“Mixed Signals” brings back a villain from the period in the comics when Wally West was the Flash. Newer fans might not know that Wally (the original, red-headed founding Teen Titan, not the version on the CW show or the current Teen Titans comic) replaced his mentor Barry from 1987 through 2008. In fact, Wally was Flash for longer than Barry was until they brought him back to life in Final Crisis. With a run that long, he got many original foes and supporting characters (like Tina McGee, who we’ve seen on the show a few times). This weeks bad guy is a version of one of Wally’s more dangerous villains.
The episode starts with a very obnoxious rich guy flaunting his wealth, and a realtor gritting her teeth to deal with him. His being a dick to her actually saves her life when he becomes the first murder victim of the week in a spectacularly brutal fashion. Afterward, we get a glimpse of the bad guy, and the elevator’s electronic screen shows us the particular color to look for hints of the villain’s power.
Barry is enjoying being back and recreating a famous Tom Cruise scene as he zips around the apartment, making breakfast for Iris. We also see how he’s catching up on six months of tv (apparently, he’s a Game of Thrones fan). He gets paged to a crime scene, and tells Iris on the way out that he’s done several of the tasks remaining for their upcoming wedding.
Joe West and Captain Singh are already there, and both note Barry’s marked, even inappropriate, good mood. Cisco shows up as official tech consultant, and he definitely doesn’t have a cop’s stomach yet. He does find some odd code in the elevator system.
Because naturally the STAR City Police can’t solve a case on their own, Cisco takes the code back to the Cortex to have the STAR computers go to work on it. While that’s in process, he tells Barry about some of the many modifications he made to the Flash suit while Barry was lost in the Speed Force. Again. Pretty much unnoticed by everyone else, Wally snarks that sure, BARRY got a fancy new suit. Barry escapes to the CCPD after Cisco saddles him with an enormous training manual for the new suit. On the way out, he blithely informs Iris he cancelled the training session for tonight so they could do something else. Caitlin suggest couples therapy to Iris, saying it helped her and Ronnie back when. The discussion is tabled when alarms go off all over, and Cisco defuses a tense situation by saying Gypsy is there for a date with him… which he’s not ready for because of the computer code.
We see another rich guy get tech-attacked, this time as his car goes haywire, urged on by the villain with the unpronounceable name: Kilg%re. As his car hits 120 MPH, he gets the attention of the STAR tracking sensors, and Flash zooms off to save the day, ignoring Wally’s offer to help, and then Iris’ directions on what to do. I will say, in his defense, that whatever arrangement was made for Iris to be team leader at STAR, Barry wasn’t part of it and didn’t agree to it. That said, he should have listened, and only averts disaster with some fancy wrench work.
Back at STAR, Cisco performs an “auto-topsy” to find out what happened to the vehicle, and finds yet more of the strange code. Caitlin makes a really interesting observation, and the two of them are off and running, tech-geeking out, which is great for the case, not so much for Cisco’s date with Gypsy. Barry apologizes for not listening about the car issue with Iris, and gets a bit blindsided when they go off to couples’ therapy.
The therapy scene is mostly just low comedy with a few painful notes. There’s also another bit of continuity between shows when Barry sees a newspaper article about Oliver Queen. I’m sure this was just added to the show for both comedy and drama flakes, but the only way something like that would actually work is if Barry told the therapist his secret. Then again, he seems to tell just about everyone else, so maybe that’s not a big deal.
Therapy gets put on hold when Kilg%re goes after the car driver, Tim Kwan, again, this time putting Joe at risk, too. Barry, of course, manages a last nano-second rescue, but the scene emphasizes why he needs one of the comic book character’s trademark tools- the ring that holds his costume. Kwan finally tells them why Kilg%re is after him, and he kinda has it coming. Caitlin both helps Cisco with his coding against Kilg%re and his issues with Gypsy.
Round two of therapy gets a lot more serious and leaves Barry surprised and stunned at how Iris actually feels. Of course, he might have known that if she’d mentioned it to him. Just saying. Wally and Joe go stake out another potential victim, Wally using his speed to plant bugs. Because really, when you’re dealing with a guy that controls tech, there’s nothing wrong with relying on gadgets to do your job, right? Wally manages to save the newest almost-victim, but Kwan gets captured.
The Cisco/Gypsy stuff comes to a head and they manage to actually talk about a few things, as do Barry and Iris. Eventually, Cisco gets another idea and they manage to track down the bad guy. The rescue goes badly when we find out just how much Cisco has done to the suit. I think he thought Barry was Iron Flash. Oh well, at least the color scheme still works. Kid-Flash gets taken out by the suit’s blasters (it has blasters?) and Barry almost gets killed by possessed gadgets. Eventually, he does something desperate on Iris’ advice, which was a bit odd as experts like Cisco and Caitlin were advising against it. I guess Iris… used the Force or something?
The bad guy gets beaten and captured. Cisco and Gypsy get their delayed date, and talk about the complications of dating someone from another Earth. Barry and Iris talk more. They learn something really troubling about Kilg%re that hints at more troubles to come, and we get a final scene with the so-far undiscovered Big Bad of the season who indicates there’s more where Kilg%re came from. 11 more, actually. And there may be something afoot at Iron Heights, the prison for meta-criminals.
What I liked: There were some great lines. I actually liked some of Cisco’s additions to the Flash suit. It was good to see Gypsy again. The Killer Frost story isn’t done yet, judging by one scene. Wally has a good point about him being somewhat ignored. The newspaper about Oliver was a nice touch. The special effects on this show remain great.
What I didn’t: I’m really not wild about this “Iris is in charge” bit. In the 6 months Barry was gone, she became more of an expert than the various metas and scientists on the team? Wally and Joe using the bugs was kinda dumb. Kid-Flash got taken out way too easy in the big showdown.
It was an erratic episode. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5, my default rating, as the good and the bad balanced out in my opinion.