Flash: Funeral for a Friend

They’ve got me doing field missions with no training, mask, or experience. This could be me, soon.

The Deathstorm saga ended with a few surprises. The ridiculously powerful villain was defeated, which was good, but there was a high price. Frost, formerly Killer Frost, formerly just a voice in Caitlin’s head, faced the supervillain, but died defeating him (it?). Now the team grieves the loss of their friend and family member, tries to figure out how to go on, and deals with a barely-present (and barely recognizable) villain of the week. Everyone is going through various stages of grief and loss as they approach a “Funeral for a Friend.”

In the 90’s, Superman was famously killed by Doomsday. They even got massive media coverage and led to a lot of follow up stories. One of those, “Funeral for a Friend” ran through all the Superman titles being published at that time, and crossed over into Justice League. It was a major event that saw guest appearances, or at least cameos, from just about every DC character around at that point. While this is a momentous episode, it doesn’t live up to the legacy of that name.

Under some very sad music, we see the team going through the motions of their day. Chester, at the ubiquitous Jitters, sees the Killer Frost drink on the menu and sighs. Allegra sits in a meeting at the Citizen and clearly isn’t tracking what’s being said. Barry suffers some flashbacks of Caitlin struggling to save Frost’s life, and then gets snapped out of it by the alarms going off. The villain of the week robs a bank and menaces the cops, personified as usual lately by Officer Korber. Flash, Allegra, and Cecile (when did she start doing field work?) show up, show they are just as distracted as Chester back at STAR is, and the villain gets away.

This week’s villain is called Blockbuster, and they even take pains to give him the same name as the character from the comics, Roland Desmond. And that’s about where the similarities end. In the comics, he’s a lot like DC’s version of the Hulk, or at least the original one is. His brother becomes a recurring villain for Nightwing, and is much smarter, but has similar powers. This guy is someone in a tech suit stolen from Ivo Labs (creators of the Amazo robot seen in the Elseworlds crossover). He’s so unimportant to the story that he doesn’t even get listed in the credits for this episode.

Back at STAR, the team tries to pull themselves together, and patch themselves up after their humiliating defeat. They’re all at a loss about what to do next, and try and find a way to balance their real need for time for grief and to process their loss against their duty to protect Central City. As happens more and more often with Arrowverse shows lately, there’s a big plot hole here, in that they have friends who could help them out and never seem to think to ask. Barry calls a team meeting to figure out what to do next, leaving Caitlin out of it to give her some space. That turns out to have been both a mistake and a wasted effort as she turns up anyway and makes some very surprising statements. Joe offers some more sage advice, and the team struggles to follow it.

Iris and Cecile meet at the Citizen and talk over ways to honor Frost’s memory. Cecile comes up with a great idea, although it implies she’s actually working at her job, which we haven’t seen in a very long time. Iris, flailing badly for a way forward, makes a surprising decision about Frost’s obituary, which Cecile clearly doesn’t agree with. Iris later goes over the obituary with Carla Tannhauser, Caitlin and Frost’s mother. Carla has changed a lot since her initial appearances, and seems much more kind and, well, human than she once did. She offers some interesting insights and then makes the barista at Jitters reconsider some menu choices.

Iris apparently runs a popular podcast. Really, how many jobs does the woman work? She interviews various people whose lives were changed by Frost, and manages to change someone’s opinion we saw earlier. In one of the less-well-written parts of the show, Allegra and Chester have a lunch date that degenerates into really pointless bickering. They get briefly interrupted by Barry, who has an odd request and then zips away again so they can argue more. They get some alerts on the tip line, but instead of Blockbuster, the cause of the disturbance is Mark Blaine, not at all handling his grief well. Mark is tearing up O’Shanuasee’s, the bar the group keeps ending up in, drunk out of his mind. We learn that among the other things Chester doesn’t do, he also doesn’t drink, and the two eventually end up bringing Mark back to STAR. They also finally resolve their pointless bickering and come up with a mutual idea to memorialize Frost.

Barry zips around the world, doing assorted things in Frost’s memory. It’s a weirdly varied list, and takes him all over the place, including a contest that he has to be slightly cheating at just by the nature of who he is. Returning to STAR, he finds a very the worse for wear Mark staggering around the medbay as they talk about Frost. Mark has some great insight into Frost, which makes sense, and offers some reassurance to Barry. As they talk, we jump back to Caitlin’s earlier surprising announcement, and then her going home. She’s clearly not dealing well with her loss, and just as clearly doing her best to not think about it. Barry comes to visit her, braves her ire to try and be a good friend, and finally gets her to listen.

With a really great dissolve, we move from Caitlin to Frost in her casket. The friends and family gather for the funeral from the title. Caitlin does finally arrive, and gives a great eulogy. It’s very touching, although the last thing she says changes a lot when we get to the end of the episode. The immediate family gather at Joe’s house and share Frost stories. Despite his being so close to her, Mark isn’t there, which I found odd. One of the things that was interesting is that, as an aside to one of the stories, there’s a very rare mention of one of the surviving members of Team Arrow, so I guess they’re still around. The team gets an alert that Blockbuster is back in action, race off to fight him, and leave Joe and Caitlin behind. Joe makes coffee while Caitlin takes a moment for a cryptic phone call.

You almost have to feel sorry for Blockbuster, who gets defeated off-screen. Caitlin invites someone over and we see she’s done some serious remodeling in the apartment. Caitlin announces her new project, and I wonder if we’re seeing her go from valued teammate to mad scientist. The last scene we see involves Taylor, the annoying reporter with a grudge against Allegra. Taylor wastes no time stabbing Allegra in the back as she talks to Iris, and then shows she might well go on to become a problem for the entire team. The very last thing we see is Taylor being puzzled by Iris leaving the office quickly, and we get a hint as to what happened. Things bode ill on many fronts as the episode wraps up.

What I Liked: The episode was a good study in grief. All the various reactions made some degree of sense, although someone is clearly having more of a problem with the acceptance phase of things than others. While the team’s loss at the beginning was embarrassing, I could see how they’d be that far off their game. Chester’s idea was kind of cool (no pun intended) and Allegra’s refinement of it worked. I liked Cecile’s new mission as well. The new version of Carla is interesting, but it feels like an abrupt shift.

What I Didn’t: I really don’t like the death of Frost. I think it was unnecessary, and I disagree with the choice. Why is Cecile on field missions all of a sudden, and why are both she and Allegra running around with no masks? Barry was the one who convinced Oliver to finally start wearing one in the first place. He knows how important they are, even if he does share his secret with just about everyone. I don’t get why they bothered to use Blockbuster, change him almost completely, and barely show him at all. It seems like a waste of a character they could do things with at another point. And I’m really not liking where they seem to be going with Caitlin. This episode wasn’t worthy of the title they gave it in my opinion as a long-term comic reader.

This was an odd episode. They could have cut one of the subplots, like maybe leave Blockbuster out of it entirely. I’ll give this a low 3 out of 5. I guess we’ll get a better idea what’s going on next episode.

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