The Flash S03E12 “Untouchable” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Barry wins a training race with Wally by phasing through a building. Wally thinks this is cheating but Barry says it shows why he needs to train Wally how to phase.
- But Wally’s a bit crap at it.
- A new meta is killing people by making them decompose super fast. Julian is disturbed to realise he’s another Flashpoint meta that he himself created when he was Doctor Alchemy.
- The meta is Clive Yorkin who disintegrates things with his touch. He is taking revenge on this timeline’s versions of the cops who caught him in Flashpoint (even though his first two victims are a chef and a jazz musician over here). One of these cops is Joe.
- Joe, Wally, Iris and Barry are having coffee with Cecile and her (annoying) Kid-Flash-fan daughter Joanie when Yorkin attacks.
- Kid-Flash defeats him (thanks to Barry giving instructions from the sidelines) but Yorkin escapes despite there being two speedsters present, probably because now is far too soon to finish the episode.
- Iris is so shaken by the attack she finally reveals to Joe that she is destined to be killed by Savitar. Joe is seriously pissed with everyone for keeping secrets from him (despite the fact that keeping secrets is pretty much one of the entry conditions for Team Flash).
- Yorkin attacks Iris at home. Wally runs to her aid but arrives just too late – Yorkin gave her a slight touch that starts a slow-burn disintegration.
- Iris is rushed to STAR Labs where Caitlin risks using her powers to literally freeze the progress of Iris’s infection.
- Caitlin almost goes full Killer Frost but Julian, who’s been a bit of a jerk for most of the episode, talks her down.
- Julian, who’s on a roll, also works out that a speedster’s blood will cancel out Yorkin’s powers
- Wally is all guilt, shame and self-loathing for not saving Iris. So, of course, blame-magnet Barry trumps him by saying it was actually all his fault for not training Wally well enough and promising to be a better tutor in future.
- Next Yorkin goes after a Private Detective who’s following a couple who get on a train.
- Joe follows her onto the train to warn her about Yorkin.
- Yorkin brings down a bridge so the rubble blocks the train track.
- Barry and Wally race to the aid of the train. Barry vibrates the entire train so that it phases through the rubble.
- Wally, with Barry’s encouragement, cuts his hand then phases through Yorkin – the first time he has phased successfully.
- Wally’s blood cancels Yorkin’s powers then Yorkin’s blood provides a cure for Iris. It’s all very neat, isn’t it?
- Everyone on Team Flash congratulates everyone else on Team Flash for what a jolly good team they make. Joe says they must never keep secrets from one another. We wouldn’t put a bet on that panning out.
- Caitlin invited Julian out for a drink to celebrate that he’s not a jerk 100% of the time.
- Jesse Quick pops through the STAR Lab interdimensional portal with news that her dad has been captured by Gorilla Grodd.
It’s so tempting to dismiss “Untouchable” as a filler and shout, “NEXT!” but unfortunately the episode does contains a few things crucial to the arc plot, so we’re duty bound to give it some attention. But it is a very average episode that’s very difficult to get excited about.
The main problem is that while we’re given yet another production-line, gimmick-and-a-grudge villain, he’s also the product of the rather unexpected return of the “Flashpoint” plotline. To be honest, we thought the writers had just grown bored of “Flashpoint” and quietly dropped it. It’s nice to know they still have plans to explore it but “Untouchable” feels like an oddly mundane episode in which to remind us of the concept; is its main purpose as a memory jogger before the show does something more interesting with the “Flashpoint” fallout in the coming episodes?
Joe also finally learns what everybody else knows – that Iris might, perhaps, possibly, maybe die in a few months. He doesn’t take it well, but we’ve seen this “why did everybody keep a secret from me?” shtick so many times before on the show from so many different characters not even Jesse L Martin’s considerable acting skills manage to bring something new to the table. These scenes are fine. They’re just over-familiar.
Other than that there’s some fun to be had with Wally’s training plus the requisite silliness from HR and pop culture references from Cisco. Cecile’s artless daughter Joanie is amusingly irritating. It’s all decent-enough, low-level fluff.
But it’s sad to see Julian being such an idiot again, after a few episodes in which the writers have been very successfully softening him. His big heartfelt speech to Caitlin to stop her going full-Frost would have been more effective building on his awkward-but-at-least-trying portrayal last week. But he’s still adorably sweet when he looks shellshocked that Caitlin’s asked him out!
So that was “Untouchable” then. Next.
- The opening race was great fun, especially Barry cheating.
- Despite Julian being an irritating ass for most of the episode, his pep talk to Caitlin was great and we loved that she invited him a drink. Caitlian, anyone?
- It’s low, low comedy, we admit, but it was funny seeing Wally repeatedly run into a wall.
- The shots of Mendez disintegrating were quite disturbing – we think it was the use of close-ups.
- After a couple of weeks of Julian being rather adorably socially awkward, this week he’s just an utter jerk much of the time, and not even a very amusing one. It seems a backward step.
- Iris’s cure was mentioned in an almost casual throwaway manner. It underlined the problem that you never actually felt much tension in Iris’s plight. Worrying whether Caitlin was going to go evil was more interesting.
- Why did Barry vibrate an entire train when it have been less effort to vibrate the rubble and let the train pass through it? The idea of him phasing the train may have seemed more audacious on paper but it came across a bit silly on screen.
- Good grief, the backslapping scene at the end was cringingly trite!
- Yorkin – another in a long line of forgettable villains.
And The Random:
- Clive Yorkin, you may be unsurprised to learn, is a villain from the DC comics universe. However, unlike most of The Flash’s villains, he never had a supervillain alias – he was just dull old Clive Yorkin. (We still think it’s a shame Cisco didn’t try to come up with a name for him, though – how about Dust Buster? Or Ash-Man? Or The Crumbler? Actually, they’re so rubbish maybe HR should have suggested them.) Yorkin made his first appearance in The Flash #270 (1979). He was a career criminal placed in solitary confinement who agreed to undergo an experiment called the Nephron Process. The experiment was to try and cure him of his violent tendencies but the pleasure and pain centres in his brain were reversed, driving him insane. It also gave him the ability to drain people’s life force; so a bit like being in the audience for Michael McIntyre, then, only funnier.
- Cisco’s line, “May the odds be ever in your favour,” is a line from The Hunger Games.
- We can now add betting to coffee and interdimensional travel to things banned on Earth-19.
- Also, Earth-19 has Abraham Lincoln on their $100 bills. Benjamin Franklin is on the $100 bill on our Earth; Lincoln is on the $5 bill.
- And finally in Earth-19 news, they once had Al Capone as a vice president. This may also be an in-joke, since the film The Untouchables featured Al Capone.
- Alex Désert did appear as Julio Mendez in 3.01 “Flashpoint” (as well as in the ’90s series of The Flash), but neither Caitlin Stryker (as Laura Stone) or Damien Revins (as Stuart Holzman) were in that episode.
- Quebracho, which Cisco mentions on a number of occasions this episode, is a very hard wood.
- Mendez mentions a saxophonist called Lee Jay Thompson; he’s actually one of the founder members of the group Madness. Be honest – you never expected a Madness reference in The Flash, did you?
- Joe refuses to bet on either Barry or Wally calling it a Sophie’s Choice, referring the 1982 Meryl Streep film in which she plays a character who has to make the choice between sacrificing one or the other of her children. Interestingly, Joe is asked to make another “Sophie’s choice” by Joanie later in the episode. Could this be building to something more drastic later in the season?
- We’re intrigued by HR’s line about Wally needing to phase through, “molten lava… you know, if you ever ended up in a volcano.” Could this be a reference to the hell planet we saw Cisco vibe to last episode? Or is HR a fan of SyFy’s The Magicians, in which Penny has to learn how to teleport safely to prevent him materialising inside a volcano?
- 52-spotting: well, kinda 52 – the car’s registration number is actually 522, but that’s near enough for us.
- Don’t know about you, but we were really worried about what would have happened if someone had broken Wally’s concentration when he was phasing his arm through the wall…
Review by Dave Golder