“Shade” opens with Wally having dreams of his life in Flashpoint as Kid Flash thanks to Dr. Alchemy. Since The Rival made his debut on Earth One, we knew it would only be a matter of time before Wally’s alternate life caught up with him and the rest of Team Flash. It’s a good introduction to the episode but the narrative quickly starts to bounce all over the place.
The problem with this episode was that the writers tried to pack too much into it. While it was great to when Caitlin revealed her powers to Cisco—giving us the treat of Cisco vibing Caitlin in the future to see the two of them having a full on Vibe vs. Killer Frost battle—only for Cisco to out Caitlin’s powers to the rest of the team, too many other, weaker storylines took away from the importance and the impact of this major turning point for Caitlin Snow.
From HR and his silly light refracting device to Joe and Cecil’s cute but ultimately flat romance smashed underneath the main plot of Dr. Alchemy putting the visions of Flashpoint into Wally’s head, along with the arrival Savitar in the closing moments. Shade made for an uneven and overstuffed episode that didn’t manage to serve up the weight of the events that were transpiring.
The monster of the week, Shade, was overall a pointless distraction. Wally and Caitlin’s conflicts were enough to keep this episode chugging along just fine but unfortunately we were forced to endure a metahuman whose powers were realized with very poor visual effects. From his serviceable, Supernatural-esque introduction, to his underwhelming defeat, his inclusion to the storyline was nothing more than a pointless distraction from the real issues at hand. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, if the visual effects for a character are going to be so poor, don’t even bother doing it at all.
Unfortunately, Caitlin nor Wally can fight what is coming. They are both destined for powers whether that results in them doing good or evil. It’s heartbreaking to watch Caitlin who is such a caring and tender person begin her demise into the villainous Killer Frost. Wally is a little more frustrating to watch. His lack of respect for the power of speed along with his immaturity and over eagerness to become a superhero makes him seem undeserving of the ability. Sometimes adult characters on The CW behave like teenagers and that’s exactly what is happening when they say Wally is jealous because he doesn’t have powers but he wants nothing more than to help people. If Wally truly wanted to help the people of Central City, he would find a way to do so. Or at least make his contribution to Team Flash more valuable.
HR is growing more and more ridiculous every week. I’m wondering if Tom Cavanaugh signed a deal to return to the series as long as he could act and dress like himself in real life. But his sense of humor is becoming a bit over saturated. Much like most of what was happening in this episode, HR’s eccentric personality feels like a distraction to keep our minds off of the possibility that he is up to something nefarious. I still don’t buy that he is studying the team to write his novel and now that we were introduced to his light refracting device and his ability to make retinal adjustments to those around him, it has me wondering just what else he could make Team Flash see, or not see? The audio sync on the alternate face he was using was also a bit weird.
The end of the episode finally shifted Dr. Alchemy into the spotlight just after it was mentioned rather quickly that Julian Albert’s character was nowhere to be found. If they are going for a Julian Albert is the Albert Desmond version of Dr. Alchemy, I’ll be disappointed because it will be a lazy, on the nose writing move. Once in Dr. Alchemy’s lair, we saw him surrounded by several of his followers. Just who are those followers exactly and why do they follow him? Dr. Alchemy isn’t as bad as Prometheus on Arrow, but it still feels like the writers want us to care about or be interested in things without actually giving us a reason to invest. The final battle was fine, and it was awesome when Wally was crystalized, seemingly beginning his metamorphosis into Kid Flash, but the impact was quickly botched by the arrival of Savitar, a major villain from the comics who deserved an introduction that should have been longer and more focused.
Overall this episode was okay but if the writers had focused on Caitlin and Wally’s struggle with the inevitable evolution into their alter-egos it could have been great. Ultimately there were just too many flavors in this dish that caused the story of the episode to get lost in itself, becoming the weakest entry of the season yet.
6.9 – OKAY