May 13, 2019
The Flash RECAP: That Dude Is So Metal (S1:E6)
Previously on The Flash: Plastique blew up, Iris met Flash, Joe vowed to find out who killed Barry’s mom, Iris and Barry are taking a break from being friends.
Oh, hey, it’s voiceover!Iris this week! She’s telling us to believe in the impossible, but we exist in a world with five primetime TV shows based on comic books on the air and more on the way, so we already do. She’s blogging in the coffee shop and is really proud of her cheesy prose. I guess we all start somewhere. As she closes her laptop, the Streak rushes in and speeds her up to the roof to chat, so apparently Barry had no plans of actually staying away from Iris (I’m shocked, no really). He tells her to stop writing her blog and OH MY GOD I AM SO SICK OF THIS I THOUGHT WE’D GET A BREAK AFTER LAST WEEK.
Eddie calls, and Iris ignores it in favor of asking Flash to show off his powers. He says it isn’t an interview and keeps flitting around like an annoying insect and ignoring her questions—except the one about what to call him. He does suggest not “The Streak” but does not, in fact, suggest “The Flash.” Before we can rehash the same conversation about Iris’ blog for, I dunno, the thirty-second time, Barry hears sirens and takes off, leaving Iris back in the coffee shop.
Back in stories I do care about, a Humvee speeds out of a parking lot, knocking over a USPS mailbox in the process. The driver seems inordinately pleased with his ability to commit petty vandalism and grand theft auto, even though there are police cars right behind him. Joe and Eddie are part of a blockade set up to cut off the stolen Hummer down the street, and Eddie begins clearing away pedestrians while Joe yells ineffectually at a kid in headphones right in the path of the speeding cars.
As you would expect, Flash scoops him up in the nick of time. Joe and Eddie shoot at the wheels of the Hummer; well, Joe does while Eddie seems to be shooting at the driver—and a couple of direct hits do fuck-all. The driver, who we’ll call Girder, is unaffected (comic check! Tony Woodward, a.k.a. Girder, is basically DC’s version of Colossus, except 26 years later). Joe tackles Eddie out of the way of the Hummer as it slams through the police-car blockade, with the Flash in pursuit.
Girder actually does stop when he sees Barry standing in front of him, but when he gets out of the car, he brings the door with him and hurls it at Barry, who dodges. Barry speeds a right hook at Girder, but dude goes all metal-skinned and probably breaks Barry’s hand. Girder then knocks him aside with a metal arm. He walks over to taunt-slash-punch Barry some more, but the Flash speeds away before he can take any more damage.
At STARLS, Caitlin and Cisco are bickering about math—in this case, the math required to determine how many bugs Barry swallows per day of speeding around. Harrison tells them he looks forward to seeing them accept their Nobel, which makes me giggle. When they reach the lab, though, Barry is unconscious-ish on the floor.
Caitlin is unimpressed with his injuries as she puts some sort of weird high-tech splint on his injured hand, telling him he’ll need a couple hours to heal. Barry tells the team what happened, and Harrison muses about the “man of steel,” which is probably as close to a cameo as Superman will get in this universe. Cisco doesn’t understand why Barry didn’t call the team. He claims he didn’t know he was dealing with a metahuman, and he was “off-duty” anyway. Barry also tells them he thought the iron man looked familiar. Barry is worried about how to stop him, but Harrison assures him the team will come up with a way while Barry heals.
At Central City PD, Joe is watching the tapes of kid!Barry recounting what he saw the night his mother was murdered, until actual Barry shows up. Barry confirms that the Hummer thief was a metahuman. Joe says they don’t know who he was yet, but he has a lead to check out while Barry talks to Eddie about the impossible metahuman-ness he saw when he shot Girder. Barry assumes that means he has to make up something science-y to throw Eddie off, which Joe confirms.
Captain Singh is handing out case files about Girder when Barry slips into the briefing, expositing that Girder robbed three ATMs after his joyride in the Hummer and thanks to the security cameras they’ve identified him as Tony Woodward, which you know because I told you five paragraphs ago.
Barry recognizes his name, and we get a FLASHback to kid!Barry and kid!Iris walking through the halls at school when kid!Tony begins harassing Barry about his dad being in prison. Tony shoves Barry into a locker and heads off to wherever bullies go when they’re not adding to superheroes’ tragic backstories.
Barry comes back to real-time when Eddie calls his name, telling him about how the shots he fired at Tony seemed to “spark” off him. Barry suggests he was wearing body armor, which Eddie is skeptical about because he saw the bullet hit his face, but before Barry can come up with some other lame reason, Iris shows up to check on Eddie. He’s a little upset that she didn’t check her messages since he called her twice. Trouble in paradise? Iris and Barry barely look at one another as she leaves, and even Eddie realizes something is going on with them, even though Barry tries to brush it off. Meanwhile, Joe isn’t running down a lead on Girder at all: he’s come to ask Harrison for help solving Barry’s mother’s murder.
Later, Cisco is somewhat amused by Barry’s connection to their metal man. He and Caitlin muse about their childhood nemeses too, until Barry asks if they’ve come up with a fix for his childhood nemesis, who is the only one so far to become a villainous metahuman. Cisco has: he’s built a metal training dummy (which he names Girder, instead of Woodward), which can help Barry learn how to channel his speed into beating even something with a built-in suit of armor. The first session doesn’t go so well, as the dummy dislocates Barry’s shoulder. While Caitlin prepares to re-socket the joint, Eddie calls Barry, telling him he’s needed on a crime scene. Caitlin informs Barry that if he was visiting Iris in costume last night when he was supposedly off-duty, that’s kind of creepy, for which I love her, and then shoves Barry’s shoulder back into place.
The police have located Tony’s stolen Hummer, so Barry’s on the scene to take evidence. Eddie wants to talk about Barry’s falling out with Iris. Barry just says that they had a fight, but he doesn’t want to talk about it with Eddie, who admits he was threatened by Barry at first. Barry is a little disbelieving that Eddie could possibly be threatened by him, but obviously he and Iris are close. Eddie is basically telling Barry that he wants Iris to be happy, and this means she and Barry need to make up. Barry FLASHes back to childhood and Joe teaching him and Iris to box. Kid!Barry is terrible at it, and Joe calls Iris over to replace him as punching bag. Barry is incredulous that Joe wants him to hit a girl, but Iris just says Joe wants Barry to try. Barry swings a couple times, and Iris ducks and evades and then punches Barry in the stomach a couple times and knocks him down. TEAM IRIS! Joe sighs and tells Barry that if he’s in a fight he knows he can’t win, it’s okay to run the other way. I think the real lesson here is let Iris fight for you.
Eddie asks Barry what he thinks, back at the real-time crime scene, even though Barry hasn’t moved from his case of instruments. Still, he says that based on the kegs in the back, Woodward got wasted, stole a Hummer, and went joyriding. He’s able to collect a tiny bit of trace evidence (gravel) before Eddie insists he come along to check out the brewery the kegs were probably stolen from.
Joe recounts to Harrison Barry’s description of the red and yellow tornado-light-man he saw when his mother was murdered. What triggered his need to watch the tapes of kid!Barry’s interviews again was watching Barry rescue the kid from getting hit by the stolen Hummer: it looked like Barry’s description of being suddenly out on the street. Harrison points out that all the metahumans they’ve encountered so far got that way when the particle accelerator exploded, which Joe acknowledges, but he asks if it’s possible that people with these abilities existed before. Harrison says it’s unlikely.
Eddie and Barry are at Rusty Iron Brewing Company in Keystone City, where the employees are kind of unhelpful, but one of the guys loading a truck with kegs clearly recognizes Tony’s mugshot. He decides to run for it, and Eddie tracks him down with some help from Barry, who speeds around in front of him and takes a punch so Eddie can get the tackle. Turns out the guy thinks they’re there because they found out Tony was dead: ten months earlier, he’d been in a scuffle with Tony over getting fired from Keystone Ironworks, and Tony had fallen into a vat of molten scrap metal. Man, that accelerator explosion sure did happen at a really convenient time for some of these people.
At the coffee shop, one of Iris’ coworkers asks her where Barry is, so Iris can be kinda sad, but mostly just annoyed. Before she can throw a muffin at someone, though, Woodward steps in, all swagger. “Long time, no see,” he says to Iris. She’s relatively unimpressed, but polite, even when he licks his lips and says she should stop by his place sometime. Gross. But he’s really there because he thinks she might know who the Streak is. She doesn’t, and says she has to get back to work, but he persists, asking what time she’s off. Iris’ voice goes wholly unamused, and she tells Tony she doubts her boyfriend would approve. The one that’s a cop. Like her dad. Tony claims not to like cops just as Iris’ coworker points out that the shop’s TV is conveniently showing Tony’s mugshot right that second! Iris gets out her phone, but Tony takes it and crushes it in his metal hand. He then puts a large wad of twenties in the tip jar “for the damage” and tells Iris they’ll pick things up another time before making his escape. No one else in the shop seems to notice or be concerned. Equally likely, maybe Iris is the only one in the entire shop with a cell phone!
Barry is getting ready to fight Cisco’s metal dummy again when Cisco comes in to inform him that the gravel from the stolen Humvee apparently came from Keystone Ironworks, which he can tell because it was 76.8% hematite. Since the place closed ten months ago, the team surmises that Tony must be hiding out there. Caitlin, meanwhile, has noticed Iris’ new blog post, which is for the Streak: she has information for him.
Barry comes to the coffee shop, asking if Iris is okay, and she says she’s fine: Tony was trying to impress her, not hurt her. She tells Barry several things about Woodward that he already knows, and offers to try to talk to Tony again. Barry yells that it’s too dangerous. I mean, it is, but he doesn’t have to be a dick about it. Before they can talk any more, a couple of uniformed cops knock on the shop door: Eddie insisted Iris get a ride home with them after her run-in with a wanted criminal.
Team Flash is tracking Barry from STARLS, even though he won’t reply on comms (Cisco tells him not to run angry, lol). He ignores their warnings that they can’t fight Tony yet and searches the grounds of Keystone Ironworks for signs of the guy. He finds metal footprints and lots of beer bottles, and he finally gets on comms to tell Cisco and Caitlin that it’s definitely Tony’s hideout when the man himself surprises him from behind. Okay, we’ve seen him run around a room while someone is blinking; am I really supposed to believe he can be surprised from behind? Anyway, Tony throws some shelves on him (we’re supposed to believe he can’t get out from under a falling shelf in time?) and takes off.
Cisco and Caitlin, because they are as dumb as Barry, follow him to the Ironworks when he goes off comms and dig him out from under the shelving. Back at STARLS, Harrison is Not Happy that Barry went after Tony alone before they’d come up with a way to defeat him. Barry yells that he’s aware, but that doesn’t explain why he went to the Ironworks knowing he couldn’t fight Tony. Cisco, though, was able to analyze the weird piles of metal when they went to rescue Barry, and he tells Barry that hitting that metal at the right angle and speed will damage it. The speed, however, is Mach 1.1. They use “Mach” to make it sound really fast, but that’s probably 800-850 mph (real life check: Mach 1 is defined as the speed of sound, but that speed actually depends on temperature, pressure, and the medium; it’s not a constant). We know he ran at least 650 mph last episode based on Team Flash’s calculations of running on water, so they actually are inching up his top speed relatively slowly as he gets better at using his powers. After I typed all that, Cisco and Caitlin confirm that in Central City Mach 1.1 is 837 mph, so chalk one up for my estimation skills. Team Flash is divided on this idea: Cisco really wants Barry to create a sonic boom, Harrison thinks he can do it and take Tony down, and Caitlin is fixated on how Barry will shatter all his bones if he fucks up. But come on, we all know he’s going to try.
Barry heads back to Central City PD and is immediately intercepted by Joe. Barry reveals that Woodward had gone to see Iris, which Joe apparently didn’t know (does he not read the blog?); he is understandably worried but apparently placated by the knowledge that Eddie has a detail on her. Joe tells Barry he needs to be more unemotional about Tony’s childhood (and adulthood, clearly) bully status because his judgment is understandably clouded on the matter. Eddie comes over to exposit that Tony stole a car and is leaving Central City, so the state police will be tracking him down. Eddie and Barry are both frustrated that CCPD is off the case, and Eddie invites Barry upstairs to “hit something.” Joe hilariously reassures Barry that Eddie probably didn’t mean he was going to hit him.
The Worst Lab Ever apparently now contains a punching bag, and Barry is holding it for Eddie. Eddie says he knows about Barry’s history with Tony and joins Cisco and Caitlin in immediately revealing his own childhood bullies. Barry finds it hard to believe that someone like Eddie was bullied. But despite being really hot and totally not a supervillain now, Eddie was short and fat as a kid, and his dad was an unpopular politician. Plusm kids will pick on other kids for literally anything, so he didn’t even need a sob story. Barry asks how Eddie combated his bullies, and he laughs that he just got his ass kicked a lot until a gym coach (it’s a minor detail, but I really appreciate that this gym coach was a ‘she’) taught him to be patient when he fought back; one carefully calculated punch can make a much bigger difference than a lot of showy punches. Wow, what timely advice that is. He encourages Barry to punch harder (adorably), and Barry finally punches the bag hard enough to split the seam.
So there you go, kids: the best possible solution for dealing with a bully is superior boxing skills. In fact, as far as this episode is concerned, it appears to be the only possible solution.
Harrison and Joe are having a meeting of Team Barry Allen’s Hot Dads in a bar. Joe is re-hashing their conversation from the day before about the impossible, and Harrison gently reiterates that even though they’ve seen strange things in the past few months, they know the cause. Joe uses that argument to his advantage, asking Harrison if 1) the particle accelerator created metahumans and 2) a metahuman murdered Nora Allen, then 3) could there have been another particle accelerator back then? So close, Joe, but you forgot the possibility that 4) the STAR Labs accelerator created a metahuman capable of time travel. Harrison does humor him, but says it’s unlikely and besides, he doesn’t remember any dark matter lightning storms 14 years ago before he moved to Central City. Joe asks when he did move to town, and Harrison speculates that Joe knows very well he opened his lab a month after Nora Allen’s murder. It becomes clear that Joe is engaging in a very gentle interrogation, and Harrison is having none of it. He tells Joe to look up “Tess Morgan” and takes his leave.
Iris is blogging alone at the kitchen table, and creepy music is playing so we know something bad is going to happen. Predictably, a metal fist flies into the window of the cop car stationed outside the West home. Iris gets up to see the car totally flipped over in the street and turns around to see Tony. He doesn’t look particularly friendly.
Barry and Eddie are sparring/training again in the Worst Lab Ever, which is kinda cute, if mostly pointless. Eddie tells Barry he’s making good progress but just needs to work on his speed. As they’re winding down, a uniform comes in to break the news that Iris is missing, and Eddie runs off with Barry’s encouragement. Barry has to break the news to Joe.
Tony takes Iris to their old elementary school and tells her that now she’s going to write her blog about him instead of the Streak. Considering all he does is drink beer and wear muscle shirts, it’ll be a pretty mundane blog. Also, he says the Streak is dead, which is pretty rich. It’s not like he checked. Iris wants to know why Tony wants her to write about him, and he says he likes her. Iris immediately saunters up like she’s into it and pulls the fire alarm. Nice. Tony catches her arm immediately, so she doesn’t get very far, but it was a good effort.
At the police department, they’ve set up roadblocks everywhere but haven’t made any progress until a uniform notices the fire alarm call at the elementary school, which Barry and Joe immediately recognize. Joe dispatches Barry.
Tony and Iris are walking past a trophy case that contains a prominent picture of kid!Tony in a singlet holding a big trophy (really? No other kid has claimed that space in over a decade?), and he’s blabbering about the big police showdown to come when Barry rushes by, grabbing Tony’s attention. He says there’s no reason Iris has to be here, but Tony wants her to watch him beat Barry up and goes full metal alchemist.
Barry speeds Iris to safety at…the end of the hall? Yeah, that’s gonna make a big difference. He engages Tony and dodges his punches effectively, taunting him by saying he got all those powers and he’s still just a bully. He tries to hit Tony with a flag, but Tony catches the pole and uses it to slam Barry into the lockers and wall a few times. Barry’s on the floor, injured, and Tony approaches slowly, fists going metal again. Barry remembers Joe’s advice when he was a kid, to run the other way if he’s in a fight he can’t win, and he takes off. Tony, of course, thinks he’s fled, and even Caitlin and Cisco assume he’s just escaped. But if you’ve been paying attention, you remember that Team Flash figured it would take Barry about five miles to get up to the required Mach 1.1 to break Tony. Coincidentally, Barry stops at about five miles away from the school.
Caitlin tells him to wait, but Cisco is encouraging. Barry speeds back toward the school, breaking car windows and causing fender benders the whole way—he totally creates a sonic boom—and punches Tony in the face. Tony goes down, and so does Barry; right speed and angle or not, that had to have hurt. Tony staggers to his feet, injured but not unconscious…and Iris takes the opportunity to put him the rest of the way down with a vicious right cross to the other side of the face. Tony’s not getting back up this time.
Tony wakes up in a cell in the metaprison, and he’s not happy about it. Even less so when he finds Barry is watching him from the shadows. Barry slowly walks into the light to reveal his identity to Tony, which is stupid on so many levels, but Barry doesn’t care because he gets to give Tony a full-on holier-than-thou speech about how he used his gifts to hurt people. Barry’s right, but he’s still being kind of a dick. Caitlin and Cisco are waiting to lock up the metaprison and are more amused by his giddy fist-pump upon locking Tony up forever than I am.
Joe comes into the lab to see Harrison, and he’s not accusing him of murdering Nora Allen this time; he’s bringing him a bottle of 16-year-old bourbon, distilled, bottled, and aged right there in Central City. He tells Harrison that he looked up Tess Morgan, and he’s sorry for Harrison’s loss: Harrison and Tess were married and research partners until she was killed in a car accident. He couldn’t go back to their shared lab after her death, so he moved to Central City to start fresh. He shows some pain as he tells Joe it took him fourteen years to rebuild, when Tess could’ve done it in four. Joe just watches with so much sympathy, it’s absurd. I’m literally on AO3 right now looking up fanfic OH MY GOD HOW HAS NO ONE WRITTEN JOE WEST/HARRISON WELLS YET I MUST REMEDY THIS TEAM BARRY ALLEN’S HOT DADS FOREVER.
Ahem. So Harrison gets back on topic, finishing up by saying that his accelerator was just an idea when Nora was killed; it certainly hadn’t created any metahumans yet. Joe says he’s sorry he doubted him and hopes Harrison will still help him solve the case. Harrison laughs that Joe doesn’t give up, and Joe literally says “not until I get my man” while they gaze at each other. Harrison says that Barry is lucky to have Joe in his life, and they gaze at each other a moment longer. I am not exaggerating this, you guys, and I appreciate that this is two of the best actors on the show playing off each other in emotionally charged scenes, but that does not make me ship it less.
Iris is cleaning up the coffee shop, because apparently after being abducted she went to work. Barry comes by to talk, telling Iris that he’d heard what happened from Joe. Iris smiles that her hand isn’t broken, which is nice, but they’re kind of awkward until Iris finally says she missed Barry. He relaxes a little and says he missed her too. They sit down to catch up, and Iris says she’s gotten some posting about a new metahuman—a guy on fire (comic check: maybe Mick Rory, who we met teasingly in S1E4; there are a few other pyrokinetics floating around the greater DC universe that aren’t villains, too). She also tells Barry about how the Streak refuses to answer her questions and how cool it is that she can’t see him when he moves. Barry takes the opportunity to plant the name “Flash”.
Voiceover!Iris is back, telling her readers that she was saved by the impossible, by the Flash, and we watch as her blog follower count ticks up over 1,000.
Joe is looking over the case file and drinking at home, grimacing when he glances at the photo of Henry being arrested. He crosses out a note he’d made about Harrison’s connection, and all the lights go out. He immediately reaches for his gun, but it’s knocked from the coffee table by a red-and-yellow streak that circles the living room while Joe watches.
When he vanishes, all his notes on the case are gone and the baddie has carved “Stop or else” into the wall, alongside a photo of Iris pinned with a knife. Joe looks terrified, but I have a feeling that later he’s going to be really fucking angry.