Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 11 - Dead Or Alive

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here


When a bounty hunter shows up looking for the Harrison Wells of Earth 19, Cisco must fight a duel to the death to save HR's life. Meanwhile, Iris pursues a lead on the high-tech weapons dealer who has set up shop in Central City over both Barry and Joe's objections.


The Terminator (leather-clad assassin travels across reality), Die Hard (HR parodies a line from the movie in his dream sequence while dictating his new book), Star Wars (Gypsy uses red energy as opposed to Cisco's blue energy, Gypsy's pinning Cisco over a lava flow resembles the Obi-Wan/Darth Vader duel in Revenge Of The Sith), The Fellowship of The Ring movie (Cisco quotes Arwen), This Is Spinal Tap (Gypsy says it is time to turn things up to 11.) and Geoff Johns' Vibe comics.


If Gypsy has the power to create precise breach portals, why did she break the windows to gain entry to CC Jitters?  Why not just teleport in?

Why does Gypsy refer to her world as Earth 19?  Isn't the numbering of the Earths based on Cisco's system?  (Maybe he uncovered an official map during his travels cataloging the Earths?)

For that matter, why does Gypsy call her powers vibing when that was Cisco's term for it?


The whole ensemble does a fantastic job, however brief their roles this week.

Candice Patton finally gets to play the gusty reporter from the comics Iris West is supposed to be for a change and she gets a wonderful metatextual line about needing to be someone besides a daughter, sister or girlfriend.

It's always a nice change when Carlos Valdes gets to play serious and while there is a lot of comedy in this episode (the interactions with Gypsy are cute as hell), Valdes also gets to be an honest to goodness badass as Vibe.


There's not a lot of complicated stunt work or complex acting to it, and yet the scene of Wally reveling in the love of his fans (i.e. the bus full of cheerleaders he just saved) and leaving behind a lighting-streaked flame-pattern on the ground after stopping to take a quick selfie with the girls fawning over him (after looking to Barry for approval, of course) is the sort of cheesy, hopeful and upbeat scene that The Flash is all about.

Not quite as upbeat but no less impressive in how everything - direction, acting, special effects, set design - comes together to form something more than the sum of its parts is the whole of Gypsy and Vibe dueling.

Flash Facts

The collector seeking HR is named Gypsy.  In the pre-New 52 DC Comics universe, Gypsy was also the code name of Cindy Reynolds - a metahuman with illusion-crafting powers as well as limited precognitive and astral-projection powers who was part of the same Justice League team as Paco "Vibe" Ramone.

In the New 52 universe, Gypsy was the codename of Cynthia Mordeth - a refugee from a parallel Earth. Here, her connection to Francisco "Vibe" Ramon was that she was on the run from the villain Rupture, who was an evil version of Vibe's older brother from her Earth.

The Gypsy from Earth 19 we see in this episode appears to have the exact same powers as Cisco Ramon but with a far greater degree of control and awareness of how to utilize her power..

Like Vibe in the New 52 universe, Gypsy is able to use her powers to negate the power of The Speed Force and stop speedsters dead in their tracks. She does this with Kid Flash.

Gypsy's costume here resembles that worn by her comic-book counterpart in Gail Simone's Birds of Prey.

There is a brief cameo by the Earth 38 version of Eve Teschmacher - James Olsen's secretary on Supergirl - when Vibe and Gypsy briefly teleport into James Olsen's office.


Cisco calculates that Barry must cover a certain distance in less than .21 seconds to save Iris in the future.

Julian crafts a speed timeline which charts Barry's maximum speed starting out, his current top speed, the rate of improvement across time and notes that assuming the rate of improvement is constant, there is no way Barry can become fast enough to run the required distance in less than .21 seconds before May 2017.

Gypsy has a signature move which Julian dubs "The Breach and Blast" where she jumps through a portal, disappears, reemerges from another portal and blasts the target in the back. Julia discovers that, for a split second when she exits the second portal, her feet are off the ground. This means she is off-balance and vulnerable.

Gypsy and Vibe resonate on a similar frequency.

Dialogue Triumphs

(A group of criminals look over the high-tech gun an arms dealer has assembled.)
Looks like Christmas came early.
The Flash: (from behind them) You know what the only problem is?  You're on Santa's naughty list. Christmas is canceled.

(HR stares down the criminals, wielding an improbably large gun.)
HR: Look who has a vortex cannon. Ho-ho-ho.
(HR laughs madly as we pull back and fade to see him sitting behind a computer at STAR Labs. The rest of the team are doing actual work as HR is talking into his recorder.)
Cisco: HR? HR?
HR (dramatically) With a blast from my trusty vortex cannon, I dispatched the miscreants!
Cisco: HR!
HR: Hey, yeah! Here we are!
Cisco: Barry needs help!
HR: Yeah! Barry needs help!
Caitlin: Where's Kid Flash?
HR: He's on his way! (quietly, into his communicator) Are you on your way? They need you at Keystone Bridge.
Julian: (curtly) Surely all your adventures are not -this- disorganized?
Cisco: (in a mock British accent) There is a method to the madness, mate.
(Caitlin smirks at Cisco.)

(Cisco knocks the stun-gun from Gypsy's hand with a vibe blast. She looks at him stunned as Caitlin runs to HR.)
Where does it hurt?
HR: (wincing) Oh... everywhere.
Gypsy: You can vibe?!  (smiles) Oh, I like it.
Cisco: Slow down there. Let's just talk about this. Like two adults. Over coffee. Or maybe dinner, if you prefer that? There's a great Thai place up the road if you like Thai. I'm Cisco, by the way. You must be Gypsy. It's nice to meet you.
(As he speaks, the hand Cisco holds up defensively slowly extends and lowers as if offering to shake hands instead.)
Caitlin: Are you asking her on a date?!
HR: Are you kidding me?!
Cisco: I am negotiating!

(Barry tells Iris about HR's arrest and his wondering if HR's absence will save her in the future.)
Barry: How do we ever know if our actions now impact the future?
Iris: Yeah. You know, sometimes I wish we had normal people problems.
Barry: Yeah. That would be nice.

Cisco: (dramatically) By the laws of Earth 19,  I hereby challenge you for possession of HR Wells! (pauses) If you want, we could solve this another way. There's a great spot for drinks-
Gypsy: You realize that trial by combat is to the death?
Cisco:  Yeah! (smirking) For the loser.
(Gypsy laughs)
Cisco: Listen - you want him? You have to come and claim him.
(Gypsy just smirks and hmms.)
Cisco: (To Barry) That's Arwen!
Gypsy: I take it you also want the customary 24 hours to prepare?
Cisco (laughing) Do I want the customary-
HR: (deadpan) Yes, you do.
Cisco: I would love to take advantage of the customary 24 hours, if you don't mind?

Caitlin: So why exactly did you agree to fight her?
Cisco: I don't know...
Barry: You did what any of us would have done.
HR: I might... not have done it. Just being honest.

Iris: I want my life to mean something. More than just a daughter or as a sister or as a girlfriend, but as a reporter. This story can do that. It can stay that I, Iris West, mattered.
Wally: You know, my life was a lot easier before I had a sister?
Iris: But it's a lot better now, isn't it?

Iris: Why do you think that you're the only one allowed to risk your life to do good?!
Barry: I don't!
(Iris turns away and looks down at the model Cisco made of the future scene of her death.)
Barry: It's okay to be afraid of the future, but I won't let you die.
Iris: I am not afraid to die, Barry! I'm not!
Barry: Then what?
Iris: I'm afraid... what if I end up just like my mom? Just.. gone without making a mark? Without leaving anything behind?
Barry: Iris... your mom... she left something behind. She left a brave, wonderful son. And the woman that I love. All right?
(Barry reaches out and stroke's Iris' face, wiping away her tears.)
Barry: I don't know what the future holds. None of us do.
(Barry takes Iris' hands and kisses them.)
Barry:  I know that we will face it together.

(Eve Teschmacher watches as Vibe and Gypsy fight in James Olsen's office. Gypsy opens a portal and tosses Vibe through it while hiding behind a chair.)
Eve Teschmacher: Is it me or is this city getting weirder?

Gypsy: In all the multiverse I have... never.... met anyone like you, Cisco.
Cisco: Please. Call me Vibe. (quickly) Or... or you can call me Cisco. That's also allowed.


Barry and Wally chase a group called The Electrical Gang in the opening scene.

HR's nickname for Julian is Bond - presumably because his British accent reminds HR of James Bond.

Iris mentions Plunder from 310 and says a new arms dealer seems to be selling high-tech weapons to the criminals in Central City.

HR has been broadcasting his stories, chapter by chapter, back to Earth 19.

Caitlin refers to Cisco's flirtation with Golden Glider back in Season One.

The punishment for unauthorized breach travel on Earth 19 is death. The reason for this is because 25 years earlier a neighboring Earth attempted to invade Earth 19  through a breach and nearly destroyed it. To prevent it from happening again, all inter-dimensional travel was banned and The Collectors were set up to enforce the law.

HR dodges the question of why he would risk his life by traveling to Earth One from Earth 19. He eventually tells Cisco that it's because he was unsatisfied with his life on Earth 19 and that despite his fame and success as a fiction writer and idea man he wanted a chance to be one of the heroes he wrote about.

Iris refers to what Barry told her about The Flashpoint Reality and how - in that reality - she and Wally were a crime-fighting team.

There are no soap operas on Earth 19. HR says it's the one thing about Earth One he'll miss the most.

HR puts mustard on his fries instead of ketchup. This may be an Earth 19 custom but it is not confirmed.

The only appeal for the crime of unauthorized breach travel is a trial by combat. Other people are allowed to fight The Collector on behalf of the accused and multiple people may challenge The Collector, fighting in the order of who issued the challenge first.

Gypsy is a legend on Earth 19, according to HR.

HR learned slight-of-hand magic from a friend and became capable enough to plant objects on people without them noticing. He uses this talent to plant a tracker on Gypsy.

Gypsy is so skilled at using her powers, she is able to grab a hold of Barry while he is running and toss him into a breach portal.

This Is Spinal Tap is one of Cisco's favorite movies.

Gypsy agrees to let HR go and tell her superiors that she killed him in exchange for HR agreeing never to return to Earth 19.

Cisco tells HR about how the first Wells (really Eobard Thawne) told him that he would be a hero one day in 123.

Wally's top speed is just below Mach 3.

Barry tells Wally that he's done the math and there's no way he can save Iris... but Wally can.


Central City on Earth 2
James Olsen's office in the CatCo Worldwide Media building in National City on Earth 38.
A rocky outcropping above a lava-flow on some unknown Earth.

The Fridge Factor

Granting there's a lot of flirtation before that point, Gypsy's quick surrender once being knocked down once and offering her life to Cisco feels like the worst kind of Red Sonja-style fan-fic regarding female heroes being defeated.

The Bottom Line

A surprisingly solid and all-around fun episode. This is everything The Flash should be.

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