Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Flash’s Shade Is Not Actually About Shade

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On this week’s episode of The Flash, Dr. Alchemy summons Wally to come and get his Kid Flash on. Joe goes out on a date, while HR tries out a new face. Caitlin learns a new secret while Cisco exposes hers. And Godspeed enters the playing field.

After the disappointment that was last week’s episode, “Shade” was surprisingly good. It was suspenseful, and took the time to answer a few logical questions that would have hindered the development of current and future seasons. And while it was a shame that this week’s meta was essentially shafted for Wally’s storyline, there’s always a chance that we could return to him at a later date. Shade definitely seemed to have a method to his madness.

As always, this post is filled with spoilers for episode 6 of The Flash, “Shade”, from this point forward.

Keiynan Lonsdale as Kid Flash in “Shade”. (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Keiynan Lonsdale as Kid Flash in “Shade”. (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

“Shade” starts off with what seems like a Wally monologue, only to find out that Wally was actually just relaying his dream from the previous night to his dad. And while it’s one thing to have Barry’s monologues open every episode, Wally’s monologue probably made the most sense because the audience finds actually knows who he’s talking to. Like, yes, the audience experiences just about everything when Barry does, but this show never bothers to break the fourth wall, so who is Barry really talking to when he monologues every episode?

No one is actually meant to answer that question, but this is what happens when you bring logic into the equation.

In any case,  Wally dreamt of himself as Kid Flash, thinking that it was a premonition for his powers to come, and not the warning of Alchemy’s involvement that it turned out to be. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Wally doesn’t take it well when Joe, Iris, and Barry don’t support his speedster dreams. In fact, the untrusting Wally West from season 2 makes a return as he reads Joe and Barry for filth when they try to warn him away from pursuing these new powers.  

Eventually, Wally does get his act together, but not before catching a fist to the face from Iris due to insanity on his part. Ultimately, though, Joe and Barry could only watch in horror when Wally turned into a speedster cocoon. Because if anyone thought that we were going to get out of this episode without Wallace West at least trying to get his powers, they have not been paying attention.

From the time we met him, Wally West has been obsessed with speeding. It is the entire reason that he entered the engineering program at Central City University. Couple that with the fact that he’s recently become interested in helping people, ever since he got kidnapped by Zoom, and it’s really no wonder that Wally wants to be a Flash.

However, Wally probably could have contentedly kept going for a little while longer had it not been for the fact that Jesse Wells had become a speedster. Maybe if Jesse hadn’t come zooming into the lab, Wally could have made it. Maybe if they weren’t both hit by the particle accelerator at the same time, Wally would have just been proud of his not-girlfriend and moved on. Maybe he has always been jealous of Barry, and even just hearing about a guy giving random people powers was too much of a chance to pass up.

Whatever it was, it can’t be denied that these things greatly impacted Wally’s need to become a speedster. And while it’s heavily doubtful that Wally will come out of that cocoon a villain, it’s worth the wait to see what he does become.

Jesse L. Martin and Danielle Nicolet as Joe West and Cecile Horton in “Shade” (Photo Credit: IMDb)
Jesse L. Martin and Danielle Nicolet as Joe West and Cecile Horton in “Shade” (Photo Credit: IMDb)

As stated before, it’s pretty obvious that this week’s meta, Shade, was basically shafted for Wally’s quest for speed. However, Shade was not entirely wasted as he, among other things, gave us hints of possible future storylines to come. Or rather, just minor tidbits about characters that may come up again later.

There’s the fact that Shade killed a random person (henceforth known as Corporate Asian Bae, or CAB) in full view of three other people, and lived to be captured for possible use later. It’s a bit odd that we don’t know the real names of either the victim or the villain, and Corporate Asian Bae was Shade’s only real target so far. Even if Shade was an agent of Dr. Alchemy’s, we know that Alchemy usually let’s his people get their personal revenge first, before he send them after the Flash. So what did Corporate Asian Bae do that made Shade want to kill him?

Also in this episode, Cecile Horton makes an appearance mainly for the purpose of going out on a date with Joe. However, she enters the episode to permanently assign Barry to the metahuman task force, and we’re given the impression that she is not a fan of Julian Albert’s. Whether he just rubs her the wrong way, or there was an actual story there remains to be seen. However, it’s possible that we could explore that dynamic in the second half of the season.

And finally, HR revealed the name and face of his Earth-19 partner. Problem is, Randolf Morgan is currently not someone of any consequence on Earth-1, so the reveal seems like a bit of a waste at this point. While it’s possible that Randolf could become someone interesting, it’s too much of a coincidence that he was introduced along with face changing technology. On a tv show that gave us the origin of King Shark, and found a new home for Gorilla Grodd, it is a bit suspicious that both Shade and Randolf Morgan are introduced to us almost as an afterthought. It’s almost like these characters can, at any point, be recast to fit a more interesting storyline.  

Tom Cavanagh as HR Wells / Adam Bergquist as Randolf Morgan in “Shade” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Tom Cavanagh as HR Wells / Adam Bergquist as Randolf Morgan in “Shade” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

There’s also the fact that the real Harrison Wells of Earth-1 was married to a Tess Morgan, who was also his scientific/business partner, and we haven’t heard a word about her since season 1. Randolf Morgan might not be a factor on Earth-1, but he’s a little bit too interesting to be thrown away so easily.

One, or two, more things that will probably come back to us later is HR’s habit of subtly suggesting something, then making it seem like it was someone else’s idea and he was just agreeing with it. At least twice in “Shade”, HR would say something, let someone respond to it, and then basically repeat the thought that he obviously lead them to. It actually comes off a little bit like gaslighting, if there is such a thing as positive or neutral gaslighting, but you can’t deny the effectiveness of it. Good or bad idea, no one is ever really paying enough attention to HR to notice how he manipulates the conversation.

Let’s not pretend that HR isn’t right about the fact that it’s only a matter of time before someone connects STAR Labs to the Flash, though. Most fans are still not sure how Caitlin and Cisco are paying their own bills, much less keeping the lights on at that place.

Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow in “Shade” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow in “Shade” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

Speaking of Caitlin and Cisco, this week’s episode was definitely a return to Cisco’s inability to keep a secret. Caitlin finally tells someone on the team about her powers, and of course it’s her loud-mouthed best friend who can’t keep a secret to save his life. Cisco Ramon is great, but let’s not pretend that he didn’t basically expose Caitlin to the rest of the team, all in the name of not keeping secrets.

And yes, Caitlin probably wouldn’t have told the rest of the team about her powers, for fear of becoming Killer Frost, but it really wasn’t Cisco’s secret to tell. Having Caitlin apologize to Cisco for getting mad at him about it, was entirely unfair. Everyone makes jokes about Barry messing up, but when Cisco messes up, we’re supposed to just let it go? No, not at all.

Cisco was wrong for exposing Caitlin, just like he was wrong for exposing Barry every season, just like he honestly has no right to judge Caitlin for not wanting to talk about her powers when he didn’t so much as want to acknowledge his own. It was honestly the worst moment of the entire episode. Caitlin had a right to fear becoming evil, and Cisco was the one who put that fear in her in the first place.

That being said, Caitlin is still capable of becoming evil all on her own. When she finally talks to Barry about her powers, he explains that it’s ultimately his fault because she hadn’t been a meta before he went to Flashpoint. Barry also admitted that Dante’s death was his fault as well, which will inevitably come back to bite him. Before Iris comes to get them, Caitlin gets a look on her face that just screams, “I’m going to ice you, and then expose you for ruining our lives”.

Caitlin Snow not taking anyone’s mess is a great thing, but, when that anger comes out of nowhere, it’s not hard to see her as Killer Frost. Caitlin is going to explode next week, and bring the whole of Team Flash down with her.

Savitar, the God of Speed in “Shade” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Savitar, the God of Speed in “Shade” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

Before I leave you, I would like to acknowledge some elephants in the room. Notably, the suspicion that Julian Albert could be Dr. Alchemy, and the appearance of Savitar. The idea that Julian Albert could be Alchemy sounds absolutely lazy. It would be a much better idea for Julian to be a red herring than the main villain. Just because Julian is usually punctual doesn’t mean that he can’t be careless sometimes.

Not showing up when CCPD’s SWAT team is about to hunt down Dr. Alchemy doesn’t mean Julian has to be Alchemy. He went to visit his girlfriend; he might have not wanted to let go of her, and forgot to turn his phone back on in the process. These things happen.

That’s not to say that Julian couldn’t be Alchemy, but it’d really be a waste if he was.

Savitar, though? Where did he come from? No seriously, I feel like he just randomly appeared on my screen, but I’m pretty sure he came out of the rock Alchemy had been holding. I almost thought that Savitar was Alchemy himself, but it’s still way too early for that reveal.

And does he call himself the God of Speed, or the Godspeed? Turns out this Decepticon refers to himself as the God of Speed, to which I say, lame. Not only is Godspeed the better name, but we really could have gone a full season without yet another speedster villain. It continues to feel like a waste of The Rival, who honestly should have been kept around.

All in all, “Shade” turned out to be a nice episode, despite having almost nothing to do with its titular character. It could have legitimately been called “Wally’s Big Day”, and it would have made more sense. Or maybe the “shade” was at the writers from the first two seasons because of all of the minor things they let get away from them, that seemed to have been picked up on in this episode.

Whatever it was, “Shade” has the highest ratings so far this season, and that’s never not a good look.

So what did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments.

Or, you know, just come and say hi.

Images courtesy of CW

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