THE FLASH Review 1.09 “The Man In The Yellow Suit”

Reverse-Flash, Firestorm and Christmas have all come to Central City, and we're the ones who get the gift. 

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"We've been at this a long time, you and I, but I'm always one step ahead. It is your destiny to lose to me, Flash, just as it was your mother's destiny to die that night."

I wondered how the writers would manage to follow up last week's major two-hour crossover event of The Flash and Arrow in a way that wouldn't feel anticlimactic. The answer, on The Flash at least, is with far and away the strongest episode yet of the series. "The Man in the Yellow Suit" is a thrilling, emotional hour of television, one that forwarded the plot in profound and startling ways. No one can accuse The Flash of standing still. This show is as swift on its feet as its hero. 

Reverse-Flash - in all but name, and almost in name too - has returned to Central City (along with Christmas - a holiday that no part of "The Man in the Yellow Suit" will let us forget), and he's taken to actively tormenting Barry at every opportunity. With as many teases as we've had of this showdown, Barry's first real confrontation with Reverse-Flash could have easily failed to live up to its own hype. And yet both encounters Barry has with the man in yellow are riveting; these are epic fights with far higher stakes than any of Barry's previous battles. As Reverse-Flash tells him that they've been at this for an untold amount of time, and that The Flash will always lose, we're struck with a sense of hopeless inevitability. This isn't like all of the other meta-humans, where Barry just has to learn the precise angle and speed at which to barrel over them and win the day. As he is now, Barry cannot beat this villain - and of all the villains to triumph over Barry, of course it had to be the one who killed his mother, the man who is responsible for the incarceration of his dad and has threatened the life of Barry's love. 

What are we to make of Harrison Wells in this episode? The tag at the end of the ep would surely have us believe that Wells is the Reverse-Flash, but nothing about Wells is ever certain. I know I believe him when he tells Caitlin, "I know I have made you a lot of promises. I know I've not been able to keep them all. But on my life, I promise you this: we will bring Ronnie home." There's something in his demeanor that I buy: I can't believe that he doesn't truly have affection for Caitlin, Cisco and Barry. And of course the Reverse-Flash seems to have no warmth for Wells, eager to pummel him within an inch of his life. Could it be that there are two versions of Wells - one who is determined to protect The Flash from the other? 

Reverse-Flash remains entirely mysterious to us in this episode, and it works, leaving us with a villain who will probably cast a shadow over the rest of the season. And he's not the only one, as Ronnie Raymond finally really returns as Firestorm. Danielle Panabaker's incredible in this episode, working together with Cisco to find her fiance and bring him home. But this isn't the man she loved; he tells her so himself as he takes her face in his hands and growls "FIRESTORM!" in the awesomest way possible. Firestorm looks so, so cool, and it's great that he ends up rescuing the Star Labs team from Reverse-Flash. He tells Caitlin, "Don't look for me again," but of course she won't be able to help herself, and I, for one, can't wait to see more of him. 

We also meet Dr. Christina McGee, played by Amanda Pays, who played the same character on the 1990-1991 CBS The Flash series. Her introduction feels like an opening to a more important dynamic later, but it did pave the way for Eddie to elbow his Task Force into the search for The Flash (or, as the case was this week, Reverse-Flash). Eddie knows so much now, and it feels like it can only be a matter of time before he knows it all. Eddie's a great character even taken at face value as he's currently presented on the show, but he's made twice as compelling when considering what could turn him from a straightforward cop to the character that's earned the name Eddie Thawne. 

With all of the action in "The Man in the Yellow Suit," the episode still leaves plenty of room for heart. Barry's unrequited pining for Iris felt like such a dead-end for The Flash, but when he finally tells her how he feels, this plot felt more alive than it has since the series began. I can't really see Barry and Iris together as a couple, but this episode made me care more about their relationship, as friends and potential lovers, than I ever have. And Barry shares two wonderful scenes with his two fathers, and both of whom give him really meaningful advice. His dad tells him to live his life without fear, and Joe breaks my heart a hundred times with this speech: 

When you first moved in with us, I thought it was gonna be too much. I'm already a single dad. Finances were tough. And you were a little boy who just lost his mother.

But, man, was I wrong. Within two weeks, you had changed the whole dynamic of the house. Suddenly, the house was filled with this light, this energy. I mean, you brightened up everything.

You'd seen more darkness than any man will in a lifetime, and you never let it dim your soul. So there I was, thinking that I'm changing your life by taking you in, but the truth is, you changed mine.

So don't lose that light now, Bar. The world may need The Flash, but I need my Barry Allen.

This speech almost feels like a promise that, no matter what trials Barry will have to endure, The Flash won't become a dim shadow of itself. It won't lose its light, and neither will Barry.

Coolest moments this week: 

Both fights with Reverse-Flash were breathtaking. That stadium scene? How does this show make streaks of light look so exciting? 

The episode ends with a lovely Christmas party among the crew. In such a short time, Caitlin, Cisco and Eddie have become part of the West family, and it's a testament to the writing and performances on The Flash that it works. 

Cisco is so smart: "The man in yellow may have killed Barry's mother, but there was another speedster there that night."

The Flash returns January 20th with "Revenge of the Rogues," and we should probably all just watch this episode six or seven more times in the interim.