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THE FLASH Review: “Dead or Alive”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 7 years ago


By Justin Carter

Each of the different Harrison Wells has had a dark secret they were hiding from the members of Team Flash.

The first was a face stealing traveler with a grudge against Barry, played by Matt Lescher playing Tom Cavanaugh. Harry meanwhile was a dick who was working with Zoom to steal Barry’s speed. HR doesn’t really have a deep, dark secret: he’s a con man who came to Earth-1 just for kicks. Or rather, that’s what it seems; as it turns out, he’s been sending out updates of his adventures with Team Flash back to Earth-19.

Sadly, this isn’t an episode where we get retellings of earlier adventures with a goofy spin on them, as the opening would suggest (in it, Barry and Wally stop gun runners, but HR rocks a vortex cannon and is the true star of show, because of course). Inter-dimensional travel is a felony in his dimension thanks to an invasion from another Earth some years prior, one that he knowingly committed when he switched Earths. So now a Collector from his Earth named Gypsy has shown up to bring him to justice, and she’s got Cisco’s Vibe powers to boot.

Gypsy, based off a comic book character with the same name but different power set and played by Jessica Camacho, is the best Collector of them all. Not only that, but she’s steadfast in her resolve and desire to uphold the law, so when she’s close to whisking HR away for punishment, Cisco decides to challenge her to trial by combat. If he wins, HR stays with them, and if he loses, he’s dead and HR goes back home. (Barry, to his credit, tries to go in Cisco’s place immediately after the offer is made, but Gypsy shuts that down immediately.)

Cisco’s not really one who’s used his powers offensively before, so it’s no surprise that the attempts to train him don’t really work out. HR and Barry opt to take down Gypsy before the fight, but that doesn’t go as planned either. The plot for this works pretty well, mostly thanks to how it’s centered around Tom Cavanaugh. By now, the show is just giving him a handful of clothes from the wardrobe department and telling him to act accordingly, meaning that it’s more than amusing to watch him baffle and annoy the other characters. Even with the looming threat of Iris’ demise hanging over the team’s head, he manages to stop the show from taking a downer, like the one that plagued season two.

Speaking of Iris, her impending death suggests she’s basically untouchable until May. This leads to a B-plot where she and Wally work together to stop gun runners before they can push their product out onto the streets and getting a gun pointed at her face for her troubles. The supposed reasoning for why she’s so hung up on this is that it’s for a story, but in reality, she just wants to be remembered as something more than a daughter, sister, or girlfriend in the event that Savitar actually does end up killing her. Candice Patton definitely sells the anguish, but the show has done her character no favors in that regard. She’s rarely seen with the rest of Team Flash, and her job as a journalist is brought up so rarely these days that you could be forgiven for thinking she quit and the show never brought it up. And it must be said that Joe and Barry both trying to talk her out of investigating the arms deal isn’t the smartest of moves, given that she’s done the opposite of what they’ve told her before.

That aside, “Dead or Alive” is a fun episode. The light tone works especially well, thanks in no small part to its focused character of the week, and the fight between Vibe and Gypsy is fun enough. (Their universe hopping brawl includes a trip to Supergirl’s home turf, and I hope they call back to that someday.) It’s nice of the show to just let their characters be themselves when they can, and this episode just goes to show that should be more common.

Additional Notes

  • Julian’s role on the team seems to be that he’ll be smug, smart, and bad at people. I’m all here for this.
  • Gypsy loves Earth-1 coffee, and she brought two who duffel bags worth with her. She’ll be set for quite a while.
  • Given how the episode ends with Cisco and Gypsy having a flirty back and forth, it’d be fun if she were a recurring character in the future.
  • Does HR’s writings of Team Flash’s exploits count as fanfiction, or….?

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