Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Flash “The Man in the Yellow Suit”: A Review In Reverse

When Doctor Wells opens a hidden door inside his secret-future-room and reveals the yellow costume of the Reverse Flash, everything the viewer has seen since the episode began is thrown into doubt. How could he be the titular “Man in the Yellow Suit” if we all watched him get his butt kicked by the man himself in the force field chamber? Wells is playing a strange game with our hero, aggressively egging him on in his nascent heroism as the wheelchair-bound mentor Dr. Wells and now revealing that he might be Barry's life-long nemesis, once that seems placed on the Earth to taunt The Flash into becoming more powerful. Either way, the villain seems determined to “make The Flash a better hero,” to paraphrase the motivations of the last pre-New 52 Reverse Flash.

Only the timely intervention of Ronnie “Firestorm” Raymond 'saves' the Flash from a fatal beating from his rival, a still-disturbed Ronnie flies away, leaving his ex-fiancé Caitlin in the same shocked state she's been in ever since she first saw Ronnie again in the parking garage, her wish for a reunion taking a much darker turn than she hoped.

Flash's inability to catch the Reverse Flash after receiving a direct challenge from his nemesis left him questioning his whole life, leading to an awkward reveal to his step-sister Iris of his love, not know that Detective Thawne (let in on the secret of the existence of Meta-humans in this episode, something he must have known about anyway, being the head of the anti-Flash task force!) had popped Iris 'The Question' (the “move in with me” Question, not the other one...or the objectivist one).

The sudden arrival of “Man in the Yellow Suit” throws Barry's life into turmoil, forcing the reveal of big secrets and hidden feelings in the mid-season finale of The Flash.

 Yes, I wrote that recap in reverse, it seemed appropriate to for an episode that turns everything on its head and capped off a stellar run of initial episodes that have defied expectations for the network's sophomore superhero effort. While I am sure that the network was counting on the (ahem) flashy visuals to get people to tune it, it's the storytelling that's proven to be the show's most special effect. No one tell The CW that, or they will take the money away that was used here to stage an incredible, award-worthy speedster duel inside a domed football stadium.

The Reverse Flash was everything he needed to be: ominous, scary and clearly a force to be reckoned with. His constant vibrations coupled with his glowing red eyes quickly established him as inhuman cold, the true reverse of the warm, enthusiastic energy that Grant Gustin's Flash shines with. It's telling that Gustin was unmasked/not in costume during both of his fights. I have a feeling that the show-runners have discovered how hard it is to convey emotion through a mask that covers as much as The Flash's does. It's not something they saw a lot when they examined Stephen Amell's stone-faced Arrow.

As incredible as it was to see the show's seminal mystery explored so early in the show's lifespan, the show-runners have also started to pay off on the Barry/Iris situation by finally setting up a real love triangle between the step-siblings and Detective Thawne. Having Barry give her 'a' ring and Eddie the keys to his home (and have him learn about Barry's feelings) has set a definite timer on the storyline requiring to resolve itself and not sink into endless teen soap-style pining.

Almost overshadowed by this and arrival of the Reverse Flash are two introductions: Ronnie Raymond, the nascent Firestorm is confirmed to be alive by shaken Caitlin, and long awaited return of Amanda Pays to Flash television programs, where she is portraying a new version of Dr. Tina McGee, here as the head of STAR rival Mercury Labs. Pays' new McGee hopefully is more than just an elaborate cameo or reoccurring character, in her brief scene she clearly could hold her own with Dr. Wells and Detective West, she'd be welcome to take over as this new Flash's scientist/mentor after Wells' schemes are revealed.

 If there was any misstep this week, it's the tricky ground the show is getting into with time travel. Clearly this was going to be an issue that was brought up from the start, thanks to Dr Wells' future-paper and the night in the past Barry's mom was killed, but you can't just strap on a tachyon powered vest, start implying that the two Flashes have fought each other a different number of times each so far and not start to lose the casual fan who's not looking for Doctor Who levels of pseudo-science.

 Flash Facts:

 -Jesse L. Martin's continued clear and totally authentic-looking joy at witnessing Barry's speedster antics will never get old. Never.

-Caitlin is going to have to get “frosty” if she is to be near her fiery beau again!

-Speaking of rings, Wells has a Flash ring! It even allows him to 'access' his suit! Will we ever see a Flash suit that could fit inside the ring?

-So Detective Thawne is not the Reverse Flash, or at least not yet. Sure Dr. Wells has the suit, but that doesn't mean that he was the time traveler who was wearing it.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Flash Facts! Good job of freshening up the typical review style.