Friday, June 24, 2022

The Flash 8x18 Review: "The Man in the Yellow Tie" (A New-Old Thawne) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“The Man in the Yellow Tie”
Original Airdate: June 15, 2022

This week on The Flash, we have all the telltale signs of an approaching season finale: ramping up the stakes! Surprising guest appearances! More instances of closed captioning-dubbed “dramatic  music” than you can shake a stick at! It’s also so haphazard with its dangling plot threads that I get the impression the writers took a look at everything they had left to explain, then the number of episodes they had left to explain it all in, and just started throwing things at the wall. How has this show been going on for eight freaking seasons and it still has trouble with pacing? Is it a meta-irony because it revolves around speed?


The episode begins with a voiceover from the newly-introduced Meena Dhawan, who’s running through the woods as part of a training exercise with Barry. As I brought up during last episode’s review, for some reason artificial speed is no longer considered a bad thing, even though it’s been likened to a drug or something all-around dehumanizing, like the Velocity serums or the Artificial Speed Force that made Barry think so fast he forgot emotions. Instead, Barry instantly trusts Meena and is enthusiastic about her project creating fake super speed.

While running, Meena accidentally hits Barry with lightning that makes his own speed-lightning go haywire. Curious about this odd effect of artificial speed on his “natural” speed, Barry decides to pay a visit to Meena’s lab as Barry Allen so he can see the actual device she’s using to create her speed. I’m not sure what logic made Barry visit as Scientist Barry Allen, Friend of the Flash instead of just visiting as the Flash, but since he doesn’t disguise his voice or mannerisms around Meena in any way I’m just going to use it as more evidence that his secret identity is a joke and everyone’s playing along. Because... seriously. There is no way Meena doesn’t recognize Barry.

Speaking of recognizing: Meena’s lab partner is Eobard Thawne, Original Recipe! Holy crap, that means the show did remember that Thawne used to have a face that wasn’t Tom Cavanagh’s face. This raises so many questions. Actually, it mostly raises a single question and that question is “Why did Eobard Thawne keep Tom Cavanagh’s face for hundreds of years?”

Anyway, Barry confronts Thawne, whose convenient case of amnesia means he genuinely doesn’t know what Barry is talking so angrily at him about. I know the show needs to give Barry one fatal flaw and they’ve decided his blind hatred of everything associated with Thawne is it, but do they have to make every interaction he has with him so riddled with secondhand embarrassment? Barry is the dumbest man alive when he’s angry, which means I have to cringe my way through him yelling at two Eobard Thawne faces this week.

Because, yes, Barry goes to see the Tom Cavanagh Thawne, still in jail on Lian Yu, and accuses him of both getting his speed back and changing his face. Amidst all the accusations, Barry figures out that the currently-jailed Thawne had his timeline erased, so the other Thawne must be from a different timeline entirely. This Thawne does recognize the device that Meena and Other-Thawne created together, though, and the reason why interaction between Meena and Barry’s powers was so strange was because Meena taps into the Negative Speed Force with it.

The Negative Speed Force is bad news because it changes the personality of the people connected to it. As previously mentioned, Barry is the dumbest man alive when he’s angry so of course he confronts Original Recipe Thawne and accuses him of wanting to turn Meena into a villain. This cascades into a self-fulfilling prophecy, because Meena sees Barry threatening Thawne and her anger activates the machine, turning her into a villain. Excellent work, Barry! Why are you only ever cool and collected when it makes no sense? When you're dealing with proven murderers you're all "let's forgive and forget and we can all go home happy" but throw a Thawne into the equation and you lose all sense of strategy. 

I feel like there’s an ever-so-slight implication that Evil Thawne’s ongoing issues with being evil might be connected to his use of the Negative Speed Force, because when Meena is under its influence she has some of the same characteristics as Thawne does: not just glowing red eyes, but also a thirst for speed and a fixation on killing Barry. I don’t know if this is intentional or not.

Meena’s run as a villain doesn’t last long. As it turns out, she and Eobard are in love and he sacrificed his dream of being a speedster superhero in order to save her life. When Barry hears Eobard’s story and listens to him beg for him to save Meena, he realizes that this Eobard Thawne is not like the other Eobard Thawne at all.

In the confrontation with Meena, who’s trying to absorb energy from a large dam that would then collapse and kill a lot of people, Eobard uses the Power of Love (a The Flash staple) to drag Meena out of her villainous mindset. Later, when the day is saved and Meena laments not being able to work on her super speed without turning into a villain, Barry revisits the concept of love as a “lightning rod” for speedsters and suggests the two of them use their connection to ground Meena. Sounds like a pretty risky plan, Barry, but okay.


John Diggle shows up in this episode in maybe the most bizarrely critical but pointless little plot I’ve ever seen on this show. The starting premise is that the Arrowverse has been hinting at Diggle becoming the Green Lantern for ages now, to the point where it seemed like a foregone conclusion that it would happen as soon as he found a glowing green box from outer space.

That glowing green box is what brings him into this episode. He wants the Eobard Thawne on Lian Yu to tell him how to open it before it drives him insane and even further away from his family. Thawne succeeds in getting him to open the box, but Diggle throws it away and rejects the opportunity to become the Green Lantern, thus unraveling the hints and foreshadowing the CW DC universe has been threading throughout shows. Not that Diggle’s reasoning for rejecting the ring in favor of staying with his family wasn’t sound, but it’s very weird to see such a meticulously planted plotline thrown away like that.

Also, Diggle opening the box around Thawne turns out to be the thing necessary for Deon (who’s now evil, maybe?) to find him, which is so incredibly convenient for the wrap-up storyline of this season that I have to assume it was a last-minute addition before the writers started their hiatus. Like... wow. Either way, it’s unclear what Deon wants Thawne for — Thawne is special because he has no timeline, and the only thing Deon says is that it’s time for him to complete his “destiny.” 

Other Things:

  • Third plot of the episode: Cecile’s empath powers are now an offensive weapon and she’s seen superheroing (in a close facsimile of a costume) alone at the end of the episode.
  • I can’t help noticing that Meena’s odd black-glow speedster electricity is very similar to the black-glow flames of Deathstorm. Reusing some favorite special effects settings, there, The Flash?
  • Wait, the show also remembered Time Wraiths exist? So are those guys just on coffee breaks whenever Barry and his family members tinker with time?


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