As soon as you see the title All Star Team Up, you have an idea of what to expect from this episode. Now we’ve seen the teaming up of The Arrow (Stephen Amell) and The Flash (Grant Gustin) a couple of times previously – and it will also be an annual thing going forward – but this time it’s the turn of Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer, aka The Atom, to join the fold and work alongside the Scarlet Speedster.
The reasoning for Palmer’s presence in Central City is that he’s keen to get S.T.A.R. Labs’ Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) to take a look at his A.T.O.M. suit and make a couple of upgrades. As for the show’s titular hero, he’s getting good. Very good, in fact. Dare we say it a little bit cocky, but Barry Allen is certainly enjoying being The Flash and helping CCPD take down the bad guys, as shown by an entertaining opening scene. Whilst Barry now seems comfortable in his tightly fitting red ensemble, he is still struggling and finding it weird to know that apparent mentor Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is the same Man in the Yellow Suit who killed mother Nora.
In terms of the villain on show this week, we get a take on DC’s Bug-Eyed Bandit, who in this incarnation is a female known as Brie Larvan (Emily Kinney – Beth represent, yo!). As a rogue who is able to control swarms of bees (which end up actually being miniature pieces of tech that look far more like wasps if we’re being picky), Bug-Eyed Bandit plays as a villain plucked straight from the realms of the comic book world and who has beef with Tina McGee (Amanda Pays) and Mercury Labs. She also happens to get one up on The Flash when their first meeting sees her poisonous “bees” causing Barry to actually flatline after an error from the troubled Cisco. Luckily it’s revealed that the Flash suit itself happens to have a defibrillator embedded in it that saves the day… and Barry’s life. When all is said and done, it’s a mixture of The Flash, The Atom and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) that finally takes down Bug-Eyed Bandit.
The reasoning for Cisco’s troubles is that he keeps getting worrying visions of something traumatic: as in, his death at the hands of Harrison Wells. Yes, S.T.A.R. Labs’ resident lovable geek is seemingly getting visions of the alternate future in which Wells did a Bond villain reveal of his master plan before vibrating a punch right through Cisco’s chest. As such, he’s not on his A game, causing Barry to question just who else at S.T.A.R. is on the ‘Wells list’ of those he cannot trust. Likewise, Cisco is on to Barry’s strange behaviour and even goes to Joe (Jesse L. Martin) to see what the craic is.
With The Atom literally flying in to Central City (leading to an amusing nod to the famed “it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…” Superman line), he has his new beau along for the ride, lending itself to more Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) moments with the familiar faces of The Flash. As ever, she brings her usual charm and humour to the table, and her presence even leads itself to a slightly awkward 5-way date (ooh err) with Felicity and Ray, Iris (Candice Patton) and Eddie (Rick Cosnett), and then fifth wheel Barry Allen. Felicity also serves as a shoulder for Barry to lean on, with him letting her in on his concerns about Harrison Wells and how he is unsure who at S.T.A.R. he can trust. Miss Smoak also gets to deliver one of the episode’s greatest lines as she says how dating Ray is like dating Barry Allen in the body of Oliver Queen.
This 5-way date is a nice way to further the arc of Iris West and Eddie Thawne, although it yet again makes Iris look like the perfect candidate as to why any men out there should stay single. Now that Eddie is in on Barry’s big secret, he’s a character who could easily become the most interesting and captivating character in the show. As soon as Eddie Thawne was announced as a character, long-time DC fans were expecting some interesting developments to come from him. Make no mistake about it, he wasn’t given that surname for no reason. But now we have Eddie arguing with both Iris and Joe; Iris knows that Eddie is keeping a secret from her, leading her to even issue an ultimatum to him; and then there’s Joe, who is adamant that Eddie doesn’t tell Iris about Barry’s secret. Whilst Rick Cosnett’s Eddie is finally getting something meaty to do in the show, this whole element of The Flash is only further serving to make Iris West seem like a needy dick, acting like a child in a strop because she’s been kept in the cold on something. This is even more baffling considering that Eddie is a cop, meaning that Iris, whose father is also a cop, should be fully aware that there are certain things that she can’t be let in on due to the nature of the job. In the ultimate stroppy teenager move, she even ends up threatening Eddie with the ‘either tell me what’s happening or we’re done’ move of many an arsehole.
When all’s said and done, All Star Team Up is another enjoyable outing for The Flash, although one in which the central villain of the episode plays second fiddle to character progression elsewhere. Bug-Eyed Bandit herself is fine for what is needed, and it was entertaining to see Felicity view Brie Larvan as her nemesis. Still, the final confrontation with Bug-Eyed Bandit saw The Flash start yet another fight with some variation of the famed “It’s over” line. Seriously, near-enough every battle with a foe sees Barry spout that line. With the Bandit herself, you kind of feel a little sorry for Emily Kinney as she spends the majority of her screen time acting against nothing or a computer screen, and she’s far better than that. Her killers robotic bees also lead to Cisco literally taking one for the team, dying after a fateful sting. It turns out that Barry Allen is able to shock people back to life, though - check that off the list of new powers.
The Atom’s inclusion was a decent enough one here, and Brandon Routh always brings an engaging charm with him when on screen, and it does appear that some of what went down here (not to mention Ray Palmer’s recent nanotech use over in Arrow) could lead to The Atom going smaller in the future. But whilst his appearance here was nice to see, it was the use of Eddie Thawne which was the show’s most intriguing one. Eddie has some big decisions to make, and you have to think that somehow, some way, somewhere… the Reverse-Flash will tie in to all of this.
And on the Reverse-Flash front, the episode closes with Cisco and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) being told about just who Wells really is. Caitlin vocally defends Wells, whilst Cisco isn’t quite of the same belief as her. That could very well be an indicator of what lies ahead (you DC comic books fans know what I’m getting at…), but all is starting to come out into the open as The Flash’s first season races towards its final few episodes.