‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 3 Episode 6: ‘Shade’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show recappers Dylan Todd and Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, Wally is tempted by the dark side, Caitlin is frightened of what she might become, and The Flash fights an actual shadow, because hey, if you have a theme, why be subtle about it? "Shade" was directed by JJ Makaro and written by Emily Silver and David Kob.
Ziah: Hey Dylan! I sure missed watching a doofy show about a speedy man that zoom-zooms real good this past week. How was the two week hiatus for you?
Dylan: I’ll tell you what, I’d love to have been watching this show last Tuesday night instead of what I was watching.
Ziah: Me too, Dylhouse, me too.
So, before we get to H.R. (and I think everyone knows how badly I want to talk about H.R.), let’s sum up the episode. Kind of disjointed, right? A lot going on. Cisco vibes Caitlin (not a euphemism), Shade literally doesn’t get a single line of dialogue, and Wally’s up to Fast 6 in terms of how badly he wants to go fast. He is like Sonic Adventure Battle 2, you know what I mean? Anyway, what’d you think of this week’s episode?
Dylan: Yeah, there’s like four too many plots going on here. We have the main plot, with Wally getting all Alchemied up, then there’s Caitlin dealing with her newfound powers, then there’s Joe trying to get some interdepartmental fraternization only to get H.R.-blocked, all the other H.R. stuff, plus a villain of the week --- the Shade --- who is here and gone before you even know it, and a third-act twist that, if nothing else, will have people asking questions. All in all, not a bad episode, but definitely all over the place.
Ziah: Well, I have to say, this was the most old-school, genuinely heroic episode of The Flash that I’ve seen in a while. Wally as Kid Flash saves a kid from skateboarding into a truck (oh, Gen-Xers) in a dream, and Barry admits that even heroes get scared in real life to Wally later. Dylan, do you see this as evidence of David Foster Wallace’s idea of The New Sincerity, or is it just proof that they should mine more of the Silver Age?
Dylan: Okay, so did you notice that in the opening voiceover, Wally says he moves through his city like a guardian angel? Like, that’s sort of a weird choice of words, right? Are guardian angels known for their swiftness?
Ziah: They are as swift as a ringing bell, Clarence.
Dylan: Huh. You got me there. But I agree with you regarding this episode being pretty dang heroic. It’s nice to see them going full superhero. How’d you feel about the other Wally stuff? He’s being psychically called to by Alchemy, which is obviously messing him up, so why not just let him get some powers and see how it goes? I’m not entirely sure what they were afraid of with him getting powers beyond what Barry saw in the Flashpoint version of reality. (Also, take a drink every time they say “Flashpoint” and you will for sure die.)
Ziah: I’m already “dying” to point out what a stupid name Flashpoint is, and how much it was terrible as a comic book event first. Also, I have alcohol poisoning and can shoot scotch out from my fingers now?
Anyway, it was fine. I thought they would drag it out a bit more, to be honest. Part of me actually expected Wally to be Savitar, which would’ve drawn a bit more pathos out of a villain, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. In fact, based on Draco calling in sick, he’s the more likely culprit, which I hope is a red herring. Which is a fish, if you didn’t know. A red fish.
Dylan: Like a Swedish fish?
Ziah: Exactly like the best candy you can buy in an IKEA.
Anyway, I kind of got the sense that Joe was more worried about Wally because he was his biological son? Which is obviously an irrational response since he clearly considers Barry a son, but it kind of felt right until they had their heart-to-heart. Something about their very un-nuclear family having very real, emotion-trumping-logic feelings felt like a really good episode driver, but they went with “you drive cars, probably like I did, so I don’t trust you to run fast.”
Dylan: I did like Joe saying, “It’s not that I don’t trust you. I just don’t trust what’s going on.” That was some Peak Joe, and it’s as close as we’re going to get to the writers just saying, “This is here purely for dramatic purposes and served no logical reason to be in there.”
Ziah: Oh, definitely. Wally has even stopped racing, right? He’s basically as boy scout as they come, but plot’s got to keep on plotting.
Dylan: I’m pretty sure that’s on a crest above the doorway that leads into the Berlanti Productions offices, because all these DC/CW shows are built like that.
Ziah: Okay, we’ve blathered on enough. Do you like H.R. too, or is it just me? I love him. His inability to take criticism, his one or two-years-too-late haircut, his drumsticks… I’m sorry for the way I am, Dylan.
Dylan: Never apologize for being yourself, Ziah. Well, aside from the puns. You should definitely always apologize for those. As far as H.R., aka Thrells, “love” is definitely too strong a word for how I’m feeling about him, but I’m warming up.
Ziah: Aw, you’re using Thrells. I’m rubbing off on you like a Scratch-N-Sniff.
Dylan: Thrells is a sickness and it’s spreading. It’s “going viral,” as the kids say. Thrells is a totally useless doof, but I’m becoming more okay with that as the weeks go by. I do, however, love the way the writers brought up and hand-waved away him having the face of a murderer. His fake-face-maker is such lovable BS. And them having to pull some serious gymnastics to not have to have a second actor on set was great. “I’m zapping your eyeballs so I look like me to you but look like this other guy to everybody else" is some Psychic Paper stuff.
Ziah: I loved it. Any other show and any other actor and I might’ve brought up how dumb it is, but I audibly groaned when not-Tom-Cavanagh walked up onto set because I was afraid we would get less TC/pE (that’s Tom Cavanagh per Episode).
Aaaaanyway. How are you feeling about the Killer Frost storyline? Granted I may be negatively biased by the fact that word on the street is that Kevin Smith will be directing a Killer Frost-themed episode later this year, but I felt like this was a pretty abrupt place to take that C-plot. Caitlin’s stealing power muffling-cufflinks without telling her friends, she and Vibe know they might fight, and she thinks she’ll just “have to leave someday?” Boy, if only she knew some of the world’s most brilliant metahuman scientists with a fully-functioning lab specifically used to inhibit metahuman powers, huh?
Dylan: When she said she’d have to leave, I was like, “Huh, I wonder what show Danielle Panabaker is going to start showing up on next?” But like we’ve said, having her go (literally) Rogue is probably a step up from her current role of not really doing anything. Right?
Ziah: I guess? I thought her patter with Cisco was kind of fun, but they torpedoed it this episode, so I don’t know. They really don’t seem to want to give Panabaker anything fun to do for more than a couple of episodes
Dylan: It’s a shame, but here we are. Also, Caitlin as Killer Snow is real fun, so I’m ultimately fine with it.
Dylan: So another plot in our gumbo here is Joe trying to make some headway with Cecile, but Thrells can’t help but try and charm her. Is Joe ever going to get some lovin’?
Ziah: Literally my favorite part of the episode. He would be a… hmmm. I don’t think we can say what he is on CA. But just a bad pal!
So great. Joe making leeway only for Thrells to swoop in with exotic tales of Earth-19. What’s the headline for us? “Thrells Thrills Joe Date?”
Dylan: “West’s Date Goes South. Local Dad Blue-Balled Again.”
Ziah: You genius. Genius.
Dylan: I did think it was great when he was introducing Caitlin and Cisco like, “And here’s the twentysomethings I, a middle-aged man, hang out with literally all the time.”
Ziah: Dylan, I’m a twentysomething that you spend roughly half of your Tuesday nights per year yelling about television with, so I don’t know if you have the moral high ground.
Dylan: I’m basically Joe West. And I’m okay with that.
Let’s talk about that ending. Joe and Barry, who have opposed Wally getting powers because he might get hurt, decide to use him as bait to get to Alchemy and his cult of weirdos. They go in with the SWAT team, Alchemy drops some crystal, a speedster who looks like Michael Bay Megatron shows up, Wally grabs the crystal and gets trapped in a James Stokoe-looking veiny tube, and Megatron is gonna kill Barry. Ziah, what the heck happened there?
Ziah: Well, it sure seems like they took our viewership for granted and just ended on a whole bunch of blurry CGI that seemed to imply that the new villain-of-the-year was a robot speed-man who has blade knuckles.
Dylan: Dude is extreme. I did totally love that Alchemy, who they’d set up as the Big Bad so far, was really just some fanboy who was worshipping Savitar, the self-proclaimed God of Speed. On the other hand, it’s (yawn) another speedster villain, claws or no.
Ziah: I am so flipping sick of speedster villains for the Flash. But more importantly, I have so many questions about Alchemy, but based on previous villains’ backstories, I don’t think we’ll get it. On the plus side, Thrells has a Gorilla Grodd! That’s exciting. Maybe there’ll be a Cross-Universe Gorilla Caper this season.
Dylan: Why does every other earth these guys encounter sound so much better than the one we’re currently watching?
Ziah: We’re on Earth-Zero, Dylan. It’s as cold as Vanilla Ice.
Dylan: I do frequently feel like a chump who has been waxed like a candle.
Ziah: I’ve missed you. See you next week for something that happens involving the Flash?
Dylan: Yes. Absolutely. I gotta see more of this Megatron Wolverine Speed Guy, Ziah. He’s totally radical. And I gotta see what happens when Wally gets out of that gross, veiny cocoon thing. I’m on the edge of my seat here!
Ziah: He’ll be Inhuman! Which is still technically a thing, I guess.
Dylan: Coming to an IMAX theater near you. Until next week, Z.
Ziah: See you next week, Flashers!