The holidays are such a wonderful time of year, don’t you think? The holidays are often shoved to the backdrop of genre shows like this one, at least in that familiar, festive way. The Flash is a lighter, airier show than many, and despite how fun “The Man in the Yellow Suit” is, it’s also the show’s deepest dive into the angsty depths of its main character. Barry celebrates Christmas with the Wests in what are really some adorable exchanges all around. Tree trimming with Joe and exchanging gifts with Iris adds some levity to an otherwise heavy episode as Nora Allen’s killer reappears in Central City.
This season’s made itself clear in establishing Barry as a person and a hero, especially when it comes to how he views his powers. They give him not only a confidence that he’s lacked but also the means to do what he’s spent his whole life trying to do: find his mother’s killer. Finding and stopping other metahumans is important to him, but with his abilities Barry got confirmation of what he always knew. And he got the means to find the person responsible for his mother’s death so when he comes face-to-face with this person and finds himself unable to stop him, it’s a huge blow.
Barry went through the same crisis without his powers, and the situation isn’t so different as he realizes that his speed doesn’t help him in this particular situation. And it doesn’t help when he’s removed from the situation by Wells and Joe, neither of whom think Barry’s in the right mental state to be part of their attempts at finding and stopping Reverse Flash. His inability to help leads him to his father where he apologizes for not being able to do what he promised. The holidays often end up making things feel a little bit better or a little bit worse, and Barry visiting his dad in prison and apologizing for being unable to keep his promise is tragic not only because of how emotional Barry is at this moment but also because this isn’t an unusual place for the two of them to be in at this time.
Part of the show’s charm is how many people are part of it. Barry’s not isolated, and his Christmas is a fairly happy one as his two new families meet to celebrate (minus Wells), and he and Joe have a very nice scene where Joe expresses how much he loves having Barry as part of the family. It makes for a wonderfully sentimental episode, striking a good balance between the character’s personal relationships and its action-oriented moments. It works best because the overall arc of the Man in the Yellow Suit appearing in town is what pushes for these moments.
First is Barry confessing his feelings to Iris, encouraged by his father to stop being so consumed with his mother’s murderer that he puts it off. There’s a lot that’s relatable in Barry’s unrequited feelings for Iris as he awkwardly offers an excuse for acting strangely around Eddie before finally admitting to being in love with her. Grant Gustin is earnest, sweet and of course, awkward in admitting his feelings, and Candice Patton gives a great performance of Iris’ conflicting emotions as he listens to him going from confusion to anger to crying quiet tears. As big of a change as this could be, it’s unlikely it’s going to alter things so much besides serving the function of forcing Iris to start reevaluating her feelings for Barry. They end the episode on good-ish terms with Barry offering his blessing to her and Eddie as they prepare to move in together.
Barry doesn’t get a lot to dwell on Iris’ reaction to his confession since he eventualyl has to confront the Reverse Flash when the attempts at trapping him go awry. He’s still out of his depth but is saved by the timely intervention of Ronnie Raymond aka Firestorm. Including Ronnie in this development does help unite the episode’s two divergent plot points. As excited as I was to see Firestorm appearing, seeing him onscreen felt like it dragged from the more compelling things happening in Barry’s corner. Caitlin’s search for Ronnie doesn’t feel as urgent in the span of the episode. It does give some great moments for Caitlin and Cisco as friends, as he agrees to help her find her former fiance and comforts her when it seems like he’s lost forever. It’ll be better when we can really see the show balance Caitlin’s search with Barry’s stories, rather than being forced to weigh them unevenly.
Ronnie could very well end up serving a role that the show’s toyed with a bit in this first half of the season, a metahuman ally for the Flash to call on at times. Once Ronnie gets over the hump of looking homeless and being, you know, fused with another person, we could get there. But I’m more excited in seeing Ronnie and Caitlin’s relationship in the present day. Her sadness at seeing what he’s become is fitting considering the likelihood of the man she loves having been totally changed and reappearing right as they hit the one-year mark, and she’s spent a year to grieve for him. It’ll be interesting to see how the search for him goes and how Caitlin, Cisco and Wells plan on bringing him back into the fold.
Wells’ involvement doesn’t make me very optimistic since he spends the whole episode being shady about celebrating the holidays before the episode’s ending confirms that he’s Reverse Flash (or at least has the suit). If this is the case, we must be dealing with time travel which would account for Wells getting his butt kicked by Reverse Flash. But if Wells is the Reverse Flash and he loathes the Flash so much why go through all the trouble of making sure he exists in the future? Why leave Eddie alive? And who was the second speedster in Barry’s house the night of Nora’s murder? Future Barry perhaps?
- Tina McGhee’s really worried about Harrison getting knowledge about her work, but no one thinks much of it. But it makes perfect sense when Wells ends up getting his hands on that prototype and is just very, very happy about it.
- It would be nice to see Iris and Caitlin interacting more often. It was nice to see Caitlin turning to Iris for some information. They could have a pretty decent relationship if the show bothered to do anything with it.
- I’m glad this Eddie and the Flash taskforce business looks to be over. It was getting old, and it hadn’t even started yet.