The Flash – Recap: Flash Photography
Recap and review of The Flash – Episode 12 – Crazy For You:
One thing I love about what The Flash is doing in its first season is fleshing out its side characters to create a more cohesive, fully-involved ensemble. While “Crazy For You” is a great episode for Barry (Grant Gustin), it’s even better for the people around him, as everyone from Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) to Cisco (Carlos Valdez), and even Barry’s father, Henry (John Wesley Shipp), got significant development this week.
The Metahuman of the Week story was probably the episode’s weakest aspect, although it offered an opportunity for the characters to react to changing circumstances. In this instance, we have two thieves, Clay Parker (Micah Parker) and Shawna Baez/Peek-a-Boo (Britne Oldford). They both want out of the criminal life, but find it difficult since crime boss Marcus Stockheimer (Jerry Trimble) wants to utilize Shawna’s quantum manipulation ability to pull off bigger heists. She can essentially teleport short distances, and although Marcus is definitely manipulating her, Clay is just as guilty of using her feelings for him to get what he wants. Hell, by episode’s end, he bails on her and leaves her to get captured by The Flash, showing that he didn’t really care about Shawna beyond what she could do for him. It’s a sad tale that humanizes this week’s ostensible villain more than others have been in the past, and the story results in some cool action setpieces, such as Shawna and Barry fighting in a tunnel, with Barry smashing out the lights in the tunnel to neutralize Peek-a-Boo’s light-driven abilities. But the story is less about the threat itself and more about how the characters respond to that threat. In this instance, Henry uses his insider prison knowledge to help Joe (Jesse L. Martin) arrest Marcus Stockheimer, despite Barry pleading with his father not to get involved. The plan allows Joe to bring down Stockheimer’s operation, but Henry is beaten up in prison by a Stockheimer crook in retaliation. Stockheimer is finished, Shawna is captured, but Barry still needs help catching Clay Parker. So he visits Iris (Candice Patton), as The Flash, and asks for her assistance. Little does he know, Iris takes advantage of the situation by snapping a photo of The Flash when he’s speeding away.
Ultimately, the combination of Iris’s photography and Henry’s beatdown results in one of the warmest, most endearing moments of the series so far. Barry visits Henry in the prison hospital, where Henry has been going over the front page story of the first Flash photo. Henry has essentially deduced that his son is the superhero, but Barry plays coy. So Henry decides to play coy as well, addressing Barry through a hypothetical conversation he’d have with The Flash if he were The Flash’s father. It’s an absolutely beautiful little scene that Shipp plays with warmth and paternal feeling, as Henry makes it known that he believes The Flash is a hero, and that he’d be proud to be The Flash’s father. Gustin plays the scene just as subtly, avoiding the full waterworks and instead allowing his eyes to fill with tears that are never blinked away. It’s such a great scene that not only shows the depth of the father-son bond between Henry and Barry, it also illustrates how Henry is struggling to move forward, since the Stockheimer bust was his attempt to feel “useful” for once. The crime story of the week results in both Barry and Henry growing as characters in this world, and that’s exactly what these sorts of stories should do, in addition to being generally exciting.
But the best stories this week centered on Cisco, and Caitlin’s relationship with Barry. For Cisco, the story is a redemption arc of sorts, as he released Hartley Rathaway (Andy Mientus) so the criminal can both lead him to Ronnie and explain what, exactly, happened to his friend. Naturally, we know just how badly this is going to turn out for Cisco, but he’s compelled by curiosity and by the honest desire to help Ronnie in some way. Hartley reveals that the Particle Accelerator accident fused Ronnie to scientist Dr. Martin Stein, creating one being that shares two different personalities. The reason Ronnie doesn’t feel like Ronnie anymore is because…well, he’s not Ronnie anymore. At least not completely, as Martin Stein is sharing Ronnie’s body. Worse, Hartley takes advantage of Cisco’s shock over Ronnie/Stein’s fusion, attacking him and escaping, which he was unable to do earlier since — to my gleeful surprise — Cisco knows martial arts and can arguably fight better than Barry! But Hartley uses his brain to reverse the soundwaves on Cisco, providing him a window for escape. Cisco must explain to the rest of the team that he is the reason Hartley escaped, and it’s all because he’s still carrying the guilt of not waiting an extra few seconds for Ronnie before shutting the blast doors on the night of the Particle Accelerator explosion. He apologizes, but Caitlin absolves him, saying he did exactly what Ronnie would have wanted him to do. But it’s still a burden Cisco is carrying, less over guilt for costing Caitlin her fiance, and more for costing himself a big brother figure whom he idolized. It’s a poignant story that helps further depict what drives Cisco’s desire to do right by Ronnie’s memory.
But Caitlin is taking the opposite approach, intending to move on from Ronnie’s memory. After being told she essentially has no life outside her job, Caitlin decides she’s going to lighten up by going out drinking with Barry at a karaoke bar. Of course, in much the same way we discover something new about Cisco (those awesome martial arts skills), we learn something new about Barry: dude can SING! Caitlin, unfortunately, cannot. But hey, at least Barry gets a date out of it, as a very cute woman gives Barry her number. However, turns out the woman is one of Iris’s coworkers, sports journalist Linda Park (Malese Jow). Iris seems a bit on the jealous side when she finds out, and, similarly, Caitlin seems to be developing a bit of a crush on Barry. It’s tough being the world’s fastest man and also the world’s sweetest guy, but the way Barry takes care of drunk Caitlin after they leave the karaoke bar would be enough to get just about anyone to start crushing. Hell, he helps her get dressed for bed in a flash, without so much as taking an ungentlemanly peek at Caitlin. He then stays with her until she falls asleep. Maybe it borders a bit on sappy, but I love the way the friendship between Caitlin and Barry is developing, even if it doesn’t lead to anything more. They have an intrinsic understanding of one another, and what they need in life. Maybe they aren’t the ones who can provide that missing something for each other, but at the very least, they can be their for one another as friends, illustrating that no matter how lonely things might get, neither is really lonely at all so long as the other is around.
“Crazy For You” is a fun episode that also manages to provide something more substantial from a character-building perspective. The Flash is a genre show, yes, but it has a great sense of ensemble, and each episode makes use of a purposeful narrative. There’s no waste here, as everything is building to something. Even the stinger seems to be building to something, as some workers in the sewer are attacked by an unseen beast. What’s ahead? I have no idea, but I trust in the show to bring it all together in compelling fashion, and I can’t always say that about other shows of the same genre.