Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Another Fairly Jumbled Flash: “Crazy For You” Is Still On Uneven Ground!

The Good: Acting is fine, Decent effects, Neat villain
The Bad: Derivative adversary of the week, Way too many plot threads to be a coherent narrative on its own.
The Basics: “Crazy For You” is an episode of The Flash that is all over the place; working better in context than on its own.

I love serialized television; stories with long arcs and complicated characters. The weakness of serialized television is that either arcs with few characters have to be drawn out over long periods of time or a large cast is given very little to do in each episode. At this point in The Flash, the number of characters that need to be serviced is pretty large and episodes like “Crazy For You” might mix up the tired format of “villain of the week,” but it leaves the viewer with a feeling like the show they just watched was diluted enough not to have a cohesive narrative.

Picking up after “The Sound And The Fury” (reviewed here) – and, in fact, referencing a scene that was not in the prior episode (perhaps a deleted scene?) – “Crazy For You” continues the promised storyline involving Hartley Rathaway and Ronnie Raymond, returns Henry Allen to the mix and goes out of its way to crowd the field by introducing Linda Park. While Wells and Thawne are relegated to non-entities in “Crazy For You,” the rest of the cast and additional guest performers fill up the episode (we finally get more shots of Victor Garber as Dr. Stein, though despite him being credited in the guest cast, he does not even have any lines yet!). So, while “Crazy For You” (not the best title for the episode!) has a lot going on, none of the plots are well-developed to be compelling or create a story that has lasting merit outside the current The Flash arc. In other words, this is an episode that is more like a soap opera than must-rewatch, timeless television.

After The Flash rescues a young couple from a car that has been in an accident and explodes, the team at S.T.A.R. Labs decides to take the night off. Dr. Snow learns that Hartley Rathaway has a theory on where Snow’s fiancé, Ronnie Raymond, is and she confronts Cisco on his willingness to work with the Pied Piper to find Ronnie. A metahuman, Shawna Baez, breaks her boyfriend Clay Parker out of Iron Heights, using her unique ability to teleport. While the Central City Police and the S.T.A.R. Labs team try to track Baez down, Henry Allen does some investigating on the inside. When Cisco gives in to temptation and takes Hartley out to have Rathaway deliver on his promise to show him where Dr. Stein is, he sees the bomb shadow of Stein and thwarts Rathaway’s latest escape attempt. The Flash tracks down Baez and Parker as they steal from an armored car to pay off the gangster they are in debt to, but is shot by Parker before he can stop them.

Bringing the information to S.T.A.R. Labs that Baez is a teleporter, Barry Allen and Dr. Snow decide to try to track them by going to bars Parker and Baez used to frequent. While Snow and Allen have a night out together, Cisco and Rathaway break into the Central City Police Department where they go through the film footage of the S.T.A.R. Labs explosion. Rathaway uses the opportunity to escape and the CCPD track down Marcus Stockheimer, but lose the teleporting couple in the process. After Henry Allen is stabbed tracking down leads at Iron Heights, The Flash extorts his assailant for information on how to find Baez and tries to take down the latest metahuman threat.

“Crazy For You” gets the S.T.A.R. Lab team that they would have been at if only one of the characters had asked Ronnie Raymond who he was when he denied being Ronnie when they encountered him in prior episodes. The whole F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. plot is clearly building to something (fans of the DC Universe know exactly what), but the slow piecing together of it makes for a disappointing sense of franchise. Either we’re being set up for a Firestorm spin-off or The Flash is going to be “The Flash And Friends” at some point (or, the third most likely possibility is that fans will get invested in the whole idea of Firestorm before it is abruptly dropped from the series after it is “resolved enough”).

Amid the weak story of Shawna Baez and the potentially more powerful Clay Parker (Baez is a teleporter, but in “Crazy For You,” Wells says that Parker’s DNA takes on the qualities of Baez’s when she touched him, so he could potentially be a power-absorbing metahuman), Iris West’s career trudges forward in an uncompelling way, Linda Park is introduced and Barry and Snow essentially have a date. There is a lot going on and Iris West’s part in “Crazy For You” only serves to illustrate the fundamental weakness in her relationship with Eddie Thawne; Iris turns to Barry with concerns about how she can’t seem to land a story on her own, instead of discussing it with Eddie.

In the plus column, though Peek-A-Boo (Snow’s name for Baez’s villainous alter-ego) is a pretty cool adversary though she is virtually identical to Nightcrawler from X-2: X-Men United (reviewed here!), “Crazy For You” features the best performance yet from actress Danielle Panabaker. Panabaker has been saddled with the role of Caitlin Snow, which has so far been a mouthpiece for dispassionate exposition and unfortunate executions of scenes reminiscing about a love that Panabaker has difficulty portraying. But in “Crazy For You,” Panabaker does exactly what she needs to for Snow. Panabaker has great comic timing and a sense of physical performance that makes the karaoke drinking scene one of the most memorable personal moments of the season.

Similarly, the return of Henry Allen allows John Wesley Shipp to give a passionate monologue that allows for a real connection between Henry and Barry. This is the episode where Henry figures it out and the time spent developing that and putting Linda Park into the field drain from the time Baez can occupy. That makes Peek-A-Boo one of the least-compelling villains (her delivery of the line that she still loves Parker comes across as ridiculous because, of course, she would still love him when they have only been separated for hours after pining for one another for years!) so far, even if she is one of the coolest and could be one of the few enemies who could hold her own with The Flash, regardless of his improving speed abilities.

Finally, the “one in, one out” situation in The Pipeline is becoming more formulaic than compelling. While it seemed obvious that S.T.A.R. Labs would continue to collect metahumans and eventually there would be a horrific, massive break-out, the frequency by which enemies leave The Pipeline prevents that from becoming a problem. It’s also making it seem odd that the S.T.A.R. Labs team is either bothering with confining the metahumans or not altering the access people like Cisco have to them.

Either way, “Crazy For You” is a fair continuation of the serialized elements, but unremarkable on its own.

For other works with Victor Garber, please visit my reviews of:
Legally Blonde

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into The Flash - The Complete First Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!


For other television and movie reviews, please visit my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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