Sweet lord I just want it to be next week because that trailer looks amazing beyond compare. However, this week we have to focus on “Power Outage” which if anything was the exact story we all should have expected from an episode with this title. Barry fights Farooq, aka Blackout, loses his powers and is forced to briefly confront his life without his abilities. All the while Joe, Iris, and Eddie are held hostage by the Clock King who for once in his life is working without a plan or any sort or organized thought. Could the episode have been better constructed, maybe, but the overall planning and use of interesting villains was extremely fascinating to watch. Hell, Girder came and did not entirely suck this week, that is a victory in itself. It takes a very strong show to overcome the cliches of an average plot and actually make you care about the stakes, and The Flash managed to do that for the most part this week. So, let’s dive in.
As far a trope plots go I would say that “Power Outage” was one of the better outings as usually when these types of episodes occur the supporting cast have to pull a lot more weight. Bizarrely enough this week was not the case as it was actually the pair of unique villains that made the episode. Farooq is clearly a tragic villain for the majority of the episode as he is draining power to survive, while at the same time constantly motivated by the fact that his friends were murdered by Wells’ hubris. Farooq makes it very clear to Barry that he is not his target and even with all of Barry’s heroics he will not be stopped. What really helped to promote Farooq as a victim rather than a villain is at every turn Wells’ does something that make the STAR Labs team lose trust in him. Only Caitlin is willing to blindly follow Wells’ orders as he is “usually right,” but even Barry, who has been Wells’ biggest cheerleader comes to realize that his idol is seemingly a more of the ends justify the means type of guy. Wells’ choice to sacrifice Girder to buy time was selfish at best and extremely arrogant if it somehow managed to succeed as there was no way that Girder was going to make it out of that situation alive.
Across town we have the police dealing with a very erratic William Tockman who once again manages to steal the show as he is such a well crafted villain. Even if the majority of the hostage negotiation plot was a little underwhelming, Robert Knepper was still amazing in the role. It is very not like the Clock King to not have an actual plan of action like he did in the precinct, but it led to some fun improvisation by the character. The overall wrap around for the plot was probably the weakest aspect as I never feared for anyone’s life during the situation and that includes when Eddie was injured. I would have been more afraid if Joe was the one to have been shot as that would have easily caused everyone to become unhinged. Instead Joe remained completely calm even after the injury to Eddie so I immediately knew everything would be alright. I wanted Iris to actually take charge rather than watch all of the expected characters save the day.
Unfortunately the weakest part of the entire episode was all of the material involving Barry and Joe. With the exception of Barry yelling at Wells’ all of the material for the two characters was rather by he book and expected. Much in the same way as Tockman’s takeover of the police station I never feared for Barry’s life or believed his situation to be anything more than a normal case of superhero anxiety. Barry was never in any type of mortal danger let alone challenged beyond the norm as Farooq only had his sights set on Wells. Similarly, Joe always seemed to be biding his time until he found the right opportunity to exploit Tockman’s weakness. I kept wishing for more of a sense of danger rather than the base line we got.
Overall it was an acceptable episode, but next week is probably going to be amazing.
Final Grade B-
+Strong villain performances from Farooq, Girder, and Clock King
+Barry yelling at Wells
+Barry getting deeper into the speed force
-Fairly predictable precinct material
-Not a high sense of danger
-All the people Professor Wells names as having died in the explosion are classic heroes. Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny), Atom Smasher (Al Rothsein), Damage (Grant Emerson), Amazing-Man (Will Everett), and Fire (Bea da Costa)
-The fact that Barry is super slow as a normal person makes Cisco sad, makes me happy.
-Seriously creepy for Clock King to write the time of Eddie’s injury in blood on his face.
-Super high Eddie was more enjoyable than I expected