Tuesday, May 16, 2017

King Shark, Captain Cold, And Cheetah (?!) Are Not Enough To Save "Infantino Street"

The Good: Good performances, Special effects
The Bad: Forced H.R. plotline, Huge continuity issues, Disturbing lack of attention to detail.
The Basics: "Infantino Street" is a real mixed bag for fans of The Flash with a delightful return for Leonard Snart and huge problems with continuity.

The Flash has had a rocky third season and as it races to its climax, it faces a tough overlap with Legends Of Tomorrow. At the climax of the second season of Legends Of Tomorrow, the temporal remnant of Leonard Snart was returned to his native time right before "Aruba" (reviewed here!) revealed that the Waverider crew had broken time and it set the third season up to virtually undo (at least) the second season. So, when The Flash announced casting for "Infantino Street" fans of the larger DC Television Universe had to wonder just how Wentworth Miller could possibly be returned to the narrative.

"Infantino Street" follows the events of "Cause And Effect" (reviewed here!) and continues Barry Allen's desperate attempt to save Iris West's life from Savitar. Unfortunately, "Infantino Street" begins burdened by the conceit of the final scene of "Cause And Effect." "Cause And Effect" ended with King Shark being revealed and the pretense was that the power source on King Shark's containment tank could be used by Dr. Brand to power her Speed Force Bazooka. The burden comes from King Shark being inorganically returned to The Flash; at the point at which King Shark appeared on screen, Dr. Brand had created her means of trapping Savitar and all the S.T.A.R. Labs team needed was a way to power it. Why, the more creative and sensible viewers might ask, doesn't The Flash simply go into the future and steal that power source? So, "Infantino Street" has to make a sensible explanation for why Barry does not do that.

Twenty-four hours before Iris West will be killed by Savitar, the S.T.A.R. Labs team is desperately trying to find a way out of what feels inevitable. Cisco and Barry are contacted by A.R.G.U.S. and they reveal that A.R.G.U.S. has enough power to power the Speed Force Bazooka. Lyla refuses to let Barry use the power source, which is technology left from the Dominator invasion. Realizing that it would be impossible to break into A.R.G.U.S. alone, Barry enlists a master thief to break in. Barry runs to Siberia, 1892, where he locates Snart working on a Legends mission. Allen convinces Snart to come with him back to the future to aid him in breaking into A.R.G.U.S.

As Savitar prepares his armor, Killer Frost discusses his plan with him. Savitar has a vision of Barry's memories of going back in time to get Snart, but he shows no fear that Barry and Snart might actually accomplish their goal. While Iris is taken to Earth-2, Barry and Snart infiltrate A.R.G.U.S. In the depths of A.R.G.U.S., the pair discovers that King Shark is incarcerated and is guarding the Dominator power source.

Very early on in "Infantino Street," H.R. pitches the idea of simply getting Iris away from where they know Savitar will be. At that moment, the trip to an alternate Earth seems more obvious than audacious. In fact, why Dr. Snow and Iris were not simply removed from Earth-1 to prevent the spiral of events the moment Barry saw the future seems like a dramatic oversight by otherwise very smart people.

By having The Flash appeal to Leonard Snart during a Legends Of Tomorrow mission, The Flash viewers get an acceptable return of Captain Cold to the narrative. Unfortunately, in the larger continuity of the DC Comics Television Universe, bringing Snart back in this fashion is ultimately self-defeating to viewers. In the time it takes for Barry Allen and Leonard Snart to get from Central City to A.R.G.U.S., the Time Wraiths should have caught up with Snart. Snart is, alas, a time remnant in this form and would be hunted by the Time Wraiths.

In a similar way, travel between universes is cheapened in "Infantino Street." Cisco's vibing power is what allows the speedsters to travel between universes. So, how Savitar makes that leap is frustratingly not-presented. The details are also way off when Allen and Snart arrive at the Dominator technology. The device in King Shark's cell is pretty big; how Allen knows exactly what to remove from the device is not satisfactorily explained. The devil is in the details and while it is delightful to see that A.R.G.U.S. has the Wonder Woman villain Cheetah in custody, the episode gets a number of details very wrong.

On the character front, Killer Frost's arc continues to be unfortunately ridiculous. Dr. Snow showed doubt in "Cause And Effect," but in "Infantino Street," she leaps into embracing being a flat-out villain. Danielle Panabaker, sadly, fails to play Killer Frost's abrupt transition in the episode's climax in a convincing fashion. The lack of creativity by the S.T.A.R. Labs team shines painfully bright in "Infantino Street." For example, Cisco tells Barry that he foresees a confrontation between him and Killer Frost and suddenly there appears an absolute way to change the future; have Barry go and thwart Killer Frost and send Cisco to confront Savitar (would Savitar bother to kill Iris in front of a different audience than what he expects?).

"Infantino Street" contains an unfortunate time gap, which seems to serve to set-up the resolution to the Savitar problem. Fifty-three minutes before Iris is slated to be killed, Barry returns to Earth-1 with the wounded Kid Flash. When Savitar appears at the climax of the episode, it appears that Savitar and Iris have come directly from Earth-2. The idea that there might be a gap in time between Iris encountering Savitar and the episode's climax is enough to make any fans' imagination burst with yet another obvious solution to the "Savitar kills Iris West" problem. In fact, I am embarrassed it took me to "Infantino Street" to consider the solution to the problem that now seems obvious. Just as Savitar was created as a temporal remnant that was intended to be killed in the battle against Savitar, the way "Infantino Street" develops makes it seem like the best way to save Iris was to hide Iris somewhere and send a temporal remnant to die in her place.

Ultimately, "Infantino Street" has a lackluster heist plot that degenerates into exactly where viewers have waited for the season to go. The performers - outside Wentworth Miller in his delightful reprisal of Leonard Snart and the always-awesome Jesse L. Martin - play their parts like they are going through the motions. That makes "Infantino Street" a penultimate episode that does not exactly make viewers excited about returning for the finale.

For other works directed by Michael A. Allowitz, please visit my review of:
"Exodus" - Supergirl
"The Reverse-Flash Returns" - The Flash
"Abominations" - Legends Of Tomorrow

[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 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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