Synopsis of 3×11: An agent from Earth-19 arrives to hunt down HR and kill him for the crime of breaching the walls of his reality. Cisco trains to face-off with Gypsy. Iris takes a big risk to secure her legacy.

I wasn’t wild about the way The Flash seems to have built the back half of Season 3 around the ticking clock of Iris’ death but damn if it hasn’t given the central cast some focus. So much of Season 3 has felt like the show consciously working to set the show back up to the status quo it once had, between ending Flashpoint seemingly prematurely, to adding a new incarnation of Wells, to introducing and then promptly sidelining Caitlyn’s transformation into a super villain and so many more things. Now, with the parts assembled and mission in place, it’s time to actually have the characters do something interesting.

And, well, it’s kind of a mixed bag. The recurring theme in “Dead or Alive” is characters trying to find a purpose before being swallowed by their circumstances. For a show where the future is visible and multiple timelines offer peeks at worlds that could have been, it’s a fairly solid plot to build an episode around and for most of the characters, it works.

Iris’ willingness to take risks in order to form a legacy is interesting and well earned, even if it’s fairly well-trod territory in the CW-verse of shows. Likewise is Wells’ desire to break the rules of Earth-19 in order to have a chance at becoming his own man on Earth-1. Even Wally finds himself creating a legend as his following in Central City grows by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, this is an episode that mostly sidelines Barry and Caitlyn entirely, choosing instead to focus on a Cisco story the show has done time and time again.

[The CW]

I like Cisco. He’s arguably the show’s best character and he’s the best incarnation of Vibe across any medium but goddamn if this show has never quite kept a consistent take on him or his powers. Cisco is a master power-slinger one minute, and a reality warper the next before going episode after episode where his powers seem to be completely forgotten.

I feel like we’ve had so many episodes where he struggles to control his powers or reach his potential and this feels like another one, even as Gypsy pushes him further than he has gone in the past. Still, their fight at the climax of the episode is mostly fun, if a bit pat.

Legacy is a concept that’s baked into the Flash like it’s central to few other DC characters and it’s interesting to see this show’s characters wrestle with the topic. With an ending that hints towards the passing of the torch that’s pivotal to the relationship between Barry and Wally in the comics, “Dead or Alive” offers a lot of interesting character development as The Flash starts making the season’s less than solid premise start to work for it.

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