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TV Review: The Flash - Season 3 Episode 11 "Dead or Alive"

02.01.2017

EPISODE 11: "Dead or Alive"

SYNOPSIS: H.R.'s past catches up with him when a bounty hunter with vibe powers named Gypsy arrives in Central City to bring him back to Earth-19 to stand trial for his crime. It turns out inter-dimensional travel is illegal on their Earth. H.R. surrenders but when Barry and Cisco find out that H.R.’s only hope would be to challenge Gypsy to a fight to the death, they intercede and Cisco offers to fight Gypsy instead.

REVIEW: There have not been too many good standalone episodes of The Flash this season which has contributed to the overall lackluster reception to the third year of The CW's superhero drama. With the first half of Flashpoint completed, the second arc of this season has shifted focus to Barry finding a way to stop the impending death of Iris West at the hands of Savitar in just under five months time. You would think that this would not leave room for an episode to explore the stories of secondary characters, but tonight's hour manages to give the main focus to H.R. and Cisco while still delving into the psychological impact of Iris' fate. To say that this is one of the better episodes of the third season is a given and should restore some faith in viewers who have stuck with the narrative this long.

With Kid Flash and Barry making a great team, the entire STAR Labs crew seems to be in good spirits until Earth-19 bounty hunter (or collector as they are known on that world) Gypsy arrives to bring H.R. back to stand trial. As it turns out, Earth-19 had an inter-dimensional war which made travel between universes illegal and punishable by death. While H.R. has been mostly comic relief, in recent weeks he has become closer with both Wally and Cisco which is why the team feel obligated to defend their new friend. Cisco even goes as far as to offer himself in trial by combat with Gypsy. Since both of them have the ability to vibe, it seemed like a good idea to Cisco who finds himself attracted to Gypsy and not thinking clearly. The team have their reservations but band together to help Cisco. Even Julian, in his own way, tried to assist.

Cisco has had some good character development over The Flash's three season, each one centered around his relationship with Harrison Wells. Here, defending H.R., Cisco once again has to face his own insecurities and face off against his own fear. Gypsy is not so much a villain as a supporting character and one I would like to see more of on the show. The Flash has not had many episodes without a true bad guy so this feels like a nice break from the typical foe of the week format. It also affords us a nice fight sequence between Cisco and Gypsy that travels to multiple parallel Earths, including a brief visit to Supergirl's world where the two fight in Cat Grant's office. Gypsy and Cisco, despite having the same powers, make a nice couple and it would be great to see them team up in the future. By episode's end, Cisco wins the fight no one thought he could and he and H.R. have deepend their friendship. H.R., now banned from returning home, has to find his place on our world. This likely means this version of Wells is here to stay.

In other plots, Iris is dealing with the knowledge that she is doomed to die in mere months. While the team are doing everything they can to find a way to change her destiny, Iris is becoming obsessed with cementing her legacy as a reporter while also fearing her end. Iris convinces Wally to help her break a story about gun smugglers in Central City which he agrees to do. Facing a thug with a high tech weapon, Iris doesn't show any fear which disturbs Wally, Barry, and a clueless Joe who doesn't know about what Barry saw in the future. This offers a scene where Iris breaks down emotionally which any of us would do with the awful knowledge of exactly when we will die. By the end of their conversation, Iris has published her article which helps turn Kid Flash into a household name and offers Barry an idea of how he can save the love of his life.

In all of their theorizing about stopping Savitar, it is clear that Barry needs to get faster. This has been a common theme each season but this time Julian tells Barry he just cannot get fast enough at the pace he is increasing velocity. Barry fears what he cannot control but also realizes with Wally's burgeoning skills as Kid Flash that the true answer lies in him. To change the future, Barry has to relinquish that he is the one who saves Iris and allow her brother to be the superhero. I have truly enjoyed Kid Flash as a character this season and seeing Barry serve as something of a mentor breathes new life into the dynamic of this series. It does remain to be seen how these characters will fall into place come season finale time, but maybe it will rely on a team up between the two speedsters to stop Savitar once and for all.

Like I said, this was a standalone episode but one that balanced the narrative arc of this season with some solid ensemble development for Cisco, Iris, Wally, and H.R.. I also really loved that there was no villain this week but we still managed to pack in some action along with the humor. Having the comic elements back in The Flash after some truly dour hours of the show over the last few months helped this episode fit in with the brightness and levity of the first season of the show. Cisco was his one-liner self and everyone just looked to be having fun in this story which also gave us a new character in Gypsy who didn't feel like she was added just to fill an hour of television and could be a frequent visitor to our Earth-1 heroes. Definitely a solid outing worthy of this series.

EPISODE GRADE:

NEXT ON THE FLASH: "Untouchable" airs February 7th - Barry and the team at S.T.A.R. Labs work together to bring down Clive Yorkin, a criminal meta-human who is methodically killing people by causing them to decompose at an accelerated rate. Joe becomes his next target but it’s Iris who is caught in the crossfire. The Flash mentors Kid Flash and begins to elevate the newer speedster’s training to another level.

Source: Joblo.com

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