The motif of the record store as some kind of supernatural crossroads popped up earlier this season. It gets looked at a lot more closely in this episode, which is mostly different versions of Tandy’s life. It’s a bit like the old Marvel comic book, What If. The record idea even carries over into the title: B Sides. For those who don’t know, when we used to buy music on records back in the day, you could buy a single song on a 45. The hit that people wanted was the A side, and some random song, usually that no one had heard of, was the B side. And now I feel old.
Like I hinted at above, the episode starts in the surreal, mystical record store Tandy has been in before. Now, a white-gloved figure plays various records to skip her around in different versions of her life. This also works as a mini-reunion, of sorts. The only named recurring character I can think of who never shows up is Father Delgado, Tyrone’s former coach. Well, depending on how picky you are about the Bridget/Mayhem split, anyway. A white disc labelled “Perfect Life” has Tandy all dressed up, as she was in those scenes she was telling a story in last episode. This is on the day Tyrone graduates from the New Orleans Police Academy, and the Bowens, Johnsons, Evita, and her aunt are all there. Tandy calls Tyrone her best friend, and says in a toast she can’t wait to see how he makes the world a better place. There’s one surprising guest who comes to the party, but then, it’s a different reality. While Tyrone’s mother plays the piano (the Sweet By and By recurs throughout the episode), Tandy’s mother dances with Tyrone’s brother, and there’s a moment that shows Tandy is remembering the real world on some level. Tyrone and Tandy talk on the porch and then as they walk to the store for more ice. Tyrone’s wearing a hoodie over his uniform since Evita spilled champagne on him. Their lives here sound great, until they get to the corner store, where we get an ugly reminder that they’re in the South, and not everything is great there. The encounter goes from bad to worse, ending with Tyrone and Tandy touching, their powers flaring, and both of them utterly confused, like happened in the first season.
In a flash of light, Tandy’s world changes, and she’s wearing a Roxxon uniform while her mother talks about lunch almost being ready for her favorite engineer. We see the same figure, changing records, this time to a bright orange one called “Fractured Family.” She’s working for Roxxon now, her parents split up, although mom still has a serious case of Battered Wife Syndrome. When Tandy arrives at the infamous Roxxon oil rig, she gets a less than gracious welcome from Mina Hess, the engineer she’s worked with before in the series. There’s a lot of arguing and her father gets brought up over and over before everything tips into alarm mode. Tandy thinks she knows what’s wrong, and rig worker Tyrone believes her, but Hess keeps arguing. Tandy starts realizing something isn’t right, and then Mina gets pinned under rubble as things collapse. Tandy needs something to cut Mina free, and is startled to see one of her light daggers in her hand. In the real world, she summons one as well, and Lia, counselor revealed as enemy, drugs her.
The record gets flipped to one of another color (neat trick) called “All Alone.” Now Tandy is trying to get signatures to save shorebirds, but that’s just a dodge. Tandy is a pickpocket, and ends up targeting Liam, her boyfriend from season one who vanished off screen, and is with Mikayla, the woman from Tandy and Melissa’s group that started the whole missing woman story. Tandy almost gets caught, runs for it, and jumps into a car that Tyrone is in the midst of stealing. They have a long conversation about their lives, and Tandy keeps getting flashes of things not being right. Her power starts manifesting in the real world again, and Lia is getting freaked out, wondering why Tandy is so strong. We find out Lia isn’t working alone, and I was surprised to see who it was partnering her. The other bad guy says Tandy is near her breaking point.
A new record gets put on, a blue one with swirls, called Jam Session. We also get to see who is changing the records, and it’s a big hint that something is more than it seems. “Jam Sessions” skips Tandy through the different lives we’ve seen so far, with elements bleeding over from one to another, and flashes of the ambulance she’s actually trapped in coming and going. She ends up in the record store and confronts her tormentor. This one’s origin also goes back to the night of the oil rig disaster, like so many metahumans tie back to the particle accelerator explosion on Flash. They argue about Lia, motivations, and the subtle difference between two words. This might be a hint as to who the mystery villain is supposed to be. The villain justifies themselves, which Tandy isn’t buying. She does something drastic to try and escape, and finds herself in the ambulance. Stumbling out, she is on a road near one of New Orleans’ many impressive cemeteries.
A frantic Tyrone is on the phone with Bridget, trying to find Tandy, when the woman herself makes it into the church. Tyrone is relieved to see her, and Tandy shares some of what she’s learned. They go to Bridget for help, but the Detective’s decisions are disappointing and possibly even dangerous. Taking matters into their own hands, the duo goes after the villain. The confrontation goes fairly well… until it doesn’t. Things take a nasty turn when the bad guy figures out how to get to Tandy, and she crumples, giving up over a major loss. In another vision, she hands her light dagger over to the villain, worn down by the barrage of loss and grief and doubt. Shifting to the real world once again, Tandy is strapped down and being taken out of the infamous ambulance.
Continuing their trend of being a show with a conscience, the final screen is about human trafficking, and ways to report it. This certainly isn’t something they have to do, and they’ve done it a lot this season, which I appreciate. There’s more than one way to be a hero.
What I liked: I thought the record imagery was interesting when they first used it, and they dig into it a lot more here. I think it works pretty well, and they do it to good effect. The different slices of life were nicely done, and it was good seeing some characters we haven’t in a while. I certainly didn’t see the big bad reveal coming. If the Roxxon accident could change people, it makes sense it affected more than just our heroes. The recurring ambulance symbology was a good way for Tandy’s subconscious to keep prodding at her.
What I didn’t: Not a great deal, actually. It’s never fun to see a hero beaten, but they did it in a way that made perfect sense. I was disappointed to see who the villain is, but that’s in part good writing by their staff.
I’m really loving this show, and think they’re doing a great job with characters that are virtually unknown outside of comics. I’m giving this one a 4 out of 5.