All the fun of The Flash, with extra ice and ethical worries. Flawed and inconclusive delivery, as well as a too-short final fight, can’t stop the fun.
Prison is bad. Unlegislated, solitary confinement based secret prisons are worse. And our heroes have one underneath their giant science lab offices. Over the season they have been putting away various Meta-Humans into ‘the pipeline’ to keep the public safe from them, and have ignored this giant ethical quandary in their basement. But this week Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) turns the particle accelerator back on and puts those left imprisoned in great danger. And because Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is ever the empath he enlists the help of Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) to transport the Metas out of harm’s way. But can he trust the Captain to honour his word?
Of course not. If there are two things you can trust the Captain to always do it’s a) always have an ulterior motive and b) be as much fun and as cool as humanely possible whilst executing it. Without any shame or compunction he plays ‘Cold as Ice’ on a jukebox when Barry arrives to make a deal. Miller sells every ounce of the scene. When first introduced he had a lot of menace but ironically had no chill. The Captain also brought his sister along with him, who upon her return is immediately more fun and exciting. Sure, it is a bit annoying that her impact on the proceedings is simply as a helper. However, Peyton List, like her fictional brother, makes being bad look so good. While she rubs the heroes the wrong way calling Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) uptight, and flirting brazenly with Cisco (Carlos Valdes) it’s all too easy to forget that she doesn’t add much to the plot.
However this is The Flash. Fun is often at the expense of finesse. Yet there is a deeper element to the fun this week as the heroes are finally forced to confront the murkiness of their subterranean prison system. There’s not much closure drawn on the matter at our heroes’ ends. The Metas’ escape handily exonerates them from that onerous duty. However the discussion of it is welcome. Seeing Jesse L. Martin tiptoe around the issue with the underused DA (played by Danielle Nicolet) only to be strongly admonished is exactly the kind of frank talk that needs to be had. If it can have more of a lasting impact next time, the show will be infinitely better for it. Once again the use of Joe mentoring Barry and reminding him who he is (still implausibly a thing) is also incredibly effective.
Then there’s the final fight. The return of both Firestorm (Robbie Amell) and Arrow (Stephen Amell, yes they’re related) is great to see. It’s the sort of intertwining of characters that superhero comic books have always done. Yet whilst it is filled with wonderful little beats that make you want to rewind and play it all again it’s disappointingly short. The fight also feels tacked on. Almost as if the original plan had been to cut the fight entirely and open the finale with it. Because although Wells’ return matches the opening of the episode it still can’t help but sit uneven with the tone of the rest of the episode. Undoubtedly all the meaty dramatic moments are being saved for next week’s finale.
The Flash is broadcast on Sky One, 8pm Tuesdays