REVIEW: The Flash, S6E4 – There Will Be Blood

flash 604 there will be blood cisco

It should come as no surprise that The Flash‘s not-so-Halloween-themed episode is my least favorite of the season thus far, seeing as “There Will Be Blood” has minimal female presence. Ramsey’s (Sendhil Ramamurthy) maligned mother presides over his psyche in flashbacks, and the spectre of Sue’s disappearance colors Ralph’s (Hartley Sawyer) view of the coming Crisis. But outside of that, it’s very much an hour spent on the men of the show dealing with the future loss of Barry (Grant Gustin).

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“I’m not looking to get married,” he lied.

This works for the most part thanks to the stellar acting skills of the cast. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) rages against the thought of Barry giving up, and the surprising steps he takes are rendered totally believable through Valdes’ layered performance. Barry attempts in vain to get his best friend to focus on curing Ramsey’s HLH in the hopes of allowing him to live a productively post-Crisis, but Cisco actively sabotages their plan rather than follow along. Their diametrically opposed feelings on this make for such compelling arguments and heart-wrenching scenes that I almost forgot they spent most of “There Will Be Blood” holding up their end of a nonsense bargain with Nash Well (Tom Cavanagh).

Which is not to say that this iteration of Wells is anything close to the worst one that The Flash has come up with. In fact, he’s quite enjoyable in his pseudo-Indiana Jones ways. He even manages to save the day once or twice with his razzle dazzle techniques; it’s just that his motivations are thus far murky. The fact that he seems to be tracking the Monitor – or is it the Anti Monitor? – at the end of the episode is what makes his storyline worthwhile. Could he be Pariah under a different name, or could he hold the key to reversing Barry’s Crisis fate? Either way, I’m looking forward to finding out.

A less exciting prospect was the magical serum he sent Barry and Cisco to pick up, ostensibly to save Ramsey’s life. After much angst over Cisco stealing it for Barry instead. though how exactly it would keep the Flash alive doesn’t compute, it still doesn’t have any effect on Ramsey’s “too far gone” cells. It is then that our would-be Bloodwork realizes what viewers expected all along: he could only live by killing others. His zombie manifestations are decently gruesome and Ramamurthy does his best with the material, but his descent into madness feels a little trite and his flashbacks to a dying mother have yet to humanize him. At best, he emphasizes just how selfless our hero is in comparison, but we didn’t need a new villain to tell us that. As a side note, he also provided an opportunity for Frost (Danielle Panabaker) to have her best fight scene since Season 3.

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I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Meanwhile, the best part of “There Will Be Blood” was also probably its most frustrating. After holding off on giving Joe (Jesse L. Martin) any reaction whatsoever to his son-in-law’s upcoming death, The Flash finally opened the floodgates with a gorgeous and tear-filled scene between Joe and Barry. Martin is of course unparalleled as a dramatic actor, and Gustin rose to the occasion in a way that was reminiscent of their early heart-to-hearts. However, in the midst of an exploration of Joe’s pain – which included a lovely beat of Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) empathizing with her partner – Iris was mentioned only as less important than her father.

It’s a strange choice to have Barry specifically point out that he’s more grateful for Joe than for his wife, but it highlighted how The Flash has ignored any feelings Iris (Candice Patton) might have about her husband leaving her for the greater good these last two episodes. Instead of joining in the family bonding session during “There Will Be Blood,” Iris was instead relegated to picking up clues of Sue Dearbon’s whereabouts in the hopes of finding Ralph someone to save other than Barry. It’s an echo of what Barry himself was doing for Cisco, but it begs the question of why Iris is expected to pick up the pieces for someone else without anyone wondering how she’s doing.

Granted, The Flash has been entirely unsubtle about isolating each character in their grieving process, but no one should stop expressing their emotions just because Barry isn’t the one they’re talking to. Ralph points out that Iris should be spending time with her husband instead of berating him in a moment of ungratefulness, which suggests the show does indeed plan to tackle her reaction later. But in the meantime it leaves her suspended mid-air in a very unnatural way. Not only is she not shown actively worrying about Barry, she’s also hardly shown building the Citizen – which she’s going to need in about 3 episodes’ time.

There’s still Ralph and maybe Cecile to deal with before we circle back to Iris and her feelings, but hopefully the show will remember what’s due to her when the time comes. The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.