HR Wells takes over the introductory narration for Flash’s “Dead or Alive.” That kind of makes sense, since a lot of the episode is about him. As the intro goes on, we gradually see that the voiceover is actually part of one of Wells’ books that we’ve heard about before. He’s also taking Flash’s place as the main hero of the story, which makes for some amusing visuals. Flash (or Wells) is going up against some weapons dealers with some pretty high tech hardware, which also figures into the story as we go.
The opening arms dealers are defeated by Flash and Kid Flash. Barry is clearly happy with Wally’s progress, and lets him get all the attention from a conveniently placed bus full of cheerleaders they happen to save at the end of the chase. Iris teases Barry later about the cheerleaders, which is fun to watch.
As the STAR crew talks about the opening clash, most of them are congratulatory, and Julian is his usual annoying self. It’s like they were missing the prior Wells’ aloofness and arrogance, and gave that role to Julian. Iris talks about the weapons dealers being both part of how Plunder got his gear in last week’s episode, and a story she’s chasing down herself. Barry is a bit worried about her risking her life for a story, but that’s a concern that goes back to the original superhero/girlfriend, Superman and Lois Lane. Speaking of being worried about Iris, Cisco has so far not found a way to change that future, but they have mapped it out. Amusingly, the reconstruction is made out of Legos. Somehow, that fits for Cisco. Julian says that simple math shows Barry isn’t getting fast enough to save Iris from Savitar, and he does seem to have a point, in his dickish way.
The woman from last episode’s final scene breaks into Jitters, which is a bit weird. You don’t see a lot of breaking and entering in closed coffee shops. She picks up a few random things and proves to have a psychometry power similar to Cisco’s. When a cop shows up, she shows more powers like Vibe. Barry and Joe later work the scene, and Joe says nothing was taken and the money is in the register. That’s wrong. Any small business, and most of the larger ones, empty their cash drawers when they close. That to one side, Joe asks if Iris is all right, and Barry continues to not tell Joe about Savitar’s upcoming homicide. Joe, too, is worried about Iris’ pursuit of the arms dealers.
At STAR, Cisco, Caitlin, and HR go over the footage from the Jitters break in. They get surprised when the woman turns up at STAR Labs, and then calls out HR. He tells his friends that this is Gypsy, a “Collector,” which seems to mean bounty hunter. Gypsy uses her power to portal in to STAR, and proceeds to wipe the floor with Cisco and then Kid-Flash. She tells the STAR crew they have been harboring a fugitive, that inter-dimensional travel is banned on their world, and that HR has an hour to get his affairs in order. She also tells them that HR has been narrating his books and sending them back to Earth 19, their world. Cisco flirts with her a few times, which Caitlin later mocks him for.
Wells shares that the penalty for breaking the dimensional travel ban is death. Apparently, there was a war with a “neighboring Earth” 25 years ago, which left them fearful of such things. Barry wonders how this is going to work, since he saw Wells in his second glimpse of Iris’ death. Julian says that for all they know, sending Wells back home is what changes their future. Barry and Iris also talk more about her pursuit of the weapons dealer. I see both sides here: he’s worried about her safety, but she needs to be able to do her job.
Iris next visits the Speed Lab, where Wally is training again. She brings up what Barry told them about their Flashpoint selves being a crimefighting duo (anyone remember when they said they didn’t want to know about that timeline? Neither do they). Iris leans on her brother and talks him into helping her on the story, and keeping it secret from Barry.
Wells is packing his gear, saying he’ll miss soap operas. That seems like a weird focus for a guy about to be put to death to me. He also mentions trial by combat as a way out, which seems really weird. What “modern” society allows for that? When Gypsy comes back, Cisco challenges her before Barry can, which is when he learns he’s signed up for a fight to the death. Nice job, Vibe.
There’s a lot of worry about Cisco’s upcoming fight. They seem to have the same powers, but Gypsy is better with them. Julian proves he’s not just walking snark when he points out a weakness in her fighting style, which he’s been studying. There’s also some talk about why Cisco is risking his life for HR.
There’s a comic relief scene of Iris and Wally stealing some info from CCPD. It mostly just makes Joe uncomfortable while Iris babbles. For this being her plan, she seems really unprepared to keep Joe distracted. But this does give us another chance to see DA Cecile, Joe’s current love interest.
After a scene showing Cisco is not doing well with his training, HR and Barry get the bright idea to try and capture Gypsy and avoid the fight. They do badly, and Gypsy somehow or other manages to both use a portal against Flash and cuff him in the transit, which makes no sense at all to me. A very annoyed Gypsy portals away, taking HR hostage until the fight.
Cisco is mad at Barry for going behind his back and not believing in him. While I can understand that, Cisco himself was saying he didn’t think he could beat her, so he’s fussing a bit too much. Barry apologizes, saying he’s really worried about stopping Savitar and not increasing his speed fast enough to save Iris.
Iris follows up a lead on where the weapons dealer is, which also makes no sense. If she got there off the info she and Wally stole, why don’t the police know about it? She convinced Wally to go check for tunnels, leaving her alone to get captured by the criminal. Iris essentially dares him to shoot her, saying she isn’t dying today. Later on, no one is happy about her behavior, including a really furious Joe.
Cisco gets a text from Gypsy and goes to fight her in his full Vibe gear. After more flirting, they fight. Their portals zap them from the park they start in, to a ruined-looking Earth 2, to CatCo’s offices on Supergirl’s Earth, and some hell world that I guess is an Earth that didn’t do well. Eventually, they end up back where they started and Cisco uses Julian’s trick to beat her. The agreement they come to is Gypsy goes back home and tells everyone HR is dead, which also makes no sense. If trial by combat is a viable option, why the need for a lie? Either she’s that worried about her rep, or that embarrassed that Cisco both beat her and spared her.
Barry reads Iris’ story while she paces, eventually admitting he’s read it several times with his speed and is teasing her. It’s a good story, he says. Kid-Flash gets a lot of credit, which was part of what she promised him. Barry comes to two realizations: if Savitar is mad that future-Barry imprisoned him, that means Barry can beat him, and that if he’s not getting fast enough, someone else might be. HR and Cisco get a little moment about Cisco risking his life for HR.
What I liked: I’m glad that Kid-Flash is showing so much promise as a new hero, and not doing the “goofy novice” bit so many starting supers do. It was fun seeing Gypsy and Vibe bounce around from Earth to Earth.
What I didn’t: I don’t like Iris getting so fatalistic about her future. She’s going to get herself in real trouble that way, as we saw here. Julian is just annoying. Did we need another irksome genius? They talked up Cisco getting killed in the fight, but never addressed the “You’re supposed to kill her if you win” aspect in passing near the end. After all the buildup and focus on the STAR Museum, they dropped it that quick? And Gypsy was nothing like any version of her I’ve ever seen (see below).
It was a decent episode, but it had some issues. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.
And now, Gypsy:
Gypsy first appeared during the “Justice League Detroit” era of the JLA, which is also when Vibe debuted. She at first had camouflage powers, and later was able to protect illusions directly into people’s minds. She was usually dressed like a stereotypical Romany, which many didn’t like. Also, since so many “gypsies” are shown as showmen/performers of some kind, making one invisible was an odd choice. After the DCNU reboot, Gypsy became an alien princess from another dimension who was a supporting character near the end of Vibe’s solo book. At no point did she show powers like Cisco’s.