The Flash

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“Duet” made me angry. Not because the musical episode failed to impress. No, the episode infuriated me because this is what I want from both Supergirl and The Flash and somehow you just know the writers of both shows will ignore all that works here as each show gets stuck back in the grim and grittiness of its current storylines. “Duet” is what I want both shows to be: bright, fun, energetic, and hopeful. This shouldn’t be a standout. This should be the bar both shows attempt to reach every single week. This year Supergirl has been more successful than The Flash in the regard, but both have struggled juggling darker themes and unnecessarily convoluted relationship drama getting in the way of the fun. I’m not saying never get serious, but embrace more zany hopeful storylines so that when you do need to take a serious moment it will have all the more impact (as opposed to episodes of moping or acting like a dick for weeks at a time to those who love and rely on you).

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“Into the Speed Force” feels like one of those episodes we should learn something from… but I’m not sure exactly what that’s supposed to be. While the episode works well enough on its own I’m also a disheartened by the show’s stubbornness to continue to run from Barry (Grant Gustin) as a hopeful hero and continue down a more lonely path. Like him or not, since getting his speed Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) has been able to embody the exuberance Barry used to enjoy as the Flash (before he became a dick to everyone he loves). The conclusion of the episode seems to be to put Barry on the path to being a better speedster, but the show might be better served if it concentrated on making him a better man.

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Following the two-parter featuring Grodd and his army of apes, The Flash falls back into some bad habits I had hoped were behind the series this season. The return of Savitar means the return of dickish Barry (Grant Gustin). After somehow viewing the scene of the future without Barry and his memories, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) blurting out a questionable conclusion puts Barry and Iris (Candice Patton) back three steps from last week’s engagement. And the team’s insensitive use of Julian (Tom Felton) puts strain on his burgeoning relationship with Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker). Oh, and Caitlin reveals she’s put everyone’s lives in danger for weeks by hiding a powerful relic in the lab. Seriously, did Grodd mindfuck these people while I wasn’t looking because they are all pretty much acting like bad (and dumb) examples of themselves for the entire episode.

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Barry‘s (Grant Gustin) joy at stopping Grodd (David Sobolov) and preventing an ape attack on Central City is short-lived as the follow-up to last week’s “Attack on Gorilla City” brings Grodd and his army of gorillas to Earth-1. Mind-controlling Gypsy (Jessica Camacho), Grodd is able to bring his entire army over (and somehow hide a large group of armor-covered apes from prying eyes for nearly the entire episode). Fearful both of an attack on the city he’s not sure they can stop, and more of Iris‘ (Candice Patton) future coming true, Barry considers the possibility of putting Grodd down, for good.

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The first-half a a two-part event, “Attack on Gorilla City” finally offers the return of Grodd (David Sobolov). The arrival of Jesse (Violett Beane) on Earth-1 prompts Barry (Grant Gustin), Cisco (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), and Julian (Tom Felton) to head to Earth-2 to rescue her father who is being held captive in Gorilla City. I’ve been waiting the better part of a year for Grodd’s return, and the episode doesn’t disappoint. Not only one of Barry’s strongest adversaries, Grodd is one of his smartest which is highlighted here in his manipulation of events leading Barry to cause the very event he was attempting to prevent.

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THE FLASH THEME SONG ACAPELLA

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“Dead or Alive” introduces another traveler from Earth-19 in collector, AKA bounty hunter, Gypsy (Jessica Camacho) who shows up on Earth-1 in search of H.R. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) who broke his Earth’s most important law in choosing to travel to a parallel world. Given that H.R.’s sentence is death, his friends attempt to stop Gypsy from leaving with him. Inspired by both a need to save a version of Harrison Wells and his obvious attraction to yet another deadly female, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) volunteers to fight, not realizing it’s a fight to the death with someone with his powers but far more experience using them.

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There’s a good episode at the heart of “Borrowing Problems from the Future,” it’s just unfortunate we have to wade through 20 minutes of Barry (Grant Gustin) being a complete dick to get to it. Troubled by seeing Iris (Candice Patton) killed by Savitar in the near-future, Barry struggles with how to try and prevent the events from coming to pass. His aggression gets taken out on Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) who is finally allowed to strut his stuff as Kid Flash. Once all cards are on the table, “Borrowing Problems from the Future” can begin actually deal with (and attempt to change) the future while teasing us what else may be in store for the show during the second-half of this season.

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For its Christmasy mid-season finale The Flash pulls out all the stops and delivers the best episode of the season so far. Along with Barry (Grant Gustin) and company discover Julian‘s (Tom Felton) secret, the episode enlightens the viewers on who Savitar is and why it seems he’s targeted Barry. With Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Barry burying the hatchet during the Invasion! crossover, here Barry and Julian are able to make peace as well, and finally all of Team Flash gets on-board with Wally joining the family business. God bless us, everyone! All that plus a guest-appearance from as Jay Garrick, and even a cameo from Mark Hamill, what more could you want for Christmas?

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The Invasion! crossover continues, focusing mainly on current and former Arrow cast members who are abducted by the Dominators and thrown into a virtual-reality world in which Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Thea‘s (Willa Holland) parents are still alive, Diggle (David Ramsey) is the Green Arrow, and Oliver is set to marry Laurel (Katie Cassidy). Haunted by memory flashes of their true lives, Oliver, Thea, Diggle, Ray (Brandon Routh), and Sara (Caity Lotz) come together to fight their way out of the fake reality and back into the real world where they wake up to discover they are aboard a Dominator mother ship in outer space.

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