The STAR Labs team searches for Shawna, a metahuman who uses quantum entanglement to teleport. Shawna, who Caitlin names Peek-A-Boo, uses her powers to bust her boyfriend Clay out of Iron Heights, and the two go on a crime spree to pay back Clay’s debts before running away. When Henry snoops around in an attempt to help Joe and Barry solve the crime, he ends up in the infirmary after getting roughed up by inmates. Caitlin decides that she and Barry need to move on from Ronnie and Iris and find new loves so she takes him for a night out at the local karaoke bar. Caitlin doesn’t have any luck making a love connection but Barry meets Linda Park, a sports reporter for the Central City Picture News, and asks her out on a date. Iris, meanwhile, is struggling to keep her job at the Picture News without any new material from The Flash, so Barry decides to pay her a visit in costume to feed her a story — and a photo. Meanwhile, Cisco considers Hartley’s dangerous offer to find Ronnie, and Hartley shows him how Dr. Martin Stein and Ronnie fused on the day of the particle accelerator explosion, yielding the new Firestorm entity. Hartley escapes during the outing, but the team forgives Cisco after he confesses to his guilt about agreeing to lock Ronnie in the particle accelerator that night. When Barry visits his father, Henry says if his son were The Flash, he’d be proud, implying that he knows his identity. In a Central City sewer, a powerful gorilla attacks two sewer workers.
“Crazy for You” is the most unfocused episode of The Flash yet. It’d be unfair to blame that on any semblance of incompetence, or even consider it a mistake, though. This episode has many disparate elements to juggle, all of which are individually fun and worthwhile, but none have enough momentum to drive the episode.
It’s noticeable in how nothing really sticks out as the A-Plot. On paper, Peek-A-Boo is the signature villain-of-the-week that would carry the A-plot, a metahuman that pinpoints the beginning, middle, and end of the episode while creating parallels to the subplots. The Peek-A-Boo plot, while relatively benign, contains a fun, even if two-dimensional villain in teleporter Shawna. Britne Oldford is charming enough that Shawna comes off a bit more likeable than the party girl stereotype she’s written as, and it’d be fun to eventually see her back in an anti-hero capacity. She’s not evil, after all, mostly only out for the thrill and devotion to her cowardly boyfriend. Of all the metahumans, she’s the most likely to become part of a metahuman Suicide Squad, since her “having fun” motivation isn’t particularly malicious.
It kind of ties together some of the episode, but vaguely; Shawna has a significant other while Barry and Caitlin lament their lackthereofs, but that parallel is barely touched upon. Frankly, Barry and Caitlin’s drunken escapades, Barry’s subsequent relationship shake-up, and Cisco’s Firestorm investigation end up taking significantly more screentime than the supposed A-Plot. And that’s not a wholly bad thing, because the ongoing elements of The Flash are far more interesting than this villain-of-the-week. But without a solid plot to pin everything down, it feels like a bunch of unrelated mini-Flash episodes thrown into the pot without much thought. The stew tastes well enough, because it’s made with roughly the same ingredients as usual, but the imbalance and clash of spices don’t yield the perfect meal we’re used to.
This type of episode might have been unavoidable, though, here at the season’s midpoint. The Flash has carefully paced its main stories so they all carry throughout the season, avoiding mini-arcs in favor of multiple interlocking full-season stories. As much as the show has excelled at pacing those things out, it’s at an awkward place now where everything stands in the middle — not far enough to make huge steps forward, but too far to slow down without looking like wheel-spinning. So maybe “Crazy for You” could get a pass once the season wraps, because if this is the closest thing we get to a wheel-spinning or filler episode, it’s still pretty damn entertaining.
So as such, let’s look at these disparate parts individually:
Barry and Caitlin: The most significant and best part of the episode is the fun Barry and Caitlin have in civilian form. If there’s any reason for “Crazy for You” to be considered a breather episode, this is definitely why. Grant Gustin and Danielle Panabaker are pleasant to hang out with, and there’s a nice balance of platonic-yet-maybe-kinda-romantic sparks within. The door is open for if show wants to try and pair the two together, but there aren’t any hints that need to be followed up on if that isn’t where the show goes. That’s a good thing, because as it stands, Barry and Caitlin have such an endearing friendship free of tension that it’d be silly to abandon it. The bottle is known to bring people together, and it finally lets Caitlin and Barry do that — not in an emotional soul-bearing way, but just in that it makes Caitlin a carefree goofball. That yields some of the funniest material we’ve seen, mostly in a Grease karaoke bit that should have gotten way more screentime. Showing off his Glee roots, Gustin has an amazing voice, and Panabaker…has a really, really funny one. Barry and Caitlin also have a charming little scene post-bar, as Barry tends to his hammered friend with high respect. These characters are just so good to each other all the time.
Romance: It’s brief in the context of the episode, but we finally get a new love interest for Barry in Linda Park. Even in her few scenes, Malese Jow makes a wonderful impression; Linda is smooth and spunky, very reminiscent of Iris, but far more confident and less jittery. She totally fits in with Barry’s type, but she’s a little more grown-up and suave than Iris or Felicity. And of course, that she coincidentally happens to work in the same office as Iris — an extremely silly coincidence, but one that we can probably ignore for the sake of future drama — will yield some classic love triangle escapades. It’ll be interesting seeing Barry have more of a presence at Picture News via his connection with Linda, too, as Flash is getting back in Iris’ good graces.
Cisco and Pied Piper: Much as Pied Piper served as a good momentum-driving villain last week, he’s arguably even more entertaining in the Hannibal Lecter role. There had to be no doubt that he would escape before episode’s end, but we still got a handful of surprises in how it worked. For one, Cisco has some mad fighting skills, in addition to the brains to make what basically amounts to a sonic shock collar. Cisco was not well-handled early in the series, but these recent episodes have utilized his guilt complex and slight mean streak impeccably well without hurting the fun of the character, and it’s given Carlos Valdz much more to do.
Firestorm: While fans of the comics probably already knew this, we get our big confirmation that quantum splicing between Dr. Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond created the Firestorm entity, which has to be the weirdest development on this show yet. But this might be the only non-Science Channel or Neil deGrasse Tyson show out now that mentions both quantum entanglement and quantum splicing in the same episode, so that’s pretty darn col.
Henry Allen: John Wesley Shipp was an exciting edition to the show initially, but he hasn’t had many opportunities to do anything beyond be teary-eyed behind a glass. “Crazy for You” both disappoints and excels in its handling of Henry Allen, though luckily the latter outweighs the former. The trouble in his story is that all his action happens offscreen; we introduce his connection to this week’s case, and then flashforward to later when he’s had his own investigation and got in a big fight over it. Maybe this was a last minute cut, but the subplot doesn’t really work when we’re being told everything instead of shown it. Luckily, Shipp gets to act his pants off in the final scene, where we all-but-confirm that Henry knows his son is The Flash without anyone outright stating it. It’s a beautifully written and performed scene, much better than the sometimes forced emotional beats between Barry and Henry in past episodes. This one is real and on-point, and even though we don’t know much of anything about Henry, we can easily see why Barry looks up to him so fondly.
Grodd: Grodd. Grodd, Grodd, Grodd. Everything else in this episode is rather disparate and thrown in, so why not add another Grodd scene? He’s only in the shadows now, but man, that tag is awesome. I have to wonder what watching scenes like this is like for someone who’s watching The Flash without much comic book knowledge. Just as the DCAU was an entry point for a lot of kids growing up in the 90s-early 00’s, the constant bombardment of DC characters in the DCwU is surely the same for uninitiated people today. So when they see that The Flash has an underlying thread of a secret experiment and a superpowered gorilla, I can’t help but wonder if they think it’s going a little nuts.
In any case, it’s perfect way to end an episode that’s lackluster as a complete whole, but succeeds in quantity when viewing each bit separately. It’s not the smartest way to handle an episode, but considering how consistent The Flash has been in its freshmen year, it’s allowed a bit of wiggle room like this.
Odds & Ends
- We desperately need a Flash musical episode.
- Barry getting almost sorta kinda shot is interesting. The logistics of a superspeed bullet catch is something the show hasn’t touched on, and I’m interested to see how it might handle it further.
- It’s probably not physically possible to capture an image of The Flash so clearly with a cell phone camera unless it has a really high shutter speed, or Iris happened to time it so that she caught it just as Flash started running but before he burst into his speed. But considering the utterly confusing nature of the particle accelerator prison, this is an extremely unnecessary nitpick.
- Seriously, though, someone who isn’t really that dangerous like Shawna gets stuck in a tiny padded cell and she doesn’t even have a window? I know we have to overlook the logistics of the particle accelerator prison for the sake of the coolness factor (like “Where’s the bathroom?” and “Who feeds them?”), but the more you think about it, the harsher it seems. It doesn’t make the characters look good when the best thing you can say is “At least they’re not torturing them!” Hopefully this will be addressed later down the line.
- “How can you speak in 6 languages and sound like a dick in every one of them?”
- “My social life consists of running at superhuman speed and Netflix.”
- “I don’t always dress like a high school principal.”
- “I’d like to yell and wave my arms, but I’m afraid I’d throw up.”