Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Kid Flash returns in a downbeat reunion episode

Grant Gustin, Keiynan Lonsdale
Grant Gustin, Keiynan Lonsdale
Photo: Colin Bentley (The CW)
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The return of Wally West is long overdue, and somehow—like everything else that happens on this show—it’s all Barry’s fault. For once, though, the blame feels misplaced. After all, where was Wally during the first half of the season, when Barry was supposedly facing death? Why was he the only hero to sit out the Crisis? Sure, the real reason is likely that Keiynan Lonsdale wasn’t available, but when Wally tears into Barry in “Death Of The Speed Force,” it’s a little less satisfying than it might have been if Wally truly had the moral high ground.

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Ah, but this is the new Zen Wally, immersed in the Buddha’s teachings and spiritually connected to the Speed Force, in which he senses a disturbance. (Cue Barry’s self-admittedly terrible Yoda impression.) Having developed the ability to leave his body and enter the source of all speedster power, Wally brings Barry along for a fact-finding mission. Still embodied by Barry’s mother, the Speed Force is very sick and under attack by green energy from an unknown source. Back in the real world, Wally goes off on Barry, blaming him for killing the Speed Force when he attacked it during his battle with Bloodwork.

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As it turns out, the death of Speed Force is Barry’s fault, just not for that reason. When Barry used the Spectre’s energy to enter the Speed Force during Crisis, he left it behind, and they didn’t mix well. Barry is forced to relive the death of his “mother” as the Speed Force expires, leaving Wally and Barry with only whatever residual speed they have left in their bodies. It’s clearly been way too long since Wally had a good pep talk from Joe, who reminds him what a long way he’s come since he was a petulant, impulsive kid. Wally and Barry reconcile in time to face Central City’s latest threat...Turtle 2.0.

Carlos Valdes
Carlos Valdes
Photo: Colin Bentley (The CW)
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It’s not Cisco’s best work, as Barry notes, but hey—Cisco Ramon back in the house. It’s another shaky reunion right from the start, as Cisco mistakes the banner welcoming Wally back for his own. Having wandered the earth and gotten into all sorts of adventures we’ll never see, Cisco has compiled a scrapbook of all the new versions of familiar foes. The Turtle didn’t make much of an impression the first time, and the sequel doesn’t significantly improve on the original. Frida Novikov is a former arms dealer (as it seems like all the villains are lately) seeking revenge on those who informed on her by using her meta powers to age them into mummies. Cisco gets to work on a variation of the Velocity X formula to stop her, but his time alone has made him forget what everyone on this show is constantly forgetting anyway: there’s a reason they’re a team, and maybe getting help from a bio-engineer like his old pal Caitlin wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Missing out on all the reunions is the real Iris, still trapped in the Mirror Universe after weeks. (Her clothes, hair, and makeup are holding up remarkably well under the circumstances.) The Mirror Iris is having a hard time keeping up appearances; Wally notices something off about her, and when Kamilla snaps a candid shot with the high-tech new camera Cisco brought back from his travels, Iris insists she delete the photo immediately. The deletion doesn’t take, however, and the camera, perhaps using an advanced new Instragram filter, reveals its subject’s true mirror form just as she arrives to zap Kamilla with the mirror gun.

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The most unhappy reunion is saved for last. Nash welcomes Cisco back by asking for his help tracking possible “survivors” from other Earths, by which the Ciscolorian determines he means “ghosts.” One of them finds Nash first, though: Thawne, who somehow takes over Nash’s body. The usual rules of plot and character logic never apply to Thawne; he basically shows up whenever and can do pretty much anything. Except while in Nash’s non-powered body, evidently, as Thawne is unable to phase his hand into Cisco’s heart. After a beatdown that lands him in the pipeline, Thawne vows (once again) to kill the Flash and everyone he loves, and inadvertently sparks another inimitable Barry Bad Idea when he mentions his homemade Reverse Speed Force. What’s to stop Team Flash from building their very own artificial Speed Force? What could possibly go wrong? I have a feeling we’ll find out very soon.

Stray observations

  • Cisco went to Atlantis and just mentions it in passing? I’d say we need a whole Atlantis episode, but that would blow the budget for the rest of the season.
  • There’s never room for everyone in an hour of commercial television, but we barely got to meet Sue before she and Ralph both vanished. Hope we check in with them soon.
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My debut novel Charlesgate Confidential is now available from Hard Case Crime.

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