This season of The Flash, has been its best so far. Like all good seasons, though, there are always going to be some episodes that don’t work or aren’t as good as the others. This week’s outing, ‘Shade’, threw out a cool concept of a meta, but hardly did anything with it before it as cast aside for a plotline that, while definitely more important, could have easily been worked over another episode.
The cool meta, named ‘Shade’ by HR (the consistently brilliant Tom Cavanagh) after a meta on his Earth, comes up out of the shadows, and early on kills a serious businessman and leaves him for dead in the street. Later he comes back during a horror movie in the park screening and is beaten fairly simply by Cisco hacking into all the computers in the cars in the car park (which magically none of them are clapped out old bangers they can’t hack) to turn their lights on so Barry (Grant Gustin) can defeat him. It feels a bit too easy, and it is. Because it’s a distraction.
The best thing about the whole situation is that Joe (Jesse L Martin) finally goes on a date with Cecile (Danielle Nicolet). We’re big advocates for the whole thing, so HR just needs to step aside.
Back at STAR Labs, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) has been hearing the taunting voice of Alchemy (voiced by the ever-creepy Tobin Bell) and having dreams about being Kid Flash. They know this is the start, Alchemy drew Magenta out with painful dreams and then making her powers come to light. They lock Wally away while they go out for their fun night out, and Alchemy uses the Shade distraction to get Wally. Only when Wally makes Iris (Candice Patton) open the door, instead of letting him go easily she flat out KOs him and it’s brilliant.
When the team return they do eventually agree to let Wally act as bait and lead them to Alchemy, of course it’s all going to go to absolute shit. When do their plans ever work? The SWAT team that Joe has arranged can’t take clear aim at a blue-lightning speedster that appears (and called himself the God of Speed at which point we both groan and laugh our arses off because it’s so ridiculous and another god-damned speedster). Alchemy tries to give Wally his powers, fails but then Wally goes and touches the thing anyway which is about to cause no end of problems.
While we are probably supposed to care most about Wally this episode, the stand-out scene for us was one between Cisco and Caitlin. Having told Cisco of her developing powers, he outs her to the rest of the team, which she doesn’t take to too lightly. She’s turning into Killer Frost, as confirmed by Cisco’s vibe, she’s scared and as she emotionally tells the team that she’s going to have to leave them soon it’s hard not to feel for her. But the scene that really gets to you, is the one they share later, when Cisco promises to help her. Their friendship has often been a highlight of the show, but it seems to get forgotten so often by the writers that for them to bring it back to the forefront was a pleasure, even in the circumstances it is presented.
Tom Felton returns, albeit briefly, as Julian Albert and our fears from last week – that he would suddenly become a friend and ally of Barry’s – were quickly assuaged as he flat out tells Barry that one drink does not make them friends. Now that the antagonistic ‘Harry’ (also Tom Cavanagh) has left for Earth-2, we appreciate having the grumpy and a bit spiky Julian on side to make the world balanced once again.
While there wasn’t anything inherently wrong with ‘Shade’ there wasn’t much to shout about either, it seemed like it was a stepping stone episode setting us up for what is about to erupt.