Well alright, then. Let’s hear it for the nerds, because it turns out that when you give them what they want out of your nerdshows (unapologetic nerdery), you wind up with something that’s rather insanely entertaining. If more mid-season finales were like these two, we wouldn’t spend so much time rolling our eyes at the concept of a mid-season finale.
Both shows offered up high-octane episodes that fully indulged in the wackiness of the source material, from flying men with their hair on fire to ancient obelisks that give people superpowers, and both shows did not feel the need to over-explain the references. Even we didn’t realize that Skye is based on an actual hero from the Marvel universe until we nerds started lighting up twitter over it. And The Flash managed to throw in a last-minute twist that totally threw us for a loop as to the identity of the Reverse Flash. Both shows are diving deep on the nerdery, but giving it enough of a spin that even the nerds in the audience are being kept on their toes.
With The Flash, we not only moved the story forward in leaps and bounds, but we got more of the show’s now-trademark hugging scenes. If Arrow is full of people who stand around whispering with furrowed brows (and it is), then The Flash is the counterpoint to that, as a show where people are constantly talking about their feelings. In each scene with Barry’s two dads, we thought the sentiment was laid on just a bit thickly, but we appreciate that the show is working so hard to make it about feelings and relationships rather than darkness and vengeance, which is how most superhero stories shake out. Barry is almost literally a figure of light to the people around him and it was important that the show make that obvious – because that light is almost certainly going to come close to being extinguished.
The Reverse Flash is shaking out to be scarily powerful and leagues ahead of Barry in skills. It’s the first real challenge he’s faced since he became a hero. The scene in the stadium was both tense as hell and insanely cool to look at. Major kudos to the FX team on this show. We seriously doubted that they would be able to give us the cinema-level special effects the show needed, but they not only pull it off every week, but they seem to be getting better and better at it. Our only complaint is that they need to figure out how to depict a superspeed fistfight in a way that the audience can actually see what’s going on.
This was also the episode where everyone surprised us by opening their mouths and saying things that should be said. Caitlin came right out and told Cisco that Ronnie was alive and actually moved the story forward instead of keeping it a secret for no reason and letting it stew as a subplot for too long. But even better was Barry’s conversation with Iris. While we’d hoped after the last episode that they were going to shelve this subplot for a while, they instead did the next best thing: they forced it out into the open, redefining Barry and Iris’s relationship and turning Eddie into something of a foil for Barry.
As for that big twist reveal at the end, we strongly suspect that all is not what it seems. It’s possible that Harrison is the Reverse Flash but there’s definitely more to the story – especially if you know anything about the identity of the RF in the comics. We’ll say no more on that.
As for Agents of SHIELD, while it has yet to reach the charm levels of The Flash, it really is remarkable what a turnaround this show has made since last year. That was the most exciting hour of the series since it started. Like The Flash, it was an episode that moved the plot forward considerably while paying off some long-simmering relationship issues. In one moment, every doubt we had about Skye as a character was simply blown away – almost literally. When she picked up that gun and didn’t hesitate a second in shooting Ward, it was a fist-pump of a moment. It’s so nice to see people in stories like these act like real people would instead of passively letting the plot play out.
We don’t know what to make of her new Inhuman status. We thought this was going to be strung out for some time to come before she learned about her true self, but we can’t say we’re sorry to see the plot move forward. But it means that superpowers are now going to become much more prominent in this world and we hope the show is able to pull them off with the same aplomb and finesse that The Flash team has managed. We’re just glad Skye’s not going to mutate into some weird-looking alien hybrid type.
While we’re dying to see what exactly Raina has become, in a way we’re disappointed that her next appearance will likely be under a pile of makeup and special effects. This was the episode that made us really like her as an opponent for the team. With all these brilliant and powerful people pulling the strings around her, she always manages to stay on top of things and ahead of everyone else. Reed Diamond, on the other hand, just comes across like any TV show bad guy mastermind type; especially when you put him in scenes with Kyle MacLachlan, who’s tearing up the scenery like never before.
Oh, and R.I.P., Tripp. Sorry they did such a bad job of defining you that your death seems mostly like an afterthought.
What’s going to happen next? NO IDEA. Isn’t that awesome after the boring and predictable season they gave us last year?
[Photo Credit: The CW]