When we look at the entire superhero landscape in general, one thing that we’re often very critical of is the lack of notable female villains. Maybe it stems from the source writers, or the fears that come with having characters of different genders facing off with each other. Everyone loves to write those think-pieces!
To us, Batman is probably the only major male superhero who has a substantial array of female villains, even if many others exist out there. For example, there’s Cupid for the Green Arrow, Enchantress to Thor, and of course there are a large variety within the “X-Men” world.
On “The Flash” last night, the show had a great opportunity to bring one into the fold in Plastique (Kelly Frye), a Captain Atom adversary who can turn anything she touches into a bomb. It’s a cool, super-dangerous power, and we were excited from the moment the character was brought on board.
After watching Tuesday night’s episode bearing her name as the title, we feel somewhat like we went into this with the completely wrong conception. Instead of seeing Plastique the villain, we had more of Plastique almost in a damsel-in-distress role. Not only did she have to be saved from the General (Clancy Brown, but she had to be saved from herself. STAR Labs tried to help her at first, before determining that she was up to no good and Harrison Wells sent her on a suicide mission to go and destroy the General once and for all.
Unfortunately, this literally and metaphorically blew up. The death of the character, otherwise known as Bette Sans Souci, sets her up as a tragic figure more than an iconic villain, and really deprives us of a great story. It would have been so easy to have Plastique realize that Wells was using her, and to turn her into a powerful, interesting antihero. We didn’t get that, and we’re still left without a notable female villain on this show.
It seems pretty unlikely that Plastique survived that explosion in the ocean, but if she did, our opinion on this will change drastically and we will be all for the development of this story. If she is gone, though, it’s hard to view this as anything other than a disappointment.
Meanwhile, we did like the introduction of the General, and using the Wells character to establish a history there was extremely well-done. Also, the Grodd cameo at the end! That slice of coolness helps to make up for the overly-dramatic Iris / Barry storyline that really does not to be served to us on so obvious a platter.
“Plastique” is a hard episode to grade, mostly because so much of it depends on something we don’t have an answer to: Whether or not this was meant to be a one-shot story, or an introduction to a character who will be turning up later in a darker form. Had they given us a tiny tease that Bette was still alive, we’d be handing down a great A- for an hour. As it is, though, we have to go with a little more ambiguity. Grade: B-.
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