Much as a fan of the show as I am, there have been some issues with the Flash this season. But, they also keep having bits of higher quality that make me glad the show has at least one more season after this one. This episode was all over the road, with unexpected guest stars, subplots lurking around every corner, and a lot of surprises. With all that going on, it’s no surprise that two mainstays never turned up at all. There are a lot of callbacks in this episode, down to the title, “The Man in the Yellow Tie,” which echoes “The Man in the Yellow Suit” from season one. I’m going to try hard, but there are possibly going to be a few spoilers below. It’s a very complex episode.
The introductory voiceover is a staple of most of the Arrowverse shows. They’ve done it so much, they let themselves play with and adapt it for special episodes. This week, new speedster in town Dr. Meena Dhawan gets her turn, giving a science lecture and hint at her own powers being so limited in her talk. This turns into a training session with her and Flash out in the woods. Things take a turn, surprising them both, and they agree to train more the next day. With that, Meena races back to her lab before her speed runs out, and Flash worries about what just happened. As this happens, Cecile goes to the bank, and there’s at least a reference to the job we never see her doing. Naturally, since it’s a superhero show, there’s a bank robbery, but Cecile has a very strange experience and the bank robbers have a bad day. Really, why do non-powered thugs even bother to operate in a city where there’s at least one hero, if not a whole team? It seems like bad planning.
Back at STAR, Chester fills in once again for the absent Caitlin and runs all manner of scans on Cecile. Things have definitely changed, and no one knows why. And, with everything else that happens this episode, that’s about the last we hear of that concern. Cecile, whether on purpose or just because it’s who she is, deflects attention away from herself and gets Barry talking about the newest problem he’s dealing with. After the team talks it out, Barry decides to pay a call on Dr. Dhawan and see the device that’s infusing her with speed for these brief bursts of time.
I am impressed that Barry is actually not revealing his identity to Meena, at least not yet. Maybe he can be taught. At any rate, CSI Barry Allen shows up at FastTrack Labs, where he tells Meena he’s a friend of a mutual friend who “like to run fast.” With this clever password, he gains access to the lab. Barry is very impressed by the equipment, and Meena practically glows with pride. Then he meets the chief engineer and you can practically hear the needle scratch in Barry’s head. Let’s just say it’s a familiar face that triggers some flashbacks. There’s a very intense discussion, bordering on an argument, and Barry leaves, making a call to Chester, asking his colleague to contact ARGUS and check on a few important things. In another flashback, we see an important meeting a year ago with two of the supporting cast members. They manage to impress each other.
Taking less care with his identity this time, Barry (not Flash) speeds back to Lian Yu for another conversation with Thawne. Thawne’s choice of reading material is ironic, although probably perfectly fitting from his point of view. Barry is upset and firing off questions, and Thawne gets in a few good comments but overall seems lost by the interrogation. Thawne gives Barry his own cynical take on things, waits for the speedster to take off, and then calls out to someone he somehow knows is luring in the shadows. Another unexpected guest star steps forward, although he seems to have changed his look a bit. They trade some barbs, the visitor reveals why he’s there, and Thawne offers a deal. Thawne does have some unique insight, being from the future.
Not wasting any time, Flash zips over to FastTrack. Meena and her assistant are getting ready for another round with the machine, and Flash shows up and orders them to stop. Oliver might have had that kind of commanding presence, Barry really doesn’t. We’ve seen the assistant acting a bit differently than we’d expect, but that was before Flash got there and he missed it. An emotional argument ensues, Flash tries to handle things in the same high-handed manner he did with Caitlin (can you imagine season one Barry acting like this?), Meena objects, and there are a few surprises that leave Flash picking himself up off the floor a few moments later. Racing away from the lab, Meena shows a new look and is acting a lot different than the person we initially met. Back at Lian Yu, Thawne talks his “guest” through what he needs to do in order to achieve his goal. There are a lot of quick mentions of assorted DC story lines and characters, and then Thawne is thwarted again as the visitor makes a momentous decision that is very in character, but kind of makes several episodes over many shows worth of buildup seem utterly moot. I guess it’s part of the setup for another project I’ve been hearing about.
Flash painfully gets to his feet, and realizes he’s at least temporarily without a few important things. He has a discussion with the assistant, and finally, grudgingly, admits he might have been wrong. In Barry’s defense, it’s a very unusual situation. There’s another flashback to the supporting characters, and we get some more backstory on why things are so different than we, or Barry, would expect. Things are looking bad on many fronts, and Flash races off to try and prevent a major disaster, as well as something that would change someone forever. Barry is back to being more compassionate than demanding, and choses the wrong time for it as he gets blasted hard by a new enemy. With a few more flashbacks, and the show’s recurring theme of some variation of “love and belief conquer all,” the crisis is averted. Back at FastTrack, Meena is checked to see if she’s all right after the events of the day, and the ridiculousness of some of what the team does is highlighted: Flash is still masked and in costume, while Allegra and Chester are just kind of hanging out. We get a bit more information on how something might have happened, another unexpected guest star, and a possible nod to one of that character’s odder incarnations many years ago.
A lot has happened, but we’re not done yet. Out on the streets, a mugging gets broken up, and we see someone new is playing vigilante. While some good gets done, it also feels a bit ominous, and there’s a watcher in the shadows that likely isn’t good. Mark, Frost’s grieving boyfriend, turns back up, makes a video call to someone else we haven’t seen in a while, and a bad idea that was abandoned gets resurrected. And just to make sure Team Flash has their hands full, the last scene shows a villain getting new hope and a character changing sides. Again.
What I Liked: This felt like one of older Arrowverse episodes before all the shows seemed to go their separate ways. Between the guest stars and the flashbacks, most of the shows got some kind of nod along the way. I’m impressed they put in this many cameos without word getting out. They took a character we’ve seen a lot and took them in a completely different direction. They gave Thawne a few really good lines, and it was good to see Tom Cavanaugh again. I give them credit for a lot of surprising developments in one episode.
What I Didn’t: I don’t like how the guest on Lian Yu ended up. It just seemed like a long way to go for… not much, really. I’m a bit worried by all of the ending scenes, especially the one that focused on one of our core team members. I get she’s lost in time or whatever, but it’s weird when there’s talk of love and memories and relationships and not even a mention of Iris. I also missed Joe’s warmth.
There was a lot going on here, and I’m not sure how I felt about some of it. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5, I guess. The repercussions of all this might go on for quite a while.