The Flash, 3×12, “Untouchable,” saw Team Flash dealing with a meta they were unable to touch.
“Untouchable” brought several lingering issues for Team Flash to a head as the team dealt with a meta whose touch is fatal.
On the one hand, this episode saw Barry trying and failing to train Wally. Though Wally has incredible raw talent — so much that Barry believes he is the only speedster capable of saving Iris — he’s still new with his powers. Barry promised to teach him everything he needs to know, like his own mentors did for him (though lucky for Wally, his mentor isn’t likely to turn out to be evil like Barry’s). But when the lessons turn to phasing through matter, things just don’t click for Wally.
Wally struggles with not being natural at everything that comes with being a speedster, especially when his sister’s life is at stake. And this comes true sooner rather than later when Iris is targeted by the meta of the week (MOTW).
Side note: I long for the day that Iris isn’t used primarily as a plot point to raise the stakes and cause pain for the male characters. This episode featured that trope twice over since her death at Savitar’s hands lingers over the team and she was infected by the meta of the week. Sigh.
Anyway, Wally tries to be a hero without Barry, but isn’t quick enough to save Iris from being infected, so he’s got that failure adding to his inability to figure out phasing. Barry, realizing his own shortcomings as a teacher, promises to do better.
I just really love the way Barry is dealing with Wally as Kid Flash and Wally’s incredible raw talent. Wally will likely become faster than Barry, but Barry doesn’t for a moment let his ego about his own status as The Flash keep him from doing what he thinks will most likely save Iris: train Wally.
There are cute moments of sibling rivalry, like the coffee date between the West-Allen family and Cecile and her daughter when there is playful debate about whether The Flash or Kid Flash is better, but it’s never a serious issue. Barry has always expressed his masculinity in healthy ways, unlike the toxic masculinity that can easily rear its head when superpowers get involved, and that’s something I appreciate about his character.
And when the final confrontation with the MOTW occurs, Barry is out of commission after phasing a freaking train through rubble, so Wally has to dig deep and phase through the MOTW to counteract his abilities. Because science. He succeeds, Iris is saved and everyone is happy.
Well, everyone except Joe because Iris decides to tell him about her impending death. He’s hurt and furious, especially with Barry, for not telling him about this. And he’s completely right to be because secrets are bad. However, with Iris coming through her infection by the MOTW alive, Joe calms down and is ready to set to work to help save Iris’s life.
Did I mention that Barry phased an entire train? Because that was crazy awesome.
Also in this episode, we get some payoff for the setup the show has been doing for Caitlin and Julian. Though the two initially argue because Julian is kind of a jackass at times (most of the time?), he helps Caitlin take control of Killer Frost while she’s trying to prevent Iris’s infection from spreading. And Caitlin ends up asking him out, and he readily agrees.
A couple of thoughts: First, Julian’s willingness to engage with the S.T.A.R. Labs team, sometimes grudgingly and sometimes happily, indicates that he really does want to be part of something.
When he insults someone or has poor bedside manner, it can be helpful to remember that the weakness Savitar took advantage of was his grief at the loss of his sister; he is probably looking for a new place to call home. The S.T.A.R. Labs team is a family, and he is being welcomed in. I hope we’ll see him softening a bit as it becomes clear he’s not going to be thrown out of the group.
And second, I’m hesitant about Caitlin having another love interest at the moment. Caitlin has very much been defined by her love interests in previous seasons, and both of those relationships went badly: Ronnie died, came back and then died again. And the charming Jay Garrick ended up being the serial killer Hunter Zolomon.
I like her having stories outside of a relationship, at least for a bit, as she puts some space between herself and her past heartbreaks. But I do think she and Julian can be good for each other, either as a couple or just as friends.
Finally, the episode closes as Jesse comes through a breach and tells Wally that Grodd has her father captive in Gorilla City. Grodd! I’m so excited. (I also wrote about Gorilla City back when the team first sent Grodd there, if you’re curious.)