NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
The Flash managed to find its way back to particularly strong storytelling in last week’s episode, and fortunately, this week’s offering was another solid one. “Untouchable” furthered the development of Wally as a budding speedster hero very nicely, while also forcing the West family and Barry to face some hard truths in general, as the truth comes out to Joe about Barry’s vision of Savitar murdering Iris in the future.
Our latest metahuman threat to Central City comes in the form of Clive Yorkin, another D-List New Earth baddie who doesn’t even have a super-villain moniker in DC Comics lore. Yorkin has the ability to rapidly decay anyone or anything he touches, and this has him targeting seemingly random people around the city, alleging that they did something very unfortunate to him.
After Barry, Julian and Joe start doing some CSI work on Yorkin’s crimes, it soon becomes apparent that Yorkin is targeting people that were cops in Flashpoint. With some help from Cisco, they eventually learn that the people Yorkin is killing were the cops who arrested him in the aborted alternate timeline for the DC Television Universe, and he’s taking revenge. As much as Yorkin himself is an interesting obstacle however, since he can’t be touched, even by bullets, it goes without saying that he’s yet another poorly-developed throwaway villain-of-the-week. On top of that, his Flashpoint-driven motivations feel extremely flimsy. How is he even aware of his arrest in Flashpoint? None of the other Alchemy-created metahumans seemed to be consciously aware of their Flashpoint backstories. Moreover, why does he care about an arrest in an alternate timeline when he’s free as a bird in the revised timeline?
What really made this episode enjoyable nonetheless is the material with the West family though, especially with Wally. Wally is starting to gain a following of his own even beyond Central City, which is made apparent when Joe’s girlfriend’s daughter briefly comes to town from Coast City (boy, we haven’t brought up Coast City in the DC Television Universe for a little while, have we?), and gushes about being a big fan of Kid Flash. After Wally’s growing success in heroism, it’s nice to see that the public is starting to respond to the main Flash’s likable sidekick in an increasingly noticeable way, even though his training still requires some refinement. Having both Wally and Iris step up to tell the truth to Joe about Barry’s vision of Iris’ death in the near future was also one of the episode’s best and most dramatic moments, with Joe eventually fighting through the anguish to find his own renewed sense of purpose in averting Iris’ tragic fate with everyone else.
Another particularly strong element of this episode comes in when Barry finds himself really realizing just how important it is that he be a good teacher to Wally. On account of Yorkin’s unique threat, Barry tries and mostly fails to teach Wally how to phase, a speedster ability that Wally is having particular trouble with at this point. Wally rushing in to save Iris when Yorkin attacks her in her apartment in lieu of Barry was also a great, if harrowing teachable moment, as Wally ultimately fails to prevent Yorkin from touching Iris. This leaves Iris in critical condition as the two speedsters must try to save Joe soon afterward, who just so happens to be warning the final target when Yorkin strikes at a speeding train in the climax.
Iris needing to have her arm frozen to slow the decay also provides an inspired moment to bring Killer Frost back out, despite Caitlin’s predictable apprehension. After some encouragement by the others, most notably Julian, who was back to full-on dick mode for most of this episode, Caitlin manages to find the resolve to use her powers and save Iris… For a while. Caitlin does lose control at one point, though Julian manages to talk her through and re-stabilize her, which, honestly, is a little cheesy and schmaltzy. In fact, Wally magically learning to phase right as the plot demands it due to an equally schmaltzy speech from Barry feels like a similar cheat, and makes this episode trip up over a few needlessly corny moments, when it should have found a more logical means of helping both Caitlin and Wally save the day.
Fortunately, things ending with a potential Caitlin/Julian romance seemingly sparked, and a panicked Jesse Quick coming out of a breach from Earth-2 to tell Wally that her father has been kidnapped by Grodd in Gorilla City, sets up lots of cool promise for the next series of events on this show. The Flash is taking a week off next week, sadly skipping Valentine’s Day in the process, and will be back afterward with a two-part ‘Gorilla City’ event, so I have a feeling that Caitlin’s and Julian’s drink out won’t be fully addressed right away. I’m nonetheless looking forward to the idea of two ‘good’ characters that are both villains in most elements of DC Comics lore pursuing a very relatable romance on this show though. Most importantly, I’m glad that, “Untouchable” continues to be maintaining the show’s growing steadiness in the back half of Season Three, and I definitely hope that this stays consistent during our latest trip to Earth-2 in a couple of weeks!
The Flash delivers another good episode this week, as the West family must find inspiration in a time of peril and uncertainty.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Wally continuing to be a likable, endearing new hero
Joe learning the truth about the Iris premonition
Clever reason to bring out Killer Frost again
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
Yorkin is another dull, disposable villain-of-the-week
Wally and Caitlin succeeding from schmaltz, rather than true reasoning