If there is one thing to take away from this episode of The Flash, it’s that they did a great job of teasing us with a bunch of different storylines, or to be frank, they “half-assed” just about everything in this episode. We are used to seeing some pretty lackluster “villains-of-the-week”, especially this season, but “Shade” took this to whole new level.
It’s one thing to have a villain that isn’t the focus of an episode, but to only show Shade twice added nothing to the story and wasted a character that deserves more screen time. The first time Shade appeared was for a brief scene at the beginning to establish him as this week’s antagonist. It turned out, though, he wasn’t the primary opposition of Team Flash this week because the only other time we saw him was in a quick showdown where he was defeated by Cisco and a bunch of car headlights. Shade was just used as a pawn to distract everyone while Alchemy tried to lure Wally into his trap.
Ok, since Shade amounted to nothing, we must have gotten our first real look at alchemy and the challenge he poses to Team Flash, right? Nope. Alchemy was used as a setup for future episodes. At the end of the episode Barry, Wally, Joe, and a SWAT team entered Alchemy’s hideout for what we thought was going to be a great showdown, but it ended so abruptly. It was fun to watch but we still don’t know anything about Alchemy (other than he is responsible for all these metahumans) so it didn’t have the impact on the audience that the writers were going for. Savitar even made a brief appearance, but again, it didn’t mean anything to us. The entire episode was used as a setup for Wally for to become Kid Flash but it could have been done in a way that didn’t feel so rushed.
Even Caitlin’s frosty side was revealed to Team Flash this week but it didn’t get the reaction it should have. Cisco basically forced the confession, but because the episode was too busy with other teasers, it didn’t result in anything other than her and Barry briefly talking. Next week’s episode looks to be centered around her so I’m not sure why they didn’t wait until then where it could have gotten an appropriate reaction from everyone. This just emphasized that fact that The Flash often tries to do too much in an episode and unfortunately it ends up being too little.
On the surface, The Flash might look like an action-filled superhero show, but realistically it’s heavily character driven. People like Barry, Cisco, Joe, and Iris are the reason this show is worth coming back to every week, so when episodes like “Shade” have very little substance, it’s still worth watching. The chemistry they all have on screen is what drives the show and it was obvious this week.