[This is a review of The Flash Season 1, Episode 12 – There Will Be SPOILERS!!]
With The Flash turning its strong start into a strong debut season, the show’s writers have shown that they don’t need particularly phenomenal villains to keep audiences engaged – not when a show has this much heart to build upon. Now that the board has been populated with plenty of rounded characters, the writers are free to move them about with surprising success capitalizing on the sense of humor beneath their central cast, as well as their shared heartbreak.
In “Crazy For You”, written by Aaron and Todd Helbing, a metahuman prison escape brings Barry (Grant Gustin) back in touch with his father Henry (John Wesley Shipp), who jumps at the chance to help his son catch the culprits. Elsewhere, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) discovers the fate of Ronnie Raymond to be even more complicated than assumed, while Barry and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) try to jump-start their social lives – to varying success.
Even success comes at a price, and this week’s episode shows that cutting ties with his unrequited love and devoting himself to protecting the citizens of Central City has led to Barry Allen’s social life crawling to a stop. That’s one more thing that both he and Dr. Caitlin Snow have in common; and while the duo’s attempts to add some flavor to their workaholic existence may not be the most pressing matter at hand, it proves yet again that the writers’ grasp on their many players couldn’t be stronger.
Having shared intellectual interests in the past, it’s the solitary existence that comes with academia (and deep emotional wounds) that now unites Barry and Caitlin – and makes a night of spirits and karaoke a necessity. After the previous episode delved into the darker, more conspiracy-heavy world of Harrison Wells, the Glee-ful antics of Barry and Caitlin show this episode’s top priority: bringing some levity and laughter in place of sinister scheming. And the timing couldn’t be better.
The night out (and the aftermath) give Panabaker a chance to show that there is more to Caitlin Snow; and just as can be expected in the real world, the dropping of guards and shared humiliation will hopefully allow Barry and Caitlin to grow even closer in the coming episodes. But as one half of S.T.A.R. Labs’ prodigy partnership was letting her hair down, the other was getting down to investigating. Cisco gives into his better judgement and takes Hartley Rathaway up on his previous offer to explain the disappearance of Caitlin’s fiancé Ronnie, only to have the tables turned.
But Cisco is just as curious as the viewer to learn more about the fate that befell Ronnie before he re-emerges as the hero known as Firestorm, so his mistake, given the new evidence it brings with it, is easy to forgive. It’s a strong sign that instead of dragging out the mystery of Raymond’s fate, the writers have provided more than enough emotional context for his inevitable return – and Panabaker’s surprisingly charming performance gives even more to look forward to once Ronnie returns to bring even more surprises into her life.
The metahuman of the week, Peek-a-Boo (played by Britne Oldford) may not be as iconic as other Rogues already having appeared, but in just a handful of scenes, her powers and their implementation was well-conceived and executed upon. Whether or not her intrusion and escape from Iron Heights Prison was concocted merely to bring Henry Allen back into the fold, the return to the sentimentality that was so evident in The Flash‘s pilot is carried off just as gracefully. That includes the typically world-altering twist of revealing one’s superhero identity, delivered here with little fanfare – simply more pride from Barry’s father.
Like the previous episodes set after the midseason finale, “Crazy For You” attempted to juggle more than a handful of subplots, inching characters along their individual and collective paths. It may be the writing, the cast chemistry (including new addition Malese Jow as ‘Linda Park’) or simply the pacing, but the success of the series is now resting upon the shoulders of all involved, with no one dropping the ball when asked to carry it.
It will be the shocking appearance of Gorilla Grodd at the episode’s conclusion that sends fans into a frenzy, but The Flash is managing to wear a different hat each week while preserving its own identity. How long that can continue before a change is needed is anyone’s guess, but The Flash has found its groove early, and won’t need to rock the boat any time soon.
The Flash returns next Tuesday with “The Nuclear Man” @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview of the episode below: