The Flash has had it’s fair share of bumps and bruises after the uneven finish of season two. Even so, the show has spent some significant time trying to right the ship and has been successful on the whole. While the effects of Flashpoint are still being felt, Barry is learning how to become a better hero and leader. “Untouchable” also gives Barry an big bump in the mentor department as he pushes Wally to be the best Kid Flash possible. The end result is a show that is finally getting back on track as a hopeful depiction of the Fastest Man Alive
This week starts with the revelation that there are still a few metahumans floating around from Julian’s time as Doctor Alchemy. One of these metas turns out to be Clive Yorkin (Matthew Kevin Anderson), a man with the ability to accelerate the state of decay in anything (or one) he touches. While Yorkin has a pretty intricate story in the comics, here is reduced to another bland villain of the week, which I think is this show’s greatest shortcoming.
I know I sound like a broken record, but The Flash sports one of the largest and most diverse villains in all of comics. In fact, the term Rogues Gallery comes from our speedster in red. Granted, some of these villains are as thin as the paper they’re printed on, but a large majority of the Rogues are fairly fleshed out individuals. So when someone like Yorkin gets a wallpaper treatment, it feels like a missed opportunity. Fortunately he could always come back in the future for more misadventures, but it’s starting to feel like The Flash could really benefit from some new blood since Heatwave, Captain Cold, Zoom, and the Reverse Flash are otherwise engaged.
Regardless, there was still some juice in this version of Yorkin, and it definitely brought Flashpoint back to the fore. He also made a pretty interesting rival for Kid Flash this week as Wally was put through the proverbial ringer. Despite his raw natural talent, Wally just doesn’t have the same intuition as Barry when it comes to the speed force. As a result, it takes him longer to learn skills that came easily to his mentor. This was a problem that actually help push both characters. Wally had to step back and take a good hard look at his impulsive nature.
On the flipside, Barry found himself in a weird spot as he took on the role of mentor. Unfortunately, Barry has tripped up multiple times, relying on the younger speedsters raw talent instead of inspiring his protege. Fortunately, when Barry goes big, he goes grandiose. In their final battle with Yorkin, Barry has to phase an entire train through a massive debris field, which completely drains his body. It’s a pretty impressive moment that demonstrates just how amazing these powers can be. It also had the added effect of inspiring Wally to face down Yorkin by phasing his blood into the villain’s body. While that may seem practically banal compared to Barry, this was a huge deal as Wally pushed past a block he was incapable of passing just minutes before.
Joining the fray, albeit on the emotional front, was Joe as he found out about Iris’ fate in the near future. Jesse L. Martin brought a massive performance as he leveled off an atomic bomb’s worth of anger at his friends and family for keeping this secret. His hurt and terror was absolutely enthralling and raised the hackles on the back of my neck. Since the early episodes, I’ve suspected that Joe may not make it to the end of the show. After months of excellent, though subtle background work, Joe is suddenly back on front street and it’s possible they may be foreshadowing his death. Remember, Savitar swore that one of them would die and while Iris seems like the easy answer, this undoubtedly means she’s a red herring.
It better not be Joe…though I admit, it’s probably Joe. And it makes sense in a lot of ways. Joe’s children have grown up into amazing, well adjusted adults. His love life is getting back on track, and he even has wooed his girlfriend’s daughter. Thematically, this is where Joe dies and I swear if they do it, I’m gonna be so pissed off.
Another member of Team Flash who may fall prey to Savitar’s prophecies is Caitlin. Her battle to resist Killer Frost has been one of the more compelling story lines this season. Using her powers to stop Iris’ brush with death is a pretty awesome conundrum. On one hand, Caitlin is using her powers for good, but on the other her ability to maintain control is slowly waning. Fortunately for Caitlin, Julian understands the guilt of having powers and has served as a nice little anchor for our chilly scientist. Even so, I’m really curious if he can keep Caitlin grounded as her powers slowly encroach on her sanity. I’m not saying I want to see Caitlin permanently switch to Killer Frost, but with such a lack of persistent villains on this show, seeing our Ice Queen back in action would be a welcome change.
PS: Don’t even get me started on the writers killing off Julio…