The Flash, the CW’s series about the Scarlet Speedster, continues its sixth season with “Pay the Piper.” After watching the mirror version of his wife shatter into pieces last week, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) finds himself working with an old enemy to defeat another sinister threat – Godspeed. Meanwhile, Iris (Candice Patton) struggles to cope with the health effects of the Mirrorverse.
With last week’s episode being extremely heavy on the main plot for this season, this week takes its time to reflect on Team Flash’s reactions. For Ralph (Hartley Sawyer), Nash (Tom Cavanagh), and Allegra (Kayla Compton), there’s the obvious sense of guilt regarding not being able to pick up on Iris and Kamilla (Victoria Park) not being their true selves. But the news is particularly rough on Cisco (Carlos Valdes). He didn’t realize Kamilla had been replaced and doesn’t know if she’s alive or not. This is extremely hard for him having already lost a previous love early on this season, as well as guilting himself over not having his powers. While we generally get these “what do we do?!” moments every season, it’s nice to see the show utilize that in a small arc in just one episode rather than dragging it out.
Everything related to the Mirror/Black Hole plot is pretty much in the backdrop, but we do get to see Iris find Kamilla in the Mirror World and have a greater understanding of the toll this must-have had on Eva (Efrat Dor). It’s an extremely clever way of using Iris as the audience’s eyes/ears as we begin to see the physical and mental tolls this strange dimension has on human beings. Iris has begun to display the same ticks as Eva, including itching her arm, headaches, and kaleidoscope-like visions. Kudos to the sound/visual editing who make a seemingly normal room into a mind-bending, tortuous dimensional hell.
Barry, on the other hand in “Pay the Piper,” has another struggle on his hands as the villainous speedster Godspeed (voiced by BD Wong) has once again returned to steal The Flash’s velocity. The use of Godspeed in the show is interesting and perplexing. On one hand, you have plenty of audience members clamoring for this fan-favorite character from the source material. But on the other hand, we have the version that we see on the screen. Not that his use in this episode wasn’t fun or threatening, but he could quite frankly have been any other speedster we’ve seen in the past. Although that’s not entirely the show’s fault either; the main ingredient of August Heart’s role in the comics is that he’s a friend of Barry’s who turns out to be the villain. That’s difficult for the Arrowverse and especially The Flash because we’ve seen this plot thread repeated to death. However, the teasing of their being a wider conspiracy regarding the multiple Godspeeds is intriguing – and could be a clue towards next year’s big bad.
However, the best part of this episode was the re-re-introduction of Hartley Rathaway/Pied Piper (Andy Mientus) who once again does a great job at playing this sympathetic villain. When we last saw Hartley, we and the Flash were surprised to see him return to his villainous ways. In this episode, we find out the reason for that being due to Hartley’s boyfriend being caught up in an accident between his and the Flash’s last major encounter. It’s an interesting addition that allows Barry to do his best Paragon of Love speech, and I’m a sucker for any “love triumphs” redemption arc.
We also get a bit more of Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) and her storyline around having to leave to have treatment for her light-based injuries. In case you didn’t know, Danielle was heavily pregnant during filming, which explains why the show had to write in this little exit-point. It’s really sweet to watch Frost and Ralph’s interactions and their genuine friendship blossom over the show.
While the shorter season this year means that this episode isn’t overly effective as a penultimate episode (albeit, not a fault of the show’s obviously), this current COVID break does seem to have allowed for there to be more time spent on the CG elements of “Pay the Piper” and other episodes. That definitely comes across in this episode, with the fight scene between Flash, Godspeed, and Hartley being so much fun to watch. You’d think that after SIX seasons of watching really fast streaks of lightning whizzing through a city that you’d begin to grow tired of it. Well, not the case apparently.
Overall, “Liberation” is a fun filler episode of The Flash that allows the team to refocus their minds and prepare to tackle the Mirroverse and Eva.
The Flash will conclude with its season finale on Tuesday, May 12th on the CW Network.
The Flash, Season Six, Episode 18 – “Pay the Piper”
Overall, “Pay the Piper” is a fun filler episode of The Flash that allows the team to refocus their minds and prepare to tackle the Mirroverse and Eva.