The Flash, Season 3, Episode 6, “Shade”
One of the criticisms of that haunts Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that story often suffers when it has to steer its plot in a direction that dovetails with whatever the next big Marvel Cinematic Universe is.
Since the DC hero shows are not tethered to a movie universe this has never been a problem, until now. The CW TV universe shows are now connected together and with its big multi-show crossover event just a couple of weeks away, it feels like The Flash is the first show that’s really just marking time until the big story.
The new villain, Shade, was introduced and dispatched in pretty short order thanks to the magic of car headlights. That left some significant time to fill by contrasting how Wally and Caitlin are dealing their powers before the week’s quasi-cliffhanger ending.
There’s nothing wrong with character work, just look what’s been going on with Alex on Supergirl and you can see how much fleshing out established characters can enhance a series. Unfortunately this week’s Flash episode hits familiar beats that weren’t really interesting in the first place.
Wally wants powers more than he wants air? Check. Caitlin is growing more powerful, and everyone assumes more evil in the process? Yep. A character (Iris) feeling like a vigilante third wheel because she doesn’t have a more active role in fighting bad guys? You bet. Can we get a dose of unnecessary secret keeping just to add a little spice? Absolutely.
The show has been hinting at these developments for a while now. So in a way, it was a relief to see Wally finally be drawn to Alchemy, Dr. Alchemy to get his powers, which is something we’ve seen coming for three episodes. It’s out of the way. We all can move on.
Unfortunately, it’s about the journey rather than the destination. This episode was all presented in a superficial way that failed to draw the audience in because everyone knew the story the episode was telling was a setup of something else. If Tumblr is any barometer of an episode’s impact on the fans, the fact that there were as many images and GIFs from the one minute preview of next week’s episode than the entire hour this week might be an indication that this week’s story was a dud.
The cliffhanger is at least a little interesting with Wally in a terragenesis-like cocoon and Barry getting threatened by yet another evil speedster, Savitar, God of Speed, but it was hardly exciting or interesting to justify the slog it took to get there.