“Crazy for You” is a very good episode of The Flash. It’s fleet, lots of fun, and totally in control of all of its component parts. This episode veers from light camp, to somber emotional beats, and exciting action over the course of its forty-some-odd minute run time and keeps everything perfectly aligned throughout; the lighter beats fueling the character relationships that in turn allow for deeper dramatic moments while all being pulled along by a well deployed villain of the week. It’s an excellent combination that’s a model for future episodes that are focused less on the overarching stories of the series and more concerned with more quickly dispatched enemies and plots.
The spine of the episode features the gang tracking down a teleporting metahuman (who busts her boyfriend out of jail in the opening), who is adorably named Peek-a-Boo by Caitlin after Cisco’s absence from the lab allows her an opening to claim naming rights. This plot isn’t the most elaborate. It hits the beats necessary to flesh things out and heads towards the relatively obvious conclusion of Shawna being abandoned by her no-good boyfriend all while delivering the solid action that The Flash is so very capable of delivering. There’s nothing really wrong here, there’s just nothing too revelatory.
The reason it works though is that the character is well portrayed, Shawna’s played for fun in a way that’s perfectly suited to The Flash, reveling in her powers and generally being excited about the chance to show off against a similarly powered metahuman. Unlike last week’s villain, The Pied Piper, Shawna’s enthusiasm makes the main action beats of the story propulsive and joyful. Where The Pied Piper was all doom and gloom, Peek-a-Boo’s having a blast being a villain and that sense of glee carries her scenes even as the plot itself isn’t the most complex or original.
Speaking of The Pied Piper, he returns this week after teasing Cisco with details of what happened to Ronnie last week. Luckily Rathaway is a much more enjoyable character when he’s being paired more directly with the main characters of the series than when he’s off on his own. Putting Rathaway in the Hannibal Lecter role next to Cisco’s brighter personality works perfectly to highlight Andy Mientus’ cocky, cold performance. Mientus is on just the right side of campy here, savoring the arrogance of Rathaway even as he plays Cisco’s game. It’s obvious he’s just biding his time until he can take the upper hand from Cisco, but the plot still works well since the interplay between Cisco and Rathaway is nicely built and played.
Another pairing that works nicely in this episode is that of Barry and Caitlin. It’s one of the first times the two characters have had an extended plot with one another, and the show makes the most of it by going for broke on a very goofy bit of comedy as Caitlin decides to cut loose and finally commit to moving on from Ronnie. She does so by getting way too drunk, deciding to do karaoke with Barry, and, ultimately, drunkenly rambling to Barry after insisting that he use his super speed to help her change out of her dress and into her pajamas. It’s a plot that could have gone horribly awry, but both Gustin and Panabaker sell the hell out of the sequence, nailing the exact tone the plot needs to come off as endearing rather than painfully awkward.
It’s all down to the execution, there are a lot of elements in “Crazy for You” that could slide from good to bad very easily, but time and time again credited writers Aaron and Todd Helbing land on the right side of things. Any of the scenes with Barry’s father seem like they could go off the rails, they’re the episode’s most earnest, potentially corny scenes, but all of them land. This is thanks to a variety of factors; the actors are strong, the dialogue is solid, and they scenes are well placed, allowing the episode to quickly jump from one mode to the other. While this kind of tonal whiplash can be an issue at times, it works well here, replicating the shock Barry feels when he hears that his father has been stabbed or highlighting just how much it means for Barry to finally get to talk directly with his father rather than being walled off from him by a phone and glass. Put simply, the scenes just work, and that’s the case with just about every part of the episode.
“Crazy for You” isn’t necessarily a high-water mark for The Flash, but it’s an entirely enjoyable and effective hour of television. It doesn’t do anything to reinvent the wheel and most savvy viewers probably have a good idea of where the whole affair is headed from the moment it starts kicking into gear, but the execution is so effectively managed that it doesn’t matter. The Flash is already a pleasure to just spend time with, and so long as the basic nuts and bolts of the series are as sound as they are here that’s likely to be the case for a good long while.