That might have been my favorite episode of The Flash this season.
I know you're probably thinking I’m a total lunatic for saying what should have been a back half of the season filler episode was their best yet.
Hear me out, though. The Flash Season 5 Episode 13 had absolutely everything we’ve come to crave from the series, while also managing to give us nothing we’ve come to expect.
The Flash Season 5 is really playing around with alternative sides of Barry Allen. Yes, we’ve seen him angry in seasons past, and in The Flash Season 3, we even saw him evil. But this version of Barry is different-- it's special. He’s a father now, and how he acts (and subsequently reacts) connects directly back to that fact.
It’s the Barry we know and love, but with a darker shade of grey. Contribute it to his time as the Green Arrow, or merely the parental instinct to protect his child. Either way, we’ve never seen Barry Allen willing to go to any length he must to bring a villain down.
And boy, does it work.
Gustin already established that he can pull off any version of Flash he’s asked, but the writers are the ones who deserve the real recognition here.
Barry Allen has always been a great character, but has he ever honestly been a complex one?
His whole life has been black and white, and that’s carried over to how he acts as The Flash. There's right and wrong, there's good and bad, but there's no in-between. He has always been steadfast in his viewpoints.
With adding Nora into the mix, that perception now shifts slightly.
As the season has progressed, the subtleties of how messy he’s willing to get have grown more prominent.
We’ve never seen this many layers in Barry, and it makes him a much more interesting protagonist. He’s not just purely likable anymore—he’s both intriguing and unpredictable.
It's the newfound unpredictability that made “Goldfaced” such a successful episode.
Witnessing lovable, goofy Barry flip into a self-proclaimed alter ego named "The Chemist," was a new type of bravery from him--especially considering the gun pointed at his head, and the lack of powers to back him up.
The purity of The Flash is part of what makes him so special, so it's a relief his death count remains at zero.
But watching him come so close to killing while struggling with the reality of sacrificing his morality, was one of the more interesting (and realistic) character dynamics the show has portrayed.
It was also a nice foil for Ralph, who has grown as a character himself, albeit in opposite ways.
While introduced into the Team as the wildcard, his time spent with The Flash has allowed him to become a person who realizes that doing the good thing, means doing the right thing.
At the end of The Flash Season 4, it felt like there was no way to salvage Ralph Dibny as a character. There didn't seem to be a plausible way, organically, to write him as someone who could be taken seriously.
But somehow, Ralph has become a whole new version of the character we were introduced to last season.
With the elimination of his slapstick humor and the addition of a much more grounded and gentle nature, Ralph has settled into a character who has become quite likable (and still very funny).
“Goldfaced," thankfully, continued with Iris' Central City Citizen storyline.
I’ve been consistently vocal about craving a return to journalism for Iris, and have been met with extreme amounts of pushback every time. Critics have long argued her job would have no place in the show and would ultimately take away from what really mattered: The Flash himself.
There could be no room for an Iris West Allen storyline. The show isn't called "The Iris Hour," after all.
But here's the thing: I always knew that Iris’ reporter skills could be used as an asset within Team Flash. That it wasn't necessary to keep her in Star Labs to make her feel important. Which is why I never understood the reason for Helbig & Co. not putting her to better use.
Now that they are, I’m hoping those who were against Iris having moments of her own, understand it’s eminent value.
Iris’ clever abilities as a reporter allowed her intimate face-to-face time with Cicada. They even bought her time to discover his weaknesses--something the Team has been trying to figure out all season. It buys into one of the most prominent overarching themes of The Flash Season 5: you don’t have to have superpowers to be a hero.
There's no better example of that than Iris West Allen.
She's great behind the desk in Star Labs, but getting Iris out into the field is when she truly shines. The Flash, Elongated Man and Vibe have all failed against Cicada.
Give Iris 10 minutes alone with the guy, with nothing more than a pen and some pepper spray, and she finds all the answers they need.
That's the Iris West that I have missed. The true leading lady. She is not a bystander. She is a champion. So leave her off the sidelines, and keep her in the game.
Overall, the lack of typical “formula” writing has been a big success for The Flash, and “Goldfaced” was an extremely out-of-the-box episode that only further highlights how sometimes, a shift in storytelling can be what's best for your seasoned series.
We’re seeing less of suited up Flash and more of heroic Barry Allen — a complex man who has plenty more hidden strengths than just his speed.
We’re meeting a grounded and dynamic Ralph Dibny, who doesn’t always have to be the butt of the joke.
We’re getting a front and center female lead out of Iris West Allen, whose purpose is no longer only to support Barry but to get the job done herself.
We’re even witnessing solid development for Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost, who finally have some footing on who they are as a duo.
Now if the writers would just stop doing Cisco dirty and bring back their most entertaining cast member, we’d really be on a roll.
- I’m sorry to fangirl for a moment, but Barry Allen was all types of sexy this episode.
- I'm fangirling for one more moment to say that Iris West Allen was too.
- I’m thankful to the writers consistently trying to weave in some domesticated WestAllen moments. They are always so enjoyable, and even in episodes where they’re separated, we still get reminded of their newlywed bliss.
- There is nothing cuter than Barry trying to interior decorate for his wife who can’t be bothered.
- Will we find out who called Iris’ stories boring? I just want to talk.
- Sherloque’s storyline was the only piece of filler I felt in this episode. Every single moment outside of him and Nora was flawless.
- Barry and Ralph may be my favorite team up now (after WestAllen, of course)
- Was anyone else hoping Goldface would turn out to be Jim Halpert with his face painted in gold glitter paint? No? Just me? OK.
- I can't help but think, even though I loved RalphxBarry, how perfect a storyline this would have been for Joe West. Come back to us soon, big guy.
- BRING BACK CISCO RAMON
Flash Fanatics, it's your turn!
What did you think of the episode? Are you enjoying the new Barry Allen?
Are you happy to see Iris kicking some major Cicada butt?
Are you STILL MISSING CISCO LIKE I AM?
And when are we going to move forward on this whole Nora/Thawne plotline?!
Give me all your thoughts in the comment section below, and don't forget you can catch up on everything you missed and watch The Flash online, right here at TV Fanatic!
Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.