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A familiar threat traps Cecile and Barry in a psychic prison, as Chester struggles to fills Cisco's shoes as Team Flash's tech guy. Luckily, an old friend arrives from out of town to lend a hand. Meanwhile, Joe begins to dig into Kristen Kramer's past and makes an unsettling discovery.
The comics of J.M. DeMatteis (psychological themes, presence of Sue Dearbon), Mission Impossible (referenced, the heist scenes) and The Fast and The Furious films (referenced by Chester)
If Roger Hayden stole the Medusa Mask from the Kahndaqi embassy, why was he allowed to keep it while he was an inmate at Arkham Asylum? Shouldn't it have been taken into evidence and returned? And how the heck did Arkham Asylum justify taking the mask and donating it to an American museum once they learned what it was?
The design of the Medusa Mask has changed since it was last seen in Elseworlds. (Presumably an intelligent magical artifact like the Medusa Mask can change its appearance or it may have been altered by Crisis on Infinite Earths.)
Natalie Dreyfuss continues to be a delight as the Arrowverse's version of Sue Dearbon.
The direction by Rachel Talalay is top-notch.
The asylum sets are well-lit and eerie, adding to the horror of the dream sequences.
This episode is the first to not include Carlos Valdes in the opening actor montage.
The opening sequence for this episode is in black-and-white.
Chester makes a reference to the number 52, saying a replacement cable he needs is on Aisle B, Shelf 52 of the Starchives.
Sue claims that she studied ballet at the DeMatteis Academy of Dance. This is a nod to comic writer J.M. DeMatteis who, while not the creator of Sue Dearbon, has probably co-written most of her most famous stories as part of the writing team for Justice League International.
Among the posters in Chester's redecorated lab are a large photograph of rapper Tupac Shakur. This episode originally aired on what would have been Shakur's 50th birthday.
The villain of this episode is revealed to be the Medusa Mask worn by a villain called the Psycho Pirate. This is an original conceit for the Arrowverse, as the Medusa Mask in the comics did not have an independent consciousness that manipulated its host
The first Psycho Pirate was a man named Charles Halstead, who was an enemy of the Justice Society. He based his crimes around emotions and had no powers besides being a master manipulator.
The second Psycho Pirate, Roger Hayden, was a career criminal who happened to meet Charles Halstead in prison. Wishing a legacy, Halstead told Hayden of the Medusa Masks - legendary artifacts that could control the emotions of others. Hayden found the masks, melted them into a single faceplate that gave him the power of them all, and gained the ability to manipulate the emotions of other people.
The Roger Hayden Psycho Pirate is notable as one of the few beings who knows of the existence of the Pre-Crisis DC Comics Universe, having been made into a servant of the Anti-Monitor but spared from the effects of having his memories altered - presumably due to his connection to the Medusa Mask.
The New 52 Roger Hayden was depicted as a powerful psychic whose powers were enhanced by the Medusa Mask. Otherwise he was largely the same character, save that he was quite insane due to his memories of the continually resetting universes. He was powerful enough, with the mask, that he was able to manipulate every mind in Metropolis at once without straining himself.
The Arrowverse version of Roger Hayden was an inmate at Arkham Asylum, who made a cameo during the Elseworlds event, in which he referred to the coming Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, nothing came of this cameo, as the Psycho Pirate had his storyline cut for time.
The Arrowverse version of Roger Hayden claimed to have gotten psychic powers from a mask he stole from the Kahndaqi Embassy, but nobody believed him as he was insane. The mask is said to have been taken from him by the Arkham Asylum staff and donated to the Central City Museum.
Mention is made of the Kahndaqi embassy. Kahndaq is a fictional nation in the DC Comics universe, located in the Middle East, and is the homeland of Black Adam.
The psychiatric hospital where Cecile was a patient is identified as St. Carmine's. This may be a nod to Carmine Infantino - the artist who co-created the character of Cecile Horton.
The is no real-world St. Carmine recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Barry notes that the CSIs on the Eric Frye case found butane at the scene of the crime, indicating human arson rather than metahuman based pyrokinetics.
When trapped in the mindscape, Barry's brainwaves oscillate at a rate of .5 hertz, which is typical of a coma patient.
Sue determines that the Mask of Medusa is currently locked up in the restoration lab of the Central City Museum. It's hermetically sealed and protected by a laser security grid that is sensitive enough to detect a dust mite. This, according to Sue, is not a problem.
The problem, according to Sue, is that the museum has a Montgomery vault with a password that changes daily and is known only to a single security guard at one time.
Chester suggests tracking Cecile by her unique neurological signal.
Chester looks for more neuro-fiber to repair the Memory Machine.
Barry: Cecile... I'm never gonna know what it was like for you to go through all this. But I know what it's like to lose a mom. And to blame yourself for it, even when it's not your fault. It makes you want to take that pain and bury it under a mask. Away from the people you love. But masks don't heal wounds. They only hide them. Facing those wounds can be scary as hell, but it's the only way to start healing
This episode takes two weeks after the events of 711 and the lightning bolt that struck Cecile.
Cecile's aunt is watching over Jenna, so that Cecile can focus on recovering from her injuries.
Joe has started researching Kristen Kramer's background since he left the GCPD, but every file he keeps finding involving her is classified or redacted to the point of being unreadable.
Reportedly, Kristen Kramer has replaced Joe as Captain.
Cecile gives Joe a file she came across while prepping a client who is a metahuman and an army vet. He apparently served with Kramer at Fort Dakota.
Joe drives to Fort Dakota to check their records in person.
Cecile is revealed to be locked up in a psychic landscape resembling an asylum and someone else is pretending to be her.
Chester has repainted and redecorated Cisco's workshop, bringing in posters and his own tools. He has, however, kept the old Pinball game - something Caitlin notes Frost will be thankful for.
Chester also set up stealth audio speakers around the lab, which play dance music whenever he claps his hands. Unfortunately, the system shorts out when he claps his hands twice to crank up the bass.
Chester offers to teach Caitlin how to dance - an offer she reluctantly accepts.
Chester is inventorying the Starchives and memorizing the locations of various things.
Chester stumbles across Barry and Iris "having fun" in the Starchives. They inform him of their decision to try and have a baby.
"Cecile" calls Barry in to get his opinion on a case involving Erik Frue - a pyrokinetic metahuman, who appeared in 416.
Barry asks why Cecile called him on this case, as she handled something similar years ago. This triggers his becoming trapped in the same landscape as the real Cecile.
Chester suggests that Cecile could use her powers to see if Barry is being mind-controlled, but she shrugs this off saying she's just an empath. However, Caitlin says she can at least determine if someone is manipulating his emotions.
Pushed to help, Cecile says that she can't sense Barry's emotions but feels something cold and mad, "like alight in the middle of the darkness, glowing like a gold mask."This leads Chester to conclude that the person manipulating Barry is the Psycho Pirate, based on the golden mask description in Cisco's Who's Who guide.
Reference is made to Roger Hayden, who appeared in S409. However, he is said to be a random madman who claimed to have superpowers but didn't.
Roger Hayden is said to have stolen the Medusa Mask from the Kahndaqi embassy. It was later donated to the Central City Museum by Arkham Asylum, where it is due to go on display in one day.
The Medusa Mask was said to have been used by the warrior Gilgamesh to imprison a powerful demon - or what might be considered today to have been an ancient psychic metahuman. Since that time, the mask has popped up around the world, falling into the possession of the Yoruba Tribe of Africa and a group of pirates.
The Medusa Mask moves from host to host, driving them insane before moving on.
Chester suggests using the cerebral inhibitor to break the Medusa Mask's hold on Barry, but Caitlin notes they would need the mask for that to work. This leads Chester to suggest calling in Sue Dearbon and getting her to pull a heist to steal the mask.
Cecile tells Barry she's been trapped in the psychic asylum since she was struck by lightning during the Force Storm. Barry reveals that was two weeks ago. (i.e. 711)
Barry says he thought the lighting that struck Cecile was the work of Psyche, but this doesn't feel the same as his illusions.
Barry realizes he doesn't have his powers in the mindscape and can't vibrate through the walls or doors to escape the cell.
Barry says the experience feels like when he was trapped in a psychic landscape by Grodd in 613. This leads him to conclude that they are trapped in a memory, but he has no idea whose memory.
When Sue says she can't hack the vault containing the Medusa Mask, Chester suggests that Cecile could empathically nudge the security guard into opening the vault to check on the Mask.
Sue tells Chester that this whole job feels too easy and that there's something weird about this whole situation.
Chester says he's sure this will all work out and notes this isn't even the first time he's had to save Barry's brain, making reference to 613.
Sue is a trained dancer, which gave her the moves to work her way through the laser grid and turning it into ballet.
Cecile notes that the psychic asylum is a one-floor building.
Barry finds a portal out of the mindscape, but it vanishes as he approaches it. This reveals a jabbering woman in a straight-jacket, who is revealed to be another version of Cecile.
Barry is forced to pass out by the crazy Cecile. This triggers an alarm in the medical lab at STAR Labs.
Sue is armed with tranquilizer darts, which she uses to knock out the guard once the vault is open.
Caitlin informs the rest of the team that she's detected a third mind in Barry's brain along with the second. This leads to the revelation that the Medusa Mask has already taken over Cecile.
The Mask, through Cecile's body, makes Sue tranquilize herself, saying that the new host shall serve her for eternity.
Sue chews out Chester for not listening to her when she said this seemed like a set-up. This leads to Chester having a depressive episode because of his fears of not measuring up to Cisco.
Cecile comes clean with Barry and reveals that they are in her memories. The mindscape is modeled on the time she spent as a patient at St. Carmine's Psychiatric Hospital, outside Houston Texas.
Cecile had a mental breakdown during her first year of law-school, when she was interning at the District Attorney's office in Houston, Texas, following the death of her mother from cancer. Her mother died alone and Cecile blamed herself and her working too hard, even though her mother's prognosis was good.
Barry tells Cecile that he thinks the only way to escape is for her to acknowledge her past and confront her fears about being seen as crazy because she sought treatment for her mental health. Her resolution to try and face the other version of herself leads to Barry regaining his powers.
Iris gives Chester a pep talk about how his place is with Team Flash and how they've all made mistakes in the past.
Chester says he appreciates the talk, but he thinks the problem is less his scientific acumen and the fact that he barely knows the rest of the team after a year.
Chester has an intuitive leap that the Medusa Mask sought out Cecile thinking an empath would make for a stronger host, but to have a permanent host it needs something else to enhance itself - like the Thinker's Chair.
Chester has a crazy plan to stop the Medusa Mask. This ultimately boils down to Iris distracting it while he attacks the chair with a samurai sword. At the same time, Cecile confronts her past and reasserts control of her own body.
Sue apologies to Chester for being so harsh.
Sue says she's going to hang around Central City for a while since Ralph is still busy with another case. She invites everyone to drinks and a late dinner at her penthouse suite at the Lily Hotel.
Barry and Iris make sure Chester is aware that invitation includes him, despite him being more of a root beer kind of guy.
Chester accepts, but asks Barry and Iris to stop "getting freaky" in the Starchives when he is at work and just take a day off or go on vacation somewhere.
Cecile tells Joe about her time in the hospital and he assures her it is fine and he doesn't think any less of her.
Joe reveals that he found Kristen Kramer's record and determined that her last mission placed her in command with a squad meant to take out several strategic facilities - a mission that failed and ended with everyone, except Kramer, dead. Joe suspects that she was working with the enemy.
Ralph Dibny is apparently busy with a case of his own, according to Sue Dearborn, which is why he didn't come to Central City with her.
Ralph and Sue apparently had an adventure in Tunisia which was much more complicated than the museum heist.
The Bottom Line
Well-directed, but badly written, with seemingly no purpose other than making a Very Special Episode point regarding the stigma of mental health. Definitely a worthy cause, but turning the Medusa Mask into the Helm of Nabu probably wasn't the best way to make the point. At least the performances are solid, even if half the cast has nothing to do for most of the episode.