The Flash: 112 “Crazy for You” Review
Reviewed by Louis Rabinowitz.
Previously on The Flash: former Wells protégée and Harry Potter lookalike Hartley Rathaway returned with a pair of sonic gloves to unleash his revenge on Wells for ignoring his warnings about a potential particle accelerator explosion. After infiltrating STAR Labs and breaking out Joker-style, Hartley was apprehended and locked up in STAR Labs’ Pipeline prison. Luckily for Hartley, he had an escape plan: to tell Cisco what had happened to Ronnie Raymond aka Firestorm…
This week’s episode, Crazy for You, packed in plenty of subplots among the usual freak-o’-the week action – in this week’s case, the metahuman of the week was Shawna Baez aka Peek-a-Boo (another terrific villain nickname), who had the ability to teleport. This nifty skill was introduced as we see the teleporter break into Iron Heights prison with ease, sneaking past the guards and escaping with her boyfriend, Clay. Shawna is desperate to go off gallivanting around the world with Clay now that he’s free of prison – but unluckily for the couple, Clay has a debt to pay with a crime boss, and can’t leave Central City before paying his debt.
Thanks to Barry’s dad’s help (in a sweet little scene that marks the first of a series of excellent heart-to-heart scenes between Grant Gustin and John Wesley Shipp), Barry is able to identify Shawna, and soon catches her and Clay mid-heist. Unfortunately, the curse of the early episode villain confrontation strikes, and Barry is easily outwitted by the speedy teleporter, who escapes with Clay and an awful lot of cash. However, in the process, we had a terrific moment for Barry as he plucked an oncoming bullet out of his neck in slow-motion – it’s a milestone for the character, and showcases the continuing creativity of The Flash’s effects team. Seeing Barry develop his powers and reach new heights remains consistently great fun to watch as our hero develops into a fully-fledged superhero, and showing that the speedster really was faster than a speeding bullet was a small thrill.
With Shawna and Clay off the grid for the time being, Barry decides to go and partake in some creative police work – i.e. visit a bar, and he’s joined by Caitlin, who’s determined to move on from Ronnie and meet someone new. Several drinks and a mildly excruciating karaoke session later (where Grant Gustin was able to display his impressive Glee-honed singing skills), Caitlin is almost passed out drunk while a still sober Barry meets a new face – Linda Park, journalist at Central City Picture News, who passes her number to Barry via a magic science-fiction app.
The bar scenes may feel a little featherweight, but it’s part and parcel of The Flash’s charm – it can mix in scenes of the main character singing a cheesy 90s disco song without ever feeling tonally inconsistent or irritating. As such, these more light-hearted scenes are an awful lot of fun to watch – as is the chance to see the normally uptight Caitlin relax a little. While Danielle Panabaker isn’t the world’s greatest actor, she has really grown into the role over the course of the twelve episodes – and Panabaker proved here that she is diverse enough as an actress to be capable of genuinely funny comedy as well as the more dramatic material regarding Ronnie, making a charming pair with the sober and eternally patient Barry.
Soon enough, however, Barry finds himself back on Shawna and Clay’s trail thanks to some sleuthing from his father – which, unfortunately, ended up with Henry stabbed by an inmate and in the infirmary. Barry is more than a little upset with Henry for getting himself hurt, and punishes the inmate by whisking him outside the prison, interrogating him and leaving him to be recaptured as an escaping inmate. With the information provided by Henry and the inmate, Barry catches Shawna and Clay in the middle of yet another heist (clearly, they’ve been playing a little too much GTA), disables Shawna’s powers by knocking out all the lights in the tunnel (the revelation that Shawna can only teleport where she can see is a little contrived; a convenient plot device to enable her relatively easy defeat) and delivers a trademark Barry Allen finishing move on the car before capturing Shawna.
It’s another mildly underwhelming final confrontation – The Flash has set very high standards for its usually excellent final battles with the villains, but the last couple of weeks have sadly underwhelmed a little in that department. However, Shawna’s tale is hardly the most interesting plot the show has served up – and in a packed episode, the metahuman storyline feels for once like one of the less important elements. Therefore, Crazy for You’s conclusion doesn’t feel quite as disappointing as last week’s episode, where the metahuman storyline had a greater focus.
With Shawna locked up in the Pipeline, Barry takes new acquaintance Linda on a date (complete with an awkward meeting with Iris) before returning to his father for one final chat – who, unlike the eternally oblivious Iris, has cottoned on a mysterious set of coincidences and floats the idea that his son could be the Flash. Barry denies this, but Henry clearly knows his son is the Scarlet Speedster, as shown in a touching monologue where he explains what he would say if his son were the Flash. Barry and Henry have had plenty of emotional heart-to-hearts so far in the show and there’s a risk of these types of scenes getting somewhat stale, but it was nonetheless an excellently poignant and sweet scene, delivered with customary teary-eyed skill from John Wesley Shipp (who has some experience with being the Flash), and avoiding the trap of feeling overly saccharine or sickly.
Meanwhile, Cisco gives in to his curiosity and lets Hartley out to reveal what he knows about Ronnie. Hartley shows Cisco the shadow of Professor Martin Stein, who entered STAR Labs at the night of the accelerator explosion but never left; but Cisco isn’t having any of it. In response, Hartley takes out Cisco and escapes – but Cisco is able to subdue him through some nifty fighting skills and a vibration device he created (Cisco’s action moment was unexpectedly great, showing another side to a character who seemed like a clear cut non-action hero previously).
With Hartley back in handcuffs, he takes Cisco on stop two of the Firestorm Exposition Tour at the police department, showing Cisco a video of Professor Stein seemingly merging with Ronnie; providing an explanation as to why Ronnie kept claiming he wasn’t Ronnie in the mid-season finale – he was in fact Professor Stein spliced into Ronnie’s body. With that revealed, Hartley turns the tables on Cisco, escaping to plot his next appearance later on down the line. The Firestom subplot feels just a tad extraneous and bolted-on to the main plot of the episode, but the revelations here are genuinely exciting, smartly laying the groundwork for Firestorm’s emergence next week. Recent weeks’ Firestorm segments have failed to truly gel with the more standalone plots of each episode, but the character’s saga has been a consistently intriguing running thread since the mid-season finale, and has whetted this reviewer’s appetite nicely for the character’s upcoming full appearance.
As for the stinger of the week – it’s a whopper. We see two Central City sewage workers investigating a problem in the sewers; discovering a wall with the word ‘Grodd’ haphazardly scrawled all over it… as if it was written by an animal. Sure enough, an actual mind-controlling gorilla emerges from the shadows and yanks the two workers away, presumably to eat for dinner. Grodd is an utterly barmy invention – an actual mind-controlling gorilla – so it’s thrilling and just a little bit nuts to see the character realized in live action (the effects are barely glimpsed, but seem strong at this point). We don’t hear him speak yet, but the fact that an actual mind-controlling gorilla is on the way is more than enough for this reviewer… Next week, after incessant teasing, the spotlight falls on Firestorm as Barry finally confronts The Nuclear Man!
The metahuman plot is fairly disposable, but Crazy for You manages to just about paper over the cracks with a variety of emotional, charming and intriguing subplots.
Scene of the Episode: Grodd Almighty – We’ve seen his cage, and we’ve glimpsed him pre-transformation: here, everyone’s favourite (and only) metahuman gorilla emerged from the shadows.