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The Flash S03 E11: ‘Dead or Alive’

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H.R., the Harrison Wells from Earth-19 has been a lot of things we did not expect, but a criminal? The Flash must get ready as a bounty hunter from Earth-19 is here to for H.R., and for Cisco, it’s both love at first sight, but also a battle to the death with Gypsy. Meet me after the extra-dimensional jump for my thoughts on “Dead or Alive.”

Comics and Controversy

This episode features the live action debut of Gypsy, a character that debuted alongside Vibe back in the 1980s in what was called Justice League Detroit. Originally Cindy Reynolds, Gypsy was a teenager who could camouflage herself and/or her surroundings and joined the Justice League. After DC Rebirth, yet another reboot to DC Comics continuity, Gypsy became something completely different – an extra-dimensional refugee named Cynthia Mordeth on the run from Vibe’s brother, the comics version of Rupture.

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Here in the Arrowverse, she is a bounty hunter from H.R.’s world sent to bring him back for the crime of inter-dimensional travel. She has powers similar to Vibe’s. The problem is that representatives of the Romani people feel that the name and the word ‘gypsy’ is derogatory and pejorative. So while I would have been happy to see the original Gypsy character appear, it seems weird that the showrunners would still do this to a newer character that not many know or love, and still use a name that is hurtful to people. Why not call her something else?

New Weapons

We open on H.R. doing his own narration as the hero of one of his novels, but it’s only him dictating a story while the real Team Flash pursues a group of criminals called the Electric Gang. There’s more to this than it seems. A new arms dealer is in town, selling high tech weapons like those of the Electric Gang and Plunder’s rifle. Sounds like the Combine from the comics to me, but we never get verification.

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Wally gets a chance to shine with saved cheerleaders, really building up his PR, but I noticed he didn’t blur his face when the cheerleaders wanted selfies with him. Hope that doesn’t blow his secret identity. Julian is also getting used to his new place with Team Flash, although he doesn’t have good news as far as saving Iris from Savitar – like Harrison Wells in season one, it’s all about the Flash getting faster.

Collective Charm

First hitting Jitters and then S.T.A.R. Labs, Gypsy is on the hunt for Wells. H.R. recognizes her immediately and calls her a ‘collector’ from his Earth, and she’s after him – that’s all before she shoots him that is. Cisco comes to his aid, surprised to find Gypsy has the same powers as he, only better. His first reaction is to flirt.

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Really? Is Cisco really that desperate, and stupid? He’s a smart, funny, and good looking guy, can he really be that socially inept? And it’s the fault of the showrunners and writers that Gypsy flirts back. When a show has people who can run at Mach 3 and travel dimensionally, and the suspension of disbelief is broken at social graces, there’s a problem.

Crimes and Misinterpretations

Back on track, HR has broken the law. Years ago Earth-19 was attacked by another planet through a breach and was devastated. Since then, interdimensional travel has been outlawed, punishable by death. Despite all that, H.R. has been broadcasting his new adventures, of which he’s the hero and are slanted versions of the adventures of Team Flash, back to his world, so he wasn’t hard to track.

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Gypsy has given him one hour to arrange his affairs before she takes him back. Finally we get a little bit of why H.R. is here. On his Earth he had fame and fortune but he knew the truth that he was a fraud, he just wanted a second chance. There’s also the idea that Team Flash ponders about changing the future. H.R. was there when Iris dies, if they send him home that’s one more thing they change about the future. They never follow up on that however.

Living Dangerously

There is a lot of silliness and bad idea theater in this episode. This big arms dealer Iris is investigating has Joe and Barry frazzled. Barry unfairly asks her to cool it. This made me so mad. A man is telling a woman how to do her job? Is this the 1950s? When did Barry turn into Trump? This entire subplot is a hot mess, and embarrassing for this show.

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Iris wants the story so her life will mean something if she does die in May, just in time for sweeps, by the way. That’s admirable. But she wants Wally’s help, sort of like when they were a brother-sister team in Flashpoint – but then she’s not doing it herself, then is she? And then when she distracts Joe with misleading baby talk, I was done. All things considered, this is the worst episode of the season so far.

Trial by Combat

In order to save H.R., Cisco challenges Gypsy to trial by combat, before he even knows what it is. It’s to the death of course and she gives him twenty-four hours to prepare. Other than a humorous training sequence, what more can we expect? Dumb decisions following up bad writing. This is not good. There’s a lot of false build-up here, I just couldn’t wait for it to be over.

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Cisco goes to fight Gypsy in full Vibe attire and seems to hold his own for a bit. I couldn’t believe he went alone though with the rest of the team back at the lab. No in-person support for a friend who might die? The fight does have a saving grace however as Gypsy shifts them from Earth to Earth. We see Earth-Two, Supergirl’s world, and a mystery volcanic world, before Cisco uses Julian’s tip to defeat her.

Conclusions

This was not a good episode. It actually had the feel of filler while we wait for the Grodd two-parter, the musical crossover with Supergirl, and the big payoff in May. I hate that they did this to us, almost everything here rings false or forced. And I hated that they continue to keep Iris’ future possible death a secret from Joe, even though there was ample opportunity to come clean. In some cases, omission is the most hurtful kind of lying. Team Flash might well remember that.

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There were parts I did like, like the Flash/Kid Flash team wrapping up the Electric Gang in the beginning – that had a fun Silver Age comics feel. The Electric Gang themselves are from one issue of The Flash back in the middle 1970s, but made of electricity, and were defeated while they weren’t touching the ground just like Cisco beat Gypsy, so that was a nice bit, if intentional. It might be nice to see the Gang return, but with the powers they had in the comics.

Next: Death comes to Central City in the form of Clive Yorkin in “Untouchable!”

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About Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker is a professional writer, and editor-in-chief and contributing writer at Biff Bam Pop!. A blogger, podcaster, and reviewer of pop culture in all its forms, he's done stints in radio, journalism and video retail. Ask him anything about movies, television, music, or especially comics or French fries, and you’ll be hard pressed to stump him or shut him up.

Posted on February 3, 2017, in DC Universe, Glenn Walker, television, the flash and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The Barryisms were strong in this one … srsly people. I had hoped we were past this.

    I thought Gypsy and Ramone’s banter was kinda cute. Foreplay anyone? 😀

    The only grown-ups on the ground this week were Julian and H.R.

    I’m thinking the third Earth was Mustafar! Hey, in the multi-verse all things are possible! 😀

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