Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Flash 4x12 Review: "Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash" (It’s the Little Things) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash"
Original Airdate: January 30, 2018 

I was ready to rage against the filler for the second time in a review this week, but I gotta hand it to The Flash: they know how to kill time right. I think it’s the show’s combination of lighthearted tone and just wonderful characters, but when they have a wacky premise (and don’t try to make me care about Ralph Dibny) they can win me over, even if the main season arc isn’t progressing all that swiftly. "Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash" had a lot of little things (pun fully intended) that made this filler episode charming and difficult to dislike.

That said, I still maintain that these DCTV shows could do with a little pruning of the episode numbers per season. It would benefit just about everything, from the writing to the special effects, and it’d allow The CW to stuff their lineup with even more comic book shows! I’m sure they’d love that.


First up: Cecile has metahuman powers! While she’s getting ready to go out and Joe is busy assembling a crib (which Joe isn’t so sure is necessary, since he used “plop Iris on some cushions and call it a night” — some amusingly bad childcare coming from Joe West) she realizes that she’s actually hearing Joe’s thoughts. They turn to Caitlin and S.T.A.R. Labs for answers, and the good news is neither Cecile nor the baby are metahumans. Caitlin guesses that the powers are caused by latent dark matter from the first particle accelerator explosion, but frankly this raises all kinds of questions about whether these gestational metahuman abilities are city-wide, and if so, how come this is the first we’ve heard of them, and are babies in Central City born with metahuman powers, and why isn’t S.T.A.R. Labs opening its doors to research this kind of stuff since that’s technically what they’re around to do?

Anyway, it’s great how Cecile reacts to her powers. She’s absolutely thrilled by them, the same way any regular person would probably be thrilled to wake up with superpowers. Joe has a bit of a problem with the privacy invasion and lack of secrets, though, which is understandable since Cecile clearly lets her enthusiasm get in the way of her sense of tact. They make up in the end when Cecile spills some secrets of her own, though, and I assume they’ll be just fine.

Next: Barry’s cheating at prison pudding poker! During the game, he learns that Big Sir (the guy who owed a life debt to Henry Allen and saved Barry during a prison fight last episode) is yet another Central City inmate wrongfully convicted of murder. Okay, one is a mistake. Two is questionable. Three is a freaking pattern. Barry, Team Flash, whoever: get off this metahuman hunting nonsense and figure out what the heck is wrong with your city’s legal system.

Barry calls the team and asks them to look into Big Sir’s case. This leads them to the metahuman of the week: a guy who once had Big Sir’s physique, and currently has shrink ray powers. I find it very amusing that this villain has a mostly innocuous power, so The Flash writers had to make up for that by turning him into an awful, awful person. Because if he hadn’t been an unrepentant murderer (and, fine, thief — thieves are also bad), he’d just be a collector of highly detailed miniatures.

While confronting Sylbert Rundine (Iris: “Why does every villain in this city have a name that sounds like it came out of a comic book?”) Cisco and Dibny get minified. Kudos to The Flash for attempting to explain how the shrinkification of people in this case works and why it wouldn’t actually work in any other case. Big shrug on whether it makes any scientific sense, but I don’t watch this show for the real science — just for the acknowledgement of science’s existence! Tiny Cisco and Tiny Dibny are deposited in the Lego diorama of Iris’s predicted murder. Wait, why do they still have that?

But yeah, Rundine is the guy who committed the crime Big Sir is in prison for, so Team Flash wants to get a confession out of him to save Big Sir. They also need to get Cisco and Dibny de-shrunk, since Harry tried using his own invention on them and it caused their cells to start exploding. Rundine doesn’t really want to help them with either of those things — as I mentioned, he’s a spectacularly terrible human being — but thankfully, Harry is able to trick him into un-shrinking the two tiny team members during a... I guess it’d be a duel of diminishing? A tinification tantrum? A miniscule melee? I’ve got tons of these, guys, we could be here all day.

The other problem of Rundine’s refusal to confess is solved by Barry taking the law into his own hands and running Big Sir to a remote Chinese village that Big Sir had mentioned earlier in the episode. It does look like a pretty peaceful place for the guy to live a life of silence and solitude, so that’s good. Less good: Barry gets caught by the prison warden!

It turns out the warden installed a secret camera in addition to the oscillating prison security cams, and the secret one caught Barry zooming out of his cell. I guess I’ll accept that because they spent the last two episodes establishing that Barry should avoid cameras, but Barry moves fast enough to have a full-on conversation with Iris West in a fraction of a second and is able to switch around a poker hand in the time it takes for some guy to throw another guy a pudding cup. There is no way an average camera would be able to catch him on film.

The warden drugs Barry and has him hauled into a cell. Once that’s dealt with, he calls... Well, hello Amunet! I can honestly say I didn’t expect to see you again. I thought your arc was over, but I guess not. Surprise!

Other Things:
  • I love that, when trying to figure out why Cecile has powers, Iris’s theory was apparently “inherited a mystic totem from her grandma.”
  • Holy crap, that “KILLER CSI IS GUILTY!” headline on the newspaper pinned to Harry’s “Barry Frame-Up” display board. Unbiased journalism isn’t much of a thing in Central City, eh?
  • I want Barry’s weirdly blase prison attitude/look to stick around. It would be hilariously incongruous with the S.T.A.R. Labs backdrop. Just Barry in the corner with his hat, all slouchy and being followed around by what my closed captioning labeled “[upbeat hip-hop music].”
  • I’m not gonna lie, I’d probably have a lot of fun making things tiny if I had shrink ray powers. Just think: teeny-tiny elephants! Teeny-tiny giraffes! Teeny-tiny zeb— Okay, clearly I just want a miniature zoo.
  • The characters are just as confused about DeVoe’s motivations as I am.
  • Just a tiny appreciation bullet point: I didn’t go into great detail, but the character stuff going on with both Harry and Iris were particularly great this episode. Harry is racked with guilt over not being able to save Barry, and then for almost killing Cisco and Dibny, and it’s all nicely subtle. And for Iris, there are some seriously cool moments (landing the take-down shot on Rundine at the end, for one) but I particularly liked some of the more comedic stuff. Candice Patton has fantastic comedic timing and I think this is the first season where they’re really letting her shine.


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