In Barry’s absence Team Vibe? sounds better than Team Kid Flash, are still defending the Central City, with Vibe, Kid Flash, and Joe working with the backing of the Police Department in the field while Iris now the ‘woman in the chair’ runs the computers back at S.T.A.R. Labs. Iris now filling the role of team leader continues to run things as she promised Barry before his departure that she would.
Our first look of the reorganized team entails the pursuit and capture of season one villain Peek-a-Boo, a metahuman that can teleport short distances. Displaying some poorly executed but creative teamwork the group apprehend the bank thief, the celebrations are cut short when Iris reminds everyone of their 2/3 success rate rate over the past six months.
During family dinner we learn Cecile has moved in with Joe. Tip toeing around the topic Joe, under pressure from the understaffed CCPD crime lab suggests it might be time for them all to move on and start to grieve the loss of Barry as they did H.R. after his funeral.
Team Vibe mobilizes as Central City is attacked by a flying Samurai who is demanding The Flash face him within 24 hours or he will destroy the City, a cocky Vibe taunts and underestimates the tech wielding “Kurosawa” who pulls a “reverse Excalibur” knocking the team from their feet and incapacitating them all. An unhappy Cisco who insists the team needs its star player back reveals he has been secretly working with the greatest scientific minds of the Arrowverse to safely return Barry from the Speed Force prison without causing another devastating storm. Iris pushes back adamant that Barry is gone and its now their job to protect the City.
Cisco adamant he is correct disregards Iris and uses his abilities to seek out Caitlin who is working as a bartender and miraculously shows no sign of her colder side. She agrees to help save Barry and the two work through the night modifying the Speed Force bazooka to accomplish their goal, once prepared the rest of the team gather to test the bazooka which appears to fail right as Iris finds them. Unbeknownst to the team the experiment was partially successful, as a result elsewhere in Central City Barry speeds out of a portal and races 300 miles outside of the City in an instant.
Iris chews out the team for going behind her back and questions Caitlin on her whereabouts for the past six months, before we get an answer the group is informed that Barry has been picked up by the police and is being held downtown. The reunion doesn’t quite go as expected due to Barry exhibiting symptoms of dementia, the heartbroken team try to determine what could have happened and how to fix it.
The Samurai appears once again demanding The Flash, embracing their only real option Wally dons Barry’s suit in an attempt to appease him, unfortunately the Samurai rather quickly recognizes its not the real Flash and puts Wally down hard stabbing him through the leg leaving him out of commission.
Since his return Barry has been talking gibberish and frantically drawing symbols, Cisco believes it to be a hidden form of communication and attempts to decipher it, after a few attempts he is able to break the code and reveal that Barry was trying to tell them “This House is Bitchin'”, not quite what they were looking for. Cisco confesses he selfishly brought Barry back not because he needed him to save the City, but because he wanted his best friend back. Joe visits Barry to see if he can get through to him and give him a shave because he really needed one, on his way out Joe drops some wisdom on his daughter that he picked up when attending church with Cecile – strength means nothing with out faith.
Times up and the Samurai is about to begin destroying Central City, Iris having faith that Barry will be there to save her offers herself as a hostage. Rewarded for her faith, Barry instantly snaps back to his old self and kicks into action moving faster than he or Wally have ever before, easily saving Iris and destroying the Samurai which is revealed to be a machine. Team Flash now back together catch Barry up to speed and begin to wonder and ask, who created the Samurai? What does “This House is Bitchin'” mean if anything? How did Barry know Iris was in trouble?
After confirming she plans to stick with the team once again Caitlin heads back to the bar to quit her job, she is warned that someone named Amunet isn’t going to let her leave, when things with a man who is presumably a colleague get physical Killer Frost manifests to handle the situation and appears to be back until Caitlin wrestles control of her body back.
The episode ends inside a lab in an unknown location where the Mechanic assembles another Samurai and expresses satisfaction at everything going according to plan with The Flash having returned, suggesting that the events of the episode were planned and manipulated by her partner The Thinker.
Iris this week shared a similar arc with and, felt very much like the titular character over on Supergirl, but lucky for Iris she had a much better end result with getting her partner back. A problem with the character in the past has been finding something for her to do which they seem to have solved for now, and at least they put a practical twist on the role of damsel in distress.
Barry instantly recovering from whatever the affliction was pretty out of the blue, how did he know Iris was in trouble? He is meant to be gaining new abilities this season so it could be either tied to that, or hopefully whatever is wrong with him isn’t actually fixed because too often the show speeds past things where they should take their time. I’m counting on this being the case as well as both the symbols he was scribbling and the translation of “This house is Bitchin'” coming back into play down the road.
I still think things would fit cleaner if they cast a slightly younger actor as Wally West, it just feels strange seeing a 25 year old Keiynan Lonsdale get bossed around by everyone while also taking a backseat so often, it also becomes a repetitive story line of how do we occupy, or write Wally out of this because Barry is The Flash.
Caitlin is in a good spot, there is quite a bit they could do with the whole Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde thing shes got going but the most interesting thing shes got going is, what has she been doing for the past six months on her own and what involvement does she have with Amunet? In the comics Amunet Black aka Blacksmith is a criminal mastermind that runs an underground black market and is capable of doing some serious damage to The Flash, Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff will be portraying the character who is set to appear in the first half of the season.
On point with his references Cisco dropped a couple this episode, here are the ones I caught. After being blasted by the Samurai he says “Kurosawa blew us away like rag dolls performing his reverse Excalibur” Akira Kurosawa being the director of Seven Samurai and Excalibur being King Arthur’s Sword in the Stone, a reverse Excalibur slamming it down as opposed to pulling it up. When decoding Barry’s symbols Cisco does know what to expect, he joking says the “Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything” to which Caitlin replies “You think Barry’s trying to tell us 42” which is the answer given to the question by Deep Thought a computer in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Finally Cisco yells “Excelsior” when breaking the code of Barry’s symbols which is regarded as comic book writer Stan Lee’s catchphrase and sign off.
The tease for The Thinker was great and I hope they keep him doing his thing from behind the scenes for a while, ultimately the season should come down to a game of chess between him and Team Flash. The character has popped up at the same time as Blacksmith in the comics so I cant wait to see how much the show draws from them.
Shout out to Cecile for taking Joe to church where he picked up the words to inspire Iris who in turn cured (temporarily) Barry.
The Flash is at its best when its not taking itself too seriously and most importantly its fun, after a pretty joyless previous season caused by the promise someone was going to die from near enough the start, this seems like a return to the form of seasons one and two but with a main villain who isn’t also a speedster 8/10!
Catch the next episode on The CW Tuesday October 17th in the US, and the day after in Australia. Watch the trailer for next weeks episode here: