Following in the footsteps of Kang the Conqueror, Jonathan Hickman’s Reed Richards, and Rick Sanchez of Rick and Morty, this episode of The Flash features a multiversal meeting of multiple Harrison Welles. There’s also a new dark matter metahuman called the Black Bison and a ridiculous superhero costume for Ralph Dibny. Meet me after the extradimensional and extra-stretchable super speed jump for my thoughts on “When Harry Met Harry…”
I’ll get to our current episode in a moment, but first a few words about last week’s “Girls Night Out.” For an episode that puts the spotlight on the female half of Team Flash and pushes #feminism almost as a battle cry, there was something in this one that rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way, and that’s Cecile’s daughter Joanie Horton stripping for feminism. Played by Riley Jade and singing the praises of the new female Doctor Who earlier in the episode, she’s dancing, and probably stripping, at a go-go bar to get the ‘full female experience.’
Unless there’s something we don’t know about coming, this is played merely for comic relief during Barry’s bachelor party. Besides being insultingly sexist, how does this further the character or the plot? Bachelor (and bachelorette) parties are the last vestiges of sexism to begin with, why add this to the already bad mix? And when the episode was written by three men and two women, I’m still not sure what to think, or blame. This was not only disrespectful and shameful, but stupid, and I’d like to think The Flash is capable of better.
As long as I’m dancing around the subject, many of you might be aware of the sexual harassment accusations aimed at producer Andrew Kreisberg. He has been instrumental in all of the DCTV series of the Arrowverse on the CW. His inappropriate behavior has been corroborated by several folks on the sets of these shows, and like all of the allegations recently coming out of the entertainment industry, it is shocking and wrong.
But that’s not what I want to talk about in regards to this sad news. One thing that the Arrowverse shows have always (well, except for above) promoted has been female empowerment, whether it’s Killer Frost, Iris West, Felicity Smoak, Sara Lance, or especially Supergirl – strong female characters. More than that, the shows produce strong female actors who have come out in support of those who have been brave enough to come out against their aggressors. In that way, Melissa Benoist and Emily Bett Rickards, among others, are my heroines.
We open on a mugging, and a discussion between Ralph and Barry followed by a similar but less funny one between the Thinker and the Mechanic. When Ralph is not a dick, he is a great character, and a great actor behind him. Why not use that charisma? The best bits of this episode were the interactions between Ralph and Barry as friends, not when they are attacking each other. More muggers shooting themselves and less stupid costume theatrics and buffoonish behavior. Trust me, folks, it is hard to put a jumping shark back in its pen.
A moment may arise this episode where Team Flash – and it is sooo weird (and meta) to hear the villain use the term Team Flash. The superhero lesson bit comes up again later when a little girl gets caught in the crossfire of a battle against the Black Bison. And the Thinker’s identity revelation comes to fruition as well, but I’ll get to that later. In the meantime the future Allens turn to their couples therapist to try to get Ralph to remember the other people on the bus, the other dark matter metahumans, via hypnosis. We see the Weeper and we see a woman wearing a jacket with a bison on it. That last one, she is our villain of the week.
The Black Bison
When Mina Chaytan first shows up, I was just not sure if she actually had a counterpart in the comics, or if she was a completely new creation. The truth is she is a little of both. Mina turns up later in the episode animating a statue of a panther to do her murderous bidding. When the name repeatedly came up, I had to ask, is Mina Chaytan the Black Bison? With the power to animate effigies (yeah, it’s only funny once, Ralph, and then only for seventh graders), she really doesn’t resemble the comics version all that much outside of her ethnicity. Yeah, I know that didn’t come out well, but if there’s anything worse than a bad stereotype in the 1980s comics, it’s 2017 television continuing the tradition.
Rather than the Flash, one of Firestorm’s super-villains in the comics, Black Bison is a man of Native American origin, alternately known as John Ravenhair and Black-Cloud-in-Mourning, possessed by his great grandfather who bestowed upon him magical powers. Like the Top, this villain has switched both gender and power set. This new Black Bison is hunting down artifacts of her culture with the thought that they belong to her people, not in museums.
The Council of Wells
Then we get to the silliness of the title subplot of this episode. This is an isolated and weird bit of the show that only seems to include Harry and Cisco, almost like a solo adventure. Harry, who has no friends and is mocked by Cisco about it, seeks out new friends in the form of holographic projections of his counterparts from throughout the multiverse. If nothing else, this gives Tom Cavanaugh a chance to overact and play dress up, not that he doesn’t rock it, but it gets very old, very quickly.
In attendance we have the Wells of Earth-12, a German Andy Warhol-ish version, which is odd as in the comics, Earth-12 is the home of the DC Animated Universe characters. The next Wells, from Earth-47 makes a little bit of sense in relation to the comics as it is the home of Prez Rickard, Sunshine Superman, and the Love Syndicate of Dreamworld. This Wells is like Hugh Hefner appropriately. The last of the Council of Wells is an Australian cyborg who appears to have walked right out of the Road Warrior movies. His Earth is designated 22, which according to the comics is that of Kingdom Come, as nukes do come into play in that story, perhaps a post-apocalyptic wasteland fits. A Wells the Grey, similar in appearance to Gandalf, shows up briefly, with no home mentioned, but possibly Earth-33, a world of magic oriented heroes and villains. One nit, with the big Crisis on Earth-X crossover event coming in two weeks, this would have been the perfect place for a quick sneak preview of Earth-10/X.
The first Elongated Man costume was purple, a simple domino mask, and wrinkly gloves, a pretty awesome if awkward Carmine Infantino design. Later he would adopt a proper superhero costume, in purple, then later the same in red as his best-known garb. The TV version, Cisco’s prototype that stretches with Ralph as he uses his powers, is just an ugly lavender onesie. Most disturbing thing about it is Ralph always picking his butt. Let’s face it, Blankman had a better costume.
This just continues a troubling trend, with Ralph’s antics and new costume, among other things, I have to ask – when did The Flash become a bad sitcom? I wonder if this might just be a purposeful rebound from all the darkness of last season. I hate to sound ungrateful and hard to please, but please, this is just too much. Much more of this and the show will never recover. Please don’t kill this series with bad comedy the way it was almost killed by depressing and dreary stories last season.
Despite its stupidity, both conceptually and literally, the Council of Harrys does actually narrow down which DaVoe is the Flash’s enemy. As we fans and viewers know, it’s Clifford DaVoe, and in a burst of actual thinking, Team Flash decides to become proactive, and get this guy before he gets them like seasonal big bad villains of the past – Zoom, Savitar, and the Reverse-Flash. Of course the bad guys know they’re coming, and when Barry and Joe knock on the door, the Mechanic answers in civilian garb, followed by a quite normal looking DaVoe in a wheelchair. Based on the preview of next week, things will only get worse…
There were some cool bits in this episode, including a nice shoutout to the 1970s writer/artist team on The Flash comic Cary Bates and Irv Novick, and also to Golden Age Flash artist E.E. Hibbard, who coincidentally (or not) created the Thinker. I loved the fight with the T Rex skeleton too, that was pretty cool. So was Ralph reading a Young All-Stars comic book. I wonder if that – a comic about superheroes fighting Nazis – will come into play in Crisis on Earth-X?
Next: The Thinker revealed in “Therefore I Am!”