The Flash’s mid-season finale has left our minds racing. My thoughts are running around and colliding all over the place like a thousand different speedsters from different centuries battling it out in a football stadium.
The episode opens up BOOM! with Zoom… or “Reverse Flash” as the people in this Flashverse (eventually) call him. This mid-season finale is named “The Man in the Yellow Suit” because we finally get cracking on the storyline they’ve set up from the beginning. The promos leading up to this episode have centered around Barry’s fear and obsession around the man who he believes murdered his mother, Nora. Accurately, we follow Barry this episode as he learns that The Man in Yellow in the Lightning is once again in Central City which, of course, brings up a lot of issues for our superhero.
Before all of the Zoom-ing goes down, all is calm and all is bright because it’s Christmas time in Central City. Papa West and Barry are decorating the tree (which Barry does and then undoes in .0003 seconds) and being the best father-son relationship on TV. Their chemistry and warmth is so palpable, it’s like a big mug of Grandma Esther’s spiked eggnog. Iris busts in and, privately, she and Barry excitedly exchange gifts because a.) Iris West is adorably impatient and b.) WestAllen shippers need their Christmas fluff!
Barry gives Iris a replica of Mama West’s wedding ring. The original was lost in fifth grade, and Iris cried to Barry and Barry never ever forgot because he is Barry and the best (super)human being on the planet. This ring represents Barry’s neverending hell of unrequited love, but it also foreshadows that Iris is definitely Barry’s future wife. Also, amazing more-than-friends gifts to oblivious girls is enough to fuel us for the winter knowing that Iris West is never going to take that ring-necklace off. O lawd, it hurts. PS. Iris bought Barry a top-of-the-line telescope that he probably has access to at S.T.A.R. Labs; we find out late that she got Eddie a shirt.
While Barry is at S.T.A.R. Labs trying to get his super-smart friends drunk on nog, Eddie and Iris cuddle in Jitters with the latter proudly displaying her flash-y new ring-necklace. Eddie then attempts to pry his girlfriend’s eyes open and hints to her that Barry has non-platonic feelings. Iris laughs him off. The audience groans. Eddie’s gift to Iris is a key to his apartment. The audience groans some more.
Caitlin is doing that terrifying parking garage walk that all women do, except for the part where she follows a homeless man into a dark corner. Yes, Caitlin, his jawline is chiseled and familiar, but girl. Come on. COME. ON. She’s lucky(?) that the hobo is her ex-fiance, not dead and very much ON FIRE. He’s hot in all senses of the word.
CCPD checks out a crime scene at Mercury Labs where a yellow speedster has left a pile of security guards, and Barry and Joe freak out internally. BTW, Barry, Joe has seen/been threatened by this criminal before. Sorry we didn’t tell you, but there was a photo of Iris and a knife and probably a severed horse head. It was crazy.
Anyway, the Mercury Labs technology is “superluminal” which, I guess, means it’s futuristic and faster than light and can be used to trap a speedster, so no shit that’s what Team Flash is going to use to get “Opposite Flash” (not your best, Cisco). And because scientists are all about permission and credit, they ask permission first from a Dr. Tina McGee — and yes, she’s from the 90s Flash series. And not only is Amanda Pays cast in the role, she’s playing THE SAME CHARACTER AS BEFORE, which is pretty cool.
[Ed. note: And they’re doing it again when Mark Hamill returns to The Flash, reprising his role as the Trickster!]
Flash writers are awesome nerds. Oh yeah, and McGee says, “No.” Uh oh, we’ve hit a wall, Team Flash.
So before McGee agrees to give over her superluminal knowledge, we get to deal with some of the subplots: Snow tells Cisco she thinks Ronnie is alive and metahuman, Wells is busy Grinch-ing around in his wheelchair, and Barry goes into a deep trance replaying memories of his mother and her murder. Iris wakes him out of his awful, dark daydream only to force Barry into another awful, uncomfortable living nightmare: she asks him if he has feelings for her.
WAIT, WAIT. Let me be more detailed about this: Iris asks Barry if he cares about her in a romantic sense, but does so while blowing off the seriousness of the question, mentioning it as a silly theory her boyfriend came up with, and laughs and essentially force feeds Barry’s response. Because an affirmation is, I guess, unthinkable. And I get it, Iris, I do; maybe that’s how you avoid awkwardness! But as a viewer: I was sad and frustrated and offended… Barry isn’t a silly option, Iris. You’ll see.
Iris leaves after a painful hug, leaving Barry-Bear (and the audience) sad and staring out the window. Maybe that’s a good thing WestAllen didn’t solve all of their issues right then because Barry sees
The Main Story Plotline The Man in the Yellow Suit posing on a building. Oh yeah, he’s taunting Barry. Barry doesn’t think because his heart has been rebroken for the billionth time and chases Old Yeller.
And Yellow is faster than Barry, meaner than Barry, and vibrate-ier than Barry. (Please, do not misread that sentence). Yellow beats up our Red like it’s therapy, and Barry has no idea what’s happening.
The shots of the two flashes speeding towards each other is brilliantly shot and colored, as usual. These scenes look like frames painted straight out of a comic.
After getting his ass handed to him, Barry is determined to take down this Zoom-er so he blackmails McGee into handing over her superlight science tools, and somewhere Wells’ heart grows four sizes. Papa West puts on his Detective Joe hat and plans the capture with the police, and Eddie volunteers himself as President of the Anti-Flash Club.
Meanwhile, our favorite nerdy sidekicks have tracked down maybe-Ronnie, but he adamantly insists that he is “not Ronnie.” He is Firestorm. And we all agree as he burst into flames. I wonder if maybe that was Dr. Stein talking? Or does Ronnie have amnesia, you know, from vaporizing inside a particle accelerator? Or is he just going through an identity crisis and trying to burn over — I MEAN, “TURN OVER” — a new leaf? I’m sure we’ll find out1. The rejection from her meta-fiance leads to a heartbreaking Caitlin and Cisco moment:
“I used to play this game in my head. ‘What would I give up for just one more minute with him? My house? My career? The rest of my life? Today, I got that minute, and I wish I hadn’t. Seeing him like that.. what he’s become… dear god, I wish he had just died that day.”
Zoom-wise, the superluminal, Tachyon device has been set up in S.T.A.R. Labs as a trap, but Barry gets booted out of the building by Dr, Wells and Papa West under the pretense of being “too close” to the case. At least, that’s how West feels, but I think Dr. Wells is just being shady and doesn’t want Barry and the Reverse Flash in the same room. I’m on my couch yelling, “What the hell, Papa Joe?! This is Barry’s fight! This isn’t fair!”
So fuck that, Barry goes to visit his other daddy. These scenes are always killer on the feelings, and I always get giddy seeing the Shipp!Flash and Gustin!Flash mirroring each other through the glass barrier2.
I thought Gustin was great in the crossover last week with angry, impulsive!Barry, and his ability to go to desperate, helpless!Barry was impressively gut-wrenching. This is the first of Three Big Emotional moments of the episode. After Barry tells his dad about what he’s been doing all week (minus the superspeed stuff), he reveals his guilt about not being able to catch the Yellow Man.
We know what Barry means: even with superspeed, his mom’s killer is unreachable, and he may never prove his father’s innocence. Well, Slugger, Daddy Allen doesn’t want you to worry about that anymore; he wants Barry to move on with his life free of fear and guilt. And he wants him to make his move on Iris because everyone on the show knows Barry loves Iris, except for Iris.
Barry does what I thought would take at least another episode to do, and he tells Iris the truth about his feelings! This show is just getting it right; no more we-all-know-something-she-doesn’t WestAllen… we can get to the good stuff. Barry’s speech to Iris (almost ruined my Iris’ “Awwwwwwwwwwwwww I love you too”) is Big Emotional Moment #2 and is too good to just recap:
I love you, Iris. When we were kids, I loved you before I even knew what the word love meant. And then my mom died, and I had to go live with the girl that I had a crush on. There were so many times that I wanted to tell you. Junior prom, when I went away to college, when I came back from college, nights that we stayed up talking, all the birthdays, all the Christmases, but I never did. I just I kept it in. After I lost my mom and my dad, I was afraid that if you didn’t feel the same way, I would lose you, too. That’s the irony. I was so scared of losing you, that I did. I know I’ve had our whole lives to tell you this, and you’re with Eddie now, and I know that, and I know my timing couldn’t be any worse, but I just — I couldn’t lie to you any more. I’m sorry.
Now, some may argue that Iris did nothing but side-eye Barry, but I think Candice Patton played her reaction beautifully. Iris listens. She can’t help the single tear. She looks at him and processes what he says. No, she doesn’t say anything back, but that’s because she doesn’t know what to say. Iris is a good person: she’s in a serious relationship with another man who she loves, and she’s not gonna kick Eddie to the curb and run into Barry’s super arms
yet.Instead, she’s going to be confused about this new information, what it means to her, and how it is changed her life. It’ll be really, really good.
Meanwhile back at the lab, the Tachyon Trapping Plan worked! They have way-too-easily and conveniently captured the yellow speedster, who ignores Joe’s questions about Nora Allen and chit-chats with Dr. Wells… who he then proceeds to beat down like a rag doll. That was an unfortunate time for the Trap to break down; and Cisco and Caitlin are like Shit, sorry! Our bad.. I personally think that this Reverse Flash knew their plan because he’s from the future and wanted to dick around with our team, specifically Dr. Wells who maybe already knew this was going to happen. I mean, he’s even trying to hint at his name to them by saying he’s not like Barry because he’s the — wait a beat — “Reverse.” Cool, now I can officially call him Reverse Flash. And oh, yeah, while Wells was getting his ass handed to him, I kept yelling, “You guys, watch his legs! He could move them! HE’S NOT A PARAPLEGIC!”
Caitlin sends Barry an S.O.S. because that is her go-to move — even while in Starling City — and Barry shows up in time to distract Reverse Flash from using Wells as a punching bag even further. Now we all know Barry is good at taking a beating, and for the second time Reverse Flash gleefully and vindictively kick’s Barry’s ass. I think Reverse Flash enjoys this so much because in the future, he probably doesn’t have the same upper hand as he does in 2014. What a dick.
To save the day, we get our final Firestorm appearance of the night. Ronnie-Not-Ronnie has excellent timing and attempts to roast reverse Flash, who does not want to deal with this flamethrower shit, so he says goodbye to Barry in true villain fashion.
And then Firestorm tells Caitlin not to look for him, turns into a giant fireball of “Fuck yeah!” and flies away in true superhero fashion.
In the aftermath of all this, Cisco and Caitlin tell Wells about Ronnie, Joe tells Eddie about metahumans, and Iris DOES NOT tell Eddie about Barry because we see them cuddling at the West Christmas party along with Cisco and Caitlin. Barry tells Iris he’s happy for her and Eddie and aside from some meaningful looks, they’re interaction is limited.They all drink Esther’s eggnog. It’s a weirdly quaint, but I guess Central City has seen weirder shit. They’re used to this by now.
My favorite part of the aftermath is Papa Joe and Barry’s talk.
The writer’s killed the speeches this episode, so I’m just going to post it verbatim.
“When you first moved in with us, I thought it was going to be too much. I’m already a single dad, finances were tough, and you were a little boy who just lost his mother. But, man, was I wrong. Within two weeks, you would change the whole dynamic of the house. Suddenly the house was filled with this light, this energy! I mean, you brightened up everything. You’d seen more darkness than any man will in a lifetime, and you never let it dim your soul. So there I was, thinking that I’m changing your life by taking you in, but the truth is: you changed mine. So don’t lose that light now, Barry. The world may need the Flash, but I need my Barry Allen.”
Okay, I may have just teared up while typing that. Joe West is the best father on television. The fact that Barry is comfortable enough to reveal his insecurities and fears about losing to Reverse Flash because he was scared of him speaks volumes about the bond between the two of them. Judging by Joe’s speech, the love and respect is mutual. Not only is Barry a blur of light as he runs and does his hero work, he is an emotional beacon of light for all the people in his life. Light is one of my favorite metaphors because the smallest amount of light can easily be seen in a mass of darkness; Barry’s goodness is evident to those to all who know him.
The extra two minutes! Right!
Dr. Wells did not go to the West Christmas party, and is grinching (and WALKING) around his secret room in the wall at S.T.A.R. Labs. And he has the yellow suit.
And he tells us all, in a distorted villainous voice: “Merry Christmas.” Cue winter hiatus.
- Reverse Flash: Is he Professor Zoom? Or is he Hunter Zolomon? There are different versions of the Reverse Flash, which leads me to believe that this show is going to have more than one.
- Firestorm: Ronnie or Stein? Do you think he’s going to get his own show, or will he be a season regular like Green Arrow on Smallville?
- 90s Flash: John Wesley-Shipp and Amanda Pays as Dr. Tina McGee
- The Flash Ring: I wonder how this will play into the rest of the series.
- I love that The Flash is following in Arrow’s footsteps with the two-episode winter introduction of a new hero; this is, after all, the same time last year that we got our first look at Barry when he visited Oliver Queen & Co. in Starling City. ↩
- You know, even though the 90s Flash didn’t last very long, there sure are a lot of nods to that series. ↩