The Flash‘s “All Star Team Up” was probably conceived well before the teams behind Arrow and The Flash knew where their seasons were heading. As great it is to see the camaraderie among the cast of TV’s favorite crossover universe, there’s no real reason why Ray and Felicity are in town — in Arrow business or in Flash business — but they are here anyway. At least they are more interesting than the very dull/lame villain, Bree Larkin.

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Now, I know I am recapping The Flash, but a part of me just needs to vent some frustrations at the writing for Felicity Smoak this year. It takes a trip to Central City to see Felicity back to her normal, cheery self and it is glorious. At the angst-fest over on Arrow, Felicity is either caught up in a creepy love triangle or having her voice break every episode from nearly crying at Oliver’s blatant disregard for his own life. But over in Central City, Felicity shines. She’s chipper, confident and completely charming while still being a flawed heroine.

Even her billionaire boyfriend fares better over here in Central City, trading creepy bossman for nerding out with his new BFF Cisco. Weirdly enough, Felicity and Ray don’t make the episode better, but the episode surely makes them better, elevates them as the power couple Arrow fails to sell. 

Besides the special guest appearance spot by one of Arrow‘s finest (and Ray), it’s a standard, if a little clumsy, episode of The Flash that will fail to be really buzzworthy. That’s my last and only bee pun.

Bee-Cause Barry’s Paranoid

Okay, I lied. This subheading is my last bee pun. Back to my serious review:

After confirming that Harrison Wells is a shady man (finally, Barry), Barry’s put in a tough spot in this episode. Can he trust his new friends? Barry is a man of many talents, but lying is not one of them. If there was a superlative award for best at wearing his heart on his sleeve, Barry would win. Every time. Someone who is so light and good just can’t not feel uneasy around someone like Wells.

Barry takes this as far as not inviting Caitlin and Cisco to the world’s most awkward dinner party, and Wells also knows that something is up. Luckily, Barry can confide in almost-love interest Felicity Smoak about recognizing the good guys from the bad ones. It’s believable that Barry would be suspicious of his new besties’ loyalties — after all, they have worked with Wells for years — but it feels like a too-familiar retread on ground covered earlier this season with Cisco’s notorious freeze ray incident.

The bright side of Barry’s whole friendesential crisis is that after learning to trust the crew again, he gets more intel on Wells. From murder-target Dr. McGee (also on the 1990 Flash series!). McGee confirms that Wells became a different person after his wife died. And from Cisco, who mistakes his death by Reverse-Flash deja vu for dreams. At least it will be interesting to see how Barry and the crew face off against Wells in the coming weeks.

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Freak of the Week Fatigue

The freak of the week is the pun-heavy Bree Larkin, played by The Walking Dead star Emily Kinney (squee!). Dull and underused, the spiteful villain is using her robotic bees to stalk and kill the people who were put up for a promotion in front of her. Coming from a family of beekeepers, I was perpetually bored with all of the bee-related scenes, but that’s to no fault of Kinney, who clearly loves her ridiculous hive setup. The script thinks of the villain as an afterthought, an excuse to break for commercial just as things are getting good, and then swiftly returns to solve the problem. 

Is it cool that Barry has a defibrillator built into his suit? Absolutely. It’s even cooler that Barry learns that he can act as a human shocker when Cisco sacrifices himself for BFFs Caitlin and Ray, saving Cisco from a fate where he can’t go back in time. But it’s also becoming increasingly clear that maybe The Flash should become more serialized. The best elements of The Flash combine the freak of the week, the melodrama and the serialized storylines, but the freak of the week procedurals are easily the weakest part of the show, 90% of the time. Notable exceptions include the Riddler, but the writers might need to step up their game when it comes to these freaks.

The Iris and Eddie Beef

Never has Eddie become more relevant than now, which is sad because he’s still pretty irrelevant. Dude’s dating Iris and is Joe’s partner, but I don’t think Eddie’s had any storyline of his own this season. Even a scene of his own, where it’s about him. The original conceit of Eddie was that he has a mysterious past, but the Eddie we’ve seen is completely loving and devoted to Iris.

Enter Eddie’s first “storyline,” where his knowledge of The Flash’s identity puts him into direct conflict with Iris, literally the only person who doesn’t know Barry’s the Flash except for Thea Queen (who didn’t know about her bro’s secret identity for years). Eddie refuses to tell Iris someone else’s secret, and even after Barry flat-out manipulates Iris into trying to forgive Eddie’s secrets, Iris can’t. Taking him emotionally hostage, Iris gives him an ultimatum: tell me all your secrets or it’s over.

Thus, Eddie’s “storyline” is really Iris’. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when she finds out her father and her best friend have been lying to her all this time? Although Iris is a kind person by nature, I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes postal on these two. It’s only a matter of time until she does, and Candice Patton does really nice work laying all of these inclinations to the truth on the table.

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Other Thoughts

— I promised myself not to talk about Felicity too much, but she really was the best part of this episode, by far. Peppy, compassionate and totally in the loop on decision-making, I wish Felicity could stay in Central City more often. I know I just taunted the hornet’s nest of Olicity shippers out there, but how wonderful is it to see Felicity like this, folks? 

— From my notes: “Is that a bird? It’s a plane.” NOPE. It’s Iron Man. I mean ATOM. But no really, it’s DC Comics trying to grab at Iron Man’s success. Brandon Routh‘s great, but he’s no RDJ. 

— I’m kind of surprised that Barry didn’t dislike Ray more. For some reason, I think it would be funny if he was as annoyed at Ray as Ollie was when Felicity met Barry. 

— Spoiler Corner: If I’m going to be honest, I wouldn’t mind at all if Dr. Wells corrupted one of his proteges. Perhaps Caitlin Snow? I just really want her to go all Dark Willow so she can become her alterego Killer Frost. I just think Caitlin would be an awesome villain and it would be smart to have one of the main characters (besides Eddie and Wells) go dark. Besides, these DC universes could do with some more morally ambiguous women.

— Semi-related: what do we think of Daredevil’s red costume versus The Flash’s? It’s a great time to be a red-suited superhero on TV, amirite?

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8pm on The CW.

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Emily E. Steck

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV