The Flash 7×12 Review – Another Goodbye

The Flash -- "Good-Bye Vibrations" -- Image Number: FLA712a_0059r.jpg -- Pictured: Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss

Earlier this year, The Flash said goodbye to one of its oldest actors, Tom Cavanaugh, who played everyone from Eobard Thawne up through Nash Wells. Just a month later, the show is once again saying goodbye to an old face. This time, it’s actor Carlos Valdes and his character Cisco Ramon. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 7, Episode 12, “Goodbye Vibrations.”

“Goodbye Vibrations”

Tom Cavanaugh was one of the show’s longest-running and best actors before his departure. He’d been meant to step away at the end of last season, but then last season made things all weird with COVID-19 halting production. Consequentially, this season got all weird. What should’ve been a clean break for the character turned into not one but three “goodbye” episodes. It made Return of the King look succinct and brisk.

Meanwhile, Carlos Valdes has been on his way out for a long time. Rumors began a couple years back, and the show even sent the character on a long break to go explore Atlantis following Crisis on Infinite Earths. Now, he’s finally leaving. Or is he? Honestly, I won’t believe it until the show actually ends.

The Flash was an exciting show at the beginning. It had this cool mystery and these charismatic characters. Cisco stood out as one of the funnier Arrowverse characters immediately, and Valdes brought more and more range to the character through the years. We watched him hurt when his brother died, and then again when he lost Gypsy. He had not one but two memorable relationships. He struggled with his place in Team Flash and as a Metahuman. Valdes made it all work really well.

Is he gone, though?

And yet, I’m super mixed on his departure. On the one hand, it just doesn’t seem like there’s much else to do with Cisco. He found his forever romance, he’s made a final decision on his powers, and he helped save the universe.

But his departure, especially so close to Cavanaugh’s, feels like a death knell for the show. Of course, there are a few original cast members left aside from Gustin–Candice Patton (Iris), Jesse L. Martin (Joe West), and Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow/Frost) are all still hanging on so far. But of the team that was there when Barry woke up for the first time, it’s really just Caitlin Snow.

All that is, of course, tangential to this episode, which focuses on Ramon’s departure.

As with seemingly every episode this season, it’s a really weird one.

Villain of the Week

Here’s the short version of the plot: Cisco announces his departure to the team, they give him an uncharacteristically cool response. Another metahuman shows up–yet another “2.0” version of an earlier villain. This time it’s a new take on Rainbow Raider, the villain in the original Arrow-Flash crossover. The boys get whammied and discover that this Rainbow Raider inspires euphoria in her victims, not rage. She’s stealing money to literally give it back to the poor, though without thinking through the consequences of what dumping millions of dollars on a city would be (absolute chaos is the answer here).

The team manages to talk her down and save the day. Meanwhile, each character has these moments with Cisco and Kamila where they’re unsure how to feel and end up at odds with each other. Finally, the team has a sitdown to talk through their feelings. Then, they have a karaoke party where they sing Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance with all the passion of a bunch of theater nerds who haven’t sung together in too long. Which accounts for a good portion of the show’s cast, so this shouldn’t be a terrible surprise.

But like, is he really gone, though?

The whole episode is tonally very weird. The new Rainbow Raider feels out of place as a villain of the week in this episode meant to be devoted to one of the show’s oldest characters. The encounters between Cisco/Kamila and the other characters often feel strange, too; it feels like the writers didn’t properly set up any of these interactions.

There were good moments in the episode; I believe Cisco is ready to move, and it feels right for the character. The montages and torch-passing moments between Cisco and Chester were also fun, and they felt meaningful for both characters.

This episode isn’t without its charms, but it felt weirdly off for what should’ve been a huge moment. And with the way The Flash handled Cavanaugh’s exit–a death, a return, a death, a return, and then a cheap, meaningless episode–I have a harder time believing that Cisco is really gone.