Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Flash 4x13 Review: "True Colors" (Escapes! Disguises! Muuuuurder!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]



"True Colors"
Original Airdate: February 6, 2018 

“I have so many questions” isn’t a rare declaration for me in these reviews. I get confused a lot. Most of that is me overthinking things for comedic or pedantic effect, but this time... This time, folks, I am genuinely confused. The Flash has thus far lulled me into a false sense of certainty with its predictable villains, most of whom had motivations that could be summed up as “Gotta go fast!” Like, Reverse Flash? Revenge plot, time travel, fastness. Zoom? Inter-dimensional travel, crazytown bananapants, fastness. Savitar? More time travel, self-loathing, fastness.

I never fretted over the machinations of these villains because I always understood that they boiled down to wanting to be speedy and these goofballs were too messed up in the head to just challenge Barry to a foot race instead of murdering everyone he’s ever cared for and making his life a living nightmare. It’s comic books! Yeah, sure, running fast gets you the biggest bragging rights. I’ll buy it, because comic books are adorably dumb and that’s cool.

But the Thinker? This episode really hammers home exactly how little I understand of the Thinker, what his goal is, or why he does anything he does. Even his wife seems out of the loop.

PRISON BREAK!


Last time on The Flash, the warden of the prison Barry’s being held in found out his superhero identity and transferred him to a cell block containing all the bus metas the team has found so far. Warden Wolfe is supplying metahumans for Amunet Black to sell, but rather than telling her he has the actual Flash, he just says he’s acquired a “speedster.” Wolfe makes it sound like having a speedster to trade is the jewel of his collection, which is just more of this show/universe over-hyping being able to run real fast. Bro: you have a lady who can bring statues to life and another one who basically warps reality by affecting luck. Barry’s ability to inexplicably stop time while he talks to his wife aside, his power ain’t that special. It’s like opening a vault full of gold and precious gems, gesturing dramatically at one corner and going, “Ah yes, my treasure — and here, the greatest treasure of all... a shiny Pok√©mon trading card from 1999.”

Since Wolfe doesn’t tell Amunet that the speedster he has is the Flash, the nearby criminals Barry spent this season putting away don’t realize who he is either. But you know who does realize who, exactly, the warden has locked up somewhere? Cecile! Because she can read minds, she’s able to glean the truth when she, Iris, and Wolfe meet. Oh, show. You’re a wily little thing, slipping that new superpower into one of your semi-regular guest stars just to set this plot to save Barry into motion.

Cecile’s mind reading, plus Ralph Dibny gaining the ability to morph himself into people, makes “True Colors” the episode of true plot convenience. It’s a bit impressive that these developments don’t irritate me into hating the episode, but I think it’s helped by the fun of Barry’s prison break plot and the sheer bafflement caused by what DeVoe pulls at the end.

Speaking of whom: DeVoe seems to have lost the devotion of his own wife. I’m not sure if it’s the new face, or if she’s starting to suspect that he’s gone from self-preservation to straight-up evil, or if it’s because he’s now able to read minds, but she’s jumpy around him and shows signs of distrust. Marlize even takes to singing a song (“Going Out of My Head” by Little Anthony & The Imperials) to herself so Clifford has a hard time hearing her thoughts. The one she picks has sentimental value as it’s the first song she and Clifford danced to.

(My personal choice of distraction music if anyone were to read my mind is “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, by the way.)

Team Flash is working toward the same goal, on separate levels. The non-imprisoned members of the team hope to use Dibny’s new power to rescue Barry from getting sold to Amunet, while Barry uses that scientific know-how we don’t see enough of to break himself and his felon pals from the metahuman holding area. Any of the bus metas’ powers in Amunet’s hands would be dangerous, so getting them all free is the best option — even if it means, you know, setting a bunch of criminals free. I guess Barry assumes if they do bad things again, his team will just catch them.

The Wolfe disguise Dibny’s wearing to a meeting with Amunet starts melting, which turns the entire Team Flash plan to crap real fast and alerts Amunet and the real Wolfe of something going wrong with the metahuman trade. Wolfe tries to distract Amunet and assures her that all the metahumans are accounted for, while standing in the middle of his empty secret prison. That means there are... four different plots going, I think? Barry and the escapees, Wolfe vs. the escapees, Amunet vs. everyone, and Team Flash, who still thinks they’re going to rescue Barry from Amunet but don’t realize Barry is in the process of rescuing himself.

Thus, the final confrontation, at which all lines converge, occurs! Barry and his new jailbreak friends exit the no-meta zone of the prison to find Wolfe waiting for them. Wolfe tells them that the helpful CSI leading them is the Flash, and if they want vengeance he’s a far better target. All the prisoners turn against Barry except Becky, who has bonded with Barry the most throughout the journey and sincerely doesn’t want to be someone who causes pain and misery to those around her. Amunet shows up too, but Becky’s luck powers mean any attacks against Barry and herself backfire quite spectacularly. Everything looks good for the side of good.

And then DeVoe arrives, clamps pincery things from his chair onto each of the metahumans’ heads, and... sucks their life force out? Their powers? Seriously, I have no idea. Before they all collapse one by one, they turn and smile evilly at Barry. Dominic, DeVoe’s second-edition body, gets fried. Everyone else gets fried. Just before Barry can save Becky from getting fried, DeVoe possesses her and decides to keep her “inconspicuous body” (not sure how a convicted felon is inconspicuous, but hey) as his Body 3.0 and escapes after killing Wolfe.

Meanwhile, Barry returns to his regular prison cell because he still doesn’t want to leave if it means living life on the run (ha!) and if the team can’t find a legal way to get him out, he’s not going. Luckily, Dibny’s new power comes in handy: he shows up as Original Flavor Clifford DeVoe during a court proceeding Cecile called for and informs the judge that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated. There are so many holes in that I cannot even begin to list them all, but it gets Barry off the hook so... okay.

Meanwhile meanwhile, the actual not-actual Clifford DeVoe is in the body of Becky. He doses the increasingly suspicious Marlize with a metahuman-derived love potion and they dance to the song she had been mentally singing earlier in the episode. I don’t know what just happened.

Other Things:
  • “He always did look smug in those Italian wool suits. Oh my god, he’s literally a Wolfe in sheep’s clothing.” I love you, Cisco.
  • Shrink-ray guy whose name I forgot totally brings up the fact that Barry is a CSI who committed a crime and supposedly left evidence all over the crime scene, and how stupid that was. Maybe he should’ve been Barry’s defense attorney during his trial.
  • There have been multiple episodes where Caitlin says she can’t just turn into Killer Frost, but she pretty effectively turns into Killer Frost in this one. I can’t tell if it’s a plot hole or if it’s supposed to be character development.
  • The lyrics to that “Going Out of My Head” song are actually pretty significant for the DeVoes’ current marital strife.

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