‘Back to Normal’

There is a moment in Spider-Man 2 where Peter dumps his red-and-blue spandex and stuffs a hot dog in his mouth to the sound of ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’. It was a montage of bliss as Peter shed his superhero responsibilities and lived his life the way he finally wanted to.

This week’s episode of The Flash went a similar route: there was the pop music soundtrack, Barry (Grant Gustin) queuing for coffee and travelling to work like a normal person. But, unlike Peter, Barry’s powers didn’t disappear, they were taken from him, making the montage mopey.

Not that this was a problem, with mopey Barry not a dick for once. But, it set the tone for the episode that made it seem like the filler it is. Barry has a saving-people syndrome and it drains dramatic tension out of his character — if Barry will rush to the aid of someone when he is powerless, then, of course, he will do it when he can run fast enough to travel through dimensions. The show could be teaching kids that they don’t need super-speed to be a hero (yawn), however, if this is the case the show fumbles this lesson.the-flash-back-to-normal-02The person Barry rushes to rescue this week is Harry (Tom Cavanagh), who is taken captive by an easily beatable meta-human that it’s pointless remembering his name (Griffin Grey for the purists). Grey blames Harry for the particle accelerator explosion and is completely unaware there are multiple Earths and that Harry is not the Harrison Wells he is looking for. Having Harry atone for another man’s sins is a decent dramatic hook that gave Cavanagh a lot to work with. He’s a fan favourite for his sass but tonight he was subdued. But, there should be a compilation video of all his impatient stares because they are mighty. Whilst the plot of this episode was slight, the character work was all on point.

Over the past couple of episodes, it has been no secret that Danielle Panabaker has been bringing it as both Caitlyn and Killer Frost. In this episode, the doppelgängers met and it was glorious. As Killer Frost Panabaker is a droll sass machine, but it is with Caitlyn where she does the subtle character work. Having been a spare part for most of the season, watching Panabaker play two versions of the same character shows how good she is as Caitlyn Frost, and the writers should be kicking themselves for giving her a trite and forced love story.the-flash-back-to-normal-03Talking of spare parts, there was a story on the BBC about #KeepIrisBlack. The hashtag wants to keep the movie version of Iris (coming 2018) as a black character. Whilst the creators of the social media movement wish to keep Iris black for Hollywood diversity reasons, another reason could be because of how good Candice Patton is in the role. Iris has sort of just been there this season, patiently waiting for her relationship with Barry to start without even knowing this. In one touching, key scene, she brings it and delivers the mandatory you-can-do-it monologue to Barry with an effort the writing doesn’t deserve. The future looks bright for this relationship, with both Gustin and Patton making it truly look like “destiny”.

★★★

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