Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Inevitable Revelation Comes In "I Know Who You Are"

The Good: Good acting, Cisco's character, Good special effects
The Bad: Very simple plot, Plot-heavy (spends a lot of time explaining the simple plot)
The Basics: "I Know Who You Are" finally reveals the identity of the third season Big Bad on The Flash!

After all of the teases for a show that features a revelation about a villain, the show eventually needs to produce. The Flash made a great first-season reversal as its first season midseason finale when Eobard Thawne was revealed and the second season waited very long to expose the true nature of the mundane identity of Zoom. The third season of The Flash has been hampered by a number of problems, not the least of which is that Savitar has burst into the narrative and the show has built the narrative tension around revealing who is in Savitar's armor, as opposed to finding a creative way to stop Savitar from killing Iris West. "I Know Who You Are" began with the implicit promise to reveal Savitar's mundane identity.

After all, "I Know Who You Are" follows on "The Once And Future Flash" (reviewed here!), which climaxed with Killer Frost learning Savitar's identity. After yet another tease - Savitar's armor opening and Killer Frost recognizing who was inside while the viewer was not shown that person's identity - it is hard for the viewer not to feel like it is time for the payoff already. "I Know Who You Are" delivers on that, at the very least.

Sixteen hours before The Flash faces off against Savitar and declares he knows his adversaries identity, Joe and Cecile are training for a marathon when the D.A. tells him she is in love with Joe. Joe is called to S.T.A.R. Labs where Barry tells the team that Dr. Tracy Brand is the one who figured out how to stop Savitar in the future. Barry, Cisco and H.R. visit Brand to try to convince her to join them. Killer Frost arrives and Barry saves Brand's life. Tracy Brand rejects police help, while Killer Frost returns to Savitar, who implores Caitlin to live up to her new name.

At Jitters, H.R. meets up with Brand and learns that she has figured out the basics of the Speed Force. Killer Frost arrives and she makes another attempt on Brand's life. While Brand is rescued, Cisco freezes up from stopping Killer Frost and Barry is wounded. While the S.T.A.R. Labs team desperately tries to convince Dr. Brand to join their team to build a trap in the Speed Force for Savitar, Joe works to be honest with D.A. Horton about his feelings and his complicated family.

"I Know Who You Are" has the Flash team quickly understanding the nature of the conflict they are in, which is refreshing. After their very first encounter, Barry and Cisco recognize that Killer Frost is already working with Savitar. The episode does not keep the protagonists guessing about what is going on, so the a-plot is pretty simple. In fact, the a-plot is so simple that there is a whole scene of Brand running away that is resolved and then restored to kill time within the episode.

The b-plot in "I Know Who You Are" finally focuses on Joe and Cecile. Joe and Cecile are successfully building a romantic relationship. Their relationship is contrasted with H.R. bluffing his way into a relationship with Brand and Dr. Albert trying to understand Cisco's relationship with Dr. Snow. Joe West talking to Barry about his relationship affords a sense of maturity and depth to "I Know Who You Are" that has been missing through much of The Flash's third season.

The maturity of Joe is reflected in the tone set by Anna Dudek as Tracy Brand. Dudek has had supporting or blink-and-you-miss-them cameos in a number of works I have seen. Brand is easily the most mature and collected character I've seen Dudek play. She is entirely credible in the role of Tracy Brand and she makes it through the technobabble that some of the ditzy characters she has played never could.

The big character conflict in "I Know Who You Are" comes from Cisco Ramon. Cisco is entirely paralyzed by not wanting to kill Dr. Snow and that is a wonderful conflict for him. Ramon's conflict comes out through his interactions with Dr. Albert and Carlos Valdes plays the hell out of Cisco in the episode. Valdes makes potentially banal exposition about what his character is thinking and feeling feel passionate and emotional in the best possible way. Valdes and Tom Felton play off one another incredibly well.

Ultimately, "I Know Who You Are" is a payoff episode that delays as long as possible for viewers to get the catharsis they have waited a week for. Killer Frost is still poorly-defined as a villain. Until Savitar is actually revealed, Killer Frost is just a pretty sad, angry retread of Dr. Snow with far less motivation than she could have.

That said, "I Know Who You Are" gets through all of the "necessary evil" aspects of the obvious plot well-enough to be entertaining and add a decent new character to the mix.

For other works with Anne Dudek, please visit my review of:
Invasion - 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 and movie reviews, please visit my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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