Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Flash 2x05 "The Darkness and the Light" (Some Lighthearted Fun) [Contibutor: Deborah MacArthur]

"The Darkness and the Light"
Original Airdate: November 3, 2015

Oh, this episode was so wonderful. I don't think it was advertised as a fun, funny episode –– I mean, it has the arrival of the Wells from Earth-2 (a.k.a. ParaWells –– thanks for the name, Mer!) and that should make it a big, serious plot-heavy episode, right?

But it wasn't. It was a big, hilarious plot-heavy episode. The dialogue and comedic acting in "The Darkness and the Light" was spot-on, the hijinks were amusing, and –– this is the kicker –– it still managed to introduce big "season arc" story elements without said elements feeling tacked-on as an afterthought. This episode, in spite of the comedic relief, was not filler and was not wholly comedic: there were several dramatic beats which, through skilled writing, pacing, and acting, managed to come off as natural for The Flash as we know and love it.

The Flash creators and writers craftily established their world as one in which silly things (man sharks and super-intelligent gorillas, for instance) are just as likely to happen as dark, angsty things (murder, death, world-ending black holes...) In doing this, they've made a creative playground where tone doesn't have absolute rule over everything they want to write and nothing really seems out of place.

There was so much great stuff going on that deserves comment, it's difficult to smash it all into one of my reviews which, generally speaking, run about 1,500 words long, tops. Still, I can try to split it up into three categories, based off of significant reveals and plot points: Parallel Earths, Barry's Romance, and Cisco.


Like I mentioned, the big thing that happened last week was that ParaWells revealed his existence to Barry when he saved The Flash from King Shark. So, Barry –– putting aside the fact that this person reminds him of the guy who killed his mother –– allows ParaWells into STAR Labs and, technically, onto Team Flash because he might have some answers on the subject of the mysterious Zoom. He also turns out to have some helpful information on the "breachers" who visit Earth-1, since they mostly come from his Earth-2 and he's evidently been keeping track of metahumans. Probably in research for his handy-dandy metahuman alert system, which he wears as a smart watch.

For "The Darkness and the Light," the metahuman of the week is Dr. Light, a thief from Earth-2 who uses the power of stars to create some pretty cool light-booms and lasers. Dr. Light, not really wanting to be under Zoom's thumb but not feeling up to killing The Flash, decides she's going to target her Earth-1 double instead: Linda Park. I assumed that Dr. Light wants to just take Linda's identity on Earth-1, but if that's the case I don't think murdering her in front of a bunch of people is really the best idea. Is it actually that Zoom want them to kill their counterparts for some reason?

Barry is blinded by Dr. Light (ha) so his crime-fighting abilities are severely restricted for a few hours. That's why you have a team, Barry! Team Flash picks up the slack, but it's really Iris who saves Linda from getting murdered by her alternate-reality self because Iris is cool, you guys, and knows how to shoot a gun with some skill. Saving Linda gives everyone enough time to regroup and try to think up a plan for stopping Dr. Light. As it turns out, Cisco's powers are revealed and he uses them to figure out where Dr. Light is, but Barry still doesn't know how to stop her. Everything still works out in the end because ParaWells and Jay talk Barry into using a new Flash trick (the speed mirage) and it distracts Dr. Light well enough for Barry to knock her out.

At the end of the episode, it's revealed that ParaWells's daughter is being held captive –– which explains the guy's limited patience and general creepiness, probably.


In an example of the episode's stellar comedy and use of a "lighter" tone instead of bogging viewers down with all kinds of angst, Barry gets to go on a date with Patty Spivot. Considering Barry's feelings for Iris, the date is a big deal –– it signifies Barry... probably not forgetting about, but at least moving past something he thinks can't happen or won't ever happen between himself and the woman he's loved since forever. He likes Patty, Patty likes him, and she doesn't seem to mind that he totally showed up to their date pretending he could see everything going on when he'd actually been blinded by a metahuman.

This was probably the silliest part of the episode: Barry's been blinded by Dr. Light and Cisco is helping him through his "literal blind date" with Patty via sunglasses with a camera attached to them and an earpiece. It was all very sitcom, but in a fun way rather than a cheesy way. After the date's been going on for a while, Patty brings up the fact that she's a detective and can totally tell that Barry can't see her. Surprisingly, the date goes even better after that and ends with a goodnight kiss. Maybe Cisco's not as good at directing his friends through a sitcom plot as he'd originally thought?


Aaaand speaking of Cisco, this was actually a pretty great episode for him. Ever since he found out about his powers, he's been scared of telling his friends –– not because he thought that they would reject him or lock him up for being a metahuman, but because he knew if they knew, the powers would be real. He would have to deal with them and the memory of how (from his perspective) he'd been "given" those powers by a really evil guy who shoved his hand through Cisco's chest and, well... killed him. The arrival of ParaWells probably brought some of those fears to the forefront, too, since ParaWells reminds everyone of the wrongs that his Earth-1 counterpart committed.

ParaWells reveals that Cisco's a metahuman by using his smart watch app to beep at him a bit, and everyone is understandably confused. And probably a little insulted, because Cisco didn't tell them –– but again, we must reiterate that Cisco's silence on the matter of his powers wasn't because he was afraid of them, or because he was afraid of what his friends might think. He was afraid because, in his mind, the powers came from Wells –– the evil Wells, not the Parallel Wells –– and everything that resulted from that guy being in their lives was tainted when he revealed he was a super villain from the future.

Still, nothing stops Cisco from being hilarious, snarky, and terrific. Since the Just About Write TV MVP claims are an unforgiving bloodsport akin to Battle Royale or The Hunger Games, and only the strongest and swiftest may win the prize of fawning over certain lovely, lovely actors we see on our televisions every week, I'm going to go ahead and express a little bit of how very much I love Carlos Valdes's portrayal of Cisco Ramon here. I could totally expand on this, should I rise victorious when the MVP time comes, but, you know, I just want to make sure I get a chance to say how fantastically entertaining, hysterical, and perfect he was in this episode. It's not that he got the best lines –– it's that he said them in the best possible way they could have been said. He aced those lines. He slam-dunked those lines. He more-superlatives-than-I-can-come-up-with'd those lines. From the way he sing-songed how ParaWells is a "diiiiick" to his brashly loud laughter at Barry's blind date antics –– it was just perfection. Absolute, wonderful, made-my-day perfection. All the kudos to your comedy and your acting, Mr. Valdes.



Other Things:
  • What's up with the hats on Earth-2? Is a 1940s aesthetic really, really fashionable over there?
  • "Crisco." And it's just said, there's no follow-up, IT'S WONDERFUL.
  • I love how Joe enters the room, sees Wells, and starts shooting.
  • "How are you still alive?!" "I don't know. Because you missed?"
  • "He's just a normal guy. From another universe."
  • "I was gonna ask her out but then a man shark tried to eat me and Dr. Wells: The Sequel showed up!"
  • "You know, our Dr. Wells may have been evil, but you're juuust a diiiick!" QUOTE OF THE SEASON, PEOPLE.
  • Do you think the Earth-2 people are insulted that they're considered Earth-2? I would want to be Earth-1. Number One Earth.
  • There were some little things that Grant Gustin did in reaction to events that I loved, like his subdued "What?" when Cisco was rambling out a lie about how he knew Dr. Light was robbing a bank, and his surprised "Whoa!" when ParaWells started shouting at Cisco.
  • "You don't have to like me. I don't like you." Nonsense, ParaWells. Everyone likes Cisco!
  • "Why don't we take it down a lumen." HA!
  • "I'm guessing my counterpart did something to offend her as well?" "Her fiance died because of him." "Oh." ... *ParaWells walks away.*
  • "HAHAHAHA. That's embarrassing."
  • "Whatever it is, that color should thank you for wearing it." Barry is SMOOTH, you guys.
  • Also things are happening between Caitlin and Jay. I'm sure we'll explore that in greater detail in another episode.
  • "I'm still here. Creepin' and peepin'." I adore everything Cisco says, does, and is.
  • "THANKS A LOT, HARRY." As much as I love the name ParaWells, I'm really tempted to switch over to Cisco's "Harry" instead. Leave your preferences in the comments, folks.
  • "Guys, should have talked about this before I left but, how do I stop her?" I love that Barry went in with zero planning.
  • "Optimism must be an Earth-1 thing."
  • Heeeeey, Hawkgirl.


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