TV Review: The Flash - Season 3 Episode 6 "Shade"
EPISODE 6: "Shade"
SYNOPSIS: When Wally starts having dreams about being Kid Flash, Barry realizes he has to tell Wally, Iris and Joe about what happened to Wally in Flashpoint in order to keep him safe.
REVIEW: That's what I am talking about. Man, I feel like I have been waiting a long time for The Flash to regain some of the greatness it showed during it's first season and a half. So far, the Flashpoint storyline has felt muddled and ill-conceived, but tonight's hour finally puts the pieces together into a competently scripted episode that progresses the main narrative while also giving us some much needed development for multiple supporting players. This episode gives a good deal of the limelight to Wally West but also spends time with Cisco, Kaitlyn, and Earth-19's H.R.. Plus, Alchemy comes back into the forefront of the plot and gives us a good idea of his strength and his alliance with our second primary villain, Savitar.
While this episode is titled after the villain of the week, Shade himself is barely explained and serves as nothing more than a mere plot device to progress the main story which surrounds Wally West and his link to Alchemy. As we saw in the season premiere, in Barry's Flashpoint universe, Wally was actually Kid Flash. Left with a mortal wound before Barry reset the timeline, Wally has been anxious to get powers after Jesse Quick's exposure to dark matter resulted in her becoming a speedster. Wally begins having dreams induced by Alchemy which excites the young man into the potential to be a hero. Both Joe West and Barry have hesitancy since the dreams come from Alchemy but Wally doesn't want to hear it. It is not until he suffers seizures and volunteers to lock himself in The Cortex at STAR Labs that he realizes there may be a downside to what is going on. Barry's revelation about Wally raises questions for everyone, including Iris, who laments her own lack of purpose on the team after hearing her involvement in helping Kid Flash in the alternate timeline.
The powers question also forces Kaitlyn to reveal to Cisco that she has been exhibiting Killer Frost's abilities. She asks him to vibe and see if she becomes the villainous ice queen and Cisco sees the two of them dueling in the future. At first, Cisco lies to Kaitlyn when she says she would have to leave and never return but eventually shares the truth with her. Cisco also forces her to reveal her abilities to the rest of the team. Barry also reveals to Kaitlyn that her powers were likely caused by Flashpoint, deepening the hero's guilt about what his manipulation of the timeline has wrought. All of this comes coupled with the fact that a metahuman who can take the form of a shadow, Shade, is killing innocents in Central City. Using Cisco's powercuffs, the team accompany Joe West on his date at a movie screening in a local park. Barry and Iris stay back with Wally but The Flash is soon needed when Shade arrives. With H.R. interrupted from hitting on Joe's date (along with some cool technology that masks his Harrison Wells visage to the public), the team flood the park with light and thereby stop Shade from harming anyone.
If the sudden capture of Shade seemed premature, rest assured that his existence was merely to offer a distraction while Alchemy floods Wally's mind with pain and torture. The villain beckons Wally who decides he has to act as bait to lead The Flash to Alchemy. Heading to an abandoned factory (natch), The Flash, Joe, Wally, and a SWAT team descend on Alchemy and a pair of his minions. Alchemy waxes philosophical about granting Wally his powers and they allow him to get comfortable before The Flash makes his move. They take down the minions relatively easily and Alchemy is dropped to his knees. It seems like a fairly easy resolution after only a handful of episodes this year, but Alchemy fights back using some sort of energy weapon which Wally is entranced by. Suddenly, a flash of white light speeds around the room, killing the various members of the SWAT team. Barry pursues but is quickly beaten back while Joe and Wally try to make their escape.
But as Alchemy seems to have everything where he wants it, we as viewers are thrown for a loop. Wally touches Alchemy's glowing stone and is immediately encased in a chrysalis which we are led to assume will grant him his Kid Flash speed. Barry meanwhile keeps fighting the new speedster who gets the upper hand on him. At normal speed, we finally get a look at Savitar, the new speedster villain on the show. Looking like a TV budget version of Megatron, the new villain is composed of some sort of metal with glowing blue eyes. The episode ends in the middle of the fight between Barry and Savitar with little else to suggest the fight will not immediately continue in the next episode.
While I was a bit disappointed that The Flash would introduce yet another speedster as a main villain, the duality of Savitar battling alongside Alchemy does give us a dichotomy not seen in prior years. Savitar may or may not be more powerful than Reverse Flash or Zoom, but he definitely doesn't look like another alternately-colored Flash. While the less than subtle disappearance of Julian Albert (Tom Felton) doesn't assuage theories that he is Alchemy, we now have to wonder if maybe he is Savitar instead. Either way, this was a solid episode and possibly the best hour of the third season so far. Darker and more dramatic than prior episodes, this episode had it's fair share of humor which mainly came from Tom Cavanaugh's latest Harrison Wells variation. H.R. originally struck me as a one-gag character, but Cavanaugh has once again proven that he is able to play this character in any number of ways and still make him likeable and dislikeable in equal measure. The development of Wally West is also moving along nicely as he doesn't seem like he will be the prototypical superhero. Hopefully all of the drama and twists thrown into this season so far will result in the next dozen episodes continuing this hour's upward trend in quality.
NEXT ON THE FLASH: "Killer Frost" airs November 22nd - Caitlin uses her powers to save Barry but as her mother predicted, the effort unleashes her inner Killer Frost. Killer Frost goes on a rampage looking for Dr. Alchemy, kidnapping Julian and battling both The Flash and Vibe. Meanwhile, Joe and H.R. have a heart to heart talk.