Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Flash Thinks He's "Invincible" And (Until The Last Two Minutes . . .) He Is!

The Good: Good character arcs, Good performances
The Bad: Moments of terrible CG, Overstated character moments, Very basic plot
The Basics: "Invincible" returns Katie Cassidy to The Flash, now in the form of the Black Siren, an Earth-2 metahuman used by Zoom!

The DC Television Universe has, so far, shown a surprising willingness to keep dead characters dead, despite Eobard Thawne returning to The Flash as a temporal remnant and Sarah Lance being resurrected on Arrow. The Flash has not overplayed the resurrection card and that helps keep the show grounded at some key times. In fact, the way it seems to enjoy playing with dead characters is by introducing their multiverse doppelgangers and on "Invincible," The Flash does just that. Laurel Lance, seen on The Flash only once as the Black Canary, returns to the narrative as her Earth-2 counterpart, Black Siren, in "Invincible."

"Invincible" picks up where "The Runaway Dinosaur" (reviewed here!) left off, which makes it hard to discuss without some references to the prior episode. After all, for those who do not watch Arrow and are not simply wowed by the return of Katie Cassidy in some form to The Flash, the novelty of the Black Siren is not inherently exciting. That said, as the first wave of metahumans under Zoom's influence begin attacking our world's Central City, Black Siren makes for an interesting adversary.

Opening with Central City being overrun by Zoom's metahumans, the Flash manages to take down many metahumans at once. Returning to S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry is pleased to find Dr. Snow returned to the team, as she escaped Zoom. Barry is much more confident than the rest of his team that he and the team can thwart Zoom. At Mercury Labs, a metahuman (Black Siren) attacks, which forces The Flash back onto the streets and puts Dr. McGee on his team. Wally West, in the meantime, begins patrolling the streets trying to take down metahumans on his own, which alarms Joe West.

After Henry Allen tries to rein in Barry's overconfidence, The Flash and Zoom square off for a conversation. Zoom tells Barry that Barry's moralizing is what will allow him to defeat Barry. As the scientists at S.T.A.R. Labs try to develop a dimensional frequency weapon to disable all of the Earth-2 metahumans, Barry confronts Black Siren and only manages to escape with Wally's help.

"Invincible" plays off an exaggerated sense of a relationship between Cisco and Laurel Lance and that works to the detriment of the episode. Cisco met the Earth-1 Laurel Lance once or twice and helped develop her Black Canary tech. The second time Ramon was around Lance, he was romantically involved with Kendra Saunders; Ramon never had time or contact to develop a real romantic relationship with Lance. So, the claim that Ramon loved Lance is a drastic and unfortunate overstatement for a guy who had a crush.

At the other end of the spectrum, Wally West is given a lot of characterization in "Invincible" and his guilt arc plays well alongside Dr. Snow's arc of overcoming her own sense of trauma following her experience with Zoom. Danielle Panabaker gives one of her best performances in "Invincible" playing the traumatized Dr. Snow and Snow pretending to be Killer Frost. Dr. Snow is shaken throughout "Invincible" and Wally West's desire to rise to heroic heights fits his character nicely - especially as it is motivated by a deep-seated sense of guilt.

The off-putting character aspect in "Invincible" comes in how everyone on Barry Allen's team doubts the new-found confidence of The Flash. The Flash opens the episode actually taking down metahumans effectively (though, oddly, he is not shown actually bringing them back to the pipeline at the beginning of the episode); his friends have demonstrable evidence that his confidence is warranted. After so many episodes of Barry shaken and moralizing, seeing a hero with a moral imperative actually kicking butt is so frustrating when it is muted by scenes where everyone tells him how wrong he is to feel confidence.

Outside the lackluster use of Laurel Lance (and the cheap excuse to have Ramon and Snow dress up as their evil doppelgangers), the most serious drawback with "Invincible" is an absolutely terrible computer generated effect sequence early in the episode. As The Flash rescues Dr. McGee, the effect looks troublingly animated and fake. The choker on Black Siren is a bit of a red herring as she is a metahuman and does not require the technological enhancement the choker represented from Cisco's costume enhancement for the Earth-1 Laurel Lance.

"Invincible" is well-constructed, despite having a lot of very basic aspects to the plot and a frustrating number of conversations about what Barry Allen cannot do. The issues of confidence play well with the reversal at the end and the mystery of Vibe's visions of dying birds adds a nice level of mystery to the episode. "Invincible" is structured in a way that its frustrating aspects are all resolved before the end of the episode, making it tie-in well to the season and stand alone on its own.

The result is a good episode of The Flash, which prepares viewers for the final episode of the second season.

For other works with Katie Cassidy, please visit my reviews of:
"Pilot, Part 1" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"Who Is Harrison Wells?" - The Flash
A Nightmare On Elm Street


For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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