The Flash recap: 'Plastique'
The Flash goes up against a military general looking to weaponize a metahuman who can blow things up just by a touch.
[SPOILER ALERT: This recap opens with a discussion of the episode ending stinger]
Because I can’t wait until the end of the recap to discuss this: Grodd made his appearance in tonight’s episode! For those who don’t know, Gorilla Grodd, one of The Flash‘s most dangerous villains, is a super-intelligent gorilla with the ability to control the minds of others. We first encountered Grodd in The Flash‘s pilot when the camera lingered on his cage, which was broken open after the particle accelerator exploded. The fact that he was being kept in S.T.A.R. Labs implied that the show would be altering his origins, and this became even clearer tonight when we found out that Dr. Harrison Wells played a role in his creation (more on this later). Although I didn’t expect The Flash to start working Grodd in the show so early, I’m very excited because it’s great to see the series fleshing out more of The Flash’s enemies. You can never have too many villains.
Anyway, onto the rest of the episode.
Metahuman of the week: Bette Sans Souci, a.k.a. Plastique
As soon as the show opened on the bar scene with Barry, Caitlin, Cisco, Iris, and Detective Pretty Boy, my first question was “Can Barry Allen get drunk!?” However, the show immediately answered this question when Barry speed-drank multiple shots to show Caitlin and Cisco it wasn’t happening. But, there’s no time to worry about his because Eddie gets a page about an explosion in an office building, and he and Barry, separately, leave for the scene of the crime.
Barry arrives on the scene and sees a window washer dangling from the building following the explosion. He saves him by super-speeding up the side of the building. Unbeknownst to him, Iris has also showed up at the explosion to catch a glimpse of The Streak, and she gets just that when Barry makes it back to the ground with the window washer. Like he did with his father several weeks back, Barry moves his face really quickly to stop Iris from recognizing him.
Unfortunately, the military, led by General Eiling (Clancy Brown), shows up as soon as Barry, Joe, and the rest of the CCPD are put on the case; this complicates an already weird-case when Barry can’t figure out the nature of the bomb. However, before General Eiling confiscates all the evidence, Barry’s able to steal a page he found in the file room that the bomber broke into.
Losing the case opens Joe up to deal with Iris this week. One of the officers informs him that she was at the bombing site, and when he questions her, he finds out about her blog on The Streak and is not happy. Joe tries to convince her that there’s no Streak, but she insists she saw him and refuses to give it up.
Elsewhere, Barry is bringing the S.T.A.R. Labs crew up to date. Turns out Wells knows Eiling from back in the day when the General contacted S.T.A.R. Labs to help him develop gene surgeries for soldiers; he wanted to give them mind-reading abilities to help them in interrogations. However, Wells quickly put a stop to their partnership after seeing his less-than-humane methods. Cisco is able to track down the bomber: Bette Sans Souci (Kelly Frye), who was a bomb specialist for the military.
Barry super-speeds to the address Cisco finds and confronts Bette for the first time. However, things don’t go well when she touches his suit; it starts to glow, and she tells him that he needs to get out of it—quickly. In the act of avoiding death, Barry strips down while Bette gets away. Cisco is not going to be happy about his suit.
NEXT: Iris and The Streak meet face to face
Yep, Cisco is definitely not happy about his suit, and him finding out about it gives the character one of his first truly funny comedic moments. “We’re going to send her butt into the pipeline. No one blows my tech to smithereens and gets away with it,” he says. However, his determination is quickly gone once he realizes how hot she is. While we’re here, it’s worth saying that Cisco and Caitlin had some great character moments this week that worked well. There’s this scene with Cisco, his suit, and pretty much every scene he’s in with Bette, but also earlier in the episode where Caitlin is taken with how pretty Eddie is and starts rambling, realizes this and says, “Oh my god, do I sound like Felicity?” I could nitpick about how comfortable they’ve all suddenly become with the pipeline, but I won’t because it doesn’t work against the episode.
It’s obvious why The General wants Bette; he wants to use her ability to blow things up just by touching them as a weapon. Joe shows up to the lab to talk to Barry about Iris’ blog. He tells Barry that he needs to talk to her because of their deal: Barry keeps Iris in the dark about all these shenanigans and Joe doesn’t go “Floyd Mayweather” on his butt.
As to be expected, Barry’s first attempts at talking to Iris about the blog don’t go well. Iris, revealing herself to not be completely oblivious, points out how it makes no sense for Barry, someone who’s spent his life championing the existence of the impossible, to suddenly not be on board with it.
The S.T.A.R. Labs team is able to track Bette down again; this time she’s going after the doctor who operated on her. Barry arrives before she does anything to the doctor, but the military is also there and manages to shoot Bette. Promising to explain what’s happened to her, Barry speeds her out of there before the military storms the room.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Wells gives her the spiel about the particle accelerator explosion. She explains that she was in Central City at the time of the “accident” because she was recuperating on a base there after being injured in an explosion in Afghanistan. Bette, as are we, is quick to notice the irony: She’s become the thing that almost killed her. Barry, who up to this point has had to deal with bats— crazy metahumans, is glad to meet one who isn’t and eagerly jumps at the opportunity to help her, which feels pretty in line with all that we’ve learned about him.
While examining Bette’s wounds, Caitlin finds a tracker, but she’s too late because General Eiling and his men are already in the elevator. In a tense interaction, Wells goes to confront Eiling, who, like almost every other evil guy in a position of power so far, proceeds to mock Wells’ perceived handicap and scientific failure. Wells doesn’t turn Bette over and Eiling proceeds to leave, but not before telling Wells that they could’ve changed the world, but Wells is all “bitch please, I’m doing that right now.”
While testing her powers, Bette and Barry share a moment—she asks Barry if he would give up his powers if they found a way. Referencing what Ollie told him about being chosen, he says no, which isn’t really surprising since being a hero is clearly what he’s wanted his entire life. Their heart-to-heart is interrupted when Joe calls Barry to tell him about Iris putting her name on her blog. Believing that the audience isn’t smart enough to understand their concern, the writers have Cisco and Barry plainly tells us that a crazy bad guy may read her blog, think she’s connected to The Streak, and go after.
Barry pays Iris another visit, but this time does so in costume and masks his voice by vibrating his vocal chords. Hiding behind the mask imbues Barry with a sense of confidence and he does a bit of flirting before getting to the point of his visit: asking her to stop blogging. Again, Iris says no, but explains that she’s doing this for a friend (Barry) because she’s worried he’s lost his faith in the impossible right when she’s found proof he wasn’t crazy. Blurring his face, he comes face-to-face with Iris and says that “her friend” is a lucky guy before speeding away and leaving Iris’ mouth agape. It seems like we’re heading toward your typical girl falls in love with boy’s alter-ego superhero scenario.
NEXT: Barry and Iris take a break
Meanwhile at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin, Cisco, and Wells are about explain to Bette that the shrapnel from her accident has spliced with DNA when Barry shows up. Unfortunately, according to Wells, the technology to unsplice her DNA has yet to be invented, and Bette runs off crying. This new development leaves the team to decide what to do with her. Naturally, Barry, who would love to have another metahuman on his side, wants her to join the team, but the rest of the team is not for it. Wells explains that they won’t put her in the pipeline, but she can’t stay there because they do not want Eiling as an enemy and because of how dangerous her powers are. (In reality, Wells has another idea in mind for her).
Finally, this week’s edition “Real Talk with Detective Joe West.” This week, Joe takes on Barry’s crush on Iris, which he claims to have noticed since Barry was old enough to know what love was. Naturally, Joe teases him for never telling Iris about his feelings. While, Barry may have given up on him and Iris because of how happy she is with Eddie, Joe hasn’t and tells Barry, “When the universe want to make something happen, it has a way of figuring those things out.” This scenes works so well because it was lighthearted and didn’t directly deal with a life-and-death situation. Also, anytime Jesse L. Martin laughs and smiles, we do so as well. (Adding their hug to my growing list of favorite hugs on Fall TV, which includes Stefan/Damon, Cary/Alicia, and The Doctor/Clara).
Back at the lab, Wells
manipulates tells Bette to kill General Eiling to protect not only herself, but other metahumans out there of whom she is now a leader. Clearly, this is the easiest way of achieving some of his goals: Either Bette gets rid of Eiling or Eiling kills her—either way he wins. This latest development is the latest in a growing list of troubling moments involving Dr. Wells, who we’ve already seen commit murder. With each passing week, Wells is starting to move closer to evil and further away from good.
And Bette does go off to kill General Eiling, but is stopped when Barry shows up. However, as he’s talking Bette down from the ledge, Eiling shoots her. This sets off a chain reaction in her body and she starts glowing, indicating she’ll explode. Pushing his powers to the limit for the second time in one episode, Barry picks a dying Bette up and drops her in the middle of the water just in the nick of time.
Later, Barry goes to visit Iris, and after failing for a third time to talk her out of the blog, decides that it’s best that they not talk to each other for a while. Even though this sucks for Barry and Iris, it’s great for us because this might mean less Iris. Yes, she had a bit more to do in tonight’s episode, but she still wasn’t that compelling.
Having seen Barry in action earlier, Eiling pays Wells a visit and reveals that he knows Wells indeed created the impossible the night of the explosion. Eiling wants to work with Wells again, but Wells refuses and warns Eiling that if he threatens him again, he, Wells, will end him. We then flashback to the conversation Wells and Eiling had five years ago, where Wells ends their partnership because he does not wish to subject their test patient to Eiling’s cruelty. It’s clear, however, that Wells made some progress and was able to give their subject some abilities. After Eiling leaves, Wells walks over to what is revealed to be Grodd’s cage, starts to comfort the gorilla, telling him that he has a different future in mind for him.
Wall of Weird:
— Talking about Eddie: Barry: “Guys, I have a problem.” Cisco: “We all do when guys like him exist.”
— Caitlin makes Barry a 5000-proof beverage, which gets Barry drunk for less than 30 seconds.
— Cisco comes up with the name Plastique for Bette on his first try.
— Can we bring Felicity back?!
— Does anyone else think this isn’t the last we’ll see of Plastique? This is a superhero show, there’s always a way for her to come back. It would make sense that she would because she is a member of the Suicide Squad, which was introduced in the second season of Arrow.