Cisco and Ralph get cut down to size when they confront a metahuman with the power to shrink what he touches. As Caitlin and Harry work to restore them, Joe must deal with his own metahuman menace at home - a newly telepathic Cecile! Meanwhile, in Iron Heights, Barry discovers that Big Sir is innocent of the crime that sent him to prison and puts Team Flash to work on proving it.
The Atom comics of Gail Simone (general goofy tone and the character of Dwarfstar), The Shawshank Redemption (Barry makes reference to it, the general theme of Barry trying to help Big Sir, Big Sir's eventual escape), The Simpsons episode Lisa The Iconoclast (the use of the word "embiggen"), the movie Ant-Man (the fight scene with Cisco and Ralph piloting a drone and Dwarfstar throwing objects at Iris and Harry as he enlarges them) and the movie Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (title, general goofy tone)
As Cecile points out, it beggars belief that the metahuman criminal of the week also just happens to be the robber for whom Big Sir was mistaken for 15 years earlier. We don't care what Harry says about how there are no coincidences.
Iris is wrong - embiggening IS a word according to The Oxford English Dictionary.
Bill Goldberg has a hell of a presence as Big Sir.
It's a brief thing, but Richard Brooks - who plays Warden Wolfe - does get a quick scene where he shows the steel of the character from the comics as he warns Barry against viewing the other inmates as human beings. It also turns out to be a nice bit of foreshadowing for the end of the episode.
The effects work for the shrinking/growing objects is top-notch, and rivals that of the Ant-Man movie.
The episode title is taken from the 1989 movie Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, in which an inventor's children and his next-door neighbor's kids are accidentally hit by the shrink ray he's working on.
Iris thinks that Cecile might have inherited mind-reading powers from a mystic totem she got from her grandmother. This is a reference to Mari McCabe from Visen, who got her powers in this manner.
This episode reveals that Big Sir's real name is David P. Ratchet. In the original comics, it was Dufus P. Ratchett.
Kord Industries opens a new state-of-the-art research facility in Central City. In the comics, Kord Industries is the business owned and operated by Ted Kord, who is also a non-powered, inventor superhero who goes by the name The Blue Beetle.
The character of Sylbert Rundine first appeared in The All-New Atom #2 (October 2006) and was created by Gail Simone and John Byrne. Using the alias Dwarfstar, Rundine became "The Anti-Atom" using his shrinking powers for acts of evil. Before being given a size-changing belt by a mysterious woman, Rundine was a rapist, a serial killer and possible cannibal who preyed on the women of Ivy Town University. He became the arch-enemy of Ryan Choi - a professor at Ivy Town University, who became the second Atom, following in the steps of the original Atom, Ray Palmer.
Apart from being a metahuman who shrinks and enlarges objects rather shrinking/enlarging himself through technology, Sylbert Rundine appears to be the same sleazy sort of criminal he was in the comics, albeit it more of a thief than a killer. Joe West says that Rundine has a long history of prior arrests for breaking in and entry.
Barry makes reference to the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Based on a short story by Stephen King, the story tells the tale of two men who find spiritual redemption in prison thanks to a series of common acts of kindness.
Harry uses the word "embiggening" in describing the effect of the altered Speed Force Bazooka. Embiggen is a word first introduced to the English language in The Simpsons episode Lisa The Iconoclast. Embiggen means "to make larger". It was made up for the show as an example of a fake word that sounds real, but has since then be added to The Oxford English Dictionary. This officially makes embiggen a perfectly cromulent word. (Cromulent was another word created by The Simpsons, which means "adequate" or "acceptable".)
This episode originally aired on the same day that the trailer for Ant-Man and The Wasp was first released on-line.Ant-Man and The Wasp are two Marvel Comics heroes who have the same powers as Dwarfstar.
Caitlin says that Cecile's heart rate is 170 beats per minute and there's no sign of dark matter in her amniotic fluid.
Caitlin hypothesizes that Cecile's newfound telepathy is a side-effect of her pregnancy and that the changes to her body chemistry have activated latent dark matter that has been in her brain since the first STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion. She says it's something like gestational diabetes.
The camera system at Iron Heights Prison is analog-based.
The only forensic evidence tying Big Sir to the murder at Mercury Labs was the fact that the bullet casings for the projectiles that killed the guard matched the cartridge-size of a gun that Big Sir owned. Barry notes that firearm identification like that is prone to errors and it's practically a junk science.
The Kord Industries research facility is outfitted with super-speed motion detectors, sonic-vibration defenses and laser beams that don't freeze. (Presumably these safeguard were designed to thwart Zoom, Black Siren and Captain Cold)
Caitlin notes that a lot of factors can make eye-witness testimony in a line-up situation unreliable.
Cisco identifies one of Sylbert Rundine's models as the DARPA's HTV-3X aka The Blackswift - an experimental hypersonic cruise vehicle.
Ray Palmer uses dwarf-star alloy to power the shrinking capabilities of the ATOM Suit.
Rundine's power allows him to shrink the space between atomic bonds, removing the gravity particles and dark energy rather than shrinking matter to scale. The human body could not be shrunk directly - otherwise people would lack the strength to hold up their own skeletons. When Rundine embiggens an object after shrinking it, he refills it with the same combination of energy that he originally extracted.
Harry builds a reverse polarity dwarf star matrix to restore Ralph and Cisco to normal size. He mocks the name Ray Palmer came up with for the ATOM Suit and questions if "electron degenerate sub-atomizer" was taken.
Harry turns The Speed Force Bazooka from 401 into an "embiggening" bazooka. He does this with the dwarf star matter (which was still in Rundine's apartment) and improves upon Ray Palmer's schematics.
Caitlin suggests a biochemical treatment targeting the pituitary glands to cure Cisco and Ralph, like flooding them with human growth hormones. Harry says that would only speed their degeneration.
Central City has their own weather service - CCWAS - The Central City Weather Service Agency
(Cecile has just read Caitlin's mind about the gender of her child, to Caitlin's shock.)
Cisco: Boy/girl. That's 50-50. Let's test your skills for real. What number am I thinking of?
Cecile: (looks at Cisco.) Three. 11. 25. Three again. Bulbasaur.
(Cisco, who has been leaning on the counter this whole time suddenly loses his balance and nearly falls out of his chair.)
Cecile: What the hell is a Bulbasaur?
(Harry is making a case for getting Barry out of prison needing to be Priority One for the team)
Harry: As a former prisoner, I can tell you-
Cisco: No. That was gorilla prison.
Harry: Gorilla prison is worse! They throw their scat at you!
Mayor: Believe me, no one is breaking into this building anytime soon.
(Suddenly, the building is surrounded by yellow light and disappears.)
Mayor: (quietly) I hate this city.
Big Sir: What you're peddling? It's dangerous.
Barry: Wait, what's dangerous?
Big Sir: Hope. I've been in here long enough to understand that in prison, Hope is the most dangerous thing.
Barry: Wait, did you get that from Shawshank?
Big Sir: (chuckles) No. I got that from being in prison.
(Sylbert Rundine runs away down the alley.)
Cisco: Joe, he's getting away!
Joe: I think we have bigger problems.
(Joe looks down at Ralph and Cisco, who are both now just barely taller than a soda can on its side.)
(Harry sighs as Caitlin leaves to put Ralph and Cisco in the hamster cage.)
Cecile: Harry, this is not your fault.
Harry: Yeah, well it kind of - (realizing what just happened) Don't read my mind! Okay?! What am I thinking now?
Cecile: (looking grosssed out) Oh God!
Harry: (triumphant) Great!
Warden Wolfe: Your friend may look like a man, but he's unquestionably a monster. Everyone here is a monster. And if you insist on continuing to bait them, I guarantee you... you will get mauled.
Harry: I failed! Because I'm stupid! Alright? Too stupid to help Allen's friend! Too stupid to fix you or too stupid to stop DeVoe!
(Harry is zapped by a tiny-sized Vibe blast.)
Harry: Ow! What was that for?!
Cisco: Believe me. I'd punch you in the arm if I could!
(Harry makes a back-handed slap gesture at Cisco but stops himself from swatting the shrunken Cisco.)
Cisco: Look, I know you're not used to going up against someone you can't outsmart like DeVoe, but you really are stupid if you think you're too stupid!
Joe: Sylbert Rundine.
Iris: Why does every villain in this city have a name that sounds like it came out of a comic book?
(Iris is walking and there's a sudden squishing noise.)
Iris: (disgusted, turning to look at her feet) Who spit gum on the floor?
(Caitlin looks down and her eyes widen in horror as she gasps. Iris has stepped on the shrunken Ralph.)
Ralph: I'm a gumshoe! Not gum on a shoe!
Joe didn't have a crib for Iris when she was a baby. He just put her on some cushions.
Joe and Cecile are having a baby girl.
Cisco thinks Bulbasaur is the cutest Pokemon.
Harry refers to his time in the prisons of Gorilla City from 313.
Harry says they have no new evidence to clear Barry and The DeVoes have not moved outside of their home, as far as they can tell, in the past week.
Barry plays poker with several other prisoners, including Big Sir and the former Mayor Bellows. Mayor Bellows was last seen in 404. He makes reference to having tried to kill Barry and Joe in that episode.
Big Sir was sent to prison for shooting an unarmed man 15 years earlier - a security guard at Mercury Labs. Sir claims that he was the same height and build as the real killer and that he just happened to be there and the police found him trying to administer first aid to the guard.
Big Sir's full name is David P. Ratchet.
The new mayor of Central City is a woman.
Technology companies in Central City are robbed at nearly 30 times the national average. This puts Central City at second place, behind Star City.
Kord Industries establishes a new research and development facility in Central City that is stolen by Dwarfstar in the middle of its grand unveiling.
Sylbert Rundine has several prior convictions for breaking in and entering.
Sylbert Rundine goes by Bert. The e at the end of his last name is silent.
Sylbert Rundine owns a 1970s Chevelle.
Cisco and Ralph are shrunk down to a height of two inches.
Iris tries calling Ray Palmer and The Waverider but isn't able to get a hold of them. She is, however, able to get a hold of Felicity Smoak, who tells her about how Ray Palmer's ATOM suit works and about the dwarf star material Ray used to power it.
The last sample of dwarf star matter PalmerTech had was stolen from a PalmerTech facility in Central City on October 10, 2017 - the same day that the bus metas were created.
The theory is that Slybert Rundine was carrying the dwarf star matter on his person while riding the bus and that it merged with the dark matter to given him the same powers as Ray Palmer's ATOM suit.
STAR Labs has a hamster cage.
Dr. Sharon Finkel - last seen in 406 - agrees to put Cecile and Joe through couples therapy.
Joe thinks about a pink elephant to keep Cecile out of his head.
Ralph and Cisco are moved from the hamster cage to the LEGO model of the crime scene where Iris was meant to die in Season Three.
Harry turns The Speed Force Bazooka from 401 into an "embiggening" bazooka.
The embiggening bazooka destabilizes Cisco and Ralph on an atomic level.
Barry says prison pudding tastes better than outside world pudding.
Big Sir dreams of going to Jiaju - a tiny village in China, very secluded. The monks who live there all take a vow of silence.
Aaron Miller was an inmate at Iron Heights who studied in the law library at Iron Heights. He tried to help another inmate with his appeal. Miller was stabbed to death after the appeal failed.
Iris is nowhere near as good a cook as Joe, but she can brew decaf herbal tea.
Slybert Rundine refuses to make a plea deal to officially confess to the murder that Big Sir took the blame for.
Barry uses his powers to take Big Sir out of prison and leaves him in Jaiju, China.
Harry updates the big board of bus metas. Thus far the count is eight.
1. Kilgore - technopathy
2. Hazard - luck manipulation
3. Elongated Man - stretching.
4. The Weeper - tears are a psychoactive drug
5. Black Bison - animation of effigies
6. Brainstorm - line-of-sight telepathy
7. Fallout - radiation emission
8. Dwarfstar - size control of other objects.
Warden Wolfe reveals that he had a second hidden camera installed that was always aimed at Barry's cell after he started asking questions about Big Sir's case. That camera revealed to Warden Wolfe that Barry is The Flash. The episode ends with Wolfe drugging Barry and contacting Blacksmith about having another metahuman to sell her.
The Fridge Factor
Cecile's new telepathic powers are mostly used for cracking sexist jokes about how nightmarish it would be for a man to have his girlfriend know what he is thinking.
The Boomerang Factor
Purists may complain that Warden Wolfe - a hardass who routinely tortures the metahuman inmates under his charge in the comics - is depicted here as being willing to deal with a criminal like Blacksmith. In the comics, Wolfe is a Javert figure rather than a crooked cop.
The Bottom Line
A solid episode, surprisingly enough. The comedy stays on just the right tone and keeps switching levels before any one of the subplots becomes too annoying, though Iris still has the leadership abilities of a wet sock. The special effects work is fantastic and there's some solid performances from all involved. Well done.