“Plastique”, despite some standout elements, is The Flash’s least impressive instalment so far. The script feels rushed and perfunctory in places while the workmanlike direction often fails to paper over the cracks. This culminates in a climax that – until some impressive special FX save the day – is disappointingly flat and contrived. When Barry rushes to stop Bette from killing Eiling, what should be a huge dramatic moment is over in a blink of an eye. Bette’s change of heart is so sudden she seems to be the one with super speed, and then – bang – she’s dead, trying, but failing, to tell Barry with her last breath that Wells is a bit of a bastard. The whole scene is so half-hearted and emotionally flat it feels like the show is just in a hurry to go, “Look! Pretty explosion! Tidal wave!”
Admittedly, this action set-piece is splendid. One thing The Flash is getting right is making sure there are one or two really memorable visual set pieces per episode.
Another thing the episode has going for it is the arrival of General Eiling, played with relish by Clancy Brown. The man manages to growl lines like, “You heard him Joe – give me what I want,” sound like the most dangerous threats ever uttered without needing to raise his voice. He looks set to be a great recurring character.
When Joe muses, “So, human bomb. Must be Tuesday in Central City,” that’s an in-joke referring to the fact that The Flash airs on Tuesdays in the States (and the UK, but that’s a coincidence).
Other than these and the show’s other usual dependable elements (the fun, easy-going relationship between Barry, Cisco and Caitlin; Wells showing the shadowy side of his character; a final scene that raises the hairs on your neck as the plot thickens), the episode is a little humdrum. Bette only ever feels like a half-developed character adding to the lack of emotional clout to her death. Barry’s rooftop chat with Iris has an almost complete lack of spark or frisson. Barry’s (lack of) drinking problems is a forgettable and underdeveloped running gag.
If “Plastique” is the blueprint for what makes an “average” episode of The Flash, then things could be a whole lot worse. It’s entertaining fluff and only really disappointing because the show’s been so good so far.
The Flash airs on Sky 1 in the UK and the CW in the US on Tuesday nights.
|Writers||Aaron Helbing, Todd Helbing, Brooke Eikmeier|
|The one where||Barry has to deal with a metahuman whose touch turns objects into bombs.|