The Flash S07E02 The Speed of Thought Review: Another Baffling Turn

After The Flash slow-walked through its season premiere, could the second episode redeem the show at all? Well, what's important is they tried. The new artificial speed force has had an unexpected side-effect: The Flash/Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) now has his speed-thinking ability!  So while he and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) put this to good use trying to figure out how to rescue Iris (Candice Patton), Camilla, and Captain Singh from the Mirror Universe, they start to see some terrifying side effects.

The Flash The Speed of Thought Cisco and Barry
Photo: The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

There is a strange heel turn that is A CHOICE as Barry basically turns into a HAL-9000 level crazy intelligence, complete with bug-nuts, hyper-rational, cold and calculating indifference for morality, feeling, or emotion. It is a little hard to watch as they invoke every bad robot cliché. It's not that Gustin's acting is bad– it's actually really compelling in a lot of ways, like James Spader as Ultron– it is that the choices the show is making in terms of script and character are just so odd and a little off-putting.

The Flash The Speed of Thought - Caitlin and Sisco
Photo: The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

And so who has to come to the rescue but Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) as her alter ego Killer Frost and Cisco. The third act actually devolves into a lot of fun as there is a major showdown trying to stop the semi-evil Flash. They especially give Panabaker a lot to do, and it helps. From her triumphal re-entry to the show at the top of the episode to her coup de grace fighting The Flash, she is just a lot of fun, which is something the show is sorely missing.

Of course, it's hard for the show to be fun when you have the main character still stuck in this Mirrorverse for what feels like an interminable period of time. My continued criticism of this is it robs several of its main characters, but especially Iris, of agency by "damseling" them waiting for superhero rescue.

Iris and Camilla
Photo: The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

This episode sort of takes two steps forward, five steps back approach to this dilemma by first allowing Iris to send a message intercepted by Team Flash so they know where/when to plan a rescue. However, the episode's main dilemma quickly devolves into Sophie's Choice of "Who do we save from the Mirrorverse because we can't save everyone?" Robot-brain Barry isn't any help here, and let's just say without any spoilers that the way this is resolved is unsatisfying on several levels.

The principal problem of this storyline is that it robs women of color (Iris and Camilla) and the show's only prominent gay side character (Captain Singh) of any agency. The resolution of this episode compounds that problem by several degrees. The Flash's Achilles heel has always been that Iris isn't given enough to do, and this just perpetuates that. So while I'm really glad for the return of Panabaker and Killer Frost, we need to apply some of that excitement and agency to Iris, Camilla, and Captain Singh as well.

Killer Frost
Photo: The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved
Cisco
Photo: The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

But it's not all bad. While the episode ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger and a dire situation, it also cuts to a final scene that teases the return of some major characters. Color me interested, as this has always been where Season 7 has needed to be.

One final thought that is just incredibly fun: at one point in the episode Cisco says that our Big Bad Eva McCulloch (Efrat Dor) was being interviewed by "the new Rachel Maddow." Ok, hold on one second here. This posits that Rachel Maddow exists in The Arrowverse similar to in our universe, and not only exists but is separate and distinct from Vesper Fairchild, the radio host that Maddow voices on Batwoman. Holy twisted doppelganger, Batwoman! Will we ever get to the bottom of this? I doubt it, but this was one of those moments that makes my brain tingly.

Let's hope The Flash can soon return to its brain-tingle goodness and move past its current tar pit of inanity it has been stuck in for a while.

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About Andy Wilson

A mild mannered digital strategist working for an environmental nonprofit in Austin, TX roaming the interwebs fighting his nemeses by day, and by night consuming all manner of media. You can find him either on his couch or at the nearest Alamo Drafthouse catching the latest. Don't follow him on Twitter @CitizenAndy.
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