The Flash "S1E18 All Star Team Up" - Review: Team ATOM crashes the party

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The Flash "S1E18 All Star Team Up" - Review: Team ATOM crashes the party

Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me, in fact, for 9 months, I was practically dead. He was looking kind of dumb with a yellow lightning bolt, stuck on either side of his forehead. Well, the metahumans start coming and they don't stop coming, struck by a storm and I hit the ground running. Didn't make sense not to live for fun, travel back in time, and your head gets dumb. So much to do, so much to see, so what's wrong building a super suit? You'll never know if you don't go. You'll never shine if you don't glow (or flash). But hey now.... you’re an All Star, get your team on, and go save the city! This week, Barry Allen has some very different billionaire vigilante company as we enjoy a smashing crossover episode.

All Star Team Up – As a new villain wields swarms of killer bees against her victims, Team Flash gets an unexpected visit from Team ATOM when Ray and Felicity drop into down after some new suit tech. Barry struggles with who to trust after learning Harrison Wells is the Reverse Flash and Eddie finds his relationship with Iris strained over keeping Barry’s identity from her.

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Back in episode 4, Emily Bett Rickards showed just how well her Felicity character fitted into the more fun based antics in Central City. Ray Parker makes the perfect complimenting companion as, in many ways, Ray is the “he-licity”. The two make a formidable tag team of awkward and geeky humour from the “getting it up” flight systems double entendres to the brilliant Ray/Cisco science bro’s sessions (far from an Avengers exclusive) and of course, Felicity’s girly talk with Catlin. “It’s kind of like I’m dating Barry in Oliver’s body” may be the best analogy the show has delivered yet. Flash episodes are rarely wanting for good light humour but these Starling City alums feel like they’re enhancing and elevating the existing rather than replacing anything. The series timing of their arrival also fits well as Barry’s troubles with trust sees him desperately needing someone outside the regulars to talk with and Felicity is the perfect candidate. It feels very logical to see Barry suspicious of Catlin and Cisco following the Harrison revelation as he’s too smart to overlook such a possibility. The episode does a great job of allowing various characters time for indecision before cementing the team line going into the final straight of the series. Cisco’s alternative timeline lapses need some clear explaining but get free pass for being so dam cool in their delivery and helping the final anti-Harrison club meeting reach a more convincing conclusion. This also draws some great ideals on the principle of not being able to out run time; that's just as Harrison Wells speculated, in the long run the time line will always correct itself.

It’s great to see Emily Kinney back on our screens after Beth bit the bullet on The Walking Dead, which is why it’s such a shame we don’t get to see all that much of her as this gender-switched Bug Eyed Bandit (you had to love the double team naming  this week). Her most meaningful moment comes via a CG bee swarming bee face, meaning little of her actually comes across, and in person, she barely gets more than a couple lines in converse. Her hack-off with Felicity is great to watch and by Felicity’s own emission gives her some much needed competition; “Oh she’s good, she’s like my nemesis.... I’ve never had a nemesis before, I kind of like it”. Though sadly, she feels like the wrong kind of B-villain this series. There is a theory that Arrow Season 4 will heavily involve the villain organisation H.I.V.E. and that Bug Eyed Bandit will be part of their team as a Felicity equivalent, continuing their rivalry. If so, hopefully she’ll get the chance to show more of her talent while buzzing in Starling. However, the robo-bees do make a great opposition for The Flash and The ATOM. Their swarming coordination is a good creative way to negate Barry’s speed and the ATOM flight fight delivers the best super suit visuals yet while being equally challenging for Ray to overcome.

The opening “Flash cops” sequence also makes for some kick ass fun action as Barry switches up the seating arrangements much to Joe’s grinning delight. Has back seat arrival feels nicely reminiscent of Amazing Spiderman’s car thief moment. It’s interesting to see Joe, Barry and Eddie working as such a well oiled team as the show explores just how much they can accomplish together. It forms the ideal counterweight to Iris’s ultimatum over knowing Eddie’s secret. Even without Joe’s fatherly/partner commandments, Eddie has good enough reasons of his own for revoking her Team Flash application. Yet again Iris comes off the worse here as her character feels way too needy, and even downright annoying. She’s still proving the trickiest character for the writers to nail but some episodes have managed so it can and should happen more often. A final thought about Eddie as now, we’re this late into the season and he’s still batting for the good guys. It looks safe to say that he’ll finish the season that way. Although we could get a villain creation cliff-hanger ending, (as he lives up to the Thawne family name) it feels much likely that the showrunners are playing the long game and embedding him as a main villain for season 2 in a comparable manner to Arrow’s Slade Wilson/Deathstroke approach. This is good to see as, even if that wasn’t the original plan, the show is finding the confidence in its success and acclaim to work towards longer term payoffs.

This episode doesn’t quite repeat the magic of the epic Flash Vs Arrow episode but it was never intended to, and is still a very welcome and immensely enjoyable crossover. It gets heavy bonus points for plenty of great “Flarrow-verse” references from Felicity’s notions on not dying or the drunk Catlin throwback of karaoke. But it’s the greater DC verse that gifts the best line thisn week with the Superman riff; “is that a bird..... no it’s a plane.... it’s my boyfriend”. The Flash is always at its best when having fun with its comic heritage and All Star Team offers a geeky buffet to feast on. It may not pack the bigger dramatic strengths of some recent triumphs but The Flash is still a shooting star that’s breaking the mould.