“Double Vision” (November 1, 1990)
Writer: Jim Trombetta
Director: Gus Trikonis
Editor: Greg Wong
Synopsis: Someone is using religion and superstition to terrorize the people of Central City’s Spanish Hill during the annual Day of the Dead festival. Unbeknownst to the police, these strange happenings are the work of drug lord Reuben Calderon, who is intent on kidnapping the daughter of the man whose testimony will put him in prison. Whilst investigating these events, Barry Allen begins to experience unsettling blackouts. Tina McGee discovers that an implant has been buried in Barry’s brain and, as a result, the Flash has become the remote-controlled puppet of Marcos Trachmann, Calderon’s cybernetically-enhanced henchman!
Commentary: This is a strange and relatively complex episode. “Double Vision” is memorable because it includes a number of distinctive elements that add a unique flavor to the proceedings. Firstly, there’s the setting. Spanish Hill represents the latest in a number of distinct districts that help to reinforce the character of the fictional Central City. Additionally, the Day of the Dead festival, filmed at the Ventura County Multicultural Arts Council’s annual celebration, is beautifully incorporated into the action. At times the cinematography in this episode is stunning. Then there are the episode’s many religious components, which lead to some interesting scenes involving the mythology of Santería. Villains Reuben Calderon and Marcos Trachmann are using belief and fear to achieve their goals and, as usual, the scarlet speedster is mistaken for an otherworldly force. This, of course, ties in nicely with the show’s usual themes, leaving our police scientist hero struggling to prove that the evil forces at work in Spanish Hill are using “black science” rather than black magic. Charley Hayward is entertainingly eccentric as the villainous Trachmann and the unusual technology he wields is effectively used in a number of entertaining action sequences. There’s also a rather stunning twist to the plot during the episode’s exciting climax. It’s worth noting that “Double Vision” features the most outright surreal moments yet seen in The Flash, including a hypnotism-induced nightmare sequence in which the superhero is literally tied up with a puppeteer’s strings and awkwardly forced to dance! (Upon seeing this, a comic aficionado can’t help but think of the classic cover to The Flash #133.) It is scenes such as this that help the episode to stand out. Clearly, the series is already attempting to break free of any constricting storytelling formula, and the results are commendable.
High-Speed Highlight: The Flash snatches a bullet out of the air, saving witness Peter Paul Aguilar from being killed before he can testify against drug kingpin Reuben Calderone.
Quotable: “You see, a brain and nerves is just like a machine and its wires. Once you map out the circuits you can punch a button and get anything you want. You can get hate. You can get fear. You can get pain.” --Trachmann lectures on neurobiology and control