Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Latest Metahuman On The Flash Is "Untouchable!"

The Good: Moments of character, Effects, Moments of performance
The Bad: Very familiar and predictable plot, Repetitive elements
The Basics: The Flash fights yet another metahuman in "Untouchable" with very obvious results.

One of the nice things about the way The Flash began was that there was a pretty solid scientific methodology to the show. The series made a decent attempt to appeal to geeks who were brainy by being fairly smart and having the protagonists try to evaluate their circumstances and reason their way out of their problems. By the time "Untouchable" comes up in the third season of The Flash, there has been so much melodrama and repetition that it is almost hard to remember how good the show used to be. By this point in the third season, the main plot of the season is concerned with the fact that The Flash visited the future, witnessed a newscast with vital information and saw Iris being killed by the villainous speedster, Savitar. Now, Barry Allen and the S.T.A.R. Labs team is committed to changing that future, but they have missed a number of key opportunities to avoid the events Barry witnessed (not the least of which is simply locking Iris in the pipeline on the day she would otherwise die!).

"Dead Or Alive" (reviewed here!) leads in to "Untouchable," with a pretty basic b-plot being the connective tissue. Barry realized in "Dead Or Alive" that Wally represented the best chance to save Iris's life and in "Untouchable," he continues to train the younger speedster. Gypsy from "Dead Or Alive" is also referenced in "Untouchable" as Cisco is moved to vibe Flashpoint!

Barry and Wally race to test their speed, with the S.T.A.R. Labs team betting on them. Barry manages to win the race by phasing through a building before Barry and Joe have to visit the latest metahuman attack. Julian has found a body with advanced necrosis and Iris recognizes the name of the restaurant the body is found at as one from the future Barry experienced where she is killed. When Julian and Dr. Snow try to perform an autopsy on the body, they discover that it has transformed into - essentially - sand. The metahuman attacks a second time and Barry recognizes the second victim as the man who was the CCPD Captain in the Flashpoint tangent. While doing the autopsy on the second victim, Julian recognizes the DNA anomaly in the metahuman DNA as being common to the metahumans who were created by Alchemy.

Unfortunately, Barry, Wally, Iris and Joe are out on a date with Cecile and her daughter when the new metahuman attacks Jitters. While Kid Flash is able to incapacitate the metahuman - Clive Yorkin - he gets away. Yorkin next turns up at Barry and Iris's apartment where he attacks Iris before Kid Flash can stop or catch him. Wally gets Iris to S.T.A.R. Labs where Dr. Snow acts fast to save her arm and stop the hyper-necrosis. Cisco vibes into the Flashpoint tangent universe to try to find who Yorkin's next victim might be and Joe moves to save her!

"Untouchable" works to make Julian a viable and interesting character by exploring - at least in part - the guilt he feels for his actions while Alchemy. Julian has had Tom Felton often playing the same jerk-style character that he has gotten typecast as a kid. In "Untouchable," Felton is able to flesh out Julian as a smart, competent, scientist who has more depth to him than he initially appeared. Still feeling guilt, Julian has a chance to try to make up for Alchemy's crimes.

Training Wally to phase is a smart idea, but it is handled in a fairly ridiculous way in "Untouchable." Barry has Wally try to run and phase and Wally is incredibly articulate about how he does not understand how he is supposed to "phase" through solid objects. So, basic scientific and education methodology should have had Barry try to teach Wally from a standing position. In other words, instead of trying to run and phase through something, the most sensible way to train Wally would be to have Wally stand in place and move his hand fast enough to phase through something.

In addition to giving Joe West the best part he has had all season, "Untouchable" returns the conflict within Dr. Snow to the forefront of her arc. Snow is supposed to degenerate into Killer Frost during the time between "now" and when The Flash witnessed Iris's death. So, giving her more chances to "slip" and use her powers makes sense and in "Untouchable" that conflict is well-rendered.

The effects in "Untouchable" are better than average for The Flash and not all of them are big moments. Caitlin Snow's eyes, for example, are decently rendered as she tries to save Iris's life and feels like she is losing control.

"Untouchable" is hardly flawless, though. While on the train, Joe tells the p.i. that Yorkin has killed two cops; they were not cops in our world, only the Flashpoint tangent. Similarly, Dr. Snow's arc in "Untouchable" culminates with her going out on a date with Julian and that is pretty much the same arc she already did by falling for Hunter Zolomon in the prior season.

Ultimately, "Untouchable" is very average The Flash, with its mundane, repetitive plot being balanced nicely by the human moments - like Wally's growing pride and the Iris/Barry scene that caps off the episode.

For other works from the 2016 – 2017 television season, please check out my reviews of:
Santa Clarita Diet - Season 1
A Series Of Unfortunate Events - Season 1
One Day At A Time - Season 1
Travelers - Season 1
"Happy Fuckin' New Year" - Sense8
The OA - Season 1
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
"Invasion!" - Arrow
"Hot Potato Soup" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"The Chicago Way" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"The Martian Chronicles" - Supergirl
Luke Cage - Season 1
Stranger Things - Season 1

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


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

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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