Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Flash 8x10 Review: "Reckless" (Slapdash Storytelling) [Contributor: Deborah M]

Original Airdate: April 6, 2022

This week on The Flash: Frost is targeted by the black flames. Caitlin and Frost’s mom returns, significantly nicer than she was in previous appearances. Iris is infected with green time sparkles that steal stuff. People decide things and then decide the opposite thing in a matter of moments. I am bored and slightly confused by what the writers are doing.


We start where we left off last episode, which is Iris getting the bad news from Deon about her time sickness. They’ve been using illness language to describe what’s been happening to Iris, but actually something’s coming for Iris and affecting time as it goes. I get the feeling the writers didn’t quite know what they wanted time sickness to be before they set this plot up and now they’ve realized that temporal tuberculosis isn’t quite as narratively compelling as an enemy the team could possibly fight in a pre-hiatus finale episode.

Iris’ plotline, while doubtlessly going to fuel future episodes, is a series of almost-nothing-scenes in an episode of almost-nothing-scenes so I’ll just summarize it up top before we get into the A-plot: Iris has to stay in Coast City so Deon can stabilize her, which is fine on her end because she still wants to hunt down angry teenager stereotype Tinya’s mom. They find the mom, but clearly Iris wasn’t as stabilized as Deon led her to believe, because she ends up disappearing a whole room full of stuff and then Tinya’s mom via green time sparkles. Oops!

Meanwhile, in Central City, I think the writers wanted to go for a mother-daughter connection between the parallel plotlines because Caitlin and Frost’s mom, Dr. Carla Tannhauser, is brought in to help the team find a way to capture the black flames. Like the ghost connection between the Central City plot and the Coast City plot last week, this connection is so fragile that there’s a chance I’m making it up on my own in a desperate attempt to find cohesion in the episode. Regardless, Frost has brought her mom into the fold because the black flames have decided to target her, but they only burned her instead of outright killing her like previous victims and her scientist mom has insight.

Team Flash knows the flames target grief but don’t know what kind of grief or if there’s an extra element to who it picks. For a moment, they think Frost has that extra element and they could figure it out via her — but Carla nixes that idea by proposing that the cold fusion flames actually wanted Frost for fuel supplied by her cryo-kinetic powers. With this in mind, Frost wants to use herself as bait to capture the black flames.

The plan seems smart and doable, but Barry’s against the idea of putting Frost in danger and vetoes it outright. Y’know. Even though Frost is a superhero who puts herself in danger every time she goes out into the field. Even more senseless for the narrative, it takes one brief conversation in the next scene for Frost to convince Barry to let her be bait anyways. It’s the first of several bizarre about-faces in this episode.

Because we’re not even halfway through the episode yet, the initial plan does not work and Frost gets knocked out by the black flames when they try. She wakes up later to a worried Caitlin berating her for endangering herself. Both Frost and Carla think the plan is still a solid one; they just need to make Frost seem tastier to the flames so they’ll go right for her instead of hesitating again. Caitlin is mad that Frost has no self-preservation and is mad at Carla for enabling it, accusing her mom of seeing Frost more as a science experiment than a daughter.

Before leaving, Caitlin basically tells Carla that if Frost dies, Caitlin won’t ever speak to Carla again. The dynamic between Frost, Carla, and Caitlin is genuinely interesting, which makes it doubly frustrating that this episode does nothing with any of it. The scenes throughout “Reckless” just seem like scenes that needed to be there to fill time and hit story beats. There’s no emotional weight to most of them and, in cases where a little kernel of a good concept exists, nothing is explored enough to be engaging or fulfilling.

Case in point: Carla finding Frost after getting yelled at by Caitlin, the two having a heart-to-heart, and Frost essentially saying she thinks her whole reason for existing is to protect Caitlin because she was manufactured by their father. It’s an interesting insight into Frost’s sense of self that the episode really does nothing with and it could’ve been the foundation of a whole episode exploring Frost’s relationship with Caitlin as well as her relationship with Carla and the trio’s connection as a family.

Anyway, we also get an obligatory pep talk scene between Barry and Joe, then the mission is back on track because Caitlin has done a one-eighty and decided she’ll let Frost be bait after all. This is, I think, the third time this happens in the episode. The second time was when Carla agreed with Caitlin not to help Frost endanger herself with the plan and then, in the same conversation, decided she would help Frost endanger herself with the plan after all. These people are making me dizzy.

Turns out, Carla has a latent cryo-power gene they could use to double up Frost’s energy and better entice the black flames for capture. Does everyone have latent superpower genes in this universe now? Also, anyone want to take bets on when the show will do a “supervillain plans to tap into everyone on Earth’s latent meta gene to devalue the specialness of metas” plot, a la The Incredibles? They have to eventually do something with this idea, right? It can’t just be a convenient way to make metas outside of the particle accelerator explosion, right? Right?

Frost and Carla are strapped in next to the Spencer-Gifts-looking Fusion Sphere. They have a little moment, hold hands, and get frosty enough to attract the black flames. It seems to work, with the flames getting sucked into the sphere, but then the flames start fighting back and Carla goes into cardiac arrest. She says it’s worth it if she dies and they capture the flames, which is just heavy-handed enough to give Frost a moment of realization before she tackles her mom out of range of the Fusion Sphere and thus lets the flames go free.

After, Joe is initially mad that Team Flash let the black flames go, then changes his mind when he realizes it was to save Carla’s life. It’s almost comical at this point. Were the writers just bored? Was this their little game during the writing process? There’s no way they didn’t realize what they were doing.

Once again, an episode ends with the black flames still on the loose and Team Flash only slightly closer to being able to stop them. This time, they theorize that they’ll be able to come up with an artificial cryo-kinetic signature that could attract the flames without needing Frost or Carla there to act as bait. So why didn’t anyone mention that at any point during this episode, in which the primary tension was centered entirely around Frost being bait? Don’t know! Stop asking questions!

But one last scene before we go: Caitlin is visited by the black flames, and they quote something Ronnie said to her in the past. Ooh, intriguing.

Other Things:

  • Yes, the mother-daughter moments between Frost and Carla and between Tinya and her mom were touching. No, they weren’t touching enough to make up for this haphazard episode.
  • Sue uses her Rich People Connections to get the adoption agency to override a no-contact order on Tinya’s case, which seems all kinds of illegal but... rich people, y’know?
  • I’m not even going to touch the various paradox-related questions that arise around Iris’s time sickness erasing things and people from the timeline.


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