Sunday, February 28, 2010

Who Names These Things?! pt. 2

The Flash

Episode 8: "Shroud of Death"

Someone is killing public officials and leaving broken pieces of a medallion at the scene of each killing. Barry is determined to find out what connects these seemingly disparate individuals but when he finds the truth the stakes go even higher because next in line would appear to be Barry's own boss -- Lt. Warren Garfield! An even greater stumbling block is the fact that the man who would be the most logical suspect in the killings was executed 10 years ago! Unless Barry figures out who this ghost killer is Garfield and his fiancee may not survive.

My Take:
"Shroud of Death." "Shround of Death"?!?! Seriously, who named this? Do that not know what 'shroud' means?! At least one definition of a shroud is the covering that a body was wrapped in for burial. So, a shroud is SYNONYMOUS with death. *Sigh* Yet another nonsensical title for the series.

Also, yet another common cirminal for the series as well. *Sigh*.

All that aside, this is actually a pretty good story. It is a really nice character study, and while it gets a little heavy handed at times it doesn't beat the viewers over the head with the message of how revenge eats away at a person. More importantly, the villain in this story comes across as someone who was deeply wounded, and not so much evil per se as so twisted by her upbringing and blinded by her grief that she slipped into a homicidal madness. In the end you do not condemn her so much as pity her.

The whole episode is also really nicely acted -- in particular is the solid performance by the actor playing Lt. Garfield. His relationship with his finacee is sweet and yet never saccharine. It really rings true for a relationship between two people who are on the back half of their lives and are comfortable with one another and not looking for grand, romanitc gestures and who expect a certain amount of emotional drama but are well prepared for it. The actor also handles the more dramatic moments with panache -- taking it up to the top but without going over it -- it's a fine line to tread and a lot of actors can't do it. Kudos are deserved.

The story would really hold up a lot better, though, if there were not some huge plot holes as well as some gaping problems... For example, Barry's co-worker in the crime lab, Julio Mendez is, officially, an idiot -- both for taking this long to figure out Barry's secret identity and then for being turned away from the truth by a paper thin ruse. Likewise, Garfield is an idiot for not recognizing at least Barry Allen's voice when the Flash speaks to him (not that the mask itself does a very good job as a disguise but, hey, we're going to accept a little bit of comic book suspension of disbelief). Also, Barry Allen is an idiot for not trying to at least disguise his voice a little bit. A lot of people poked fun at Chrisitan Bale's Batman voice but, hey, at least the man was trying. And for a great example, check out Kevin Conroy in Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: Gotham Knight as he does an absolutely phenominal job of changing his voice between Bruce Wayne and Batman.

The story also features some silly sidetracking into trying to build up more romantic tension between Barry and Tina. Their fight and the reasons behind it are pretty childish for two people who are at least in their 30's here.

Okay, okay, so... in the final verdict, nitpicking aside, plot holes aside, this is one of the better episodes of the series. The story is really solid, the consequences of hate are explored in a pretty good way, a couple or three good performances are turned in by the cast as a whole, and the special effects have withstood the test of time and they do not overwhelm the story. It's definitely worth the time spent.

Flash Facts:
The murals that appear in this episode have a definite Thomas Hart Benton look to them and I wonder if the artist in question wasn't inspired by Benton's work.

Barry's using super speed to flick through computer files is impossible. No computer -- particularly one from the early 1990's, would have been able to keep up with the speed with which he was hitting the keys. Most likely all he would have ended up with would have been the 1990 equivalent of the Windows Blue Screen of Death.

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