Shows

Show Review: Sherlock Season 2 (Spoiler-Free)

Sherlock and Moriarty are 'absolutely obsessed with each other', confirms  Andrew Scott | The Independent | The Independent

Rating: 9.8 out of 10

Intro

After watching the first season of Sherlock, I was super excited to dive in to Season 2. Below I share my impression of the season as a whole. As it is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

Background

Sherlock Season 2 aired in 2012 and was produced by BBC and Hartswood films. It is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, but instead of being placed in Victorian England, the show is set in modern-day London.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, Andrew Scott, and Lara Pulver.

In addition to being nominated for various awards, Sherlock won in three categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Summary

By this time, Watson and Sherlock have been living together in a flat for some time, solving mysteries and generally getting better acquainted. We last saw them in Season 1 when Moriarty was threatening their lives.

In this season, Sherlock and Watson face off against Moriarty and also have to contend with the dominatrix Irene Adler.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Strong character development
  • Benefit of a familiar character with a new spin
  • Intriguing new character this season
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Engaging plot
  • Carefully chosen camera angles
  • Introduction of the mind palace
  • Catchy theme song

Cons

  • Nudity
  • Over-the-top drama when Sherlock is thinking deeply (in his “mind palace”)

Review

Acting

The acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, was incredible. They both played their parts well.

All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized. This season, for the first time, we see Sherlock take a vague interest in a woman, and we see him exhibit actual fear. Cumberbatch was highly skilled at demonstrating both.

Setting

Sherlock Holmes - Wikiwand
Sherlock and Watson’s flat in Sherlock

The setting in Season 2 is the same as Season 1, unsurprisingly. The presence of modern conveniences such as security cameras and phones remains a way for this new Sherlock to test his intellect. This transition from the Victorian London of the books to modern-day London is seamless.

Characters

Sherlock is a highly intelligent man who lacks empathy. He is nevertheless shown on several occasions to have at least some degree of care depending on who the person is. He is always blunt, but occasionally shows remorse for his words when they have caused damage.

This quote reveals just how blunt he can be.

You repel me.”

Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock

It is demonstrated in this season that he cannot always reign in his emotions, even though he considers them “a grit on the lens.”

He shows emotions he has not shown before as he meets new challenges. These emotions expand on his character rather than contradicting it.

It was more than that, John. It was doubt. I felt doubt. I’ve always been able to trust my senses, the evidence of my own eyes, until last night.”

Watson is of higher-than-average intelligence, but he cannot compete with Sherlock. Watson, however, has a deep sense of empathy and values human life while wanting to negate human suffering. He has a high tolerance for Sherlock, but even he loses his temper sometimes at Sherlock’s careless comments and ill-timed deductions.

The relationship between Sherlock and Watson gets closer in this season (although there is a fair share of tension and squabbles). Sherlock even attempts humor to “break the ice.” Watson responds with:

Funny doesn’t suit you. I’d stick to ice.”

Watson to Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock
Irene Adler (BBC series) | Villains Wiki | Fandom

Irene Adler is the new character added to the mix, a dominatrix. She is intelligent enough to banter well with Sherlock, and provoking enough to make Watson uncomfortable.

The thing that is the most fun about Irene Adler is the way Sherlock reacts to her. Between her and Moriarty, Sherlock has some well-matched antagonists.

My favorite line of hers is this:

You know what the problem with a disguise is, Mr. Holmes? No matter how hard you try, it’s always a self-portrait.”

Irene Adler in Sherlock
Sherlock's Andrew Scott: fans asked me every day whether Moriarty would  return

Moriarty is undeniably intelligent and his schemes are both elaborate and effective. He’s a good villain – creepy, bizarre, and insane.

Script

The script is clever, deepening the relationship between the characters and creating many funny moments. Just one of the many examples of humor in the text is when Sherlock asked Watson to punch him. When Watson seemed confused, Sherlock asked if he heard correctly. Then, Watson said this:

I always hear ‘punch me in the face’ when you’re speaking, but it’s usually sub-text.”

John Watson in Sherlock

Plot

Without spoiling anything, all I can say is that if you liked the plot of Season 1, you will like Season 2 as well. The episode I found most interesting in terms of plot was The Hounds of Baskerville.

Camera Angles

The camera angles chosen at various times during the episodes added to the drama. For instance, the camera was jostled to simulate running in one of the episodes.

Mind Palace

Season 2 introduces the concept of a mind palace, a memory technique that mentally connects information to an imagined physical location. It is a testament to Sherlock’s ego that he calls his imagined location a palace rather than a house or street or even a mansion.

While on the topic of his mind palace, I should mention that Sherlock does some really dramatic motions while he’s thinking of it. Fly-swatting, phone-swiping, head-jolting sorts of motions. It’s all very dramatic and unlike him to be that expressive.

Nudity

There was a scene with nudity in it. I do not think that it was a wise choice on the part of the directors. Having that scene reduces the size of the potential audience while catering to the whims of a small percentage of their audience. Before and after that episode it really doesn’t seem like that kind of show.

That being said, there were some conveniently placed items of furniture and people that limited how much one could really see of the nude person, so I do not feel like it was a major con.

Conclusion

This show really deserves it’s rating of 9.8 out of 10. Although I admit I liked Season 1 best, this season was so good that I would certainly recommend it, and would gladly watch it again.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate things, check out my rating system.

Links

For my review of Season 1, click here.

Shows

My Rating System for Shows

Stars,metal,hotel,nature
Stars,metal,hotel,nature

I figured it was about time to share the reasoning behind my ratings – after all, just a number of stars seems pretty arbitrary. So if you are interested in how I come to my decisions, this is the article for you.

Without further ado…

1 star – A rating reserved for one of the worst shows on the planet. I wouldn’t watch it again if you paid me. I could barely get through it. There are no pros and I would not recommend it for any audience.

2 stars– The show was really bad, but has an insignificant pro or two. I would not watch it again unless I was paid a hefty sum as compensation. It may be appealing to an extremely limited audience, but nevertheless is terrible in quality.

3 stars The show was bad, but it could conceivably be worse. It may have a handful of minor pros. I would not watch it again unless you paid me a decent amount as compensation. It may be appealing to a limited audience, but it is low quality.

4 stars– The show was not good, but it has a few pros. It may be worth watching again just to laugh at how bad it is. At the very least it’s not super cringey or unbearable. Some people probably would find it at least interesting, even if it could not really be called good. The quality is not very good.

5 stars– The show was average. It has enough pros to make it look appealing, at least from the outset, but it doesn’t satisfy. Nothing makes it stand out in a bad or good way. You could maybe convince me to watch it again, but it would take a lot of persuading and I would at least need popcorn as compensation. Some people probably would like this movie, but I at least found it lackluster.

6 stars The show was slightly better than average. It has its cons, but also comes equipped with several redeeming features. I’d rather not watch it again, but if you insist… There is probably a decent-sized audience for this movie, including a handful of people who will fight you to the death if you say anything bad about it.

7 stars This was a good show. It had several cons, but it makes up for it with pros. I would watch it again, but probably not for a few years. There is either a large possible audience or it is very appealing to a smallish audience.

8 stars This was a great show. It probably had a couple of cons, but more than made up for it in pros. I would watch it again in a year or so. There is either a large possible audience or it fits into its particular niche extremely well.

9 stars This is an awesome show. It maybe had one con, but who cares?! It was so worth it. I would watch it again in a few months if you asked. The movie is accessible to a wide audience or it fits into its particular niche almost perfectly.

10 stars This is one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. There were no cons that I could think of. I would watch it again next week if you asked me. Or possibly even if you didn’t. The movie is accessible to a wide audience or it fits into its particular niche perfectly.

Shows

Show Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender Season 1 (Spoiler-Free)

Avatar- The Last Airbender Book 1 DVD.jpg

Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Season 1 (2005)

Rating: 9.9 out of 10 stars

Intro

This show is basically my childhood. I have watched it at least five times by now. Since it was added to Netflix, that just gives me another excuse to re-re-re-re-re-watch it.

Recently, I introduced it to my roommate, and we are moving through it at around four or five episodes per week.

Every time a new character would show up on the show, I would say something like, “That’s one of my favorite characters, by the way.”

I ended up saying that for pretty much all of the characters.

Like with my other show reviews, I will start by giving some background and then listing the pros and cons. As this is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

Background

Avatar: The Last Airbender was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The head writer was Aaron Ehasz. The genres it straddles include Fantasy, Action, Adventure, and Comedy.

The show won five Annie Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, a Genesis Award, a Peabody Award and a Kid’s Choice Award.

It is a unique blend of anime style with the style of American cartoons. It draws from Inuit, Japanese, Chinese, and Tibetan culture.

Summary

The world of Avatar: The Last Airbender is made up of four nations which each are focused around a different element: water, earth, fire, and air. Each of these nations is made up of those who can “bend” (control) one of the elements.

Map from the series
The Four Nations from Avatar: The Last Airbender

The current Avatar, Aang, must master all four elements in order to stop a war that has been going on for a hundred years. The war was launched by the Fire Nation, which is bent on world domination.

Real-World Influences of Avatar Part 2: The Water Tribes - The More You  Know post - Imgur
Katara and Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender

With the help of his friends Katara and Sokka, in Season 1 Aang seeks to master waterbending by traveling to the North Pole to find a waterbending teacher. Along the way, Katara is able to teach him basic waterbending and the team goes on various adventures.

Pros

  • Powerful character depth and development
  • Creative system of elements
  • Developed fictional cultures based on authentic cultures
  • Diversity
  • Animals are creative mixes of various creatures
  • Balance of humor and tension, comedy and tragedy
  • Smart musical choices to create humor and tension
  • Range of expressions of characters
  • Entertaining for child and adult audience
  • Explores themes rarely touched upon by children’s shows
  • Intro orients the viewer to the story and is accessible to new viewers

Cons

  • Pacing is a bit slow

Review

Well-developed Characters

Avatar: The Last Airbender's first season is a rocky because it was  groundbreaking
Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender

The characters are the best part of the whole show. I have so many favorites it is ridiculous. Usually for a show I have an obvious favorite. This one, not so much.

The main characters Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko are well-developed. So is Iroh, even though I would not call him a main character.

Aang is the last of the airbenders. He is a childish monk who nonetheless has his moments of insight and an adult-like sense of responsibility. Being raised by monks, there is an expectation that he will be simple, good, and somewhat detached from his emotions (since this is based off of Tibetan monks).

Sometimes he is. But there are definitely times he defies being categorized in this way. His typical humility is occasionally overtaken by pride. His ability to maintain calm is defeated by conflicting emotions such as love, anger, sorrow, and guilt. He is a character who loves to have fun but knows how to be serious.

Avatar: The Last Airbender" Unpopular Opinions
Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Katara is a waterbender from the South Pole. She is less childish than Aang. After the loss of her mother to the Fire Nation and after her father left to fight in the war, she was forced to assume more responsibility. This leads her to adopt an almost motherly role toward the other members of their small band.

She is generally calm, but bristles at all things sexist. She is determined, brave, and sincere.

How Old Are "Avatar: The Last Airbender Characters" Katara, Zuko and Sokka  - Avatar The Last Airbender Character Ages
Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Sokka is Katara’s older brother. After losing his mother to the Fire Nation and after his father went off to war, he was left as the only “man” in the village. He had to assume at least as much responsibility as Katara.

Other than that, he’s basically the boomerang, meat, and sarcasm guy…he said so himself.

Well, that isn’t completely true. He’s a lot more complex than that. He is hard and cynical compared to the others, but he certainly has a soft side.

He’s intelligent, and is constantly thinking of ideas to help the team one-up their adversaries. He has the qualities of a leader.

Sokka is not a bender, but that never made me think he was any less valuable to the team than the others. His ingenuity and smart-alecky comments make him irreplacable.

Avatar: The Last Airbender": I'm Still Not Over Zuko's Redemption Arc
Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Zuko may be the most complex character.

He values his honor, which he lost when he was banished from the Fire Nation by his father, Firelord Ozai. The only way to restore himself to his rightful place as prince of the Fire Nation is to capture the Avatar.

He has a massive temper that flares up (literally) every time they hit an obstacle. Nevertheless, he is a clever and dastardly villain. Despite his status as the major antagonist of Season 1 and as a teenager in exile, he shows that he is honorable through his actions.

He is a sympathetic bad guy with a whole lot of backstory. This is no one-dimensional villain. There are scenes that will have you rooting for him as much as you would for the good guys.

Iroh | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Iroh is the uncle of Zuko, and he is filled with wisdom and love for his nephew. He is a major source of humor for Season 1.

Iroh is somewhat disgraced himself due to a military loss at Ba Sing Se. However, he is not in exile like Zuko – he travels with him by choice and not necessity.

He offers Zuko both practical advice and proverbial wisdom, and is pretty much a father figure.

Bending system

The elements of water, earth, fire, and air are controlled by movements mimicking Chinese martial arts. Because they are modeled off of different forms of martial arts, the bending looks authentic.

If the martial arts did not look natural and go along well with the bending itself, it would have been laughable – for example, as in the horribly made film for Avatar: The Last Airbender, where a group of earth benders did an elaborate series of movements to lift a single small boulder.

But here, it is done well. The martial arts and the element the characters are bending become one and the movements look natural. Waterbending is graceful, earthbending is formidable, firebending is fierce, and airbending is elusive.

The variety of techniques that can be used within a single element mean that battles are never boring. Benders like Aang and Katara continually find new and creative ways to use their bending.

Because the bending system is limited to four elements it makes it easy for an audience to know what to expect and yet to be continually surprised. Nothing feels overly convenient. There are no major plot-saving changes to the system to make it feel fake or incomplete.

Cultures of Avatar: The Last Airbender

Southern Water Tribe | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
The Southern Water Tribe from Avatar: The Last Airbender

The first glimpse we get of a community in the show is the Southern Water Tribe, which is a vestige of what it was before the war. It is basically a close-knit little village of women, children, and Sokka.

Their culture is based on Inuit culture and they live in buildings made of cloth or snow. The clothing that they wear is unique to the Water Tribes, and Katara wears a carved betrothal necklace passed down from her mother.

Since they only have one waterbender remaining in the village, the culture is no longer based around waterbending.

The Southern Air Temple | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
The Southern Air Temple from Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Southern Air Temple is not what it used to be. The Fire Nation has invaded and no airbenders remain. That is no spoiler. It’s literally in the title of the show: Aang is the last airbender.

It’s clear from flashbacks in Season 1 that the Southern Air Temple once was a vibrant place filled with Air Nomads who lived their lives in peace. They lived among six-legged flying bisons and flying lemurs.

They also had their own games, evidenced by the court set up where Aang and Sokka play an airbending game.

The Northern Air Temple | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
The Northern Air Temple from Avatar: The Last Airbender

To avoid spoiling anything, I won’t tell you about the Northern Air Temple. It is enough to say that it is nothing like Aang expected, and that it provides more glimpses into the culture of the Air Nomads.

Fire Nation colonial village | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
Fire Nation Colony from Avatar: The Last Airbender

The one instance that we get a real sense for Fire Nation culture is in a colony in the Earth Kingdom, where the Fire Days Festival is taking place. We get an idea for the forms of entertainment that are a part of their special celebrations, such as an entertainer who plays like a stage magician/performer using firebending.

Furthermore, food such as flaming fire cakes are part of the festivities, as well as fireworks.

We also see a puppet show of the Firelord against his enemies, telling the children the story of their nation. This is subtle indoctrination – but every nation has its heroes and the stories a nation tells usually cast it in a positive light.

More and more, we see that the Fire Nation citizens are fiercely patriotic.

Omashu | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
Omashu from Avatar: The Last Airbender

The biggest Earth Kingdom city we see in Season 1 is Omashu. It has a culture built around earthbending. To get inside the walls, one is interrogated by Earth Kingdom soldiers, who must then physically open the walls with earthbending.

Aang says that a hundred years ago, the people of Omashu were the friendliest in the world, but now the kids see that the war has changed the people to be more suspicious of outsiders.

The most distinctive feature of Omashu is the elaborate postal system run by earthbending. It is only surpassed in entertainment value by the eccentric Earth King who lives there.

Northern Water Tribe | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
The Northern Water Tribe from Avatar: The Last Airbender

I won’t say too much about the Northern Water Tribe to avoid spoilers. It is different from the Southern Water Tribe in terms of sheer size, form of government, its focus around waterbending, and the roles of men and women.

Diversity

Avatar: The Last Airbender has cultures based on various real-life cultures. Unlike in some shows, it mimics these cultures while honoring them and without making caricatures of them.

Katara and Sokka have light brown skin, so there is some diversity in skin color as well.

Animal Life

Appa | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Appa is a six-legged flying bison. Yeah, you don’t get more creative than that.

The Animals Of The World Of Avatar Part 1 | Avatar tattoo, Avatar  airbender, The last avatar
Momo from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Momo is a flying lemur that the kids adopt. Not as creative, but kind of cute.

Otter penguin | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
Otter Penguins from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Otter Penguins are cute, and apparently you can use them as sleds!

Elephant koi | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
Elephant Koi from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Unagi | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
The Unagi from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Stay tuned for more interesting animals when I review Seasons 2 and 3!

Balance

Humor and tragedy are well-balanced in this show. Sokka and Iroh are major sources of humor. Zuko’s story, the loss of Katara and Sokka’s mother, and the genocide of the Air Nomads balance out the humor with a more serious tone.

Music adds to the humor at some times, and adds to the tension at others. It isn’t like the show has phenomenal musical scores – it doesn’t, not even in the intro. But it uses music that supports the story and does it well.

The range of expressions on the characters’ faces also adds to the comedy. Sometimes they are realistic, but occasionally they are way over the top.

The balance of humor with mature themes (war, genocide, imperialism, colonialism) makes this show appropriate for children yet entertaining for adults – the perfect balance.

Intro

The intro neatly explains the system of elements, explains about the war, and introduces the Avatar all in about thirty seconds. It is followed by a “Previously on Avatar” montage that concisely gives more background.

This is good for two reasons. Viewers who watch episodes with large spaces of time between get a reminder of what is going on and the stakes. And new viewers who may have missed the first few episodes get a sense for where the show has been and where it is going.

It’s a smart choice on the part of the directors.

Pacing

My only con for the show is that some viewers may be put off by the pacing. The characters go on a ton of side adventures before they reach their destination. While that’s fun to watch, I am sure it will make some viewers impatient. Hang in there…it’s worth it.

This is only a minor con because these excursions provide further opportunity for character development.

Conclusion

Anyway…this review was mostly me saying everything that is awesome about this show and why you should watch it. Because you should.

If you’re a writer, you should watch it because it is an example of good storytelling and great character development.

If you love comedy, watch it because it is funny.

If you are into anime, watch it because it is either the best example of American anime or an amazing anime-inspired cartoon, depending on your point of view. (Whether it is an anime or not is controversial.)

If you just love a good story, watch it.

Shows

Show Review: Sherlock Season 1 (Spoiler-Free)

Show: Sherlock, Season 1 (2010)

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

Although I have written movie and book reviews, this is my first show review. I am thrilled to be able to share with you my reaction to and rating of Sherlock Season 1.

As this is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

Background

Sherlock Season 1 aired in 2010 and was produced by BBC and Hartswood films. It is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, but instead of being placed in Victorian England, the show is set in modern-day London.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, and Andrew Scott.

In addition to being nominated for various awards, Sherlock won in three categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Strong character development
  • Benefit of a familiar character with a new spin
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Intriguing titles
  • Engaging plot
  • Catchy theme song

Cons

  • I could not think of any specific cons for this season.

Review

The acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, was incredible. They both played their parts well. All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized.

The setting is more relevant to a modern-day audience than Victorian London and allows for a unique spin on a Sherlock Holmes story. The presence of modern conveniences such as security cameras and phones creates a new playing field for a new Sherlock to test his intellect.

The main characters are highly developed.

Sherlock is a highly intelligent man who lacks empathy. He is nevertheless shown on several occasions to have at least some degree of care depending on who the person is. He is blunt, but occasionally shows remorse for his words when they have caused damage. He diagnoses himself as a sociopath, which is shown by this comment:

I’m not a psychopath, Anderson. I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.”

Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock

Ironically, he is not actually a psychopath or a sociopath, which is argued very strongly in this article by psychologist Maria Konnikova. One line of reasoning used in the article is that he is not actually devoid of empathy, shown by his treatment of Watson and Mrs. Hudson on numerous occasions. Another point is that he does feel emotions and that his calculated coldness is learned rather than innate. Konnikova makes several other valid points, so I would recommend her article.

Watson also seems to be of higher-than-average intelligence, but he cannot compete with Sherlock. Watson, however, has a deep sense of empathy and values human life while wanting to negate human suffering. He has his own dark side, however, and when Sherlock asks him if he wants to see more death, he says:

Oh, God, yes.”

John Watson in Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes is a familiar character, which means that the directors of this show have to find a way to embrace the old while creating a new take on Sherlock. They have done this masterfully.

The first time we see Sherlock, he is viciously beating a corpse with a whip. That seems contrary to his character: the cold, intelligent type. But it isn’t. It’s a new take on his character. By emphasizing his lack of empathy at the beginning, the directors make his character more ambiguous.

Is Sherlock good or bad? Well, he’s both, just like any other human being. He has his negative and positive qualities, and by showing his negative qualities first, the directors introduced the possibility of a bad or morally ambiguous character.

It is a way of generating curiosity and analysis. Viewers get to know the harder parts of Sherlock and then have to decide if that is somewhat made up for by his better qualities.

This makes Sherlock so much more than the intelligent “consulting detective.”

The script is often comical and further develops the characters. When Sherlock asks Molly about her lipstick and Anderson about how long his wife has been away, this reveals both his lack of tact and the ingenuity of the script that made that apparent.

The titles of the episodes are intriguing. For instance, a quick search of “A Study in Pink” finds that it is an echo of the first Sherlock Holmes book written by Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet. It is also a strange title because of the associations people have with the color pink: for example, happiness, peppiness, even superficiality. It stands out from the darker atmosphere of Sherlock. It is also interesting to note that this becomes the name of Watson’s blog article.

The plot is engaging and kept me watching carefully. It is always fun to try to deduce how Sherlock has come to his conclusions before he condescends to explain it. The first episode, “A Study in Pink,” is solving the case of serial suicides, which I thought was creative.

Conclusion

I would rate this show 10 out of 10 stars. It was so good that I failed to find any cons.

Have you watched it yourself? Or do you intend to? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Shows

The Worst Episode of The Flash I’ve Ever Watched

The CW's 'The Flash' is back: Here's what to expect – Film Daily

Warning: Spoilers!!!

During my first couple of years at college, my roommate and I would reward ourselves for getting homework done with occasional episodes of the Flash.

Season 1 was a strong start, Season 2 was simultaneously repetitive and bizarre, and we never made it further than a couple of episodes into Season 3.

Anyway, somehow my roommate and I decided we would be more motivated if for every 20 minutes of homework, we could watch 5 minutes of a show.

Yeah, that was a terrible idea. We would pause the show in the middle of fight sequences, sad scenes, and at all the wrong times. Despite that, the habit stuck for awhile.

It made the worst episode of The Flash I have ever watched take FOREVER.

So, what was the worst episode? The one that had us looking forward more to the 20 minutes of homework than the 5 minute break?

It’s called “The Runaway Dinosaur.”

What’s funny is this same episode that my roommate and I hated is celebrated on several sites as one of the best episodes of the season. I honestly cannot understand why.

I mean, it was bad enough that I even remembered the name of the episode for more than a year. I never remember the names of episodes.

(One more warning: spoilers ahead!)

The Flash Recap With Spoilers: The Runaway Dinosaur
The book “The Runaway Dinosaur” from The Flash

Here’s some context for the episode: When Zoom threatens Wally, Barry Allen (The Flash) gives up his powers to save him. Later, Dr. Wells sets off a particle accelerator to try to bring back Barry Allen’s powers.

Does Barry get his powers back? Nope. He essentially explodes out of existence. Oops!

The Actual Episode:

The episode starts out with them all in shock, because Barry was supposed to be all speedy again, and instead they think they killed him.

Then they all find out that Jesse and Wally were knocked out. To make matters worse, Jesse’s heart has stopped beating.

Wally is woken up almost immediately by Iris and Joe, who are relieved and act as if nothing at all is wrong with Jesse. Dr. Wells is distraught and pretty much freaking out. Joe and Iris offer no assistance to Wells, and when Jesse starts breathing again, they do not show any sign of caring.

When they get back into the room where Barry poofed out of existence, Joe asks Barry’s father to go take care of Jesse. With no sign of haste on either of their parts, Jesse eventually gets help. (About time!)

Then Cisco uses his Vibe powers when touching the suit to locate Barry, who is apparently in a vortex of zappy energy.

Barry wakes up in his bed in his childhood home. He catches a glimpse of the book the episode is named for – The Runaway Dinosaur.

He goes downstairs and sees Joe. Except – here’s the catch – it’s not Joe. It’s the speed force in human form. Why? Well, because…

We thought you would be more comfortable talking to someone who looked familiar in a place you knew.”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

Yeah, because that would make anyone comfortable. Having the literal force of speed manifest in the body of a loved one. That’s not creepy at all…

To further explain, Mr. Speed Force Joe says that “we” (the speed force) have been around since the beginning and will be around until the heat death of the universe.

Barry says, “That’s trippy.”

And Mr. Speed Force Joe says what no one would ever think the force of speed would say if it could talk.

We pretty much invented trippy here.”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

Where even is here? Why did using a particle accelerator on Barry trap him in the force of speed? Why is speed itself a pluralistic being?

To make it even better, he can’t go home until he catches this quickly moving silhouette that zips around. So poor Barry chases it around for awhile. This seems like the speed force’s way of torturing Barry.

Meanwhile, back at STAR labs, Cisco and Iris go to the building’s morgue, where they are apparently still keeping all the bodies of dead meta-humans. They are looking for records that might help Jesse. They also find zombie-Tony, who was apparently woken up by the particle accelerator.

Instead of acting scared like any normal person, Cisco sounds more annoyed.

A zombie? For real?”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

Then, it’s back to Barry. He asks the speed force why he was given his powers.

Because you’re the Flash, Barry.”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

Now, that just seems like circular reasoning. Why was he made the Flash? Well, because he is the Flash. See how that really isn’t an answer?

I don’t know why I expected the physical manifestation of speed to be more logical, but I did.

Then back to Cisco and Dr. Wells, who have figured out how to reach Barry through a “simple feedback loop.” Wells explains matter-of-factly that this means he will need to zap Cisco while he is vibing, and then they can separate Barry from speed itself.

Did that explanation make your head hurt? Well, apparently none of us are as smart as Dr. Wells, because it makes perfect sense in his mind.

At the same time, Iris and Joe find out the zombie-Tony has a major crush on Iris that even death hasn’t stifled. So, of course they decide to use Iris as bait. True, she’s all for it, but it’s still disturbing.

After the speed force takes Barry to his mother’s grave, and he runs off, he finds himself back home. There, he is confronted by the speed force again, in the shape of his mother.

Then it gets weirder. Speed Force Mom kisses him on the forehead and reads him a children’s book that his actual mother, Nora Allen, used to read him when he was younger.

It’s called The Runaway Dinosaur. The dinosaur in it feels like there is nothing special about being a Maiasaur and wants to be a different kind of dinosaur. The book boasts cutesy lines such as this:

But if you were a T-Rex,” said his mother, “how would you hug me with your tiny little arms?”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

That’s cute and all, but the book has nothing to do with running away. Why is it even called The Runaway Dinosaur? Is it supposed to be figurative? Like, he’s “running” away from his identity? Well, okay, but this is a board book, which means it’s mostly for kiddos 3 years and younger. How are they supposed to pick up on that?

Then he catches the silhouette, which happens to be himself, and gets his powers back. Cisco and Iris try to reach him again, because zombie-Tony is literally trying to break down the door to get Iris and they need Barry to save them.

Iris calls Barry home and Barry deals with zombie-Tony by running in circles around him. Dr. Wells slaps a sci-fi explanation on that and voila! Zombie-Tony goes back to sleep.

The Flash is then able to revive Jesse because of the speed force, which apparently also can do miracle healings.

The episode ends with the Flash making all sorts of new revelations about fate and his relationship with Iris.

So, what happened here?

My guess is they wanted Barry to go through something as powerful as a religious experience, but with secular vibes. So they had the speed force play God and attach meaning to everything. Because this pseudo-religious experience was just an assortment of false experiences with his fake loved-ones, it came across as empty and absurd.

Also, it was a way for Barry to face his emotions and the loss of his mother. I just don’t think getting a bedtime story from Speed Force Mom was the right way to heal that trauma.

Did you watch this episode? Do you feel like it was terrible, great, or just alright? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.