Thursday, 18 May 2017

Review - 'The Flash', S03E22 - 'Infantino Street'

Given the fact that this is the penultimate episode of the season, and that the moment of Iris West's death is drawing closer, it seems a bit strange that the episode would devote so much time to what is, essentially, a rather light-hearted detour. But, given the circumstances, this odd blending of light and dark tones actually works rather well – making this easily the strongest episode of the season and, perhaps, one of the strongest of the series, so far.

The team's hopes now rest entirely on Tracy Brand's 'speed bazooka', and the slim possibility that it might truly be able to trap Savitar in the Speed Force – but, of course, there is still the very important issue of how, exactly, such a potent piece of technology can be powered. The energy required to actually activate the bazooka is, after all, well beyond anything that they team currently have access to – a piece of Dominator technology recovered in the aftermath of their recent invasion.

Fortunately, Cisco is able to come up with a potential solution when he learns of a suitable power source at an ARGUS facility. The only problem is that Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson), in her role as the current head of ARGUS, isn't sure that she can trust Barry, after the mess that his recent time-travel exploits created. She certainly isn't willing to hand over such a valuable, and potentially dangerous, piece of alien technology.

Growing increasingly (and understandably) desperate, Barry comes to the conclusion that his only option is to attempt to steal the alien power source. Unfortunately, ARGUS is well-prepared for a potential attack by meta-humans – and, has already come up with a means of dampening meta-human abilities within their facilities. This, combined with the fact that no one on the team has any experience with this sort of thing, clearly suggest that they are going to need a bit of outside help. Fortunately, Barry has an idea and, after a quick trip back in time, he is able to recruit his old foe, Captain Cold (plucking him straight out of the first season of Legends of Tomorrow).

With Snart's help, Barry is able to infiltrate the ARGUS facility – and, together, they make their way to the Dominator power-source. Once there, however, they find that it is protected by King Shark – who seems to have become something of a guard dog for ARGUS.

This entire sequence was fantastic – providing a great mix of comedy and some great moments of genuine tension. There was also a very interesting shift in the usual dynamic between Barry and Snart as, considering that this was a version of Leonard Snart who had already been mellowed by his time with the crew of the Waverider, the partially reformed criminal is actually able to offer more than just practical assistance. The idea that it might be Captain Cold, of all people, who is able to keep Barry from crossing any moral lines in his efforts to save Iris makes for a very interesting twist on their past interactions, when their roles had been reversed. Given the circumstances, it seem very likely that this is the only opportunity that we are ever going to have to see Barry Allen interact with this version of Leonard Snart – which seems like a genuine shame, given how well the two play off of each other, here. At the same time, though, the whole adventure did manage to provide a surprising bit of closure for the two, in the aftermath of Snart's death at the end of the first season of Legends of Tomorrow.

As great as it was to see Leonard Snart again, though (and, as much fun as it was to see Captain Cold and the Flash working together), it was actually Savitar who benefited the most from this episode, in the end. Barry's evil double may have only been in a couple of, admittedly very brief, scenes – but, each managed to offer some much needed development to a character who is still, in many ways, something of a blank slate to the audience. First, we had his scene with Killer Frost – a scene which suggested that there may actually be some lingering sense of guilt about what he was about to do (though, clearly, not enough to change his mind). Then, there was the genuine sense of tension, and quiet dread, that we had with the moment in which he finally came for Iris – snatching her out from under the protection of Joe and Harry, on Earth-2. Both of these scenes were fantastic, and Grant Gustin did a truly impressive job of portraying this very dangerous version of Barry Allen. Honestly, at this point it feels like a genuine shame that the decision was made to wait so long to reveal the identity of Savitar. Not only would revealing it earlier have resolved one of my main frustrations with the season, up until this point, but it would also have given us more opportunity to see Grant Gustin playing a villain.

Of course, the biggest surprise of this episode was in exactly how far it took things – bringing us, by the end, right up to that moment that Barry, and the rest of the team, had been dreading, for a truly great final moment. Given that there is still an entire episode still to come, I have to admit that I actually have absolutely no idea how the season is going to wrap things up. That level of genuine uncertainty, combined with the quality of this episode, leaves me feeling very eager to see what the season finale has in store.

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