The Flash: Season 3 Episode 11 review – Dead or Alive
This week The Flash steps away from Barry as the central focus and brings the side characters to the forefront in what is more or less a Cisco centric episode. The mysterious woman with cross-dimensional powers named Gypsy, who appeared at the tail end of last weeks installment, reveals that she’s tracking down H.R. Wells for the crime of interdimensional travel, which is punishable by death on Earth-19 where they’re from. Well’s only hope of remaining alive and on Earth-1 is a trial by combat. Cisco steps up to the challenge, pitting himself against her in a fight to the death. Though both characters are meta-humans with very similar powers, Cisco’s are far underdeveloped in comparison and he stands little to no chance of besting her.
With the help of Team Flash, who’s synergy really stands out this episode, they are able to devise a plan that will allow Cisco to effectively defeat Gypsy while sparing himself and Well’s an untimely fate. Things get bumpy when Barry and Wells attempt to circumvent the trial by combat by trying to catch Gypsy off guard, which she sees coming and they fail miserably at. Cisco is disheartened by their lack of faith in him, but they talk it out and Cisco faces off with his opponent. Ultimately he is able to defeat her, thanks to Julian’s keen eye for noticing a weakness in her fighting technique, and everyone’s lives are spared for another episode. Wells is allowed to stay on Earth-1 on the condition that he will never return home. Cisco and Gypsy have great chemistry both battling and conversationally, and watching them duel is incredibly entertaining and the highlight of the episode. Surely this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Gypsy.
It’s genuinely delightful to have Cisco back to his old self again, as the tension between himself and Barry throughout the beginning of the season was becoming tiresome. In an endearing moment he has a heart to heart with Wells and explains why he would risk his life for him, revealing what having previous versions of Wells as a mentor meant to him. Though this season’s Wells is refreshing and fun to watch, there’s still a lot of lingering questions regarding his true motivations, which ultimately feel somewhat shady. I’m not sure I’m buying his lesser intelligence, nor is it clear why he truly chose to come to Earth-1, and his explanation feels weak. Of course viewers past experience with the character can’t help but leave us jaded, and in all likelihood we’re supposed to question his intentions. Though this may prove to be a red-herring in the end, but only time will tell.
Meanwhile Barry is trying to deduce a plan for saving Iris from her future fate at the hands of Savitar, which she is of course struggling with also. She’s on a mission to do something meaningful with her life by making a difference as a journalist during what she fears might be her last few months alive. Though the high-tech weapons case she’s chasing is dangerous and both Barry and Joe ask her to step back, she fearlessly pushes forward, even recruiting Wally’s help which puts them both in imminent danger. Though many fans may question her actions, it’s harder to imagine her waiting around doing nothing not knowing how long she has to live. Luckily everything plays out as she planned and they help take down the bad guys and she publishes an article that she feels will change people’s lives. While her struggle is certainly understandable, it’s troublesome that she goes behind the backs of her loved ones after expressly telling them she’ll stay out of it. Likewise it’s endlessly frustrating that they’re keeping the secret of her potential fate from Joe, which will undoubtedly backfire as secrets have in the past.
Wally is coming into his own nicely, and watching him operate with easy confidence is something to behold. He proves time and again throughout the episode to be an asset to the team, and by the end we learn that his speed is increasing. Since Barry has been unable to find a way to increase his own speed, he has the realization that he won’t be the one to save Iris from her fate, but Wally will. In all likelihood this will see Wally stepping up into a bigger role in the coming episodes and a welcome change.
This episode certainly wasn’t amazing by any stretch, but it had a great balance of good superhero fun with serious undertones and was enjoyable to watch. Moreover it was a refreshing step away from the more serious themes of the season. Gypsy was a captivating adversary and I do hope we see her again in the future. Seeing the team functioning together in that cheerful fashion that make them so loveable was appreciated. And although Caitlin and the ill-tempered but endearing Julian didn’t have big roles here, even they were still key components. In all likelihood the coming episodes will be much darker, and personally I will be looking back on this one fondly.
Image credits: CW