Spoilers ahead for "Dead or Alive," the latest episode of The CW's Flash!
The short version: A bounty hunter from Earth 19 shows up to bring HR Wells back to his own universe for execution. Cisco challenges her to a fight to the death. It's awesome (and no one dies). Oh, and Iris is dealing with the fact that she might die in a few months.
The good: All the Gypsy, Iris is finally great, that fight
Gypsy has been around in the comics since the mid-1980s, and she finally got a shot at live action in this one. Jessica Camacho does a fantastic job in the role, bringing a ton of charisma to the universe-hopping bounty hunter. We learn a lot about Earth 19 really quickly here: Apparently HR's world was once invaded by another Earth, so they banned any and all interdimensional travel. You know, exactly what HR did to come to Earth 1. So Gypsy was sent to track him down to pay for his crimes. They don't play her as a villain here, which is good, because Gypsy has typically been portrayed as a hero in the comics. She's just trying to do her job and hand out justice. Her chemistry with Cisco was dynamite, and it was a clever move to have them share a power set.
She might literally be the damsel in distress in this storyline, but Iris isn't take it lying down. Here we see her really grappling with the realization that her life could end in just a few months, so she throws herself into her work to try to leave a lasting impression as a journalist by breaking a gun-running operation — just in case it turns out to be the last big story she writes. It's a bit silly when you think about it (so writing a random story on some crooks is a bigger legacy than helping save the world with superheroes?), but it certainly feels true to the type of thing someone might think when faced with their imminent mortality. We all want to feel like we're leaving something behind, and it gave Iris a meaty story outside of just being the thing Barry is trying to save.
Man, and that fight. Awesome, right? Cisco and Gypsy have a universe-hopping brawl, popping by Earth-2, Supergirl's universe, and some terrifying hellscape all while punching and flirting. The effects team really outdid itself with this one, and it made for a great nod to all the little worlds we've glimpsed the past few seasons.
Other good stuff: Julian seems to be fitting in fairly well and his awkward wit brings a new dynamic to the banter. It's early, but it might just be a good fit. Wally literally saved a van full of cheerleaders. You can't make this stuff up. The Lego diorama was epic. Julian's building skills FTW.
The bad: Why is Barry still wondering if he can change the future? Cisco's impulsiveness
Barry Allen has literally rewritten the past a few times now and changed the world around him in the process. So, why is he still so hung up on wondering if they'll be able to change the future and stop Savitar from killing Iris? We've literally seen him do it, like, three times already. Yes, Barry, you can change the future. You obviously still have to figure out the best way to do it that ends with Iris staying alive, but it's certainly possible. Remember Flashpoint?
Cisco challenging Gypsy to a duel was the crux of the episode, and a whole lot of fun, but why on Earth would he actually do this? Yes, Cisco explains he feels like he "owes" something to the other Wells figures in his life, and trying to save HR was a way to even that score, but still. C'mon, you have a speedster on the roster, would Cisco really just blurt out that challenge and risk his life? He's smarter than that, and would've almost certainly strategized. Having him back into the challenge a bit differently, then stepping up to face it, would've been more believable. It's all about the execution, y'all.
Line of the night
"It's a pretty solid 1, mate." -Julian
So apparently HR is no longer able to return to his reality because everyone thinks he's been executed, so does that mean HR is definitely our new, permanent Wells on Team Flash? We know they're not going to get rid of Tom Cavanagh on this cast, and this turn of events certainly makes it seem like HR will be the resident Wells for the long haul.
The show has been planting seeds for a while now that Cisco is probably the strongest character on the show, and that evolution took a big step forward here. Might we see Cisco step up into the hero's role (in the comics, Vibe was a member of the Justice League) later this season?
Barry using Wally to help save Iris makes perfect sense, especially considering he was nowhere to be seen in the glimpse at the future. Also, literally making Wally faster than Barry would be an interesting move — and something Wally Wells purists would almost certainly welcome.
Next week: Iris is poisoned and Wally's high-speed training begins.