the problem with Meena becoming this new Reverse-Flash
Back in December, at the close of the “Armageddon” event’s fourth episode, viewers saw Tom Cavanagh’s hoodwinked Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash slip into the S.T.A.R. Labs time vault and ominously declare, “No one uses time against me!”
Cavanagh in turn told TVLine at the time that his villainous alter ego likes to pace himself, when unfurling fiendish plots.
Well, the sinister speedster’s time bomb went boom in The Flash‘s penultimate Season 8 episode, when a series of incredible events that we won’t dare try to recap here 1) saw the Negative Still Force rapid-age imprisoned Thawne into a shriveled corpse, 2) put Iris in the line of Barry’s lightning fire, as it became clear that she, and not Fast Track Labs’ Eobard, was a “sacrifice” to be made, and 3) Matt Letscher’s Eobard ripped open his head to reveal that Tom Cavanagh’s version was hidden inside, and once again a speedster.
So, I just got done watching this week’s episode…. Tom, what the hell did I just watch?
I don’t know because I haven’t seen it; I honestly don’t know what’s in it. I mean, I know I shot it, but we shot like a whole bunch in a row, so I’m not quite sure which one you saw. But if you like it, that’s good!
You know, I direct a bunch of, like, Flash and Superman & Lois, and you can write [the words] on the page, right, and you’re like, “Yeah, easy!” But then, you’re like, “Wait, how do we shoot this exactly??” You’ve got to do like freeze frame, or motion capture, or have all these different tools at your disposal. There were a lot of technical aspects to that scene, so that one I know.
The Flash begins to train Meena in controlling her new powers, but he quickly learns something dark about these new powers, unbeknownst to Meena.
Meanwhile, an old friend visits Reverse-Flash in prison.
Here’s everything that went down in The Flash season 8, episode 18 “The Man in the Yellow Tie”.
Training in The Flash season 8
We start the episode out with Barry, who begins training Meena to control her speed. This really sets up a type of episode that “The Man in the Yellow Tie” doesn’t end up becoming. It suggests that we were going to spend most of the episode with Flash and Meena, trying to figure out these new powers and building up Meena’s character before something inevitably bad happens. However, this sadly isn’t the case here as it feels like there’s been about two episodes of plot shoved into the final scene of last episode and the first scene of this episode.
As it turns out, in a twist, Eobard Thawne has made his way back into the present. But it’s not just any Thawne. It’s the original Thawne. And he has amnesia. Thus, instead of being about Meena and her journey, this episode becomes about Thawne, both the original and the one in prison on Lian Yu. At the very least though, the show is having fun with how crazy the comics are with how many different versions of Thawne that are running around the timestreams and why he’ll never just disappear like everyone thinks he will every time he’s defeated.
Barry obviously doesn’t trust this Thawne and freaks out at all of the possibilities as to what he’s planning. And as it turns out, this distrust is founded as Meena, accidentally, becomes the new Reverse-Flash and it has nothing to do with any Thawne machinations. In fact, this changed, amnesiac Thawne begs for Flash to save Meena because he loves her, which no other Thawne would feasibly think of. It’s a nice twist for the character.
However, the problem with Meena becoming this new Reverse-Flash is that we’ve known Meena for four or five scenes before she turns, so it’s hard to actually feel anything or feel attached in any way toward her forced turn to villainy. Anything that the audience feels is not for her, but rather for because of Thawne’s desperation. It would’ve been much more powerful if we had known Meena better before her turn and eventual “come to the light” moment.
Really, this storyline should’ve been the main focus of the season instead of the Deathstorm story. The bones of this is very good, but the show just doesn’t have enough time to make it as strong as it needs to be.
In what’s an afterthought of this episode, Cecile has now developed new powers where, instead of simply sensing the emotions around her, she can manipulate emotions from one person onto another. Frankly, it’s a power that comes out of nowhere are there’s nothing done about it in this episode. No real explanation or exploration. It’s just there for three scenes and forgotten about.
At this point, it just feels like, 95% of the time, the writer’s room doesn’t know what to do with anyone other than Barry. Simply giving Cecile new powers with no set-up or any real pay-off just adds to that feeling.