In a fun opening sequence, Eddie and Joe team up to chase down some culprits of the wild night’s third attempted robbery. The problem is that there are far too many for them to handle alone, and they’re all fleeing in different directions. Barry lends a hand to the cops by snatching up the crooks and transplanting them into the back of the police car, along with a bonus flasher he catches in the park. Tonight’s opening moments end with Barry disarming some jewel thieves before Joe and Eddie get there to take them into custody. It’s a brief but brilliant example of just how well this show works when it’s running on all cylinders.
Meanwhile, a scientist named Lindsay Kang dies from anaphylactic shock due to being stung by a swarm of bees hiding out in her car. After taking in the crime scene, Barry heads back to S.T.A.R. Labs to run some tests, which quickly leads the team to suspect a meta-human is controlling the lethal bugs. More on that later because Felicity shows up at the lab with the aim of introducing them to her atom-powered boyfriend, Ray Palmer. Barry’s upset with their unannounced arrival, but not because of any lingering jealousy; his suspicions of Dr. Wells make things tricky without introducing more wild cards. As for why Felicity and Ray are visiting Central City, it’s to enlist the science team to help work out the bugs in Ray’s suit. It’s a safe bet that The Atom will also help with the new bug problem plaguing the city.
In tonight’s romantic side plot, Eddie is struggling to keep Iris in the dark, in part because he feels guilty for lying to her, and because she’s piecing together the fact that The Flash is teaming up with the cops on the regular. Joe’s advice is to keep up the charade at least until he marries her, but Felicity’s plan is to get everyone together for a night on the town to blow off some steam.
While Cisco and Ray look over the schematics of the A.T.O.M. suit (and Cisco gets a creepy scene of deja vu from when he was killed by Dr. Wells in the alternate timeline), the “Killer Bee” (just kidding, she’s Brie Larvan aka Bug-Eyed Bandit, played by Emily Kinney) strikes again. Barry is too late to stop the swarm but he gets his chance to prove whether or not he can outrun the bees. Turns out, he can’t. The swarm takes him down just before Joe can get there to … chase the bees away? Though Joe tries to give Barry CPR, Cisco warns him to stand back so that he can jolt Barry back to consciousness with the suit’s built-in defibrillator. Back at the lab (with a stowaway bee), Barry’s free and clear of the apitoxin but still has some lingering doubts about how Cisco managed to give him bad directions in the facility. Maybe, just maybe, someone on the team is trying to bring Barry down a notch…
Barry plays the fifth wheel to Felicity and Ray, and Eddie and Iris when they head out to a private dinner at a fancy restaurant, thanks to Ray buying out the entire place. Barry can’t keep up the pretense of enjoying a night out for very long, and he soon confesses to Felicity that Wells is the man that killed his mother. What’s really bugging him (sorry for the pun) is that Cisco and Caitlin may be in on it, too. The awkwardness is further heightened by Eddie and Iris’ relationship drama that spills out over appetizers.
At the lab, the lone bee causes havoc for Cisco, Caitlin, and Dr. Wells until Barry shows up to capture it. Turns out that the swarm isn’t composed of insects at all, but rather robo-bugs. The tech nerds geek out over the bug’s cutting-edge technology while Felicity cross-references the murder victims in order to track down potential mad scientists, which leads them to none other than Dr. Tina McGee herself. Good thing they talked to her because she instantly knows who the culprit is and points the team in the right direction.
Outside of the episode’s Villain of the Week, Felicity gives Barry some sage advice about trusting in his friends despite his concerns. Perhaps she also should have warned him off from paying a visit to Iris in her emotionally fragile state (though it’s tough to do that when she’s living at home again). Good-Guy Barry gets to defend Eddie against Iris’ suspicions, even if it means driving the two of them closer together.
Getting back to bzzzness, Larvan sends her swarm after Dr. McGee at Mercury Labs. Rather than killing her, the robo-bees hold her hostage by way of supervillain monologue. Barry’s dysfunctional defibrillator makes him no match for Larvan’s bees, but The Atom has no such vulnerabilities so he heads in to battle the bugs. He torches some of the swarm and gets them to chase him through the skies in what is the first decent visualization of The Atom in flight. Barry tries to take down Larvan but is interrupted by her back-up swarm. Luckily, Felicity hacks in and briefly takes control of the robots before they can sting Barry to death, then shuts them down. Elsewhere, The Atom leads the bees to water, but short-circuits his suit in the interim; Caitlin and Cisco catch him in freefall, with the help of their science van, of course.
All wrapped up, right? Nope, because Cisco intercepts one final robo-bee before it can sting Ray (Is there a DC villain named Stingray?). The downside to his heroic act is that he gets stung by the potent critter himself. Barry hurries to his side and uses his electro-hands to shock Cisco back to life.
In tonight’s stinger (ha!), Cisco and Caitlin pay a visit to Barry on the promise of going out for karaoke. Instead, Barry and Joe reveal to them their bulletin board full of info on the death of Barry’s mother and everything they know about the Reverse Flash, along with their theory that Wells is the said-same villain. Cisco comes around to Barry’s way of thinking thanks to his visions, and he reveals to the team for the first time that Wells killed him (albeit in the alternate timeline).
“All Star Team Up” may not have lived up to its audacious title, but it was certainly a fun hour. Complete with wacky villain and ridiculous dialogue, this episode felt like pure comicbook hijinks in all the right ways. That being said, the episodic plot did little to push the season’s major arc along, save for the last minute or so when Barry brings Cisco and Caitlin into the fold of suspecting Dr. Wells. There’s no more breaks in season one, so expect the insanity to ratchet up over the final five episodes.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
The Flash: “I’m just curious, have you guys not heard of me or what?”
Cisco: “Anyone want to join me in renting a bee-keeper suit?”
Caitlin: “Is that a bird?” Cisco: “It’s a plane?” Felicity: “It’s … my boyfriend.” Guys, remember when Brandon Routh played Superman?? … Guys?
Felicity: “I thought Central City was supposed to be the fun one.”
Fun Fact: The “Bug-Eyed Bandit” premiered in the 26th issue of “Atom” in 1966.
Tonight’s episode is bordering on a Gilmore Girls level of fast, quirky dialogue.
And now we get to see a glimpse of the Atom’s eventual size-changing ability! Or at least the inspiration for it.