Season One, Episode Eighteen — “All-Star Team-Up”
By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. It’s high-time for another team-up. Yessir, it’s been sixteen weeks since we’ve seen Felicity Smoak saunter from the dimly lit alleyways of Arrow and into the sterile hallways of S.T.A.R. Labs, but it’s like she never left. And Felicity’s not alone; her current squeeze Ray Palmer flies on in to Barry Allen’s world at a time when things couldn’t be rockier for S.T.A.R.’s stellar staff. And though the show doesn’t find much for Mr. Palmer to do (aside from a severe bro-down with Cisco), Ray’s a perfect fit for Barry’s more optimistic world.
He definitely fares better than the Bug-Eyed Bandit (which, yes, that’s her name), who disappears so deeply into the episode’s periphery that one would be right in assuming that the episode was about the Flash and the Atom versus a pissed-off swarm of killer robot bees. Oh, and the series’ writers have finally ran out of things for Iris to do. For the most part, an inherently awkward — but still very fun — episode.
WHAT WORKED: The very presence of Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) brings much joy and delight to The Flash, and “All-Star Team-Up” doesn’t disappoint. Even with everybody at S.T.A.R. Labs in a pissy mood over the to-do over Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), Felicity brought some much-needed levity.
Ray Palmer (former Superman Brandon Routh) may not have had much more to do than be Felicity’s arm-candy, but his aw-shucks grin and corn-fed optimism complimented The Flash incredibly well. And when it came time to throw down in that not-at-all dorky A.T.O.M. exo-suit, Ray soared. Literally. (And seeing Brandon Routh fly once again made the pain that was Superman Returns fade a little further in our memories, which is not a bad thing.)
Even though the show spent a lot of time juggling its characters, Det. Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) absolutely refused to fall to the wayside. The brief moments when Joe gets to hang around gave the episode an added emotional depth. (Seeing the pain in his eyes fade to relief once Barry was revived with an assist from S.T.A.R. put a lump in our throats. He’s just so damned good.)
WHAT DIDN’T: It’s getting harder and harder to ignore, guys. The Flash has a villain problem. With all the narrative hustling this show has to do in order to proceed every character’s own personal struggle, the villain is usually the one who gets the short shrift every week. And it’s getting kinda old. The Bug-Eyed Bandit (Emily Kinney) is shoved so far into the episode’s background that when it’s time for her to flex some menace, all the writers have left for her to do is spout some Schwarzenegger-level bullshit (“I’m the queen of this swarm“, “I’ll show you what it’s like to be stung” etc, etc…).
And speaking of the Bug-Eyed Bandit, we get that the show would want to incorporate a villain that wholly belongs to the Atom (at least, in the comic books), but a swarm of robotic, poisonous killer bees versus the Fastest Man Alive? It only works if its accepted that Barry can’t outrun a swarm of bees. And since we know he can run, well, a hell of a lot faster than that, that only means that the episode’s central conceit does not, in fact, work. At all.
Iris. Iris, Iris, Iris (Candice Patton). This show doesn’t treat you right. First, for reasons stretched to rather improbable ends, most of the men in your life want to keep you in the dark about The Flash’s true identity — even though that might be a good thing to know (both personally and professionally). Now the show’s writers have made you even more histrionic than you’ve been before: Having a big passive-aggressive fight with your boyf at dinner — with all your friends present? Girl — because you think there are secrets he isn’t telling you — even though HE’S A COP and probably shouldn’t tell you, seeing as though you’re press — drags you down to awful, Barbara Kean-like lows. (Now Iris is the stereotype of a “crazy girl”, Flash writers. Thanks?)
“Is that a bird?“, “It’s a plane…”, “It’s my boyfriend.”, “Hi! I’m Ray.” – Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), Felicity Smoak, and Ray Palmer collaborate for a very, very cute Superman reference.
“He seems a little… tall for you.” – Barry, talking about the Atom.
“We have the technology.” – Ray Palmer, who made Jarrod feel like he wasn’t the only person who remembered the Six Million Dollar Man.
BEST MOMENT(s): That stunner of an opener. Barry (Grant Gustin) helping detectives Joe and Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) take down a rash of attempted robberies was an exercise in The Flash‘s ability to deliver breathless action sequences while retaining the core of why we care about these characters. The dynamics in these short minutes — Joe’s brimming pride at his foster son’s growing confidence as a superhero, Barry’s joy in smashing some damn crime, and Eddie’s reticence in aiding Barry’s secret — are all put on brilliant display here.
Ray Palmer takes to the skies. Whether or not you’re a fan of Superman Returns (and it’s toootally fine if you’re not), you have to admit, Brandon Routh looks good in the clouds. And his mid-air skirmish against a bunch of bees may have been stupid as hell (thematically, at least), but Routh’s brief minutes inside that exo-suit gave the DC Television Universe its very own Iron Man. Roll your eyes if you must. We thought it was pretty damn cool.
EPISODE’S MVP: Felicity Smoak. Every good, smart line in this episode? Felicity. Hottest billionaire boyfriend? Felicity’s. Most touching heart-to-heart with Barry? Felicity. A bright (but still-slightly-awkward) light among this episode’s bunch of mopes? Felicity. And who defeated the baddie by hacking those robo-bees? Felicity. Girl’s got it goin’ on. We love her. (Jarrod slightly more than MJ, but that’s to be expected.) Although her well-executed part does bring up the fact that show’s writers do know how to write an interesting and compelling female character, maybe for Iris they just don’t bother?
– It’s fitting that Barry’s first team-up with the Atom would introduce a villain from the Mini-Marvel’s rogues gallery: The Bug-Eyed Bandit is here to terrorize Central City, but it appears he’s undergone some changes in his first television appearance: Bertram Larvan is now Brie Larvan, a progressive step to making people care about the damned Bug-Eyed Bandit. (Though we’re still not entirely convinced.) It’s not clear who suffers the more insulting indignity here: A fella named Bertram, or a woman named after cheese.
– Speaking of which, the Bug-Eyed Bandit herself, Emily Kinney, makes the jump from one comic book property (The Walking Dead) to another. But the switch-over wasn’t as successful as we’d like.
– Cisco should have stuck around and had a little chat with Joe. Those tend to do wonders for the soul.
– And speaking of Cisco, what is it that he’s experiencing exactly? Temporal déjà vu? Or perhaps he’s developing an ability to, um, “vibe” into parallel dimensions.
– Hey, don’t roll your eyes at us! Roll them at Geoff Johns! We’re just saying that this may be the beginning of Vibe’s powers. Y’see, Post-Flashpoint, he had powers relating to parallel universes (and boom tubes), and was actually able to hurt the Flash with his vibratory powers. This would be an interesting way to begin his transformation.
– Both Iris and Felicity can immediately tell that something fishy is going on with Eddie and Barry respectively. That’s because everyone on this show is a terrible, terrible liar.
– So, Ray knows Barry’s identity, and the Bug-Eyed Bandit caught a look at his unmasked face with one of her creepy little bee-bots. This must bring the total number of people who know Barry is the Flash up to, what? Thirty-two? (But sshhh, don’t tell Iris, okay.)
– It’s pretty cute how Ray is about a foot taller than his science-bros Barry and Cisco.
– Felicity, we’d be into the idea of “Barry inside Ollie’s body” too, but Ray really seems to add an doofier facet we wouldn’t have expected from that combination. Maybe you know something we don’t.