A powerful new villain forces Team Flash to confront their fears in the latest episode of The Flash.

By Chancellor Agard
March 30, 2021 at 07:35 PM EDT
S7 E5

Last week, The Flash took a bit of a breather — or as much of one is possible. The majority of the episode was focused on checking in with Barry and Iris' emotional state. Of course, that changed in the last few minutes with the introduction of the hulking beast, a.k.a. Fuerza, as of this episode thanks to Cisco, who was impervious to an anti-matter bomb and whose introduction gave us the new Graphic Novel's latest mystery. Tonight's episode, "Fear Me," added another piece of the Fuerza puzzle with the introduction of Psych.

When the episode begins, Barry is trying to track down Fuerza — which is what Cisco has taken to calling her because She-Hulk was taken already — via the geothermal isotopes she leaves in her wake. But he gets distracted when Cisco introduces him to Caitlin and Frost, who split at the end of last week's episode; Caitlin believes this is the result of them being shot by Mirror Monarch's gun two episodes ago (sure, that makes sense). Their discussion is interrupted, though, because a colorful lightning storm erupts in the middle of S.T.A.R. Labs' lounge and the Speed Force materializes in the form of Nora Allen and collapses in Barry's arms. Clearly, Fuerza got to her.

The Flash
Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, and Grant Gustin in 'The Flash'
| Credit: Katie Yu/The CW

While the Speed Force rests in the medic-bay, Barry and the team turn their attention to the latest threat terrorizing Central City: A goofy-looking psychic who can channel and amplify everyone's fears. Unfortunately, neither Barry nor the rest of the Team Flash is a match for him. During their first encounter, Psych's powers make Barry have a vision of Reverse Flash and Savitar attacking him. During the second one, though, Barry sees all of his friends and family murdered by Fuerza, and Frost hallucinates that Caitlin turned her in for her past crimes. For some reason, we don't see Cisco's fears, which is either a missed opportunity to add a new layer to Cisco or something that we'll revisit down the road. Of the three deadly nightmares we did see, I definitely thought Frost's was the most emotionally effective, especially once we learn that the governor sent someone to Central City to arrest her.

Anyway, Team Flash's takeaway is that Psych is more powerful than any foe they've faced, which shakes Barry's confidence. "We've taken on the impossible so many times, but something about these new threats feels different, bigger," he tells Cecile, who is also struggling because she feels Psych every time he uses his powers. "For the first time since Crisis, I'm scared."

In talking to Cecile, Barry gets an idea for how to beat Psych: Put Cecile in the Thinker's chair, which will amplify her powers and allow her to broadcast an emotion that will counter Psych's fear. To pull this off, though, Cecile requires Barry to muster all of the courage. So, Barry speeds into action, but falls once again when he gets near to Psych, who unleashes his power on the entire city. In a welcomed change of pace, Cisco is the one who breaks through to Barry and helps him embrace his fear and fight on, allowing Thinker chair-powered Cecile to gather Barry's courage and broadcast it to the entire city, which frees everyone and defeats Psych. Having Cecile be the one to save the day was a cool way of shaking up what we've come to expect from the show.

In the wake of the big battle, though, Barry's system is overwhelmed by the same power that hurt the Speed Force, so he puts himself into the cryo-pod to heal. At the same time, the Speed Force wakes up and tells Team Flash that both Fuerza and Psych are like — cosmic entities, or Forces. In other words, it seems as though the show is indeed taking a cue from Joshua Williamson's relatively recent comic book arc that introduced a number of different cosmic forces like the Strength Force, whose conduit is Fuerza in the comics, and the Sage Force, whose conduit is, you guessed it, Psych. I don't have any kind of emotional attachment to this arc, but I am interested just because it's cool to see the show tackle very recent storylines. The sad fact about most comic book adaptations is that they tend to rehash older stuff that's already been adapted, deconstructed, subverted, and/or parodied. I'm curious to see how The Flash handles new material.

Furthermore, it seems as though The Flash has great expectations for this arc. The episode spent a lot of time trying to convince us that these Force threats are more dangerous than anything we've seen before. Not only does Barry say that in the quote above, but the episode referenced Thawne, Savitar, Grodd, and the Thinker in a way that was like, "You thought those were wild? What's coming next won't even compare!" Hopefully, the show can match that ambition.

Grade: B-

Wall of Weird:

  • Mini crossover alert: Barry saves a bunch of Crows from Psych. And I’ll keep my Ryan Wilder-like opinions about that to myself.
  • While Caitlin is eager to fuse with Frost once again, the same can’t be said for Frost, who eventually says as much to Caitlin. Frost loves the idea of getting to live a whole life and is scared to go back to only having half of one. Thankfully, Caitlin understands and they decide to remain separated.
  • Also, Caitlin likes This Is Us… and I’m choosing to keep my opinions about that to myself, too.

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