There are a lot of questionable choices and gray areas in “Goldfaced.” Team Flash has a lot of decisions to make this week, and it involves some interesting moral calculus. For the brighter, shinier counterpart to the dark themes on Arrow, Flash seems to be drifting into the shade itself. The recurring theme for the week seems to be “Don’t trust supervillains,” which should go without saying, but some of the characters apparently need to be reminded of this truism.
We open with Sherloque Wells working away on his computer, still trying to figure out what’s going on with Nora. I admit, I’m a bit curious myself. Nora herself pays yet another visit to Eobard Thawne in his cell in the future to get some advice about what to do about Wells. Let me say that again: the young superhero is getting advice from a murderous supervillain. I’d say Nora was adorably naïve if it didn’t keep causing problems for the team.
Iris distractedly works on her computer, ignoring Barry’s superspeed redecorating efforts. She’s worried about not getting readers for her new paper, and shows him some nasty reviews. She decides she needs to write about things more people care about, and that leads her to turning her investigative talent on Cicada’s trail. That seems like a remarkably dangerous choice to me, but what do I know?
Caitlin is working on a sample sent to her by the still worryingly-absent Cisco, trying to make progress on the meta-human “cure.” After a lot of techno-babble, they learn of a new problem: the cure takes a while to kick in, and for some reason, they decide they need to immobilize Cicada for about a minute. I don’t get this reasoning. If the cure takes some time, fine, even if he gets away, he’ll be de-powered, right? So they can track him down easier later? The next wrinkle is that they know of a device that will do this but the prototypes have all been stolen from Van Horn Industries. In the comics, Andrew Van Horn is the obscure hero Gunfire. He owns Van Horn Industries, and was recently apparently killed in the slaughter-fest limited series “Heroes In Crisis.” Somehow, the prototypes being stolen mean they need to go to the black market, instead of back to the company that made them, who would have the plans. Now if only Team Flash had an expert technical guy. Anyone seen Cisco lately?
Nora embarks on her new plan, distracting Wells from digging in to her past. After very unsubtlely trying to find out what Wells is up to, Nora sets up a Rube Goldberb/Wile E Coyote chain of events to get Wells to meet a new woman. He does, which goes all right at first, until his deductive reasoning skill spooks her and she flees, calling him a stalker. We do learn that her name is Renee Adler, pretty much the same as Irene Adler, the only woman to ever hold Sherlock Holmes’ interest in the books (and BBC series). Nora does her best to keep Sherlock interested in the woman even after this initial disaster.
Barry and Ralph follow up on a lead Ralph got through one of his shady contacts, and end up in Goldface’s black market of weapons tech. In the comics, Goldface is a Green Lantern foe from the Silver Age era when the Power Rings didn’t work on yellow. Here, as soon as they arrive, Barry and Ralph get guns pointed at them and a combination power damper/Suicide Squad style explosive cuffed on their wrists. Ralph’s password gets them in, but not the cuffs off. While Ralph goes in search of the gizmo-de-jure, Barry ends up getting mixed up with an arms dealer selling Toastmasters. Those are violently powerful weapons that played a part in Superman supporting character Steel’s background.
Iris follows up a lead with someone who is clearly terrified of Cicada, but gets a new place to look. If she could have done this before, why hasn’t she? Stopping a serial killer wasn’t important until she needed a news story? Barry and Ralph get into more trouble, but Barry uses his CCPD lab knowledge to improvise a great cover. This bit of brilliant writing is followed up by the dual stupidity of the crooks gleefully calling themselves scum (which doesn’t happen) and them recruiting Barry and Ralph for a job that night where Barry’s brilliance is going to be ignored so he can be just another gun-hand. The heist at hand is stealing a 3D printer that can make organs from IVO Labs, the same place that gave us the Amazo robot that was so much of a problem during the recent crossover.
Iris sees how stupid the last plot points were, and says, “Hold my beer.” She goes to what might be Cicada’s place, alone, telling no one. Then she breaks in, leaving her purse on a table by the window. Because when you’re breaking in some place where a serial killer might leave, you both bring a purse with you, filled with your ID, and then leave it in plain sight, right? Utterly predictably, Cicada comes home and she starts playing high-stakes hide and seek.
Nora watches that foolishness, and says, “See you and raise you.” Remember the Council of Wells? She summons the Council of Ex-Wells. Not only are his collective ex-wives, all the same woman, no help at all, this causes Wells a lot more problems. For one thing, none of the exes knew where he was until this bit of “helpfulness.” The last to depart suggests to Wells that he’s destined to be alone. Wells stalks off, and Nora clearly feels bad. As she should.
Barry and Ralph debate the ethics of what they’re up to, stealing something destined for a hospital in order to catch Cicada. Iris gets caught and bluffs her way through a fake interview with Cicada himself. Nora decides to give Wells some love advice, despite both how badly that worked out and the fact that we’ve never had a hint of her having a relationship, let alone a successful one.
At the robbery, a huge crew of overly-armed thugs break into IVO Labs. Ralph decides that Barry’s good character shouldn’t be sullied by the break-in, and locks him in the truck they all came in. Ralph, of course, is the one to find the gadget, and decides he can’t go through with this. He punches out the crook he’s with, but gets caught by everyone else. Barry has escaped on his own, and this is when they find out Goldface is a meta as well. After a nasty fight, the non-powered Ralph and (mostly) Barry manage to beat him. Then they take the killer weapons, which inexplicably have a stun setting, and go mop up the mob inside. They even get a back-to-back fight that echoes what we used to see Heat Wave and Captain Cold do.
Iris’ bluff falls apart and she manages to get away after macing Cicada. Despite how effective this was, I bet we never see it used again. She takes time to give a gloating line over him before taking off. Caitlin determines that Barry and Ralph are fine, despite being beaten on, because their powers are healing them after the cuffs have been removed. Iris calls in, and Flash speeds to Cicada’s place, while Killer Frost and Elongated Man portal in with one of Cisco’s gizmos. Cicada is long gone. In yet another example of “Mask Stupid,” Barry wanders around the villain’s hideout with his mask off. Iris thinks she has a way to get to Cicada after their earlier run in.
Following Nora’s advice, Wells meets with Adler again. He explains his deductive powers and gives her a demonstration. She is won over and agrees to a date later. On her way out, Wells sees something the concerns him. Nora goes back to Thawne and they agree to continue their work.
What I liked: There were some deep cuts here. Kudos for coming up with Goldface, and even getting his former relationship with Amunet right. Between Van Horn Industries and Toastmasters, they sort of imply that Gunfire and Steel might be around in this world, although I’m not sure Steel works without Superman. I get why Ralph did what he did with Barry. Barry’s cover story was brilliant, even if they ignored it almost immediately. The Council of Ex-Wells was amusing to watch.
What I didn’t: Most of the rest of this. Goldface slaps meta-cuffs on all new customers just in case? That seems extreme, even if his black-market ties made it plausible he might have some. Iris was being remarkably foolhardy going alone, and much, much dumber with her purse. Nora following Thawne’s advice is ridiculous, especially with what she’s learned, but she’s determined to do it anyway. Calling all the exes wasn’t exactly a good call either. Most of the other CW-DC shows have a pattern that when a character starts not showing up a lot, the actor leaves the show, which is making me really worried about Cisco.
This just wasn’t a great episode. There was a lot of potential, and it just didn’t come together. I’ll give it a 2.5 out of 5.