Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Flash 6x03 Review: "Dead Man Running" (Dark Matter Zombies and More) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Dead Man Running”
Original Airdate: October 22, 2019

This week on The Flash, we get a little bit of dark matter zombification, a more focused look at Ramsey Rosso, some character stuff, and a sprinkling of season arc angst. With decent B and C stories to supplement the rare Barry and Killer Frost team-up main story, “Dead Man Running” is a pretty jam-packed episode that still manages to seem focused — on both the single-episode story and seeding the ground for things to come in the season.


The episode begins with some low-level villains getting taken out by an unseen, growling entity. It’s actually a fun fake-out, since you almost get the impression that these villains will be the metahumans of the week, or at least will have something to do with the conflict. These guys even have some internal drama that, in any other episode, would result in the even-lower-level villains turning on their usurper leader fifteen minutes before credits roll. But nope! They all get killed by the actual threat of the episode, leaving behind mangled and mauled bodies for Barry, Joe, and Frost to find during a CCPD investigation. Why is Frost there? Unclear. Do any non-members of Team Flash recognize her as Caitlin, but with blue lipstick and a gray wig? Unclear. Would it matter if anyone did find out Caitlin is Killer Frost? Unclear. Especially since this show has never exactly treated secret identities with the same reverence as other shows of the same ilk.

When Frost finds a stash of guns empty of dark matter ammo, she has a sudden epiphany regarding who the attacker could be. The next we see her, she’s holding an ice dagger against Ramsey Rosso’s throat. Barry stops her from going full villain on (what appears to be) an innocent man, but she remembers him meeting with Caitlin and getting angry over her refusal to help him obtain dark matter in the season premiere. You know, I’m a little confused about how aware Ramsey is of his inner dark matter demon — was he just pretending to not know where Romero’s oozing black shoulder wound came from during his autopsy recording in last week’s episode? Later this episode, he seems legitimately afraid of getting attacked by Romero even though he should know he can fend the zombie man off. Is it a Jekyll and Hyde situation where Ramsey is just possessed by the thrall of dark matter occasionally? I suppose things will be made more clear as the season progresses.

Anyway, the dark matter zombie needs a steady stream of said dark matter shoved into his oozing black shoulder wound in order to keep going. There’s news of another break-in at a location sure to have loads of dark matter and Barry and Frost arrive just in time to catch Romero in the middle of his rampage. Although Barry tries to cuff him, he easily breaks free. Frost ice blasts him out a window, which Barry doesn’t like so much. I don’t remember this deal being made, but Barry has three weeks to teach Frost how they do things on Team Flash and she’s failing. Frost insists it’s only because Barry is a crappy teacher. Hey, that’s what I’ve been saying!

The reason why Barry and Frost are teamed up on this Ramsey storyline goes deeper than Barry showing Frost the ropes, though. All three of them are fueled by a response to impending death: Ramsey is fighting, Barry has accepted it, and Frost — who is just learning what it means to be alive, only to get the news from Iris and Barry that the universe could be ending before Christmas — is lashing out at anything and everything around her. Most of the parallels are between Barry and Ramsey, but Frost is definitely in there as well.

Later, Ramsey is attacked by Dark Matter Zombie Romero (Oh, hey, I just got that reference!) but learns that his undead creation will follow his commands and mirror his movements. Barry doesn’t notice the father-monster bonding and instead lures Romero away and into the Pipeline, where one of those metahuman holding tanks should neutralize his powers. “Should” being the operative word, since Romero promptly breaks free. Frost freezes him by the feet and gets the bright idea to essentially OD Romero on dark matter, which works — and by “works” I mean it explodes him into chocolate pudding. Ew.

To end the arc, Ramsey is seen with a vial of Romero’s blended dark matter blood. Like Romero had, the blood follows Ramsey’s movements. Ramsey believes the zombie blood will heal anything, including the disease that’s killing him. He throws the blood at the wall, then sucks it up again. He declares that he needs more.


But the episode wasn’t just about dark matter zombies! The other members of Team Flash were having adventures and figuring stuff out, too. First up: Ralph teams up with Cecile (and I’m still surprised at how well those two work together) when Ralph’s mother shows up, having just been arrested for armed robbery. Apparently Mama Dibney has quite the colorful past — and present, considering that her usual haunt is a gambling den and she’s a viable culprit in an armed robbery. Also, her name is Deb, which is weird for me personally.

Through a series of wacky hijinks, the trio uncovers the truth of Deb Dibney’s whereabouts during the robbery as well as a long-buried truth from Ralph’s past: though Deb told her son all her ex-boyfriends had died and he’d mourned them, she was actually lying to protect him from repeating the pain he felt when his birth father left the family. You know, I don’t think much about Ralph Dibney’s emotional depths, but his interactions with his mother were genuinely good this episode — just a teeny, tiny snippet of something that allowed the character to be more “real” than he was before. Good job, show!

Our other secondary plotline of the episode involved Iris and Cisco hunting for the new Harrison Wells duplicate after new cub reporter Allegra (from the last episode) spotted him in a photo. The new Harrison — “Nash” — Wells is an Indiana Jones type searching for a substance called Eternium, which I can only assume will become important later in the season. While not as character-driven as the Ralph plot, this segment of the episode was interesting in the way it explored Iris’s struggle with telling the truth about alternate universes and whatever to Allegra.

I’m glad to see that Allegra’s inclusion on Iris’s news team was more than just a throwaway ending for the last episode. It’ll be fun to see yet another instance of secret identities and the hidden realities of Team Flash meaning nothing when Iris inevitably breaks down and tells Allegra the whole truth.

Other Things:

  • It is really funny to me that Barry being a terrible teacher is a consistent character trait.
  • Barry throwing Frost her first ever birthday party was adorable. It’s a real shame he had to follow it up with telling everyone he probably has to die in order to save the multiverse.
  • Nash Wells is still looking for Eternium and finds some in a sewer. I don’t really know where this New Wells plot is going.


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