The Flash “Shade” Review (Season 3 Episode 6)

In a season where pretty much every other Arrowverse show has stepped up its game, it’s a shame to see The Flash still struggling so much. The show is far from a slog, mind you, but all of the early Flashpoint-related decisions have continued to hang over the series, keeping it from delivering the sort of fun, exciting episodes fans have come to expect. “Shade” manages to push the plot forward, true, but so much about it is frustrating in terms of where the characters are at.

In particular, Caitlin’s story arc has been frustrating because of how hard it is to understand why she’s kept her powers a secret from the team. I get that she’s worried about turning evil, but why wouldn’t she want the help of great minds like Cisco and Harry in trying to figure out a way to help her? What’s the benefit of being part of STAR Labs team if not the help she can get for this exact problem, and months earlier at that?

Wally, meanwhile, comes under the thrall of Alchemy this week, though his desire to become a speedster obviously stretches back further. At first, seeing Wally’s dream of being Kid Flash, I was again excited by the prospect of him becoming a full-time superhero, but it wasn’t long before I remembered just how single-minded and obsessed he’s been about it. He’s been far too willing to put himself in harm’s way already this season, and it clouds his motivations for going to see Alchemy at the hour’s end, especially once he’s allowed himself to be cocooned.

Villain-wise, the show still struggling to give solid week-to-week threats, and Shade may be the most underdeveloped we’ve gotten in the entire run. He appears twice as a shadowy threat and never speaks a word before being taken out by the Flash, leaving him every bit the plot device and distraction the team calls him out as. It’s a shame, too, given how complex and interesting the Shade is in the original comics; I was hoping this version would at least don a top hat at some point.

Still, what keeps the show entertaining are the characters that are working well this season. Brief emo stage at the start of the season aside, Cisco has been as entertaining as ever, and his new dynamic with H.R. has provided plenty of great comedic moments. Speaking of H.R., Tom Cavanaugh continues to delight as this screwy goofball version of the character, even as his place as a member of the team remains questionable. And Joe is still a reliably solid father figure, and it’s good to see him finally getting back out into the dating world.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!