‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 3 Episode 11: ‘Dead Or Alive’
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, Cisco vibes with a lady, Iris and Wally crack a case, and we throw some shade at Tom Felton's hairline. "Dead or Alive" was directed by Harry Jierjian; story by Benjamin Raab & Deric A. Hughes, and teleplay by Zack Stentz.
Ziah: Dylan, I’m not gonna lie to you here. This is the best episode of The Flash that we’ve ever watched --- at least until we get the musical episode featuring a song from Rachel Bloom in a month! How’d you like this episode, on a scale from Flawless to The Best Hour Of Television of 2017?
Dylan: Something told me you were gonna love this one. I thought it was… pretty good? There were a few bits that dragged, but overall, a fun one-off episode that pulled some good moves, like my cousin when Young MC’s “Bust A Move” came on at my sister’s wedding.
Ziah: So, I have a feeling you were faked out a little bit by the plot hinging on HR getting pulled back to his home dimension. Were you hoping that you’d finally seen the last of Thrells and his Vector Cannon or whatever?
Dylan: I know better than to believe that they’re ever going to get rid of HR Thrells, my sworn enemy. The One Drumstick Wonder is fated to continue to be perpetually standing off to the side, mugging it up and calling Barry “BA,” which I find very disrespectful to Mister T, to be quite honest.
I did really love his ridonkulously large Cable-esque laser gun. That was cool. I also liked that he’s been beaming his HR Thrells fanfic back to his home dimension because he’s a frickin dork like that.
Ziah: Dylan, if you had an entire world willing to read your Dash Rendar fanfic, wouldn’t you break interplanetary law to beam it back?
Dylan: I have no idea who that is but he sounds dumb as hell, bro.
Ziah: Pretty sure he’s like if that Han Solo fella was cool.
But anyway. Special shout-out to Julian this episode, as I laughed at almost every line of his. It’s a bummer he’s 99% probably gonna do another heel turn by the end of the season, because I’m digging his Twells impression. All gruff science and an inability to voice concern. Scientists That Care But Are Kind Of Terrible is my favorite Flash character archetype.
Dylan: Yeah, now that they’ve spun Thrells into the “cool uncle from another dimension,” somebody’s got to be the snide science guy, and Tom Felton manages to pull that off with a certain charm that would probably come across as a lot more annoying from anybody else. His “I found six ways you could do that better,” was like if he was C-3PO but with a shinier forehead. (Hay, Tom Felton’s harline: ya just got roasted!)
Ziah: Aw, Thrells has graduated from “creepy dad” to “cool uncle?” You’re coming around to him, huh? Did he buy you some beers and tell you that you could borrow his Camaro sometime?
But yeah, Felton’s got a certain annoyed charm in the role (I’m gonna remain mute on the hairline biz, cause I don’t want karma to strike down my luscious locks), which is nice. Anything to keep them from keeping Barry’s secret identity from another person for no reason.
It’s still a The CW show, so we’ve got a season-long secret though. The West kids are keeping Iris’ prophecy from Joe, but that kind of works, even if the only Joe scene we get is one of him freaking out and the DA being a terrible flirt. Seriously, a “hard and fast” joke? It’s a good thing Cecilia is pretty and hitting on Oblivious Joe, cause her flirt game is at Season 2 of the American Office levels.
Dylan: Can we please sign a petition to make sure that Joe West gets some this season?
Ziah: Cisco. Francisco Ramón. I’ve been waiting for a spotlight episode since… since we started these articles? I loved every second; him immediately hitting on the threat-of-the-week, his reluctant bonding with Thrells (high point was him basically admitting he was only saving him because he looks like the original Wells). How great was Cisco this episode?
Dylan: Cisco was a real good time. The main plot this week hinged on Thrells being brought back to his home dimension by a multiversal bounty hunter who was… maybe the female version of Cisco from Thrells’ earth? She also has vibe powers, and her last name is also Ramon, which… is this why Cisco’s attracted to her? Like that one episode of Broad City where Ilana meets the girl who looks just like her (played by Alia Shawkat, AKA Maeby Funke) and she falls madly in love with her? Did I just make it weird or was it weird to begin with?
Ziah: Yeah, that was a weird one, but it kind of worked for me? Like, sorry to any Cindy Reynolds fans reading this, but her character in the comics kind of stone-cold sucks, so changing her to just be Earth-2 Sexy Cisco wasn’t exactly a worse move.
[Editor's note: We find it baffling and frustrating that The Flash chose to use the original codename for the comic book character Cindy Reynolds when that name is considered an ethnic slur by Rromani people. We've chosen not to use the word in this coverage.]
Dylan: Also, we gotta do something about Cisco’s insane thirst. Another petition, maybe? Dude has been shut down by every one of his many, many crushes every time they almost/barely kiss. The universe is c-blocking this dude at this point, right?
Ziah: To be fair, this is the closest he’s gotten, since Cisco and… Cisca (?) both have dimension portals, which is a better fit than Sociopathic Criminal and Reincarnated Hawk Goddess with Terrible Taste in Men. Oh, and I thought they had good chemistry together, so maybe she’ll guest star again some time.
How great was their multi-earth rumble? I did have a geek-out moment when they roughhoused in the Supergirl universe, because I’m still weak.
Dylan: Yeah, that, Earth-2 and Earth-Mustafar (look it up on Wookieepedia, nerds) were fun little gags and really sort of opened up a whole other idea for the show to explore. How great would it be to have one-off episodes set in these different, weird realities? Like Sliders (the show, not the tiny hamburgers), but, you know… kind of good.
Ziah: If we start reviewing that show, we could call ourselves Sniders. Because of our remarks, you see.
Dylan: This is bad, Ziah. You should feel bad for this. (J/K you’re a Pun Prince. In that you make puns and also wear buttless yellow bodysuits. RIP, Purple One.)
Ziah: Well, speaking of things that are lacking: a pretty common complaint in our reviews is how poorly-written the female characters are, but I really liked Iris’ storyline this episode. Candice Patton was great, and it actually gave a really nice perspective on what it’s like for her to know she’s going to die in a few months, instead of the Barry Is Sad And Has To Change The Timeline show. What’d you think?
Dylan: Yeah, having Iris actually doing something --- in this case, tracking down an arms dealer supplying Central City’s crooks with the coolest Nerf gun-looking firearms out there --- was a good call. And having her team up with Wally to distract her dad so Wally could steal paperwork from his desk was a nice touch. Lying is a family tradition in the West household. What did you think of her “I’m not gonna die today so I’m gonna do what I want,” attitude, Z?
Ziah: I was into it! This whole storyline worked for me. Barry tries to stop her, because he is Buzzkill Barry, and she just immediately does it anyway. Her faking out Joe with wanting a baby… animal was incredible, and I like when Wally and Iris hang out! This was good!
And her getting some bravery from knowing when she’ll “die” is an interesting hook. What’s it like when you’ve got four months to live, sort of, but you’re dating a guy that breaks timelines and saw the day it happens? I’m glad they got to dig into her reason for doing the whole reporting thing, and they even tied it into a past event (her mom’s death and just generally subpar life) that made sense. I dunno, man, this was a solid episode. What didn’t work for you?
Dylan: There wasn’t anything that was especially bad, per se. It’s weird to go from a show like Gotham, which I’ve just started recapping with Tara Marie (plug!), that burns through plot like there’s no tomorrow, and a show like this, which always has at least three scenes where people stand around and talk in circles while sad piano music plays because they have to kill time until the next action sequence. It’s nothing that ruins the show, it just has its lulls that I feel could be better used.
Ziah: Well, that’s fair. Sounds like Gotham's gotten even nuttier than when I was watching it with weather balloon-using serial killers and Gordon being terrible.
Oh before we close out, I genuinely loved the goofiness of Barry and Wally saving a bus full of pretty cheerleaders from armed robbers. So pleasantly over the top. It’s nice that they usually do an opening episode action beat that’s just to show that Central City is a horrible, horrible place full of crime.
Dylan: Oh yeah, I definitely like their dynamic, and it looks like next week we get even more master/student hijinks as Barry tries to make Wally go faster and they face off against Clive Yorkin, a bad dude who ruins everything he touches. So he’s basically Rob Schneider.
Ziah: That’s about right. See you next week!