Picking up from last week’s epilogue where Barry told Wally that it would be Kid Flash who saves Iris from Savitar in May rather than Flash, Tuesday’s episode begins with a race between the two speedsters. Team Flash has made Wally’s training a top priority, and a race will determine if he’s to become as capable as Barry.
Unfortunately, Wally’s yet to master the skill of using his speed to vibrate his molecules fast enough to phase through physical objects, and that handicap gives Barry the edge needed to win the race.
As Wally continues to struggle to repeat the stages we watched Barry gradually achieve in season 1, a new metahuman, Clive Yorkin, is in town, and this one has the ability to cause people’s entire bodies as well as seemingly almost any inanimate object he touches to decay. His first victim seems to set in motion one of the many future news headlines Barry and Cisco noted during their brief visit to the near future, though this is mentioned only once just to reinforce this plot device we’ll likely be revisiting in almost every episode in the back half of the season. Ultimately, much like Barry in season 1, it took the pressure of a failure-is-not-an-option situation for Wally to achieve a breakthrough in running through solid objects.
Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as The Flash and Keiynan Lonsdale as Kid Flash — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Eventually, a more central pattern in Yorkin’s victims is discovered. Everyone he’s targeting was a police officer with the CCPD during Barry’s brief time living in the “Flashpoint” alternative universe. Their decayed corpses also carry trace samples of Alchemy’s DNA. This troubles Julian who does that annoying TV superhero show thing of blaming himself for villainy done by his physical body while he was controlled by a third party and lacked any real agency. Eventually though, Caitlin convinces him not to blame himself right before asking him out on what kinda sounds like a date. Which immediately makes me scream “UH OH!”
While I’ve never been under the illusion that Julian was going to stick around past season 3 and I always pegged him as Alchemy long before Savitar even showed up, no good comes from Caitlin’s romantic interests. Fiancé Ronnie died (though I’ve heard actor Robbie Amell will be returning in some capacity in an upcoming episode). Season 2 love interest Jay Garrick turned out to be in league with Zoom (or was Zoom?). Who can even remember how that convoluted story turned out? And now she seems to have eyes for Julian. If Julian doesn’t ultimately revert back to his evil Alchemy persona, I anticipate at least a Gollum-like internal struggle for Julian’s soul resulting in a heroic sacrifice to save everyone or some tragedy to befall this character. Like Jay Garrick last season, the moment Julian first appeared, he screamed single-season character.
There’s a minor subplot in the episode involving a dinner between Joe, his girlfriend, Cecile, and both their families, including Cecile’s visiting daughter, Joanie.
Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Candice Patton as Iris West and Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow — Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW
And, for the second week in a row, Iris is put in danger in the present while the team is preparing to save her from being killed this coming May by Savitar.
Finally, in what might be the most satisfying tease introduced in a coda scene this season, Earth-Two’s Jesse Quick emerges from a portal just as Wally proves to himself he has truly mastered moving through solid matter. She needs help because Grodd has abducted her father and has taken him to Gorilla City.
Is It Good?
For the most part, this was a solid episode. It wasn’t as fun as last week, but it was a solid middle-of-the-season filler episode that moved the story forward a little bit. The villain was sufficiently menacing for a guy unworthy of even getting assigned an official villain name by Cisco. The Joe subplot was pretty superfluous, which is disappointing because he’s had nothing to do for several weeks now. But at least now the team is no longer keeping Iris’ future death a secret from him.
I also noticed an odd plot hole. When Joe found the villain’s final intended target, we see Yorkin is nearby just before the cut to commercial as an obvious suspense builder. But, in the final act, Joe and the target board a train to get their distance and Yorkin inexplicably shows up ahead of them on the tracks as he sets up his trap. How the [expletive deleted] did he get ahead of the train?!
Pictured (L-R): Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West, Tom Felton as Julian Albert and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Also worthy of note is that once again, Wally gets to step up and be the guy who does the final takedown of the villain. Sure, Barry gets the more impressive phasing the entire train through a solid wall rescue but, like two weeks ago, Wally is the one who finishes off the villain. He’s quickly moving through (no pun intended) the sidekick stage directly to full-blown equal partner.