Title: The Flash Season 6 Episode 18: “Pay the Piper” Review
Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Network: The CW
Genre: Superhero, Drama, Action
For the first time in years, it seems that The Flash is putting forth interesting long-term storylines for its villains. Reverse-Flash, Bloodwork, and Godspeed all have on-going mysteries in the background, and they are all better off for it.
I had mixed feelings on Godspeed’s introduction last season. While his look and voice were top-notch, Godspeed was dispatched relatively quickly by a rookie speedster. It looked as if the series threw out August Heart solely out of fan-service. Rather than becoming a prominent speedster villain alongside the likes of Reverse-Flash, Zoom, and Savitar, it seemed that Godspeed wasn’t more than a minor speed bump for Team Flash. Don’t get me wrong; we’re nowhere near Godspeed becoming next season’s big bad or anything. However, he’s a lot better off after this week’s episode.
Ever since the season 6 premiere, we’ve known that Godspeed is sending mechanical versions of himself to test Barry and take more speed. What I love about his appearance here is that we don’t get answers to Godspeed’s overall plan or see August Heart. It’s merely another duplicate of Godspeed in his full gear being a total badass. Instead of being hit with a ton of exposition detailing Godspeed’s plan and why he’s sending back duplicates, we get just enough information to keep the storyline intriguing and leave you wanting more. That’s what separates him from the likes of Rag Doll or Turtle-2. His storyline is still on-going, mysterious, and the real version is unseen so far this season.
As much as I liked Godspeed, “Pay the Piper” wasn’t his episode. Hartley Rathaway’s had a strange run on The Flash, hasn’t he? Rathaway started as the villainous Pied Piper until season 2 introduced how time-travel can make smaller changes to the timeline and turned Rathaway into an ally of Team Flash. Then we didn’t see him for about 30 years. Seriously, I think the writers pulled a Home Alone and forgot he existed. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, i revealed Hartley was a bad guy again, and Team Flash did something terrible to him.
Thankfully, that last part is the only important thing we have to remember. Similarly to Godspeed’s introduction in season 5, I have mixed feelings about how Hartley’s storyline was resolved. For me, the villain of the week characters on The Flash peaked with the likes of Weather Wizard 2.0, Pied Piper, Peek-a-Boo, Grodd, and Captain Cold. With Captain Cold gone from not only this show but the Arrowverse as a whole, I was hoping Hartley could sort of take up that mantle as an antagonist Barry has an understanding with. I think that’s much better than reverting the character to how he was in season 2.
There’s a reason why I wished the show would take that route. The douchey personality of Hartley meshes so well with our core cast of characters. I don’t know if that’s only because Andy Mientus has such great chemistry with the rest of the cast or if the contrast in Hartley’s personality plays a factor in things. All in all, turning him back to the right side and sending him off into the sunset felt like a missed opportunity.
We had a lot of character stuff to dive into this week. It was a filler episode, after all. Unfortunately, most of the hallway talks this week were a chore to get through. I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but the placement of them is probably my biggest issue with the hallway talks as a whole. “Pay the Piper” had two awesome villains in it, but half of the episode felt like it was a pep-talk. If these pep-talk scenes were sprinkled out throughout the episode and not happening one after another, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it.
I’ve been wavering back and forth on my interest in the Iris storyline, but I gotta say, I’m really into this arc right now. Everything about it from Iris starting to go crazy to the way the camera shots changed during the Iris/Kamilla scene was excellent. I know cutting the season short is nobody’s fault, but it’s going to be weird if we don’t see Iris get out of the Mirrorverse next week. I’m not saying it would be bad from a storytelling perspective, just a little awkward. Also, I desperately hope they find Singh in full Last Man on Earth mode.
Let’s wrap up this review with the rest of the storylines I didn’t mention. I still want to give this Killer Frost arc some time, but it feels like nothing serious of note will come out of it unless the plan is to kill off Frost somehow and keep Caitlin around.
In the case of Allegra and Nash, I’m kinda done with this dynamic. Nash had a solid scene with Barry this week, and he’s had a few other great moments over the season. Allegra, however, has yet to get a storyline or moment that makes you invested in her character. Until that changes, I don’t think I’ll change my mind about this minor arc.
Verdict: “Pay the Piper“ was a good filler episode of The Flash that unfortunately had to serve as this season’s penultimate episode. While it doesn’t provide too much intrigue for next week’s impromptu season finale, “Pay the Piper” was a ton of fun because of its great villains and fantastic Mirrorverse scenes. I’m not sure what the finale next week will hold, but if it includes us finally seeing Atlantis in the Arrowverse, count me in.
- Godspeed wasn't ruined and was actually set up to be a bigger deal next season
- Pied Piper is a great villain who meshes with Team Flash wonderfully
- Everything about the Mirrorverse scenes
- That Pied Piper and Flash team-up was really cool and gave me some serious Spider-Man 3 vibes for some reason (but shockingly not in a bad way)
- Too many misplaced pep-talks this week
- It felt like they just reset Hartley right back to where he was in season 2
- The Killer Frost storyline isn't clicking so far
- Even though this minor storyline only had 2 lines this week, the Allegra/Nash dynamic isn't working either