After the mid-season premier focus on defining what the rest of season 3 will be about “Dead or Alive” shifts the focus a bit to the new version of Harrison Wells, HR. In shifting the focus HR and his crime for traveling dimensions we got to see Cisco play the main hero as he goes all in on his superhero identity of Vibe. This wasn’t just a change of who got to be the hero but also a change in how the action for The Flash has delivered.
It’s become clear that the show writers have enjoyed supplying Tom Cavanagh with different types of material when it comes to portraying Harrison Wells. Season 3’s HR version may be Cavanagh’s best portrayal of the character. There has been a sweet balance between the comedy and drama that Cavanagh is able to play with the HR version, were the two previous versions leaned more on the drama side. The opening scene with HR narrating his own dream story about how he saves the day with Flash was a great bit of comedy for an episode in “Dead or Alive” that was light on happy moments.
Bringing in a character like Gypsy who is from HR’s Earth gave us further insight into why he acts the way he does. Seeing his interactions with Cisco and Barry in this episode in particular provided HR extra depth as he shows how close he has become to the cast of The Flash. He has come a long way in the friendship he has built with the cast. This show of not wanting Cisco to fight just to save him for his crimes further establishes HR more than just a season 3 stay for the series.
As big of an episode for HR that “Dead or Alive” proved to be it was even bigger for Cisco as it was his big first adventure as Vibe. After spending so much time on the sidelines working as Barry’s “Q” it was a welcome change to see Cisco finally hero-ing up. The training Cisco went through in order to take on Gypsy was a long time coming since we haven’t actually seen him train for battle before. Though I hope the writers don’t continue the trend of Cisco falling in love with every female costume vigilante or villain. It’s a well we keep seeing the writers fall back on every season when it comes to Cisco’s love life.
Gypsy contribution as a catalyst for both Cisco to become Vibe and HR to reveal more about his history was well executed. Not only Jessica Camacho an absolute badass when it came how she portrayed Gypsy but she also showed how Vibe’s powers can prove to be a counter to the Speed Force. This was something that has been brought up in the comic books in the past when Geoff Johns and others explained how Vibe is a counter to Flash. Seeing how a skilled person with Vibe’s powers easily defeated Flash and Kid Flash help add a cool factor to the powers.
While this episode was light on The Flash crew dealing with the future with Savitar killing Iris West, seeing the West siblings together did a lot to give more weight to the major plot line. This team-up in particular opens the door for the show to further explore the West siblings having adventures together as a way to not always have Wally as Kid Flash teaming up with Barry. It’s an interesting dynamic to play with, especially with Barry now working on making Kid Flash the key in saving Iris from Savitar.
It also added some surprising depth to Iris, who doesn’t get a lot of time in the spotlight compared to other cast members. The recklessness she showed in putting herself in a situation that could’ve killed her was a good way to show how learning her fate has been an emotional toll on Iris, giving some added depth to when she broke down in front of Barry later in the episode.
“Dead or Alive” was a change of pace episode as Barry Allen took a backseat and acted as a supporting character for Cisco’s first adventure as Vibe and the West siblings investigation. The spotlight on Cisco in particular was a lot of fun as we got to see the show’s writers and director deliver a different type of extended action sequence with the Vibe powers. Cisco’s story also offered up a deeper look into HR, who is quickly becoming The Flash’s strongest supporting character.