Thursday, 9 February 2017

Review - 'The Flash', S03E12 - 'Untouchable'

With the season shifting its focus to the task of changing the future, and saving the life of Iris West, it had begun to seem as though the series might have been done with Flashpoint, entirely. With Barry having seemingly learned everything he had to learn from his misguided efforts to change the past, it certainly would have made sense from a narrative perspective. Also, with Julian having been revealed as the one beneath Alchemy's mask, it seems as though Savitar's plans to bring met-humans over from the Flashpoint universe are also on hold.

As this episode shows, though, there are still some lingering consequences to Barry's tinkering with the past, and Julian's time under Savitar's control, in the form of a new meta-human – Clive Yorkin (Matthew Kevin Anderson), a man with a formidable power, set on taking revenge on those he believes wronged him.

Possessing the ability to cause anything he touches to decay rapidly, Yorkin's plan is to take revenge on the police officers responsible for his arrest in the Flashpoint universe (in spite of the fact that the majority of his targets aren't actually police officers in this universe). Along with a handful of innocent bystanders, Yorkin's plan also, and perhaps inevitably, sees him targeting Joe West – giving a very personal stake to the confrontation for both Barry and Wally, as they find themselves forced to contend with an opponent that they can't actually touch.

With Yorkin's unique meta-human ability being put to good use throughout the episode, his presence definitely serves as the catalyst for an entertaining conflict. Scenes that reveal exactly what is ability does to the people that he touches are suitably horrific (especially when Iris finds herself caught in the middle) – and, even the way that he is able to use his ability on inanimate objects makes for some great visuals (such as the sight of bullets decaying before they can actually cause him any harm). Unfortunately, while Yorkin's ability adds an entertaining element of genuine danger to the episode, the character himself doesn't make for a terribly compelling villain. As with so many others to have appeared in the past, Yorkin is very much a one-dimensional villain, who motives and motivation recieve very little attention. Matthew Kevin Anderson is able to give an entertaining performance, sure – but, beyond that sense of smug confidence he portrays, he isn't really given very much to work with.

On the other hand, though, while we might not actually learn much of anything about Clive Yorkin, the challenge that he poses for our heroes makes for some very interesting moments. The threat he represents for Joe, in particular, serves as the catalyst which finally forces Iris to reveal Barry's glimpse of the future – a revelation which has all of the dramatic fall-out you could imagine. The transition from trying to convince Joe to be careful to telling him all about the possible, future, death of his daughter might have felt a bit abrupt, but it still led to a great scene with all of the dramatic emotional fall-out you might expect. Along with that, the sudden appearance of another 'Flashpoint' met-human, created by Alchemy, serves as a unique source of guilt for Julian, in particular – who, obviously, still hasn't quite been able to forgive himself for his actions while under Savitar's control. Also, when Iris finds herself 'infected' by Yorkin's strange power, Caitlin is forced to use her own abilities once more, in an attempt to delay its progress until a cure can be found – and, putting herself at risk of losing control.

In each case, what results is a genuinely great performance from the show's main cast – with Jesse L. Martin standing out, in particular. At the heart of the episode, though, is Barry and Wally – who each find themselves challenged by their new roles. For Barry, the task of trying to teach a new Speedster, and pass on the lessons he was given by others, proves to be a uniquely difficult challenge – and, one that he begins to doubt he might be suitable for. For Wally, his confidence in his own natural talent is challenged when he is confronted by something beyond his abilities and experience. In both cases, it was great to see the two of them seem to learn, and grow, throughout the episode – with both Grant Gustin and Keiynan Lonsdale giving a great performance.

So, in the end, while the season's twelfth episode might have been centred around an somewhat underwhelming villain, Yorkin's presence throughout this episode still served as the catalyst of some great moments for the rest of the cast. While I always appreciate it when a story takes the time to properly flesh out its villain I suppose we can, at least, be thankful for that.

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