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Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Flash 9x03 Review: "Rogues of War" (Heist Hopes) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“Rogues of War”
Original Airdate: February 22, 2023

We’re diving deeper into the main storyline this week on The Flash, which puts us on a pretty fast pace toward the finish line. That makes sense considering the shortened final season, but this show has always had a problem with pacing so I can’t even be sure if things are going well or not. For what it’s worth, “Rogues of War” is a pretty good episode that sets up some potentially interesting stuff in the future — it’s just a matter of time to see if The Flash follows through.


Fiddler and Boomerang are thieving things again, this time aided by Murmur, the creepiest villain since that Ragdoll guy. Fewer crunchy sound effects, though, so Ragdoll’s still in the lead. This theft and the subsequent alarm interrupts Barry and Iris’s continuing pre-baby bucket list, sending them home from a cooking class in Paris to investigate the crime scene. There, Barry determines that the villains — and their mysterious benefactor — are stealing the components to a cosmic treadmill, which would allow them to unravel the timeline. Does anyone else remember when there were wraith things that went around stopping people from messing up timelines? And just, generally speaking, a lot of fate-based countermeasures in place to prevent people from unraveling the timeline? Did Barry just exhaust all that into non-existence with his (and his family’s) time travel shenanigans?

Based on what’s already been stolen, there’s one component missing for a cosmic treadmill: a vibration engine, currently under the protection of the DOD, whose leader won’t agree to hand it over for Team Flash to protect it. For good reason, too, since STAR Labs security is bypassed so frequently it’s comical. Still, Barry thinks the engine would be better in the hands of Team Flash and a surprising solution to the problem comes from Hartley Rathaway: just steal the engine before the others.

Thievery is a matter for non-heroes, so Barry and Hartley head off to recruit some non-heroes to help out. Jaco, the fire-based meta from last season whom Barry reunited with his estranged son, is working at Jitters and doesn’t hesitate to agree when Hartley asks him to lend a fiery hand. Mark is less enthusiastic, but he also joins the team. The final recruit is Goldface, my favorite well-read crime lord who — spoiler! — continues to be fantastic throughout this episode.

Unfortunately, getting a bunch of lone wolf criminal types to work together is a task easier said than done and everyone devolves into fighting over payment as soon as the plan is laid out. Barry decides they all need constant supervision if the plan is to succeed (which makes no sense because the plan requires each of them to be separated) and everyone turns against Barry for not “trusting” them and only seeing them as a bunch of criminals. You guys tried killing each other five minutes in! Duh-doy, Barry doesn’t think you’re trustworthy!

Because the plot needs it to happen, the four rogues go rogue and leave Barry behind to get the engine themselves. Add “writing ‘because the plot needs it to happen’” to the list of stuff I’m not going to miss about The Flash reviews. Barry’s issues are quickly solved by a heart-to-heart with Iris, he decides he needs to trust his ragtag crew, and he goes off to meet them for the heist. There, it’s revealed he’s the Flash — or, well, Goldface learns he’s the Flash when Jaco says he figured it out based on a shared Jitters order. As with basically every Barry-is-the-Flash reveal, it’s a complete non-event.

The heist goes smoothly and Barry manages to phase through the vault to grab the engine once everyone takes down the meta-dampener protecting the place. But then Mark double-crosses the crew and joins Team Red Death on the promise that they’ll help get Frost back. A villain-on-villain fight commences while Barry, having been knocked out by a blast from Mark, is unconscious. Jaco flirts a little with Fiddler, Murmur tries to entice Hartley over to their side, and Boomerang is vaguely impressed by Goldface’s skills.

Barry wakes up and pulls everyone together for another confrontation, but it’s interrupted by the arrival of Red Death, who zaps Barry’s speed with negative speed and intimidates everyone but doesn’t kill them. Why not? Because plot. Later, Barry, Iris, and the Team Flash Rogues recap the night’s events and how scary this new masked speedster is. Goldface, literature nerd that he is, quotes the final line of Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” while also giving us the first on-screen naming of our season villain: “And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.” Despite how terrifying this new villain is, the three recruited criminals agree to help Barry when he calls on them in the future.

When Barry says he recognized a bat symbol on Red Death’s costume, Iris tells him they need to talk to Chester, who reveals that Ryan Wilder — a.k.a., Batwoman — went missing on patrol a few weeks back. On top of that, the weapons used by the Red Death crew all appear to be bleeding-edge Wayne Industries technology. When asked what their next move should be, Barry says, “We find this new speedster, and we stop him.” Great plan, Barry! Absolutely thorough and entirely foolproof! There’s a reason why you’re the leader, pal! Also, many things are indicating that the pronoun you ended with is incorrect.

And right I am, as Mark confronts Red Death into an unmasking, revealing that it’s Ryan Wilder with a gray streak in her hair under all that armor. She gets real close and real scary, quoting the old Batman line, “I am vengeance.” As interesting as this is, I can’t help feeling like it would’ve had a lot more impact if Ryan Wilder had ever had an on-screen interaction with the Flash that wasn’t from an alternate timeline. But it’s definitely a change from the comic book version of the Red Death story and I’m curious to see where this goes.

Other Things:

  • Allegra and Chester are still awkward around each other and this has officially moved from cute to annoying. They like each other. There’s zero reason why they don’t just get together. It’s all just manufactured for drama, and as much as I like both these characters they’re simply not big enough for this drama to be worth it.
  • “Book Club will remain a safe space.” Seriously, Goldface is the best. I hope he shows up a lot more this season, but it’ll probably only be the finale or something.
  • Jaco to Hartley, out of nowhere: “Your bar plays terrible music! Disco is dead, dude.” Jaco is fun too. Actually, this whole villain team Barry set up is great.
  • “So the four of you will disable the generators while I use my CSI know-how to open the vault and grab the engine.” Good save, Barry.
  • Jaco: “Dude, even I figured it out. Barry Allen’s the Flash! They have the same Jitters order.” Goldface: “Oh, so the Chemist is — yeah, no. I see it now.” The joke that is Barry’s secret identity continues!
  • “Run, Barry. Run.” Hey, Mark: encouragingly or mockingly, you have not earned the right to say that line.
  • Shout-out to Murmur for mocking Mark’s stupid, stupid costume, signing, “Do you have a thing against t-shirts?” He has a thing against good taste, Murmur.

Grey’s Anatomy 19x07 Recap: “I’ll Follow the Sun” (Farewell for Now) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“I’ll Follow the Sun”
Original Airdate: February 23, 2023

Well Grey’s Anatomy fans, the day none of us ever wanted to come: it’s time to say goodbye to Ellen Pompeo as a full-time series regular. While she will still be providing the voiceover narration at the beginning and end of every episode and is rumored to be returning for the season finale, we won’t have our beloved Meredith Grey on our screens every Thursday. It is a bittersweet moment for all fans, new and old. 

Meredith’s goodbye episode is also the midseason premiere, and we have waited three months to find out if Mer’s house was saved or burned to the ground during a lightning storm and how the Grey Sloan Memorial staff will send her off. The episode turned out to be nothing like I was expecting and it was honestly a bit of a letdown, since it felt like any other average episode. 


If you missed the midseason premiere of Station 19, I highly suggest giving it a watch, as it was a very powerful episode involving police brutality. In that episode, we learn that the firefighters were able to save Mer’s house by venting the roof. The house remains standing, and Grey’s Anatomy picks up two weeks after that fateful night. This episode opens with Mika’s van, parked on the side of a street, getting towed one morning with her still inside. Both she and Simone wind up late to work, with the latter’s car breaking down.

Mer brings all three kids to her last day of work. She sends Bailey and Ellis off to bring gifts to their former daycare teachers, while Zola sticks around with her mom. Maggie and Amelia catch up with Mer and Zola in the hallway, and we learn that Amelia is living by herself post-fire. Zola wants to watch a surgery while she is there for the day, and Maggie says she can watch her and Winston’s surgery later if Mer is okay with it. Mer gives her blessing, which excites Zola.

Jo finds Link right outside the hospital to ask for a favor since he is taking the day to catch up on charting. She asks him to go across town to pick up the cake for Mer’s going away surprise party because she needs to stay at the hospital for her newborn patient’s heart surgery today, as the parents are attached to her. Link agrees to help because he loves her, but Jo misses the reference to his real feelings, not friendship love.

Inside, Schmitt tells the interns that they will be rounding with Maggie and Winston for their groundbreaking surgery while they are getting ready for the day in their lounge. Mika and Simone come rushing in late, which prompts Schmitt to tell them about how Helm burned out as a cautionary tale to the young surgeons. They all then join Maggie, Winston, and Jo in the NICU to meet baby Arlo and his parents. Arlo needs a heart transplant and is in heart and organ failure. They have a donor heart, but it is weak and has been deemed not suitable for transplant. Maggie and Winston believe they can still use the donor heart for the world’s first partial heart transplant by only transplanting the arteries. The doctors don’t want to wait for another donor heart because Arlo won’t survive long enough. Winston tells the parents that if the surgery is successful, Arlo won’t need any other heart procedures or transplants in the future. The nervous parents ask Jo to stay with them, which she quickly agrees to.

Elsewhere, Mer is packing up her office when Nick comes in. He heard it is her last day and wanted to stop by. He is happy Mer’s house is still standing and it’s clear that they haven’t talked since then. He asks how the kids are, and Mer says that Zola is excited to start at her new school, while Bailey and Ellis are sad to leave Seattle. Nick then mentions that he has been trying to get in touch with Mer, which she has been avoiding. He wants to know if she was going to move across the country without saying goodbye or having a conversation first. Mer claims she didn’t know what to say to him, and Nick reminds her that he moved to Seattle to be with her. Mer turns it into an argument by saying that Nick didn’t say it back, but he’s confused. She reminds him that she told him she loved him and that he didn’t say it back. Mer had hoped they could pick their relationship up from where they left off, but she now feels he wants to take things too slow. So, in Mer’s mind, she didn’t think she had to tell Nick that she wanted to move. Nick believes that Mer thinks it is all his fault and they fight about what the other is thinking before Nick walks out. Mer doesn’t tell him to stay and really isn’t acting like herself here.


Maggie and Winston explain to the interns that their plan is to remove Arlo’s current pulmonary trunk and aorta and replace it with the donor’s. They will have room for one intern to scrub in and observe the surgery, and the lucky surgeon will be picked with a contest to see who can do the best vascular anastomosis in the skills lab. The group runs out, and Winston holds back Blue to tell him not to do finger exercises in front of patients. Blue explains he uses certain movements to cope and stay emotionally detached. Maggie likes his strategy and tells him to not let it be seen.

Teddy finds Richard in the hall and coyly asks how his search for the new chief of surgery is going. She starts to imply that she would like to be considered for the job without saying the words. Richard doesn’t catch on her drift and asks Teddy to join the voluntary search committee. The look on Teddy’s face is quite comical. We then see Jo getting paged to the NICU by Arlo’s parents. The mom doesn’t want to go through with the surgery and would rather wait for another donor heart. Jo says it could take another six months for a heart to become available, but the parents think they can get one in a few days since that is what happened the first time. Jo tries to nudge them towards the surgery without calling them delusional and making them understand that Maggie wouldn’t do the surgery if she didn’t believe she couldn’t save Arlo’s life. The mom would blame herself if her baby died, so she calls off the surgery. 

In the skills lab, the interns are struggling to get the anastomosis correct. Lucas can’t stop looking over at Simone, who is sitting next to him. Mika gets fed up with failing and walks out in an exasperated huff. Simone shows Lucas how to improve his work, and the chemistry between the two interns is absolutely electric. Their quasi-moment is cut short when they both get paged to the ER. They arrive and find author Tessa Hobbs back at the hospital. Schmitt is assessing Tessa’s abdominal pain and orders a CT scan. Tessa explains to the doctors that she picked up a bag of groceries and felt a pop. They remind her that she wasn’t supposed to do any heavy lifting for three months after her surgery. Lucas wants to bring Tessa straight to the OR, but Schmitt overrules him and tells the interns to bring Tessa to CT and page Nick and Mer.

Mika goes across the street to Joe’s Bar to meet Helm thanks to Schmitt’s speech earlier that morning. Mika asks Helm to teach her how to properly do a vascular anastomosis, but Helm isn’t interested. The intern tells the former doctor that she needs a win and needs a reason to keep caring because being an intern is almost too exhausting to bear. Helm agrees to give a lesson for $20, but Mika doesn’t have any money on her and instead volunteers to bar back on Friday night for free if she wins the contest. Helm agrees to those terms and teaches Mika the proper technique.

Back at Grey Sloan Memorial, Simone and Lucas get Tessa to CT, and Tessa is still going on about picking up the groceries. She sees a ring on a chain around Simone’s neck and asks if she is engaged. Simone says that she was previously engaged but is not anymore. The news is very surprising to Lucas, who is snapped out of it by Tessa insisting that she needs her purse. Mer and Nick arrive, and Mer tells the interns to book an OR immediately. Mer starts to play the metaphor game with Nick by saying, “She probably lives alone, is set in her ways, and it’s a lot for her to change and ask for help.” Tessa is afraid and doesn’t want to die because she still has something to say. Mer assures her patient that they will help her, and Nick sees that Tessa is bleeding out.

The scene cuts to Amelia talking to Maggie about her marriage. Maggie is happy that she and Winston came up with today’s surgery together and is rehearsing a speech for Winston. She reveals that they haven’t had a serious talk since the fire and feels they can talk after the surgery. Jo arrives with news that the surgery is off. Maggie is disappointed and knows she can’t talk to the parents because it is unethical to talk them into a surgery. Jo tells them that the mom is sure of what she wants. Amelia decides to go talk to the parents because she is not one of the doctors on the case. She brings Jo with her to the NICU and tells the new parents about how her Christopher only lived for 43 minutes. Amelia describes giving birth to him knowing that he wouldn’t survive but did so anyway because he could be an organ donor. She reveals that she has been thinking a lot about Christopher lately and knows that if she had a chance to save him, she would have taken it, which convinces Arlo’s parents into signing off on the surgery.


Nick, Mer, Lucas, and Simone scrub in to operate on Tessa. Lucas tells Simone that he should have fought harder to bring Tessa straight to the OR and is mad at himself for not doing so. Tessa starts to crash, and the interns run into the room to help Mer and Nick, who are already inside. We get a quick reprieve to see Winston judging Blue, Mika, and Jules’ anastomoses. Mika is declared the winner, much to the annoyance of Blue. Maggie and Winston then start Arlo’s surgery in the OR with Mika observing. Blue and Jules are in the gallery watching, and the former tells the latter that he thought she would win the contest. Jules admits that she tanked the contest on purpose because babies scare her. Blue is intrigued and must know why. Jules agrees to tell him if he owes her a favor of her choosing down the line. She continues to tell a story about how when she was five years old, her mother gave birth to her brother in the kiddie pool in their backyard. Her father brought her out back to see after the baby was born, which horrified her. Before Jules could process what she was seeing, her father handed her a pair of scissors and told her to cut the umbilical cord. Blue laughs, and Jules is mad because she was traumatized by it. She then starts to laugh, and Zola turns around to tell them to be quiet since the gallery is full of onlookers. 

We then get a montage of both Tessa and Arlo’s surgeries. Tessa’s procedure is not going well. They are all working frantically to save her from bleeding out. When Tessa flatlines, Mer starts compressions and pleads with Tessa to fight to survive. Maggie and Winston’s surgery is a success and Arlo survives. Tessa is not so lucky. All four doctors are upset. Mer calls time of death, and Simone asks if she can close her up to pay Tessa that respect. Mer walks out of the OR and is followed into the scrub room by Nick. He gets very emotional and says that it was stupid and didn’t have to end that way. He hates everything about this day, and Mer says she does too. Nick brings back the metaphor game by saying he is trained to wait as a transplant surgeon and knows how to wait for an organ to perfuse or be rejected. “Because that’s how humans respond. They’re not machines with an on/off switch,” he says. Mer responds with, “I’m a grown woman with a big life and a big career and three kids, and this move is what my daughter needs. I want you in my life if you want to be in my life. But if I have to choose, I’m going to pick me. I pick my kids, and I pick what’s best for us. And I’m not going to beg you to love me.” 

Mer leaves a stunned Nick in the scrub room by himself after that to go get some fresh air outside. Simone finds Mer and apologizes for being emotional in the OR. Mer urges Simone to not stop feeling her losses and then says that she hates that her last surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial ended badly. Mer asks Simone how her grandma is doing. Simone reveals it is awful because her grandma only calls Simone by her mom’s name. Mer gets how tough that is and tells Simone that she can call her Meredith now that Mer doesn’t work at GSM anymore. Simone tells Mer that she has Tessa’s final book. She found it on a flash drive in Tessa’s purse at the patient’s urging. Tessa wanted to give the book to her publisher in Boston, so Simone asks Mer to bring it with her. Mer is happy Tessa got to write her last story after all.

Back in the NICU, Jo tells Arlo’s parents that his heart is completely pumping on its own. Outside the room, Amelia tells Maggie and Winston that she is happy it worked out. Maggie passionately thanks Amelia for her help, and Amelia walks away while holding back tears. The couple is thrilled with themselves for pulling it off, and Winston takes in the miracle for a moment. Mika walks up to tell them that the day has been beyond her wildest imagination, especially since she lost her house van, and thanks them for letting her be a part of it. Amelia then walks past Lucas, who stops his aunt to talk. He asks her how to stop caring about what other people think. Lucas explains how he wanted to fight for his patient and didn’t because he thought about what others would say. Amelia says she cares deeply about what others think and then does what she feels is right anyways in those types of situations. She had to live a lot before being able to do that and urges Lucas to hold onto the pain he is currently feeling and learn from it. Amelia then asks her nephew if he found a place to live, which he sort of has.

Outside, Jo sees Link arriving with the cake from the coffee cart. She is thrilled that he made it just in time for the start of the party. He realizes he didn’t check if the cake was correct, and they find a bar mitzvah cake inside the box when they open it. They don’t have time to take it back, and Link isn’t sure what they should do. The party is being set up in the hospital’s lobby, and Bailey is the first one to see the cake when Jo and Link bring it inside. They removed some icing to sort of read “Happy Meredith” with a giant heart between the two words made out of the former Star of David that was in the center of the cake. Teddy goes over to Richard and gives a passionate speech about being top of her class in high school, second in her class in undergrad (but only because she had a bad case of meningitis), top of her med school class, completing a cardio fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, and training Cristina Yang. She feels she has an inarguable pedigree and was insulted that she was asked to be on the committee instead of being considered for the chief of surgery job. Richard explains that he didn’t want to offer the job to anyone at Grey Sloan Memorial since the program is falling apart, making the job that much more stressful. He says the job is hers if she really wants it. Instead of responding with a resounding “yes,” Teddy comically asks if she can have some time to think about it.

Mer walks into the very full lobby and is greeted with everyone yelling, “Surprise!” Mer jokes that they didn’t need to throw her a party because she might be back next week. Bailey gives a touching toast by saying, “Once upon a time, you were the bane of my existence. But no, you grew up to become one of my greatest points of pride.” She becomes too emotional to continue and taps Richard in to finish the toast off. He appropriately caps it with, “Dr. Grey, what Dr. Bailey is trying to say is this place won’t be the same without you.” The GSM staff toasts Mer, and as the camera pans around, we see Mer’s three kids are in attendance too. Zola tells Mer that Maggie’s surgery was amazing and that she might want to change her future specialty from neuro to cardio. Maggie asks Mer if she talked to Nick, and Mer replies that she did and that they have a plane to catch. She hugs her two sisters before leaving. The fact that we only get two or three minutes of a goodbye party is really upsetting because it doesn’t feel like a sendoff for the titular character.

Across the street, Nick is at Joe’s Bar to wash away his woes. Helm sees him and says hello. He asks her why she is there, and Helm replies she is living her best life. Nick explains that he had a rough day and called it early. Helm knows Mer is leaving and that the party is currently happening and doesn’t get why he is at the bar. She calls Nick an idiot and tells him the truth about Mer, which is that she is impossible, perfect, cares deeply, and can be mean when she needs to be. Helm knows Mer fell in love with Nick and tells him he is stupid for being at the bar when the woman that loves him is leaving. 


Maggie and Winston continue to watch Arlo and his parents from outside the NICU, and Maggie decides to attempt to convince her husband to stick with cardio because they created a miracle. Winston is mad that Maggie doesn’t respect him or his choice. He has been waiting two weeks for an apology, which he now realizes is not coming. Maggie believes that cardio is not a job for him; rather it is a gift, so he should embrace it. Winston thinks Maggie has no respect for him and never has because she has always been cold towards him. He walks away, leaving the once strong couple in very murky waters.

Nick runs into the hospital’s lobby as the party is being cleaned up. He asks Bailey where Mer is, and Bailey tells him that Mer is on the way to the airport. Nick runs back out as we see Mer and her kids at the airport gate. Nick is driving to the airport, but it is taking too long. The Grey-Shepherds get on the plane, and we see Nick hit traffic and audibly say that he doesn’t think he will make it. Once seated, Mer asks the kids if they want to read the final Tessa book. She is interrupted by an incoming call from Nick. Mer answers and tells him they are on the plane, and Nick immediately says, “I love you. I fell in love with you the first day I met you. I fell in love with you the second day I met you, and I have loved you every minute of every day that I have known you.” Mer smiles but responds with, “Umm, I can’t quite hear you. We’re about to take off, so I’ll call you when we get settled,” even though she heard every word he said. Nick tries to get her to hear him and talk, but Mer hangs up on him. 

The fact that this is the way the episode ends their arc is very frustrating. It’s as if this is any other episode and they can hash it out next week, which we all know isn’t the case. The only reason for this scene and the fact that this episode wasn’t one giant love letter to Mer is that Mer won’t be gone from the show for long. It doesn’t make sense to have this ending if Mer wasn’t going to be back in a limited capacity in the near future, i.e. next season. 

This episode didn’t say goodbye to the titular character and didn’t give her the standard Grey’s Anatomy sendoff. There was no pomp and circumstance, no flashbacks, no montages, no speech from every character around every corner, and no popular Grey’s Anatomy anthems playing in the background. To me, this is not a farewell to Meredith Grey at all. If it turns out that she does only have one episode left after this, then we the fans should all be pretty upset with the treatment of one of TV’s most iconic characters.

The episode didn’t end right there though. There were a few minutes left to quickly show how the series is going to keep moving on. The answer: with the soft reboot that has been set up from the first episode of the season. Mer’s ending narration turns out to be the book she reads to her kids while on the plane. Throughout the narration, we see Maggie and Amelia leave the hospital in the evening, with Maggie asking if she can spend the night at Amelia’s new place. Blue and Jules make out in an on-call room, and Lucas is searching for the hidden key outside of Mer’s house. Simone arrives at Mer’s house with a suitcase, and she is just as surprised as Lucas that the other is there. She says that Mer gave her a key and told her that she could stay there if needed. Amelia told Lucas the same thing, so he decided to have a proper place to live. Simone tells Lucas that her previous relationship ended when she got kicked out of her last residency program. She has feelings for Lucas, but doesn’t want to put him through a rebound situation. Lucas is down to be her rebound as long as they call it what it is. Simone isn’t so sure they should go that route now that it appears they will be living together. They go inside, and Simone thinks the house is amazing. 

For the audience, it’s a bit hard to see the iconic house empty. Mika then walks in and tells her puzzled colleagues that Maggie gave her a key since her house van got possessed. We are looking at Intern House 2.0 forming before our eyes and, as they order pizza, the reboot cycle is complete. The episode ends with a shot of Mer finishing the book with only Zola listening, as Bailey and Ellis have fallen asleep on the plane. Mer seems to be happy as the screen fades to black.

Monday, February 20, 2023

The Flash 9x02 Review: "Hear No Evil" (Choosing Choices) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“Hear No Evil”
Original Airdate: February 15, 2023

On this week’s episode of The Flash, Danielle Panabaker plays yet another entirely different character, there’s a lot of talk about choices and identity, and multiple characters yell at each other (to varying degrees of severity). It’s also all mostly broody, which is a real shame, but I guess I should be used to that by now.


We begin the episode with Barry confronting Caitlin-Who-Is-Not-Caitlin. The rest of the team shows up, along with Mark — whose name, again, I had to look up because he’s literally nothing to me — and Not Caitlin says she goes by Snow, has no idea who she is, and is very eager to figure it all out. Mark’s pretty unfairly pissy about Barry destroying Caitlin’s lab even though his and Caitlin’s Frankenstein shenanigans last season resulted in both Caitlin and Frost getting wiped out of existence. But don’t worry, he has a plan to bring Caitlin back! None of this explains the blue streaks in Snow’s hair. Did a makeover come free with the factory reset?

Barry’s expression of unamused exhaustion as Mark tells everyone his plan really sums it all up. Since the plan to bring Caitlin back is exactly the same as the plan to bring Frost back except for using a different power source, this whole thing has the makings of a farce that the show is (unfortunately) too serious to lean into. Come on, guys! It’s your last season, just make a whole episode about accidentally brain-wiping poor Caitlin and installing new personalities like some twisted Memento-themed Russian nesting doll!

Everyone is miserable this episode. It’s even raining in Central City and we get a series of scene transitions with characters’ faces overlaid with rainy windows, like a bad music video for a 1980s soft rock ballad. A serious-faced Team Flash looks on as Snow gets into the CRC machine that’ll supposedly bring Caitlin back but it backfires because Mark set it up to bring Frost back as well and the technobabble that runs the machine couldn’t handle it. Team Flash is shocked Mark would be so underhanded, but he declares — villainously? — that he doesn’t trust them to help him get Frost back and he’ll never give up trying.

Out in Central City, the villain of the week (the Fiddler) attacks Hartley Rathaway at a club he owns. Remember Hartley? I didn’t. He’s that guy who was evil in another timeline. Metahuman sound powers. Y’know. That guy. Anyways, when he’s injured from the attack he runs to STAR Labs for a “sonic cuff” to stabilize his heart rhythm. The scene provides some blessed comedy in this dreary episode, so even though I barely remember Hartley I’m incredibly grateful he’s here.

Barry goes to talk to a whiskey-soaked Mark in the middle of an empty bar and confesses to his own experiences with doing harmful things out of love. He says Mark is a member of Team Flash (really? Like, officially?) and having each other’s backs is part of the package. Barry gets a 911 text from Chester that tells him to get to STAR Labs and bring Mark, so the two leave without paying the bill. Rude. And illegal.

We get yet more technobabble about brain maps and neural whatevers that basically boils down to the team deciding to do what Mark wants and bring Frost back along with Caitlin. You know Barry was technically right about not bringing people back from the dead when he destroyed Caitlin’s lab last season, yeah? And that this is all very silly and if this show didn’t want Frost to be dead they shouldn’t have killed her in the first place? I’m going to miss a lot about you, The Flash, but your failure to think through your plotlines is not one of those things.

Snow has a really cute and touching scene with Hartley as the latter tries to fix his sonic gauntlets so he can go back out and fight the Fiddler. She figures out that he’s not eager to go because he’s scared for himself, but because he’s scared the Fiddler will attack his boyfriend, Roderick. He’s the reason why Hartley switched from villainy to... probably not heroism, since we’ve never seen evidence of that, but at least not villainy. Snow philosophizes about changing and what it means to decide who you want to be, which is thematically important for the next scene and this episode as a whole.

Barry learns from Thomas Snow’s research that, when he caused his daughter’s dual consciousness, he wouldn’t be able to reverse it without killing one of them. Well... yes, when you try to reverse the creation of a new consciousness, that does in fact mean destroying that consciousness. But relevant to current events, this means that Team Flash will have to decide who they want to bring back, whether it’ll be Caitlin, Frost, or they leave Snow as she is. The team puts it to a vote, and Mark is so annoying about anyone not choosing Frost that I want them all to vote for Caitlin just to spite him.

They don’t, though, and it’s two to one for Frost coming back before Barry is up. He asks for more time to decide whether or not to essentially kill one of his best friends in an attempt to clean up a mess he tried to prevent in the first place, but Mark says he’s putting Snow in that CRC whether Barry votes or not and whatever happens, Barry gets the blame. Seriously, this guy is an official member of Team Flash? Gatekeep better, people. Anyway, Snow overhears everything and feels guilty about causing so much strife.

Iris chats with a contemplative Barry and tells him the reason she chose Frost was because she didn’t choose Frost when she was alive. What are you talking about? Frost died fighting a villain — she was neither chosen nor un-chosen and she went out entirely on her own terms, as this episode literally tells us at the end. This lapse in sense causes Barry to have a revelation.

Cecile meets Snow, who really is super endearing. It turns out Snow is the first person Cecile hasn’t been able to read with her powers, but she’s cool with it because Snow “seems like a friend.” Cecile asks Snow how she’s feeling and Snow says she likes herself and is afraid of going back into the CRC. Barry interrupts to tell her that the choice will, ultimately, be her own. Thomas didn’t make a choice for his daughter(s) and Caitlin made a choice for herself, so it’s Snow’s turn. Snow happily hugs Iris, Barry, and Cecile before heading off with her newfound free will.

Alarms are blaring at STAR Labs, which means it’s time for a metahuman of the week battle. The signal puts Fiddler at Hartley’s club and when they go to check on him in the med lab, they find he’s already gone. Fiddler disappears all the club employees with her violin screeching before Hartley shows up to find her torturing Roderick and then she disappears him, too. Barry zips onto the scene and breaks Fiddler’s violin, but apparently she can also scream her power. When she’s done, Hartley hits her with his upgraded sonic gauntlet and goes in for the kill, thinking his only reason for staying on the path of good — Roderick — is gone, before Barry stops him and reveals that Roderick and the others aren’t dead. They’re trapped in a “vibrational phase” (Sigh. Fine.) and Hartley can use his gauntlets to rescue them.

Hartley instinctively knows how to fix vibrational phases, I guess, and presses one button on his gauntlet to set everyone free. Barry wonders what to do with the Fiddler, but is interrupted by what looks like more phasing. He sees a blurry Captain Boomerang, who leaves with the Fiddler and Hartley’s gauntlets. What? How? He was wearing them. Huh?

Mark is still being annoying and pushy about getting Frost back, but Snow dashes those hopes when she informs him that she’s not getting back into the CRC and wants to go on to live her own life, taking on the name Khione from Thomas Snow’s notes. She peppers in some nature references, which she also made when she was talking to Cecile, so I’m wondering if nature powers are going to come in at some point later on. Mark tries yelling Khione back into the CRC, but Hartley sweeps in to break the whole machine with his screaming powers in order to protect her, having accepted her as a friend after their little scene together. Mark threatens Hartley and kicks the door on the way out. Hey, Barry? Maybe change some security codes to prevent that guy from getting back into the lab.

A Barry and Iris denouement over coffee leads to everyone heading to Hartley’s club to dance awkwardly to disco music. It’s all very funny and sweet and I wish we’d had more of that kind of levity throughout the episode, but alas.

The episode officially ends with Boomerang using Hartley’s gauntlets to do something that stabilizes Red Death, who had been threatening the Fiddler into working for him. Red Death runs out of the warehouse to laugh evilly on top of a building. My closed captioning literally uses the words “laughs evilly.” Red Death declares to the city that the Flash disgraced him and they’ll pay the price, justice will be served, so on and so forth. These villains need a new script.

Other Things:

  • Hey, The Flash — despite me providing evidence to the contrary, your viewers do have memories that last longer than a week. Flashing back to moments from last episode was not necessary.
  • Iris acting appalled at how someone got into STAR Labs is hilarious. Iris, people have been waltzing into that place easily for nine years.
  • We get some outtakes over the end credits of everyone in the dance club without music, which is wonderful.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Flash 9x01 Review: "Wednesday Ever After" (Here We Go Again) [Contributor: Deborah M.]

“Wednesday Ever After”
Original Airdate: February 8, 2023

Ah, the time has come for the last season premiere of The Flash I will ever review. I’m not gonna lie, it makes me a little sad to think about my time watching and snarking on this ludicrous show coming to an end. I’ve complained, I’ve yelled at my TV, I’ve rolled my eyes, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Look forward to some bouts of sentimentality in my write-ups as The Flash winds down, peppered in with my usual confusion. Because heaven knows I’m not expecting the show will finally get it together in its final act. I’m emotional, not delusional.

Previously on The Flash: Iris had Time Sickness but she got better. Cecile is a really powerful meta. Frost died, but Caitlin hatched a scheme to bring her back and it didn’t go well. Once again, I thank network TV for standardizing the “previously on” format because I would recall none of these events otherwise.


This week on The Flash: a CGI lava-man terrorizes a construction site. Barry initiates “omega maneuvers” and it cues the reveal of Frost, Chester, Cecile, Allegra, and Joe, who all help defeat the lava-man and turn him back into a man-man, which are much easier to arrest. Just as the Flash team is lining up for their hero victory poses, Barry catches on that Frost is dead, and everyone says some vague stuff about him failing to protect them before dropping like flies. It is, of course, a nightmare.

From Barry and Iris’s morning conversation, it’s only been a week since last season’s finale. I’m certainly not going to sit here and figure out if that makes sense, so fine. As Iris is getting ready to go back to work after their week-long vacation, Barry cryptically tells her to “just say yes” to something that’ll happen to her at CCC Media, and she later learns what Barry was talking about: Cat Grant from CatCo wants to buy the company. Allegra is excited because it could be the start of Iris’s “empire” but Iris is unsure, probably because of Barry’s cryptic nonsense that morning. She pretends she left her phone at home to get out of making a decision.

At CCPD, Captain Kramer calls Barry into her office but before she can say anything, Barry asks to be the Director of CCPD’s CSI division. It turns out that’s exactly what she wanted to talk to him about, and when Barry reassures her that he’ll be able to handle the workload on top of being the Flash, she promises to put a word in with the mayor. They’re interrupted by an officer telling them about an attack downtown and Barry zips off at super speed despite the massive honkin’ window in the captain’s office. Ah, Barry’s not-so-secret secret identity. Perhaps I’ll miss making jokes about you the most.

The attacker in question is Captain Boomerang. When Barry fails to capture him and he teleports away, instead of hunting him down Barry just tells Allegra and Chester to take the rest of the day off because he has dinner plans with Iris. Barry’s pretty cheerful, but the big metal structure Captain Boomerang targeted and stole something from sparkles ominously.

As Barry and Iris are getting ready for bed, Iris asks him about the CatCo “say yes” thing and Barry reveals that he’s spent their week-long vacation cataloging everything he knows about the future in a folder he calls his “mapbook.” He thinks it will ensure they’re prepared for everything, the good and the bad, and guaranteed a happy, safe future. Oh, Barry. Stupid, stupid Barry. With all your mucking around with time, you’d think you’d have figured out by now that trying to game the system never works. Barry is thrilled because he’s a moron. Iris is upset because she’s married to a moron. Aw, I’m gonna miss this zippy little idiot!

The camera pans over to the February 1st date on the alarm clock and Barry and Iris are swamped by mysterious glowing orbs. You wanna know why it focused on the calendar date? It’s because this is a time loop episode, baby! We got ourselves a Groundhog Day!

We go through Iris and Barry’s days again, with Iris figuring out the time loop and walking off to yell at Barry for time travel shenanigans while Barry’s day goes significantly poorer this time around. Not only does he not get that promotion he wanted, but he also dies. It stops the most recent loop and Barry and Iris wake up again in bed on the morning of Wednesday, February 1st.

At STAR Labs, since this is a genre show with a universe where this sort of thing happens on the daily, Barry and Iris get to skip past the customary disbelief that they’re in a time loop and the team gets started on trying to fix it. A bout of technobabble later and Chester and Barry have a plan, while Iris goes to work like normal. Unfortunately, while they’re examining the techy battery Captain Boomerang wanted to steal from the ominously sparkling machine, Chester pokes something wrong and the Wednesday ends when Barry dies again.

Barry assures Iris that he and Chester aren’t going to make the same mistake again. Cue: Chester and Barry making the same mistake again, and Barry dying. Again. We then get a fun little montage of Iris avoiding saying “yes” to the CatCo deal and Barry dying over and over and over, if the way he wakes up with a startled little yelp is anything to go by.

But the fun ends when Barry wakes up on February 1st and Iris isn’t in bed. Turns out, she got up before him (not sure how that’s possible when they seem to wake up at the same time for every previous iteration) and is enjoying a breakfast of wine and avoiding her problems. This might say something about me, but Iris has it right. If I ever got caught in a time loop, you better believe I’d use that to vacation from work, responsibilities, and social norms. Barry thinks they’re stuck in a time loop because Iris hasn’t said yes to the CatCo offer and Iris is fighting against saying yes because she wants to choose her own future, not follow the guidelines set by Barry’s mapbook. Hey, you know what would have solved this problem before it even started? If Barry had kept his mouth shut instead of coyly telling Iris to “say yes” to something.

Upset, Barry goes for a day-long run, stopping by Joe and Cecile’s place just as they’re getting ready for dinner. He explains everything that’s going on with him and Iris and the mapbook. While Barry’s spiraling about not getting to have his future with Iris, Joe and Cecile tell him the future is something people create with the ones they love. Barry returns to Iris and they have a sweet scene where he tells her he’ll be fine taking their lives day by day instead of trying to follow the mapbook, which he burns (and, presumably, burns again in the morning when the day resets).

Hey, things are fun again! Barry and Iris are united once more and approach the events of this eternal Wednesday together. First, Barry follows Iris to her workplace to hand out bagels. Then, they take a break to swim in a pool and drink cocktails. After that, Iris follows Barry to CCPD to get him that promotion again. Rounding out the day, Barry heads off Captain Boomerang and taunts him a little bit before Iris blasts him with a laser gun. Unfortunately, the blasting doesn’t stick and Captain Boomerang retaliates by turning the ominously sparkling device into a nuclear bomb. Barry vibrates the explosion and renders it inert. I’m not going to pretend that makes sense but that’s the only description you’re getting from me. The day is saved!

The team debriefs at STAR Labs. Barry and Iris apparently went through 58 time loops and implied that they probably did spend some we didn’t see goofing off and having fun together before finally fixing the loop with their last attempt. I wish we’d seen more of the fun loops, honestly, but this episode had a lot of other stuff going for it so I’ll let it pass. The team decides that Captain Boomerang must have had a partner as the brains of his operation, but they’ll have to deal with catching them both later.

Iris, having acquired the start of her media empire on her own terms by partnering with Sue Dearbon instead of CatCo, is cheerful when Barry catches up with her and proposes they go on some late newlywed adventures together before Iris is supposed to get pregnant in three months.

Meanwhile, Captain Boomerang walks into a warehouse and receives his payment of boomerangs for the battery he stole. His partner is a shadowy red lightning-covered figure with distortion voice who threatens to kill everyone Barry loves, blah blah blah. The episode ends on the symbol for Red Death, whose story I have serious doubts of The Flash handling well. But we’ll see! Maybe this show can finally take the ol’ “evil-doer obsessed with speed” plot and do something interesting with it!

Other Things:

  • Cecile’s “Joey from Friends” one-liner at the beginning of this episode was bafflingly bad. Was it because Barry can’t write pithy jokes in his nightmares?
  • “I think I died.” “What?” I love shows where that exchange can happen. Wonderful.
  • The little look Chester and Barry share when, after very careful instruction, Barry accidentally sparks the battery and causes another explosion? Golden.
  • Barry burned the mapbook, but he made that whole thing from memory anyway so...
  • Chester and Allegra finally kiss, but they don’t look happy about it?
  • After nine long years full of metahuman nonsense, Joe thinks he and Cecile should leave Central City. I don’t really get why since it’s been established that metahuman stuff happens all over the world.
  • Barry answers an alert from someone who looks like Caitlin and sounds like Caitlin but isn’t Caitlin, and the scene ends before she says who she actually is. Judging by the blue HotTopic streaks in her hair, I predict she’s Britta from the Darkest Timeline.