Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Flash 4x21 Review: "Harry and the Harrisons" (Let’s Kill an Hour) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Harry and the Harrisons"
Original Airdate: May 8, 2018 

By my count, there are four co-plots going on in this episode: Team Flash wants to recruit Amunet Black to help them take down DeVoe’s brain drain satellites, Caitlin wants Amunet to bring Killer Frost back, Harry and Cisco seek guidance on Harry’s diminishing intelligence from alt-Earth Harrisons, and Iris wants to publish an article telling the world about DeVoe but Barry doesn’t think it’s a good idea. That is too many plots with not enough emotional or narrative payoff for any of them, The Flash. We’re late enough in the game that every moment of screen time should be treated as a precious commodity that furthers something — character development, the main arc, etc. — in a significant way, but this week wastes every opportunity to do so.


Two of this week’s plots involve Amunet Black, the former black market metahuman dealer. Despite that title, I kind of like her? I think she probably would have made a good primary villain for the first half of this season, rather than extending DeVoe’s villain role over twenty-something episodes. And since she and Caitlin have something of a connection, it would have been especially good as a way to make Caitlin’s arc with Killer Frost seem like less of a baffling afterthought. Caitlin going from really wanting to get rid of Killer Frost to losing Killer Frost and wanting her back has been some story whiplash.

Team Flash’s alliance with Amunet is done at Caitlin’s urging, since she thinks Amunet has a “splicer” device that helped her get Killer Frost under control. The fact that Caitlin lies to the team (playing Amunet off as their best option for finding a non-tech weapon to take down DeVoe) is questionable, but forgivable. At least she’s doing something, which is more than I can usually say for the character. But whatever, Team Flash goes to find Amunet, who says she can’t help them unless she gets her “big” stash of special metal hunks. They’ve been stolen. Along with the splicing device. By that dude with a snake in his eye, also known as the grossest metahuman to ever appear on this show.

So the team plus Amunet goes to get her metal supply, and Amunet admits to Caitlin that the splicer never worked on her — the ability to draw out and control Killer Frost was inside her all along. After chopping Norvock’s eye snake in half, Amunet leaves Caitlin with some parting words of encouragement and a ball of metapower-infused metal chunks she says will help stop DeVoe. Then she surrounds herself with a metal tornado and uses it to fly away, which just seems excessive.

Our heroes think that Amunet’s metal bomb puts them one step closer to stopping DeVoe, but I don’t really get it. That’s only one metal bomb and they need to take down a worldwide network of satellites. How is it helpful?


Meanwhile, Harry and Cisco have their own plotline going on this episode. I generally love when Tom Cavanagh gets to do his variants on Harrison Wells because they’re usually very amusing, but the Council of Wells fell flat this episode. Like I said in the intro: We are too late in the game for this — pun intended — tomfoolery. I get that the show probably wanted to lighten the mood after killing off a character, dealing the team a series of losses, and breaking up Cisco and Cynthia, but I don’t think this was the best way to go about it.

Although Harry’s consultation with the Council seems to do nothing to help them in the fight against DeVoe or the fight against Harry’s diminishing intelligence, Harry does seem better for the “therapy” session that occurs from it. Also, his renewed connection to his emotions gives him the idea that maybe DeVoe’s wife (i.e., his emotional connection) is their ticket to stopping The Thinker. It’s not a bad idea, but if the show is going to imply that DeVoe really does love his wife and needs her with him (like the last two episodes have done) then why did “Fury Rogue” imply he had zero human emotions or connections left? Sometimes it’s like this show is being written by different people, with no overall story management whatsoever.


Look, I adore Barry and Iris together, I really do. Grant Gustin and Candice Patton have a unique, charming chemistry that makes the Barry/Iris relationship seem a lot more real and natural than many on-screen relationships. When they’re together you really get the idea of these two people being best friends who fell in love with each other and I’m a sucker for those kinds of stories. So Westallen is a winner in my book... but I can kind of see how some fans aren’t on board with what should be a Grade-A ship, because the writers aren’t exactly doing Iris any favors. She’s so passive in Barry’s life that sometimes she comes off as, I don’t know, a non-player character in a video game or something. She exists peripherally to Barry and his story, but doesn’t have a story herself. The writers don’t write Iris as a person; they write her as a catalyst for Barry.

I talked about this flaw in the writing of Iris a lot during the Savitar plot last season, when Iris was given all of one episode to deal with the prospect of her own death before the narrative reverted back to Barry’s feelings, Barry’s turmoil, and Barry’s thoughts on the love of his life dying. And no, I’m not saying that Iris should be the new main character of The Flash or anything, here. I’m just saying that she should have her own sense of character and autonomy, not exist purely as an extension of or inspiration for Barry Allen’s journey. We never get the implication that Iris has her own friends outside Team Flash, that she has any hobbies, or that she does anything for herself when she’s not on screen.

Which is why I was so excited when the episode opened up with Iris buzzing with inspiration to write an article on DeVoe. It’s the perfect thing for her to do! She just got back into journalism, the public has an invisible guillotine of mush-brain hanging over them, and Iris is compassionate and intelligent enough to get that everyone deserves to know what’s going on. But then Barry rains on her (and my) parade by dithering about whether she should publish it or not, and suddenly Iris’s self-motivated plot line gets handed over to Barry. Iris relinquishes final say on her article’s publication over to her husband despite the fact that she did all the research, wrote the thing, and we have no reason to believe that she would implicate Team Flash or their civilian alter-egos at all. Furthermore, even if she did write something that might affect the team, she offers to let everyone read the article before publishing it, and Barry STILL fusses at her about writing it.

Uhg. Well, in the end, Barry learns that his wife is a genius and he should just trust her judgement more, and I learn that these writers really haven’t learned much of anything about writing Iris. I’m just glad that Iris is vindicated when her article leads to the only interesting bit in the whole episode: Central City citizens, newly aware of the DeVoe threat, create a network of info that Team Flash can use to their advantage. Hee. Team Flash is crowd-sourcing their big villain fight!

Other Things:
  • They should do some sort of online minisode depicting what The Flash, the show, would be like if it had the alternate-Wells equivalents for every character.
  • It’s really amusing that Barry takes his mask off in front of just about everyone these days, doesn’t do it in front of Amunet, and she figures out who he is anyway.


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