CW’s latest, The Flash, has been going all-out of late, as the previous episode proved when Leonard Snart and Mick Rory aka Captain Cold and Heat Wave made their live-action debuts. Given that the season premiere kicked off with The Rogues staple Weather Wizard, it was pretty much a given that the supervillain team would find its way to the show eventually. The fact that this is happening so soon, is great news for fans everywhere. But that’s not all of course, because there are also the mysteries surrounding Harrison Wells and his nefarious plans, which became clearer in this week’s episode.
“Plastique” introduces us to Bette Sans Souci, a relatively young soldier in the American Army with specialty in bomb-disposals. She is one of the many people caught in the Dark Matter Wave when the STAR Labs Particle Accelerator exploded bomb shrapnel that had injured her on a mission bonded to her on a genetic level. This is one of the best episodes yet because it presents another alternative to killing or imprisoning metahumans. Plastique herself makes for a fairly interesting character though her time on the show is cut rather short, but not before she sets the stage for one of actor Clancy Brown’s greatest appearances to date and also an amazing cliffhanger.
There are three classes of metahumans on the show so far: those who are dead, those who are imprisoned, and those who still roam free. Barry has had to watch two metahumans die, and he has been instrumental in capturing and imprisoning a third. Pretty interesting stuff so far, but as with Smallville before, the first season sees a lot of dead bodies float up. And since The Flash is also a police procedural in part, that means that there are even more dead bodies here, reflecting in some ways what happened on Arrow in the first season, CW’s other major superhero property and the parent to The Flash.
This episode presents Bette Sans Souci as Plastique, a notorious supervillain from the comics and portrays her in a rather positive light for the most part. She is a patriot, a soldier, but her ability makes her go fatalistic by the end and that end is not a good place for her. While the ending of the episode kind of sucked on one level, the journey getting there was pretty important too. The team is slowly figuring out that even though the evil metahumans that Barry comes across can either be killed outright or just imprisoned, not all of them can be cured. In a way. That’s a big part of what this episode is all about. There’s no going back for Barry, and there’s certainly no going back for Bette either. It is almost heart-breaking, particularly since I loved her backstory and really wanted to see more in upcoming episodes, either in this season itself or in a second season.
But then again, her introduction also nets us General Wade Eiling who is the Sam Lane to Barry Allen’s Clark Kent. Bette was under Wade’s command, especially once her powers were discovered, and we know from Harrison Wells that the good General also has a mean ruthlessness in him. And Clancy Brown does a fantastic job in the role. He has done dozens of voiceovers for DC’s various animated properties and this is his first plum live-action performance. A bit of a cliche in how the character is written, but that’s fine because it is still very early days for him, and the cliffhanger promises a lot about him that we will see in future episodes.
Which brings me back to Harrison Wells. From the start, he has both been a guiding light and a darkness in Barry’s world. He is a time-traveler, that is for sure, but his motives are suspect. On one hand, he mentors Barry through his powers and often provides him with some moral and psychological support. But on the other hand, we have also seen him murder people he thought would one day directly harm Barry, such as Simon Stagg. This guy definitely has some ulterior motives and his manipulations of the people around him speak volumes of the darkness that is inside of him.
We know that he wants Barry to survive through the Crisis that will happen ten years into the future. But why exactly? He is certainly no hero. I mean, I really doubt he is a hero. So perhaps he is a villain who sides with the heroes during the Crisis? That is more plausible. He wants to toughen Barry up for the Crisis, to make sure that he becomes the man he needs to be when the Crisis happens. In the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event from 1985, Barry ended up giving his life to save the the world and the multiverse. It was a tragic story in every way possible.
Is that what Wells is preparing him for? I’m definitely leaning in that direction, but I do have some doubts as well.
The other big thread in this episode is Iris’ blog about The Streak. She has been publishing the blog anonymously and in this episode she gets to witness The Streak herself, in the flesh as it were. And she is floored. We know already that her father doesn’t want her to get mixed up in all of this, and so he asks Barry to step in and handle things. It is a pretty intense thing in this episode and rather heart-breaking since Barry has to take some desperate measures to keep Iris off The Streak. Whether she does or not remains to be seen, but this episode changes their relationship in a big way, and I’m not so happy about that since their friendship is one of the rocks of this show. But it is all good drama at least, so no complaints on that front from me.
Finally, we have the big flashback between Wells and Eiling from five years ago, building on a certain conversation that the two of them have in the present, once the dust settles down from the confrontation between Eiling and Plastique. It has to do with inhumane experimentation on lab animals. One very specific animal in particular. If your keen eyes picked out a certain empty cell at STAR Labs in the series premiere, then you know what I’m talking about.
That final scene gave me a lot of hope about this particular character, and it is going to be a very, very big moment for the show, doing something that we haven’t seen before on a superhero show. Can’t wait!!