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The Flash #1.14 “Fallout” Recap & Review

The conclusion of the Firestorm two-parter is a tightly-plotted ride, though often lacking the emotional resonance of previous weeks.

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FLA114A_0135bSummary: The conclusion of the Firestorm two-parter is a tightly-plotted ride, though often lacking the emotional resonance of previous weeks.

Recap

After the nuclear explosion separates Ronnie and Dr. Stein, Barry and the team believe both men are safe. Caitlin is thrilled to have her fiancé back and prepares to resume their life together while Dr. Stein returns to his wife. However, General Eiling returns and targets them both, first attempting to kidnap Ronnie. Wells drugs Stein and hands him over to Eiling, unbeknownst to the rest of the team. Ronnie uses his psychic connection with Stein to locate him and despite knowing they may merge together again if they get in close proximity, Ronnie offers to join Barry in rescuing Stein. When they’re all trapped, Ronnie and Stein decide to merge so they can use their powers to defeat Eiling and his men. They do and succeed, this time with Ronnie in full control of his body and Stein guiding him from within. They realize they have full control of their merging, able to separate and rejoin at will. They also realize that they must leave together to keep STAR Labs safe and learn more about their abilities. Meanwhile, Mason Bridge tells Iris that there is something secretive going on at S.T.A.R. Labs, and she realizes that Ronnie and the Burning Man are one and the same. Cisco and Joe tell Barry about the time travel involved with his mother’s murder, and after speaking with Dr. Stein and learning about second chances, Barry decides to use the history of a murder as a guide to teach him how to not fail when he goes back again. Dr. Wells, as Reverse-Flash, brings Eiling to the sewer, where Grodd attacks.

Review

It’s clear from the end of “Fallout” that this Firestorm two-parter is more than just the origin story for another hero. The past two episodes have been a turning point of sorts, a shifting of gears into the final run of the season. We’ve still got a hefty chunk of episodes left, sure, especially considering how quickly things move on this show. But that chunk has way more to get through than the metahumans-of-the-week the first half of the season did.

FLA114C_0226bThe biggest change here is the role time travel will play, and Barry’s awareness of it. Plenty of other shows (Arrow, even) would try to milk drama out of Cisco and Joe keeping the time travel a secret from Barry. But The Flash has always been more interested in the opposite: What happens when people become aware of the fantastic? Barry’s resulting existential crisis upon learning of his predestined role in things is wonderfully played out. Barry isn’t the type to get depressed, but as “The Man in the Yellow Suit” spent a lot of time unravelling, he is the type to get obsessively hung up on anything surrounding his mother’s murder. And more importantly, he’s the type to take action. One of the greatest joys of The Flash is how Barry, even at his most mopey, is still the antithesis to the broody superhero. And that he takes the small silver lining of such cosmically depressing news as a newfound motivation is inspirational in a way superheroes often aren’t.

Because, let’s think about this — that’s an insane weight to put on a person. The discussions of time travel in layman’s terms — from comparisons to Terminator vs. Back to the Future, to highway exits — are pretty brilliant, because the show specifically doesn’t settle on one theory and keeps the ideas vague. We don’t get much of any scientific technobabble beyond “running fast could break the space-time continuum,” but that works highly in the episode’s favor. The focus isn’t how it can happen, at least not yet. It’s Barry’s reaction to the news, and where that leads him from here on out. The easy reaction, which Barry has initially, is despair; it’s destiny for The Flash to fail, essentially. But Barry snaps out of that in record time, instead focusing on the glass-half-full side: nothing about it proves that time is immutable, so he could still fix things.

There are big implications here, in that the show we’re following could already be a changed timeline (the original one being no time-travelling Flashes and no murder at all.) That Barry is smart enough to pick up on this, and plans to use knowledge of the past to prevent something in the future from happening in the past…well, that’s a time travel fan’s wet dream, frankly. We’ll see if The Flash ends up getting too convoluted for its own good, but the possibilities are literally endless for how things can progress if multiple timelines are involved. As of now, the show is focusing on all the right things — why a character would be involved in time travel, and how it would affect him emotionally — which already lends credence to whatever time paradox ends up getting thrown out by season’s end.

FLA114B_0068bcBarry and his time travel questions might be the most interesting stuff happening now, but it’s far from the bulk of “Fallout.” That belongs to Firestorm, and what essentially amounts to an origin story for a saner, less volatile version of what we’ve seen. It’s hard to get what the goal is here, besides giving all the comics Firestorm fans a reason to come out of the woodwork. “The Nuclear Man” was very clearly Caitlin’s side of the story, as the Firestorm arc has primarily been throughout the season. “Fallout,” conversely, is more interested in the relationship between Ronnie and Stein. Robbie Amell is far better at playing the straightlaced Ronnie in a jock-with-a-heart-of-gold kind of way than the complexity of last week, probably because there just isn’t much to Ronnie outside of him being a decent dude. But it’s his bickering and chemistry with Victor Garber as Martin Stein that makes the Firestorm stuff entertaining, and the vast differences in the two, physically and in their mannerisms, plays the expected “odd couple” vibes just fine. Their psychic link is pretty cool, and it’s funny to see Ronnie go to such horrifying lengths as cutting himself while Stein has the more sensible approach of just communicating with Morse code.

The downside to all this is the lack of emotional resonance. The Firestorm stuff worked in the past because Caitlin’s plight was always at the center of things, and it’s there for a bit of this episode, since there’s a question of whether or not Ronnie or Stein can ever split again. But by the end, things are pretty good; Caitlin’s (and Mrs. Stein’s) grief is totally resolved, Ronnie and Stein are fully-functioning partners, and the two go fly off on new adventures…or something. It’s sort of hard to grasp why Firestorm leaves outside of “Amell and Garber aren’t series regulars” — the explanation is that STAR Labs is unsafe from the military with him around (even though they aren’t really in any less danger than they were after “Plastique”) and that they want to go off and learn about their powers (which they can do in STAR Labs.) So that part’s a bit weak, and again, it’s hard to tell what Firestorm’s significance to the larger Flash story is now. It’d have been a powerful ending for Caitlin and the STAR Labs team if Firestorm died in their explosion, but instead, he’s yet another hero out and about in the DCwU. He may or may not play a larger role in the season’s endgame, or this could just be set-up in case they go ahead with another spin-off. How this episode’s ending will play out depends on what direction this season takes him from here.

FLA114C_0108bClancy Brown as General Eiling is always a treat. Brown is wickedly good at having a captivating presence no matter what he’s doing, and that helps with a character so undefined as Eiling. He’s not a totally flat villain, though, and in fact little pieces of this episode shed some light on his motivations. Eiling lists threats to the American public: “then came terrorism and Ebola. And now, it’s the age of Firestorm,” which is definitely double-take inducing. It seems like bad writing at first, stacking up something like Ebola — a real problem across the seas, but the perceived “American threat” pretty much completely sensationalized — against terrorism. But it actually spells out Eiling’s worldview right there; his devotion to his job means fully falling in line with creating an enemy for the American public, true enemy or not. Firestorm is just another scary bad thing on a long list of scary bad things that Eiling’s higher-ups can spin to the public to distract from the other bad stuff Eiling is probably involved in (like he was once involved in creating Grodd.) And if all else fails, they’ll still have Firestorm to use as a weapon, which they’ve been investigating this whole time. Hopefully Eiling isn’t dead at the end of the episode, because his pragmatic approach to villainy is really interesting. The weapons used against The Flash — the microfragments and the chemical bomb — are rather imaginative and clearly effective, making Eiling extra formidable just thanks to his resources.

Iris is finally getting some quality storylines, too, potentially. We veer away from the love triangle stuff, as Iris’ role at Picture News is now intersecting with STAR Labs. Mason Bridge’s suspicions of Dr. Wells are a bit out-of-the-blue, but it gives a reason for he and Iris to be on the same page, and especially gives Iris something she’d be reasonably interested in. Iris connects the dots rather quickly when she starts looking for things, though it helps that everyone at STAR Labs is suddenly a terrible liar. Danielle Panabaker is really funny and all, but wow, Caitlin doesn’t seem like the intelligent character she’s supposed to be whenever Iris asks about Ronnie. In any case, it’ll be interesting to see how Iris plays into the season now that she’s on the prowl; with everyone inching ever closer to Wells’ secret, it’s likely that she’ll be involved in exposing him one way or another.

The ending sure pays off the Grodd teases, too, packing in enough fanservice at once that it’s impossible to be disappointed. We get Wells in the Reverse-Flash suit, “Not God, Grodd,” and our first main glimpse at the big beast himself. Considering he’s a CGI-in-shadow creation, Grodd looks pretty darn good, much more fluid motion than expected. He might not look as good in the longterm (and they might use some animatronics or puppetry in lieu of the CGI sometimes, who knows!) but right now, Grodd is a success.

“Fallout” is generally a success, too, at least in terms of consistency and structure. It’s a very tightly-plotted episode, with a well-utilized plot catalyst in Firestorm that spawns all the other side-plots.  It’s also another one that may hold up better or worse depending on where this season leads, given how intertwined it is in the ongoing plots. Where “Fallout” succeeds less is with any of the emotional resonance that “The Nuclear Man” created, but not nearly enough to sink the episode in the least.

Odds & Ends

  • There’s a Geiger counter in Barry’s suit?!
  • Obligatory question of where Stein and Ronnie’s clothes came from in the explosion and/or where their previous outfit went and/or why Ronnie showed up at STAR Labs in a change of clothes but Stein didn’t (and he sure complained about that a lot.)
  • Love that Ronnie introduces himself as “Dead fiance.”
  • How did Stein not connect the dots that Wells drugged him? It seemed pretty obvious, but maybe he didn’t remember when he came to.
  • It’s a bit silly that Barry so casually shows off his powers to Mrs. Stein, but whatever, I guess.
  • The solution to ridding yourself of a chemical bomb? Like everything on The Flash, it’s “run a lot really fast.”
  • Really dig the smart bit of continuity with Eiling having seen Barry’s face in “Plastique,” but hope his knowledge doesn’t mean he’s definitely dead.
  • “Impossible’s just another Tuesday for us.”
  • “Dude, that was like week 3.”
  • “It’s like that time I stepped on a sea urchin. …Except this is muuuch worse.”
    “Just don’t pee on me.”
  • “You guys are like ten seasons of Ross and Rachel, but just like, smashed into one year.” – Man, Cisco got so many good lines in this episode.

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season

Review of The Flash Season 6 Blu-ray set from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

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The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and we have been provided with a copy of the set to review on the site!

The set features all 19 episodes of The Flash Season 6 plus extras — the Blu-ray includes all of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover!

Here’s what’s up:

Packaging & Design: Starting with this because it’s probably the first thing you’ll notice. The box art for this set has changed since the original press release — the fired Hartley Sawyer’s Ralph Dibny is no longer on the packaging. While I understand the show distancing themselves — Ralph was indeed an important part of Season 6, with his Sue Dearbon story, and I’m not 100% sure how I think they should have handled it. As it is, it looks odd with just the other four members of Team Flash on it. Though, to be fair, Nash Wells isn’t on the cover either.

With that said, The Flash sets usually have some of the best designed packaging and menu art and this set is no exception.

The Episodes: Also seems I am repeating myself but the Blu-ray presentation on The Flash is loads better than what we see on TV and is pretty cinematic. All 19 episodes of Season 6 are here, and — spoiler warning — because of COVID-19, they were cut off at 19 episodes, so that means some storylines aren’t completely wrapped. With that said, this season saw Eric Wallace taking over as showrunner, and with him came a new tactic that he referred to as “graphic novels.” The first “graphic novel” included the character Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as characters are facing death, and the second, after Crisis, dealt with a new “Mirror Master.”

I will say that The Flash under Eric Wallace has a great vision and I love his enthusiasm, which you can actually hear on the “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” commentary. He’s as big of a geek as we are, and I mean that in the absolute best way. The only thing I’d have to say negative about Season 6 is that the mirror storyline has gone on way too long — and I wonder, if they had known all along that we’d end with 19 episodes (an impossibility, because who would?), it might have been a bit shorter.

This “graphic novel” set-up, however, does offer the chance to binge the season in parts, which is pretty cool, and the Blu-ray bonus disc of all of Crisis on Infinite Earths is a good thing to throw in the middle to tee up Graphic Novel #2.

The other thing I will say about Season 6 is that I really liked some of the new characters that are set up. Chester P. Runk, Sue Dearbon, Kamilla, and Allegra — all fun characters that add to rather than detract from the series.

The Extras: The set includes a bonus black and white noir version of “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” with commentary by Eric Wallace. Commentaries don’t happen too often these days, so I’m so glad they put something on this set. There is also a gag reel and deleted scenes. And, of course, all of Crisis which has a lot of great Flash content!

Is It Worth It? If you’re a Flash completist or want to see the most recent season in high definition, sure. You might want to start at the very beginning, though. Still, I think The Flash is on its way back to its former glory and Season 6 is the start of that journey. Can’t wait for Season 7, and for now, this set will be revisited often.

Get your copy of the Blu-ray from Amazon.com at a discounted price and support FlashTVNews!

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season

Review of the Flash Season 5 Blu-ray set.

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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided FlashTVNews with a free copy of this set for review in this post. The opinions shared are my own.

The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, containing all 22 episodes of Season 5 plus bonus episodes from the Elseworlds crossover. In addition to the entire season, there are few extra features for all to enjoy, though some are duplicated from other sets that were made available this year. Here’s the review.

The Episodes: As mentioned, all 22 episodes plus extras are on this set. And as I tend to write every year, the show isn’t quite at the high level it was in its first season, but there are definitely standouts in Season 5. A big theme for the season is family, and the conflicts between parents and their children. Caitlin and her parents are a part of that. The season’s villain is a part of that. And the biggest part of that is Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), the daughter of Barry and Iris brought back from the future. Kennedy is fantastic in the role, though it is at times disappointing to see so much attention on a new character when we are here for the ones we’ve seen for 100+ episodes.

The Flash Season 5 contains the series’ 100th episode which is a great journey through the five years of the show. Sadly absent from Episode 100, though, is Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) who was recovering from an injury for a good part of the season. Martin’s presence was certainly missed though it is nice that the show upgraded Danielle Nicolet (Cecile) to series regular this year.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t very invested in the Cicada story, at least not as much as I probably should have been. And I was even less into the latest Wells, “Sherloque,” which was a joke that stopped being funny within about 2 minutes, with no offense meant to the writers or Tom Cavanagh. It was nice to see the talented Cavanagh in another role, though part of me still is wondering why it was not Matt Letscher, though I’m forgiving that because, again, Tom Cavanagh.

I’m also not sure what to make of Vibe’s eventual fate, unless it is a way to make things less easy for next year’s crossover. In any event, watching these episodes still has me excited for Season 6, and The Flash is certainly a series that is worth the Blu-Ray upgrade.

The Extras: There’s a fantastic featurette about the origins of Killer Frost which is really well put together. I was, however, surprised that such attention wasn’t paid to XS/Nora as she was also a major arc for Season 5. Was there only room to cover one story? I’m also surprised there wasn’t some kind of 100th episode spotlight, especially since Warner Bros. did have press kit people on the line interviewing the cast.

There are Elseworlds, villains, and Comic-Con featurettes that you can find on the other DC TV shows this year, which I can only imagine is a cost-cutting measure to include them everywhere.

The set also has deleted scenes, with the most notable being Superman running with Oliver Queen from “Elseworlds Part 1.” It’s a shame that was cut. There was also a “My Name Is Barry Allen” from “Elseworlds” with Stephen Amell replacing Grant Gustin as Grant replaced him in the aired Part 2 — this was surely cut and unfinished so as to not blow the reveal that Oliver was Barry in Part 1. It’s still really cute and fun.

Finally, there’s a gag reel. While they are introduced with credits like The Office, they’re still a bit… meh.

Packaging and Design: Seeing Barry and Nora running side by side is the perfect way to sell this. Very nice looking.

Is It Worth It? I’ll always recommend picking up Flash Blu-Rays from the beginning, but this is certainly worthwhile, especially to prepare for Season 6 to premiere on October 8. You can purchase this set (and support this site!) here.

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

Review of the Blu-ray set for The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

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The Complete Fourth Season of The Flash hits Blu-ray and DVD this week (Tuesday, August 28), and we’ve got our hands on a review copy!

Before we get to the review, here’s how the season is described:

In Season Four, the mission of Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin), is once more to protect Central City from metahuman threats. First, he’ll have to escape the Speed Force. With Barry trapped, the job of protecting Central City falls to his family – Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin); his fiancée, Iris West (Candice Patton); and Wally West/Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) – and the team at S.T.A.R. Labs – Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) and brilliant scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). When a powerful villain threatens to level the city if The Flash doesn’t appear, Cisco risks everything to break Barry out of the Speed Force. But this is only the first move of a life-or-death chess game with Clifford DeVoe aka The Thinker (Neil Sandilands), a mastermind who’s always ten steps ahead of Barry, no matter how fast he’s running. Shocking surprises come fast and furious in all 23 action-packed adventures featuring The Fastest Man Alive.

So, how’s the set?

The Episodes: It’s going to be very hard to ever replicate the greatness that was the first season of The Flash. Unfortunately, one thing that The Flash Season 1 did so well that still didn’t connect for Season 4 is a strong villain. While I have more appreciation for The Thinker after rewatching some episodes and checking out the extra interview features on this set, I still don’t really feel that empathy and care for him that I had for, say, Eobard/Wells.

Season 4 also tried to course correct with more humor to varied success. Sometimes it worked; others the show was far too amused with itself. (I don’t need to see any more Wellses no matter how much I love Tom Cavanagh, for example, and “psychic pregnancy” will never not be too campy for me.)

There’s some good stuff, though. The best version of Barry’s suit so far premieres in Season 4, and Barry and Iris finally get married this year, even if every time they got married, they ended up interrupted. There are some episodes that worked to innovate, and there are also things like Barry in jail which seem to go on for too long. But at least with a DVD or Blu-ray you can fast forward, right?

Season 4 is also where we meet Ralph Dibny. He grows on you until you finally stretch your appreciation levels. By season’s end, you love Ralph as much as everyone else might.

The Extras: Of all the DC TV shows, The Flash usually gets the best treatment as far as extras go. We’ve got deleted scenes (including some WestAllen!), bloopers, and the all-encompassing Comic-Con video… and some other great extras, including Sterling Gates and Eric Wallace with Katee Sackhoff offering commentary on Amunet (who I do enjoy more after seeing Sackhoff speaking about her, but I still don’t understand why the silly accent was a thing). There’s also a really nice feature about the Elongated Man, and all four episodes of this year’s DC TV crossover are represented.

There’s also talk about The Thinker, and as I said, I appreciate the storyline more but I still didn’t have that emotional connection with the character that I feel I needed. The other bodies thing at midseason made that all even worse.

Packaging & Art: This is one of the best looking Flash Blu-ray sets so far. Dynamic design on the box art and on the discs. I like it.

Is It Worth It? As I said, nothing will be Season 1 again, but if you’re a fan of The Flash there are a lot of extras to make this worth it. Order yours from Amazon.com at a discounted rate and support this website!

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