As implied by the title of this episode, this one is all about mixed signals, whether literal, or emotional and romantic. As The Flash battles Kilg%re, here a dangerous metahuman who can control technology, Barry struggles to reignite his six-months-gone relationship with Iris, and we see an interesting reversal in Cisco and Gypsy’s relationship as well. Join me after the super-speed techno-organic jump for my thoughts on “Mixed Signals!”
Kilg%re was one of the first threats faced by Wally West (and one of the hardest to type I might add) when he first became the Flash. Created by Mike Baron, the writer who also brought us two of my favorite independent comics Nexus and Badger, Kilg%re was an organic technological intelligence. A machine virus from another dimension who wanted domination over the planet, mankind, and beyond.
Kilg%re was a persistent and dangerous foe for Wally, nearly killing him on more than one occasion. Later it was retconned as the controlling force of the evil Maxwell Lord and OMAC’s Brother Eye as well. I could be wrong on that. Retconning is a dirty business and continuity can get very confused. Just ask Hawkman. Bottom line, Ramsey Deacon seems to be a wholly different type of Kilg%re.
Our villain of the week this time around is Ramsey Deacon, who despite powers similar to Flash foe Blacksmith, who reportedly will be showing up later this season. Deacon is played Anthony Burgess, who is no stranger to genre television, having appeared in both Doctor Who, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Magicians He usually, as here, plays the heavy. That said, most folks will probably recognize him from his brilliant portrayal of Victor Buono on Feud.
Ramsey Deacon is a technopath, and I love his square purple eye thing despite him not being the Kilg%re from the comics. Here he is a hacker wronged by colleagues when they invented a malware app called Kilg%re. With his powers he is tracking down his former associates and wiping them out. No world conquest, no technological domination, this guy is just in it for revenge. Boring if you ask me. I guess the showrunners are saving the really dangerous tech stuff for this season’s real big bad, the Thinker.
We open on a murder via remote control in an elevator as it basically turns into a blender to kill its victim, but before it does, the control panel flashes one word Kilg%re, and Flash fans know we’re in trouble. Cut to Barry doing Tom Cruise from Risky Business, making breakfast, and obviously enjoying his new speed. He’s loving being back, loving catching up, and loving being the Flash. Iris, maybe not so much, something is bothering her, but we’ll get to that.
Barry is extra-hyper this episode, over-enthusiastic, and it’s a good thing. I like it. We had waaay too much gloomy Barry last season, both in the real Barry and the emo Barry. I loved how Cisco set up his DVR to be 1000 times faster so our hero could catch up on his TV binging, including Game of Thrones. “Look, Jon Snow is dead, oh look, he’s alive again” is priceless. It’s a shame that had to end when Barry is called away to the elevator crime scene.
As I mentioned Iris and Barry are having trouble resuming their relationship. Barry is enthusiastic, but Iris is a bit cold. Caitlin suggests couples therapy, as when she and Ronnie started working together as well as going together, it got a little rough at first. The therapy helped. And Iris agrees. In the waiting room of this comic relief space-filler, there’s a magazine cover that says, Mayor Oliver Queen Is The Green Arrow. Really now? I guess I’d better catch up on my Arrow…
If the therapist looks familiar, you’re probably my age or older. It’s Donna Pescow from Saturday Night Fever and Angie, which we had just been discussing over on this Facebook group the other week. While she is writing down everything Barry and Iris say, Cisco is having similar relationship problems. Gypsy comes to visit for a date, but Cisco is too busy with the encrypted Kilg%re code. He keeps blowing her off to geek out with Caitlin tracking Kilg%re. I half-expected Gypsy to be jealous of Caitlin.
As it turns out, Iris is angry that Barry just left her here without discussing it with her six months ago. That engagement ring means that they together are the Flash. Similarly Gypsy is upset that Cisco keeps blowing her off on her world’s holiday which also means two souls become one. By the end of the episode, especially after Iris helps save the day, both ships seem to have docked successfully, all better in one episode, just like The Simpsons. Told ya, space filler.
There are some intriguing but odd super speed stunts this time around as the Flash saves Kilg%re’s victims. In the first, Flash dismantles a car at super speed to save a man, then ridiculously has to bring all the parts to S.T.A.R. to examine. When Kilg%re strikes the police station with a grenade there’s another stunt, I loved Barry collecting the shrapnel, as cool an effect as dismantling the car, but more reasonable and logical. Sorry, I take my superheroics seriously, don’t overextend the physics past the suspension of disbelief.
The New Costume
As promised in the preview from last episode, we get the specs of the new Flash costume. Unfortunately we get to learn all that it can do once it is under the control of Kilg%re. Cisco did give Barry an instruction manual at the start of the episode, but that never works, just ask The Greatest American Hero. I love the Flash in ‘real’ red, but I don’t dig the yellow eye shields, but those are the least of its accessories.
First up, it has self-repairing armor, we’re told, but we don’t see. Once Kilg%re takes over, we learn it has a Pulse cannon, which he promptly uses to take Kid Flash out of action. There’s a Deadlock function that keeps bad guys from taking off the mask if Flash is knocked unconscious, and also keeps our hero from taking the costume off when controlled by a super-villain. Of course. There’s Flotation to inflate suit in case there’s a problem while running on water, which also resembles the cover of The Flash #115. And finally there is a Babel function that will self-destruct the costume should Flash turn evil again like last season. The Babel is a reference to the JLA story Tower of Babel. Luckily Flash is able to save himself with advice from Iris.
There were a few nits to pick and things to like. First, what is up with Wally’s hair? I’m not a fan. And are they actually finally, after three seasons, making repairs to the S.T.A.R. Labs building? We even got a new establishing shot of the place as well. I loved the Silicon Valley references when discussing app-building and hackers, that I am a fan of, unlike Wally’s new hair.
At the end when Barry and Joe visit the imprisoned Kilg%re, and ask where he got his powers, as he was nowhere near the particle accelerator explosion, the villain won’t tell, saying only there are others. We are introduced to Iron Heights Warden Gregory Wolfe, who in the comics was not only exceedingly cruel to the prisoners, but also possessed the incapacitating power of biokinesis. One bad dude.
And as last time, we close on the Thinker and his assistant, whom I assume is the Mechanic. They name Kilg%re as “Seraph One” and proceed to search for the others. I’m looking forward to this villain moving from the shadows to confront the Flash directly, but that could be a while. For what seemed at first to be a space-filler episode, “Mixed Signals” was very good and brought a new spin to a major comics villain. I can’t wait to see what they do with the granddaughter of the Gambler, classic Golden Age super-villain next time.
Next: The debut of Hazard in “Luck Be A Lady!”