The Flash recap: 'Infantino Street'
The premise of tonight’s episode sounds incredibly fun on paper: The Flash teams up with Captain Cold to steal the Dominators’ crystal from ARGUS. There’s a lot of potential in that simple storytelling idea, an opportunity to play with genre. Imagine if The Flash jazzed up classic heist tropes with superpower shenanigans. Not only would that be entertaining, but it would also be a lighthearted approach to this admittedly serious story line Unfortunately, that potential is mostly wasted here, but it’s not entirely the episode’s fault.
While “Infantino Street” features fantastic performances from the cast that elevate the very meh material, it suffers from season 3’s pacing problems. The season drew out the Savitar mystery for too long, forcing this penultimate episode to rush to set up everything for next week’s finale. Not only does this mean that there isn’t enough time to really have fun with this unlikely team-up, but it also means that some of the episode’s most important beats don’t entirely land because there isn’t any room for them. That being said: God, I missed Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold, and I’m so glad he returned.
The evening’s first red flag came in the form of the sad acoustic guitar strumming that solemnly begins the episode. Picking up 24 hours before the death of Iris West, the hour opens with a melancholy montage of Team Flash’s members either making last-minute adjustments to the Speed Bazooka or brooding because they haven’t found a power source yet. Iris asks Barry to get her caviar so she has time to record a goodbye message for him in case the team’s endeavors fail.
Thankfully, Cisco finds a lead: The Dominators’ crystal, which is currently in ARGUS’ possession. Cisco and Barry ask Lyla if they can have it, but she says no because it’s a dangerous weapon, and she just doesn’t trust Barry given all of the trouble he’s caused in the past few months. Let’s be clear: Lyla is definitely in the right. Yes, I know Barry is the hero of the show, but he’s been acting very irresponsibly lately. (Remember when he actually tried to kill Savitar last week?) But Barry isn’t one to take no for an answer. Usually, that’s good a thing, but here, his fear drives him to act recklessly, and he comes up with a questionable plan: They need to break into ARGUS and steal the Declaration of Independence, er, I mean, the Dominators’ crystal.
That’s not going to be easy. ARGUS’ building has a built-in metahuman dampener, which means Barry and Wally’s power aren’t going to work. Which means it’s time for plan B: Barry runs back to 19th-century Siberia to borrow the greatest thief he knows: a pre-redemption arc Leonard Snart, a.k.a. Captain Cold, who is delighted by the fact that Barry is thinking about taking a walk on the dark side. Snart agrees, but only on the condition that they do it his way. The scenery is chewed to shreds from the moment Miller steps on screen, which is always a treat because he’s so great in this role.
Meanwhile, Savitar is busy repairing his suit and assuring Killer Frost that he’s definitely prepared to kill Iris when he suddenly remembers traveling back in time to recruit Leonard Snart. Killer Frost jumps at the opportunity to go back out to put an end to this Speed Cannon business, but Savitar is confident that they don’t need to worry about that and just decides to let the team go through with their stupid plan.
While I’ve had some complaints about this season in general, I will say that the best thing about it has been getting the chance to see Grant Gustin and Danielle Panabaker try out something new. Even though the character of Savitar doesn’t entirely work because of the season’s writing, Gustin is doing a great job of portraying his pain at being “created as disposable life.” And Panabaker, like Miller, seems like she’s having the time of her life chewing scenery. Sadly, great performances can only go so far.
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Barry tells Joe and Wally to take Iris someplace safe while they pull of the heist, and to not tell him where so that Savitar can’t find her. So, the West family seeks sanctuary on Earth-2 with Harry. This jaunt across the multiverse gives Iris and Joe a chance to say everything they need to say in case she dies, which takes the form of them coming clean to each other about their silliest secrets. It’s an incredibly poignant scene that sings because of some great direction, great chemistry between the actors, and because it just has the room to breathe, which we can’t say for the rest of the episode. I loved watching them dance around the breach room as Joe sings a song he used to sing to her when she was a child, and the moment when the tragic reality of their current situation hits them again is profoundly heartbreaking. Iris asks Joe to give Barry their engagement ring in case she dies, which explains why she doesn’t have it on in the future.
Meanwhile on Earth-1, Captain Cold and Barry execute their plan to steal the Dominators’ crystal. Before they go out, Cold warns Barry that the plan will probably go wrong, and it does from the get-go. The biggest speed bump is the discovery that King Shark is guarding the crystal. Barry, who is very desperate at this point, is prepared to just use Snart’s cold gun to kill King Shark, but Snart talks him out of it, and instead, they just lower the temperature of the room so King Shark will fall asleep.
They enter the room, and Barry quickly takes the crystal’s core. Unfortunately, that sets off the alarm, and Snart isn’t quick enough to escape the room. Also, King Shark is awake now. Barry has a choice: save Snart or leave him. Thankfully, Barry listens to his inner hero, and with Cisco’s remote help, Snart is able to escape. King Shark loses an arm in the process; however, that arm quickly regenerates. By this point, Lyla’s men have them surrounded, but thankfully, Lyla decides to let Barry take the crystal and go because she knows he would do it for her if John’s life were in danger.
Barry runs Leonard Snart back to where he picked him up in Siberia. Before parting ways, Snart gives him some advice: stop trying to beat Savitar at his own game. “Your goodness is your strength,” says Snart, echoing Iris, who told Barry not to lose himself trying to save her. Hopefully, Barry takes his advice to heart.
The Flash speeds into the Cortex and asks where Iris is. HR says Earth-2 and immediately wishes he didn’t, because this isn’t actually their Flash. It’s Savitar, who speeds off to Earth-2 to kidnap Iris. Wally tries his best to stop him, but Savitar breaks his leg (which explains why Wally’s not at Infantino Street when Iris dies). Joe tries appealing to the part of Savitar that remembers their father-son relationship, but that fails because this Barry has lost all hope. Hoping to protect her father, Iris agrees to go with Savitar.
Thus, the stage is set for the season’s final battle: While Barry and Joe head to Infantino Street to confront Savitar, Cisco heads to see Killer Frost for the fight he vibed earlier this season when Caitlin first got her powers. The Speed Cannon doesn’t work on Savitar because of the Philosopher’s Stone, which is made from calcified Speed Force energy, protects him. Meanwhile, Killer Frost, who wants to kill Cisco because it means killing Caitlin and finally becoming a god, manages to overpower Cisco. While they’re nicely executed, neither scene really lands because the show has been teasing them all season long. Sadly, Barry fails to save Iris, and Savitar stabs her. Iris dies in Barry’s arms as we hear the video message Iris left for Barry, saying her wedding vows via voice-over. But, like, there’s one episode left in the season, so Iris probably isn’t dead. Let’s be real.
“Infantino Street” raised another issue that I’ve had with this season: the handling of Iris. She hasn’t had an active role in saving her life since this plot was introduced, and that’s definitely the case here; she spends the entire hour waiting for Barry to find a way to save her. What’s insulting about this is that it runs against everything we know about this character. We’ve seen her defy Joe’s wishes regarding her safety many times before, so I don’t believe she would remain on the sidelines like this. Sure, Iris is at the center of this season’s endgame, but it’s only superficial. She’s an object or a problem to be solved, and that’s it, which is disappointing since Candice Patton has shown she’s a good actress and can handle heavier material when it’s given to her.
Even though I didn’t love this episode, I’m definitely interested in seeing how The Flash wraps everything up in the finale, which will hopefully be very bonkers. (Let’s be real one more time: Barry is so going to travel back in time again, right?)
Wall of Weird:
- I forgot to mention that HR has a crisis of confidence in tonight’s episode as he confronts the fact that he still hasn’t found his purpose on the team. He was thinking about this at the top of the hour, but then revealing Iris’ whereabouts to Savitar brought it to the surface. I’m intrigued to see how this plays out next week.
- Also, HR invited Tracy to join Team Flash full time. I hope she sticks around next season.
- To get past ARGUS security, Barry used some shape-shifting gadget that turned him into Lyla, and he had Captain Cold as his prisoner.
- The bland ARGUS break-in reminded me of the fact that The Flash took a similarly unstylish approach to its depiction of Gorilla City earlier this season, which, I’ve realized in the past few weeks, was rather uninspired.
- Did you catch that cool Cheetah shout-out in tonight’s episode?
- There was one other change at Infantino Street: Joe was on the roof instead of HR. Where did HR go?
- “Infantino Street” refers to legendary Silver Age DC Comics artist Carmine Infantino.