‘The Flash’ Review: “Crazy For You”
Bouncing back nicely after last week’s subpar episode, tonight’s episode of ‘The Flash’ didn’t rewrite the rules of television but provided an entertaining hour all the same. “Crazy For You” is the type of episode this show does well when not focused exclusively on the show’s über-mythology: It provided a villain-of-the-week that tied into the emotional states of the characters, deployed some inventive action sequences, and then made you cry a little at the show’s latest open-hearted expression of love between two people. Not that I cried, or anything. GORILLA GRODD 4 LYFE, RIGHT?
OK, Papa Allen made me cry a little. But we’ll get there soon enough.
At the heart of what made tonight’s episode work is something that might ultimately put a huge dent in this show down the line: the incredible chemistry between Grant Gustin and Danielle Panabaker. At one point in my notes for tonight’s episode, I wrote, “I ‘ship Barry and Caitlin, which means the show is never, ever going to give me Barry and Caitlin as a couple.” I don’t feel this pain as acutely as I did for Clark Kent and Chloe Sullivan on ‘Smallville,’ which was a full decade of the show messing with my head, but this one hurts all the same.
‘The Flash’ has shown glimpses of romantic sparks between the two throughout the season, but this episode was all about putting the two together, showing how amazing they could be for one another, and then pulling that football away just as we, the collective Charlie Brown, ran up to kick it. And that’s fine: Shows play with audience emotions like this all the time. There’s sometimes a type of joy in that agony. But it is usually easier to take when the show provides ample other choices for the characters to date. So far, Barry has pined for the least interesting character on the show (Iris) while Caitlin Snow and Felicity Smoak have shown more than a casual interest in finding out just how fast Barry Allen can get OUT of that suit. And sure, potential new romantic partner Linda Park comes right from the comics, and will probably be around a little while, and she might be JUST FINE. But there’s no reason for the show to adhere to any comic book-based precedent when there’s something working perfectly well within the confines of the television show itself.
I’ll stop now lest this turn into a .GIF-filled Tumblr rant. Almost everything else was plot-related, and therefore easy to summarize in Q&A form.
Who was this week’s villain?
Shawna Baez, aka Peek-A-Boo, who can teleport but only while using a telescope she probably found at the bottom of a cereal box. Her powers looked mighty impressive, and the two fights with The Flash (especially the last one in the tunnel) were creative, fun, and a good use of the show’s nimble, problem-solving approach to boss battles.
What did we learn about Firestorm?
Hartley Rathaway played the nerdish Hannibal Lecter to Cisco’s naïve Clarice Starling, providing exposition in multiple languages about how Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond transformed into one entity the night of the explosion. Having seen Ronnie’s abs, this is a major upgrade for Stein, who apparently is mentally in charge of Ronnie’s body at this point. This gives Caitlin a moral out clause to moon over Barry for the next six episodes.
Were we surprised at how well Barry can sing?
Gustin appeared on ‘Glee,’ a fact I had blocked out of my mind until tonight. (Two words which explain why I try to forget this: Weaponized Slushie.) So no, I wasn’t surprised. But we still got Caitlin’s drunken onstage shock, and everything Caitlin did drunk was pretty darn adorable, and whoops there I go pining again so let’s ask another question.
Is Iris going to get jealous and try to win back Barry?
Most likely, and it will be as painful as we imagine.
Who is better at bringing the waterworks to Barry’s eyes: Henry Allen or Joe West?
I don’t know, but I’d order the Pay-Per-View to find out.
Look, these overly earnest “I love you” segments might one day lose their power, and that will be sad, but darnit if the show doesn’t keep landing these moments again and again for now. It’s like the show’s own superpower at this point. Considering how many shows are built upon daddy issues, Barry having not one but two incredibly supportive father figures is something of a miracle. Yes, Barry has problems, and yes, Barry will sometimes fall into despair. But unlike shows that traverse in unrelenting bleakness, ‘The Flash’ fashions a world in which love and forgiveness constantly and consistently overpower grief and solitude. Just look at the way Caitlin forgives Cisco for sealing Ronnie inside the accelerator. On almost any other show, that’s a hackneyed way to sidestep a problem. Here? It feels like an example of this show’s moral universe.
Is the show really going to have Gorilla Grodd as a character?
I have no idea. We either saw very little of him tonight because the show’s holding back the big reveal or because the money ran out after five seconds of CGI footage. Maybe Grodd will bond with Firestorm and we’ll see a flame-covered, bamboo-eating Victor Garber. That can’t be as expensive as a fully digital gorilla, right?