Team Flash makes a desperate alliance.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
We’re only a couple weeks away from The Flash’s Season 4 finale, but the series clearly isn’t in much of a hurry. Rather than follow up on last week’s big falling out between Clifford and Marlize DeVoe, “Harry and the Harrisons” busied itself with revisiting some of the other loose ends and minor subplots from this season. Needless to say it played like a pointless detour at a time when the show needs to be building all the momentum it can manage.
The best that can be said for “Harry and the Harrisons” is that it made better use of Katee Sackhoff’s Amunet Black than previous episodes have managed. I’ve always appreciated the manic energy Sackhoff brings to the role, but she’s never made for a particularly deep or compelling villain. This week proves that she’s better suited to the anti-hero role than an outright villain. Her bubbly, eccentric personality makes her a natural foil for the other members of Team Flash. Seeing Sackhoff affect a Southern accent as part of her cover identity made for an especially fun moment.
But even though Amunet herself fit more naturally into the group dynamic this time around, she still felt more like a means to an end than an truly necessary inclusion this week. The plot had a very “video game fetch quest” vibe to it. Team Flash needs to shoot down DeVoe’s satellites, but to do that they need an organic weapon, so they recruit Amunet’s help, but she can’t help until they find her missing metal shards, and on and on. It’s a lot of work just to set up one simple plot point for the season’s climax.
It might have helped if Team Flash and Amunet were going up against a more credible threat than Amunet’s treacherous ex-henchman, Norvock. We’re meant to believe that Barry can move so fast that time stops, yet he can’t handle a guy who has a snake living inside his eye socket?
Fetch quest premise and underwhelming villain aside, at least the Amunet Black storyline was generally entertaining. The same couldn’t really be said for the Harry/Cisco subplot. I wasn’t at all impressed by the Council of Wells storyline last time around, and it didn’t fare any better the second time around.
As before, this seems like more an excuse to allow Tom Cavanagh to goof around and play wacky versions of his usual character than anything else. Which would be fine if those alternate Wellses were more than one-note caricatures. But each of these alternate universe Wells is a funny outfit paired with a ridiculous accent. Now on top of German Stereotype Wells and Matthew McConaughey-meets-Hugh Hefner Wells we got French Wells and New Yorker Wells. Cavanagh has been so great at differentiating between Harrison Wells and Harry Wells and HR Wells, but those are all complex characters with subtle variations in mannerisms and personality. These new versions of Wells are glorified party impressions.
And as with the main Amunet Black storyline, the whole Wells subplot came across as an overly complicated means to a very simple end. All that emphasis on Harry getting in touch with his feelings was so that he could make the very simple observation that DeVoe hasn’t launched his satellites because he’s feuding with his wife. That’s not enough payoff for time spent.
If anything, I would have liked to see more emphasis on Iris’ storyline this week. The series has all but ignored her renewed focus on journalism in recent months, so it’s nice to be reminded that’s still a thing. But more importantly, her ideas about sharing information with the general public are worth exploring on a deeper level. This show raises some uncomfortable questions about how Team Flash handles metahuman criminals and operates with no real legal authority. They’re constantly saving the city, but don’t Central City’s inhabitants deserve to know when a new supervillain mastermind is plotting their doom? Don’t criminals deserve due process rather than being locked away in a STAR Labs cell with no furniture, bathroom or apparent source of food and water?
With all that in mind, the idea of Iris trying to build a more open relationship between Team Flash and Central City is intriguing. I’m interested to see how this development pays out as the final manhunt for DeVoe begins next week, and also how this might impact the status quo in Season 5. One of The Flash’s more charming qualities in the comics is the way he’s become such a folk hero to the people he protects. The series might benefit from playing that up more, especially if Season 5 is going to continue pushing things in a more lighthearted direction.