Flash: Good-bye Vibrations

I’m sure leaving a secure high paying job is the right thing to do!

When they do it right, a hero show is more than just a string of fights and strange things happening. I’ve been enjoying the Flash since Barry first popped up during the second season of Arrow (granted, some episodes and stories more than others), and I’ve grown to really like these versions of characters I already knew from the comics. Cisco Ramone, also known as Vibe and then Mecha-Vibe, has been an endearingly geeky presence from the very beginning, although it seems like the writers haven’t known what to do with him for a while. Unfortunately, the man who plays him, Carlos Valdes, has decided to move on, following Tom Kavanaugh (of the many Wells), who departed earlier. What else could they call this but “Good-Bye Vibrations”?

Cutting right to the heart of the matter, the episode starts with Cisco and Kamilla gathering their friends to announce they’re leaving Central City and, as a result, Team Flash. Kamilla has a collection of her work being shown in Miami, after which she will join Cisco in Star City, where he’s taken a job as Director of Technology with ARGUS. Lyla and Diggle, not seen since Arrow ended, get mentioned as references that helped Cisco get the job. Since Wild Dog has also been mentioned but not seen since Arrow had its season finale, I’m wondering if Star City is becoming the retirement home for Arrowverse characters. I guess we’ll know for sure if any of the Supergirl cast announce they’re moving there when that series ends later this year. The team takes this news well, and Kamilla and Cisco are pleasantly surprised by this wrinkle, at least at first.

As part of his farewell tour, Cisco brings Chester to the STAR-chives (who is going to give us codenames now?) and Chester completely geeks out. The room looks more like prop storage, as we see various items from throughout the show’s history. There’s a reference to Cisco’s never-ending geek t-shirt collection, and the two talk about how the rest of the team seems to be dealing with Cisco’s news. Cisco then goes to his lab to pack, and finds a pile of neatly sorted and labeled boxes, courtesy of some superspeed help from Barry. Caitlin comes in and Cisco is expecting a big emotional goodbye, but instead gets a handshake and asked for his ID and passcodes. I’m not sure why she bothered to ask, since we’ve seen time and again that whoever wants into STAR can just wander in at whim. As all this goes on, we meet this week’s villain, a new version of Rainbow Raider, who demonstrates her powers in unique bank job. Also unique is her wardrobe, which looks more like the old Rainbow Brite toy than a villain costume. It also looks very hot for the apparently eternal summer we see in Central City.

In the Cortex, Barry and Caitlin work out how the new foe works, although how Caitlin got brain scans of the victim I’m not sure. That’s not part of a normal checkup, and STAR, as far as we know, has no official standing with the CCPD, especially not in the wake of Joe’s resignation. Cisco wanders by and hears the discussion, then announces he wants this to be his last case with them. Barry and Caitlin agree, although again without the emotional reaction Cisco is expecting. Team Citizen is at the crime scene (shouldn’t Barry be there as a CSI?) talking about Kamilla’s departure and looking for a replacement. How the Citizen functions as a news organization with a staff of three I’m still not sure. While Allegra goes to talk to a source, Kamilla scrolls through her pictures and notices a familiar face in the crowd.

Pulling out yet another familiar prop from shows gone by, Cicso pages through his big Who’s Who binder (an in joke/nod to DC Comics’ Who’s Who series of books about all their characters) and makes the obvious connection to the original Rainbow Raider. They make plans for how to stop the new one, another emotional moment gets stepped on, and then the awkward scene ends with alarms going off as Rainbow Raider strikes again. In the grand tradition of the aphorism about “No plan survives initial contact with the enemy,” Flash and Mecha-Vibe confront the new foe, get distracted by the classic “put a civilian in danger” ploy, and then Cisco gets whammied while Flash is saving lives. Their gadget lasted all of two seconds. Back at STAR, Caitlin and Barry try and figure out what to do next while the euphoric Cisco rhapsodizes about his new job. As they make some arrangements, Kamilla meets with Iris about a new photographer, and that doesn’t go well. Iris is snappish, and there’s a subtext about how many people are hurting for work these days.

Cisco wanders around in his workshop, very much still under the influence of Raider’s power, while Chester tries to ride herd on him. Since by trope, smart people have to suck at social situations, Chester bumbles his task, Cisco makes more false assumptions, and slips out of the lab. With a few nods to DC Comics, Flash and Caitin trace the Raider’s van to Ferris Aircraft, registered to a Carrie Bates. Ferris, of course, is the comic book home of Green Lantern (the assorted Lanterns are among the notably lacking major characters in the Arrowverse), and Cary Bates was a long-time writer at DC, who wrote himself into a few stories and also, among other things, created Rainbow Raider. What should be a simple task for Flash goes horribly wrong when Cisco decides to “help.” Flash returns to STAR for a dance number (no, really), which makes Cisco laugh and poor Caitlin sigh. Chester comes in and, with some reminders from Caitlin, manages to stay on-task long enough to snap Barry and Cisco out of their emotional high. There’s an unlikely stealth dirigible (really?) and more tension about Cisco’s upcoming departure.

This leads to a follow up scene with Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry, where various misunderstandings are cleared up. Caitlin’s explanation makes sone sense, aside from the fact that it requires Barry and Caitlin to have discussed something when there was clearly no time for them to have done so. Cisco shares what his nightmare from Psych was, things get emotional, and Barry gets a sudden insight as to what Rainbow Raider is up to. A quick check of her background confirms Barry’s idea, and then shows that, while the woman has good intentions, she has little to no ability to think things through. They also never address the conflict of her being a good person and her putting civilians in danger earlier to get away from Flash. Her big scheme is revealed and it seems like something a drunk or high college kid would come up with.

There’s a big, if unspecified, game between the Central City Sharks and the Gotham Goliaths which is part of Rainbow’s plan. The attendance quoted seems very low for a professional sports event (whatever kind this is), which makes me wonder if the writers are once again lacking in research and showing the geek vs. jock mentality, or if they are sort of trying to downplay sports. Or they just screwed up. At any rate, Flash zips himself, Allegra (who needs a costume and a codename if they’re going to keep using her this way), and Mecha-Vibe closer to the airship so they can use Nash Wells’ teleporting rig to get up there. I guess Mecha-Vibe could do blasts but not portals? They have an odd confrontation where they resolve a big misunderstanding, but not until after a small fight that lasts just long enough to set up another big dangerous plot point. The supposedly cutting-edge airship (I’m still not sure that’s a thing) uses hydrogen to stay aloft, which makes it a giant bomb. In fact, since the Hindenburg disaster, no airship has used hydrogen for that very reason, so the “cutting edge” is decades behind the curve. Once again, poor research and/or drama is viewed as more important than accuracy. At any rate, they come up with a unique idea on how to handle Rainbow Raider’s punishment, we see some odd limitations for Allegra’s inherited teleport rig, and there’s one last chance for Cisco to save the day.

All that remains is a series of goodbye scenes, and they’re not done wonderfully well in my opinion. First up, Cisco and Chester part with a lot of scientific geekiness and what is probably a set up for future plot points. Then, there are oddly separate farewell parties. Almost all the women meet at the Citizen to say goodbye to Kamilla. Cecile drops by late and just long enough to make something from earlier sound very suspicious. Then, at the loft, Cisco meets with Barry, Caitlin, and Joe (I was wondering where he’s been during all this) for their own goodbye. While the scene should play to three of the actors’ strengths, it really doesn’t work. The final scene is something odd about one of the characters that I’m sure will come up in the future.

What I liked: The nod to Cary Bates was nice. It was good to see Cisco’s notebook (I wonder if that’s staying at STAR or becoming part of ARGUS’ Standard Operating Procedures now), and so many other props from shows gone by.

What I didn’t: This episode has some holes. Rainbow Raider was inconsistent at best. I mentioned the hydrogen issue. Most of the drama felt really contrived in this episode. I’m not sure why a group of close-knit friends needed separate goodbye parties. And, of course, I really don’t want Cisco to go.

This was not a great outing for the team. I’m giving this one a 2.5 out of 5. I hope Team Flash gets back in their groove, even with their reduced numbers now.

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