THE FLASH Review 1.18 “All Star Team Up”

The Flash and The Atom team up while Iris continues to stand alone in a corner somewhere.

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"Eddie's out there every day in the darkness. I just think that maybe if he doesn't want to talk to you about his work, it's probably because he wants to keep you in the light."

There's so much greatness in last night's episode of The Flash, "All Star Team Up." Here we have The Flash and The Atom, in full costumes and by those very names, working together to fight The Bug-Eyed Bandit as a team of brilliant sidekicks offers their assistance and friendship alongside our valiant heroes...and all I can think about is poor Iris. 

The direction her storyline has taken is so egregiously unfair that it's beginning to feel like the writers are deliberately alienating her. "All Star Team Up" ends with Barry confessing his fears about Harrison Wells to Caitlin and Cisco, just as last week's "Tricksters" ended with Barry and Joe confiding The Flash's identity to Eddie. Felicity, whom Barry has known for about a year, has become Barry's most trusted confidant after Joe, and she clues Ray Palmer in to Barry's identity before he even meets the guy. Iris continues to be the only character left in the dark, and while "All Star Team Up" overtly deals with the injustice of that, it does not resolve it, with Iris giving a rather unsporting ultimatum to Eddie despite Barry's best attempt to help her understand Eddie's secrecy. While all of this is certainly means toward an end, and that end is probably Eddie Thawne's journey to villainy, it seems monumentally unjust to sacrifice one of only two female regulars on this show to the arc of yet another future villain.

And "All Star Team Up" definitely made strides in that journey, with Eddie showing some understandable vexation at the way Barry's crimefighting seems to edge in on his own cop duties. This, in addition to the way he's being punished for Barry and Joe's stubborn refusal to confide in Iris, will almost certainly lead to some resentment on Eddie's part. It feels like foreshadowing when Joe tells Eddie, "Keeping her in the dark keeps her safe," and Eddie counters, "I don't agree," and if Eddie loses Iris because of this mess - either because she dies in a way that could have been prevented if she knew the truth, or because she breaks up with Eddie because he's forced to keep Barry's secret - it will make for strong motivation turning Eddie away from the light and into that darkness he fights each day. I don't doubt The Flash writers when it comes to their intentions with this storyline, but the execution remains weak: Iris is underwritten, under-utilized and wrongfully neglected by the writers and characters of this show. 

So Felicity's visit is a welcome addition to Central City. Felicity's currently clawing her way back from her own ill-written arc on Arrow, but in Central City she always feels like the Felicity of yore: forthright, optimistic, charmingly awkward, invariably sound. And what a delight to see how well Brandon Routh's Ray Palmer fits in with Team Flash ("Oh god, there's two of them," says Caitlin) - his own goofy amiability is much better suited by The Flash than it has been on Arrow, and I imagine his spin-off show will be closer in tone to Central City than Starling City. (After all, as Felicity gives a meta nod, "You know I left Starling City to get away from the mood and brood...I thought Central City was supposed to be the fun one.") Ray's instant friendship with Cisco, in particular, added a lovely jolt of levity. 

Cisco's quickly become the Willow of The Flash - meaning that any time he's in danger, my heart stops. He's such a vital character to the series, and he's already died twice (I guess that makes him the Buffy), and with his phantom memories of the alternate timeline plaguing him, I think Cisco is primed to become something far more important to Team Flash than merely a tech genius sidekick, namer of meta-humans and unfailing comic relief. His courage and selflessness help convince Barry - along with Felicity's wise guidance - to confide in Caitlin and Cisco about Wells, and though Caitlin's reaction is less than optimal (uh-oh), Cisco immediately 'fesses up about his dreams. With next week's episode, titled "Who Is Harrison Wells?", the stakes are soaring as high as Ray's completely rad Atom suit. 

So Iris stuff aside, "All Star Team Up" is a tremendous episode, but when we're eighteen episodes in and every single episode is great "Iris stuff aside," it's clear that this is a structural problem that won't be solved by any easy means. The team-up action in this episode was of the highest quality, Felicity's always a welcome presence in Central City and the future fates of Cisco and Eddie are growing increasingly compelling - all that plus another intriguing appearance by Amanda Pays as Dr. Tina McGee - but the writers' treatment of Iris is becoming a flaw I can't ignore.

Coolest moments this week: 

In spite of the terrific action, the best moments of "All Star Team Up" came from the hilarious dialogue. 

“Is that a bird?” “It’s a ...plane?” “It’s my boyfriend.” “Hi, I’m Ray.”

 “I’m kind of partial to The Atom.” “Are you married to that?”

"BEE careful.” “For real?” “Bad pun, sorry, just don’t die.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of like I’m dating Barry in Oliver’s body…a sentence you will never repeat to anyone.” "Your secret is safe with me."

 “I’ve never had a nemesis before. I kinda like it.” And you're good at it, girl!