The Flash 4.17

‘The Flash’ 4.17 Recap: “Comedy Comes in Threes, Man”

I’m aware that I’ve complained a fair amount about ‘The Flash’ being too mopey and brooding this season in comparison to the lighthearted fun of the early seasons, but this week’s Kevin Smith-directed episode tries too hard to overcompensate and doesn’t succeed nearly enough.

Smith even cameos on-camera with friend Jason Mewes as their Jay and Silent Bob characters, here playing comic relief security guards at a museum. (It strains credibility that these stoner doofuses would ever get such a job.) I suppose your fondness for Smith’s shtick will determine how entertained you are by such a gag. Personally, I have very little tolerance for it, but fortunately that part is brief.

The episode opens with Barry and Ralph training to fight DeVoe. Barry grows extremely annoyed with Ralph, who keeps cracking jokes as if he doesn’t take the threat seriously. Ralph says that he wants to improv, but Barry insists that they need to stick to his plan.

Harry, meanwhile, is frustrated with himself and with his Thinking Cap because he’s had no luck locating the final two bus metas. Although they know the names, both individuals have dropped off the grid. One, a woman named Janet Petty, is a career criminal with a long record of burglaries and other thefts, and has gone by a host of aliases, one of which is the nickname Null.

Null turns up robbing a museum, easily evading the bumbling security guards (Smith and Mewes). She uses her meta antigravity power to make a heavy shipping crate fly off into the sky and then come crashing down, upon which she steals a jewel-encrusted crown from a safe.

Searching for the thief, Barry and Ralph question Ralph’s shady P.I. friend, Earl, who apparently also works as a fence. Ralph disguises himself as Joe for a game of Good Cop/Bad Cop and tries to intimidate his friend. Earl claims to not know what they’re talking about, but Barry and Ralph find the jewels in his office and, moreover, find Null clinging to the ceiling. She gets away by blasting Barry with her power, which causes him to float uncontrollably up in the air like a balloon.

Ralph brings Barry back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where Caitlin determines that the effect will wear off on its own in a few more minutes. After returning to the ground, Barry gets pissed at Ralph for pulling the stunt pretending to be Joe, and benches him from helping the team any further until he learns to take things more seriously.

Harry deduces that Null’s power will only work if she can see the object she’s affecting. At her next heist, Barry runs in and slaps some anti-meta cuffs on her before she even knows what’s happening. Null came prepared for something like this, though. She tells Barry that she has a “getaway car” and points to the sky. Barry looks up and sees a car that Null had previously sent skyward now plummeting down to Earth with a driver screaming inside. Barry must decide whether to capture Null or save the driver; he can’t do both. He of course chooses to save the driver, during which Null picks the locks on her cuffs and escapes.

Later, Iris points out that Ralph could have helped in that situation if Barry hadn’t benched him. She suggests that Barry is being too hard on him, and in fact that Ralph’s ad-libbing could be a good thing. Realizing that she’s right, Barry apologizes to Ralph, who tells him a story from his childhood that explains why he uses humor as a coping mechanism when he’s scared or stressed.

Null turns up next to rob all the wealthy patrons attending a fancy gala. In the staging of this scene, I realize for the first time that actress Bethany Brown is a very small woman. She looks positively tiny next to all the other actors in the scene. (Her fondness for kneeling and touching the floor in a clichéd “female action pose” doesn’t help matters.) Barry and Ralph arrive to foil her.

Null blasts Barry again and sends him floating up toward the sky with no ceiling to stop him. Ralph tries to grab him with a stretchy arm but can’t reach. Barry radios Ralph and tells him that it’s time for him to improvise, and that he trusts him. Ralph cuffs Null around the ankles. Upon doing so, Barry immediately plunges toward the ground. Ralph morphs into a giant whoopee cushion to break his fall while making a fart noise. Ha ha.

Even though this battle was won, Harry is still disappointed that his Thinking Cap essenentially proved useless. When no one else is around, he sneaks into the Time Vault room and boots up Gideon. The computer recognizes him as Dr. Wells, but it’s not clear whether she knows which Dr. Wells he is.

Love Potion No. 9

In his (or is it her now?) pocket dimension laboratory, DeVoe tells wife Marlize that his latest body (the country music singer named Izzy) is failing and he needs a replacement within a week. Marlize suggests upgrading his fancy chair to help extend his life, and finds that some work has already been done on that. DeVoe tells her that he started it himself but needs her to finish it for him.

While working on that, Marlize discovers that her husband has been drugging her with a love potion made from the tears of the meta-human known as The Weeper. Horrified, she records a warning message for herself to find in case he dopes her and wipes her memory again. Upon saving it, however, she finds a nearly identical message already waiting for her. This isn’t the first time it happened, nor the first time she has uncovered the ruse. It wasn’t DeVoe who worked on the chair previously, but Marlize herself.

The jig up, DeVoe comes clean to Marlize that they’ve been through this cycle multiple times before. She’s just too damn smart and figures it out every time. Before Marlize can react, a tentacle arm from DeVoe’s chair swoops in and jabs a needle into her skull, filling her with the love potion again. The next we sees her, Marlize is in love again and the cycle repeats.

A Breach Too Far

Cisco gets sidetracked for most of the episode when Gypsy’s grouchy father, Breacher (Danny Trejo), pays him an unexpected visit. He’s uncharacteristically nice to Cisco. He claims that his powers were taken away from him while fighting space vampires and he needs Cisco’s help to get them back. Hoping to score points with his girlfriend’s dad, Cisco agrees.

Cisco and Caitlin run a bunch of tests on Breacher and come to the conclusion that his powers weren’t taken away at all. He’s just old. Cisco is too terrified to deliver that news to Breacher, so he lies instead and claims to have an antidote. He gives Breacher an antihistamine pill as a placebo. That works well enough that Breacher’s powers come back at least temporarily.

Later, however, Cisco learns that Breacher left to go finish off the head space vampire. He follows him to another Earth, where Breacher is losing a fight because his powers have failed again. Cisco rescues him and pulls him back to Earth-1, and reluctantly tells him the truth. Rather than get pissed at him, Breacher sulks off dejectedly.

Breacher returns the next day wearing an ugly Hawaiian shirt and announces that it’s time for him to retire. He wants Cisco to take his place as the new Breacher, which will allow him to spend more time with Gypsy. Cisco says he’ll consider the offer.

Episode Verdict

This episode just doesn’t work for me. Admittedly, I’m not a Kevin Smith fan. However, I didn’t mind his prior work on this show or on ‘Supergirl’. The attempts at humor here just feel desperate and lame. Smith apparently directed Danny Trejo to really overact all his scenes. That whoopee cushion gag is truly inane.

Ralph has been a very unevenly written character all season. I feel like he’s already gone through the arc of learning to be a less obnoxious person a few times already, but he’s back to being a smug prick again. Even Harry mostly comes off as being an asshole for no reason.

Is the Breacher storyline meant to suggest that Cisco may be leaving the show soon? That seems unlikely to me, but I haven’t followed any behind-the-scenes drama that may have happened on the production.

1 comment

  1. Guy

    I didn’t think one of The CW’s Berlanti-verse shows would ever pop out a season worse than Arrow’s dumpster fire of a fourth season, but I think this episode has pushed Flash S4 into the worst ever position. A fart joke for a climax? Really? Whether related to Kreisberg and his reign of terror or not, I don’t know, but an IMDB perusing a few weeks back brought to my attention that we’re watching the work of an almost completely different writer’s room this season. Lots of first time Flash writers penning episodes this season. It’s showing on screen for me. The tone, rhythm and DNA of the show feels off.

    The Marlize and Thinker story was intriguing, but underexplored to make room for the Villain of the Week and other subplots, none of which worked for me at all in this one. Trejo is usally a treasure, but Breacher has yet to be anything but unintentionally goofy in his appearances. Jesse L. Martin has very little to do of late. They wrote Barry as a(n) jerk/idiot so Ralph could be the hero of the episode and to make Null a threat when she shouldn’t have been. Barry outran a nuclear explosion but couldn’t knock Null out before saving the “getaway car” guy. She made him float during the climax and he apparently forgot how to do arm twirls to use as control/propulsion while weightless or to catch his falling self. Enter whoopee cushion…ugh.

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