Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Flash 7x16 Review: "P.O.W." (Something About Jammed Signals) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: July 6, 2021

This week on The Flash: more Godspeeds! So many Godspeeds! I’ve never seen a show go for quantity over quality quite so spectacularly as The Flash is with their multiple Godspeeds. Seriously, I know I harp on this but... this character is nothing. It’s a nothing character full of nothing. Godspeed has no menace, no compelling history... he’s got mystery, I’ll give him that. But it’s the “what’s the point of all this?” kind of mystery and not the “What will happen next?” kind of mystery. In its own way, the show’s stubborn refusal to add anything of weight to Godspeed and his many, many alternative selves — whether they be robot duplicates or clones — is bizarrely fascinating.


The episode starts with Barry dreaming of Nora again, but unlike his last dream she’s bearing bad news and dire warnings instead of comforting words about how everything’s going to be okay. When Barry wakes up, the city is trapped in the middle of the Godspeed war, which has the added wrinkle of making Central City into a kind of Faraday cage. No communications can go in or out of the city. We learn this when Cecile asks the team if anyone’s heard from Joe, who was last seen in an exploding car with Kristen Kramer.

(Joe and Kramer are having their own little adventure, also with jammed cell phone signals and limited communication. They’re being hunted, “The Most Dangerous Game”-style, by Kramer’s old friend-turned-sociopathic mercenary, Adam. Once again, their plotline is small and virtually insignificant and they manage to get the upper hand on Adam by the end of the episode, but I felt really sorry for repeatedly cutting them out of the main review so I’m giving them a little aside paragraph. Also, Adam seems to believe the explosion that killed Kramer’s whole team should have killed Kramer as well, implying that her survival was miraculous bordering on impossible. That’s at least a little intriguing.)

So no one can call for help, Barry’s so outgunned he’s essentially limited to just evacuating civilians and hoping for the best, and Team Flash has no ideas. What could possibly help them? Why, John Diggle bearing a technical doohickey from none other than Cisco Ramon, of course! That’s right, this episode is a very special guest star kind of episode.

The technical doohickey from Cisco is an entropy trap, which Dig personally volunteered to deliver so that he could do his part helping Central City through their most recent metahuman crisis. Chester is overjoyed because he’s apparently a Team Arrow fanboy, but also because the entropy trap is cutting-edge technology that literally freezes time. The team wants to capture one of the Godspeeds and Barry wants to find a way for them to communicate so he can ask what they want. After Barry makes his plan, Dig briefly makes an expression like a Victorian governess about to die of consumption.

The entropy trap is immediately successful, which tells us that the main plot of the episode will not be about finding and trapping a Godspeed. With a silent Godspeed locked in one of the S.T.A.R. Labs cells, they try to figure out how to talk to him while Allegra somehow uses her UV light powers to jam his communication to the Godspeed hive mind. That’s three references to jammed communications in this episode now — am I missing a metaphor?

If I am, I suspect it’s something about limited communications being overcome by good planning, because the Godspeed that Team Flash has captured is clearly not bothered by his inability to talk to his brethren. In fact, Team Flash gets some information out of him — the Godspeeds are looking for the original Godspeed, August Heart, who is from the future but in the past — but he escapes when Barry’s unwillingness to kill August Heart in order to stop the Godspeed war makes him an enemy of the captured Godspeed. Which, since the other half of the warring Godspeeds wants to steal Barry’s speed and the “good” half just wanted to keep them from doing it, means Barry’s now on the wrong side of both Godspeed factions. This is somehow very confusing and very uninteresting all at the same time.

Also, Barry really needs to learn some subterfuge. He could have very easily agreed to help the Godspeeds without agreeing to kill August Heart, then worked on pushing them away from the killing plan over the course of their truce. So on the list of things Barry Allen sucks at, let’s add “strategy” in there right after “teaching” and “not destroying the universe via time travel.”

So Team Flash wants to find August Heart, who has been displaced in time, before the Godspeeds can kill him. Barry’s angry because he’s worried about his future-daughter Nora, who’s from the same year as August Heart. Yeah, it’s not so fun when people play around with time travel and your kid’s existence is on the line, huh, Barry? Speaking of which: does Dig know you briefly erased his daughter? I guess no harm, no foul, but that was kinda messed up.

Barry wants to go forward in time (what metaphorical Faraday cage blocks the signal between Barry Allen’s brain and the concept of “do not time travel”?) to check on Nora, but when he attempts the run through the Speed Force his way is blocked by a Red Rover line of Godspeeds. Boy, I sure wish there were a row of Godspeeds waiting to clothesline Barry every other time he’s attempted time travel. 

He gets knocked into nowhere, where Deon finds him and shares some bad news: the Godspeeds are running amok, “feeding on pure speed force energy,” and the Speed Force is having a real time keeping them at bay. Deon’s worn thin as well, but not because of the Godspeeds. It turns out, Iris is suffering from some sort of destabilization that keeps her jumping through timelines. Deon’s putting everything he has into keeping her stable, but he has no concrete way of stopping it. Before Barry can say much to Iris, Deon has to snap her to some other timeline.

Frost, Dig, and Cecile have found a location associated with August Heart. Cecile senses a scared person nearby and they find a guy huddled by a dumpster. They ask for his name and he says he doesn’t know, then he says that the location he’s at is important. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin manages to get the guy to confirm his name is August but his memory is too fried for anything else. Also, Dig has spent this whole episode experiencing the sci-fi version of the Victorian consumption cough (i.e., screaming headaches of portentous Green Lantern-ing to come) and decides to deal with that once he leaves Central City.

At the end of the episode, just when Barry’s feeling real down about everything going on and needs a pep talk from Cecile, Nora suddenly appears to show Barry she’s fine and dandy. Also, she now has a brother.

Other Things:

  • The plot relegated to the bullet points of afterthought this week: Ultraviolet’s new lease on life is short-lived, as she immediately goes out to hunt Black Hole and dies. Allegra holds her as she dies (and inexplicably burns to ashes) and regrets sticking to her Team Flash family instead of Esperanza, her “real” family. This show’s inability to square away the found family vs. blood family argument continues.
  • Why is Nora able to get through the Godspeeds lurking in the Speed Force?


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