Cisco Ramon saved the episode from being a total wash by appealing to every collector by saying “I have two but I loved that one” when referring to Barry getting his suit blown up.
- In an attempt to save a window washer, Barry thinks that stacking up a bunch of mattresses will save him. Part of me wishes he would have tried that instead of running up the building.
- How is it that regular humans can handle the high velocity The Flash maintains when he saves them? Wouldn’t they at the least vomit?
- Joe West comments that trouble must mean it’s a Tuesday in Central City. Buffy fans rejoiced on the use of that line.
- Cisco wanted to test Plastique’s powers with the use of a boomarang. LOL.
- Where does Barry live? In his lab thing? That needs to be clarified.
Hush Comics gives “Plastique” a C for its lack of character development, willingness to kill off so many meta humans, and its needless attention to Barry and Iris, who seem to be going nowhere.
Easter Egg Hunt:
Captain Atom: General Eiling is clearly a baddie, but he is also known as The General. He blackmails Nathaniel Adam, aka Captain Atom, into joining an atomic experiment. While Nathaniel is gone, The General Single White Female‘s Nathaniel, stealing his away his wife and kids.
Captain Atom, again: The doctor that Plastique goes to visit is named Dr. Harold Hadley. He was one of the doctors who was part of the Captain Atom experiment team.
Captain Atom, one more time: When the team is looking into Bette Sans Souci, her emergency contact is named Cameron Scott. Cameron Scott is the real name of Nathaniel Adam.
Captain Atom… just kidding! Gorilla Grodd: The episode ends with Wells telling the ape that Wells has plans for him. Gorilla Grodd is one of the more famous Flash villains, only proving further that Wells isn’t the good guy.
All images belong to The CW and DC Entertainment. They are credited to Cate Cameron and Jack Rowland.