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The Flash’s “Good-Bye Vibrations” Was the Perfect Sendoff for the Show’s Most Beloved Character

The Flash -- "Who is Harrison Wells?" -- Image FLA119B_0272b -- Pictured: Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon -- Photo: Katie Yu /The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Last week, after seven long seasons as serving as one of The CW’s The Flash’s most well-known and beloved characters, Carlos Valdes said goodbye to the series, and the character of Cisco Ramon, in season seven episode twelve, “Good-Bye Vibrations.” Like its sister show Arrow, The Flash has had a rocky run—with some high highs and equally low lows—but Valdes could always be counted on as a series high point, lighting up every scene he was a part of and bringing a sense of joy and sheer fun that helped craft the show’s identity into what we know it as today.

Though the series hasn’t always treated Cisco with the care and respect such a well-acted and interesting character deserves, his farewell episode, “Good-Bye Vibrations,” was the perfect sendoff for Valdes and served as an emotional, often nostalgic signal to the audience that with his departure, we’re witnessing the end of an era.

When The Flash first sped onto our screens in 2014, who would comprise the ensemble cast aside from Barry Allen himself was somewhat of a mystery. He didn’t really have famous sidekicks or go-to characters like Arrow’s Black Canary. Instead, the writers opted to pull memorable characters from DC comics—one of them being Vibe, a lesser-known superhero with the power to emit vibrational shockwaves. At the time, Vibe being a member of Team Flash was somewhat of a question mark, but now Vibe is a household name in the world of DC comics, and it’s impossible to think about The Flash without thinking of Vibe/Cisco, and that’s all thanks to Carlos Valdes.

With The Flash himself frequently playing the comic relief role in Justice League shows, that left a gap to be filled in by the new series, where Barry Allen was the lead and thus couldn’t be churning out one-liners. The show still needed a quippy sidekick to be Barry’s best friend, though, and in picking Valdes for the part, The Flash unknowingly struck gold with a dynamic character that would go on to become a near-universal fan favorite.

In season one especially, the “Team Flash” dynamic was integral to the fiber of the series itself, which was still finding its footing and developing an identity. Without the built-in mythos of a well-known dynamic, it was up to the chemistry of the cast and the strength of the writing to create memorable characters and connections—and in season one, Cisco is almost single-handedly responsible for shaping Team Flash as we know it today.

Though he may not have been out in the field saving the day with his own set of superpowers (yet), Cisco was an integral part of The Flash since day one—his sunny demeanor, endless pop culture references, and iconic fashion choices made him an instantly memorable element of the show that fans could gravitate towards. Among all the campy D-grade villains the writers pulled from the comics each week, there was Cisco, coming up with perfect supervillain nicknames and a gadget to save the day in the nick of time. As the show progressed, though, his role in the series became less reliable and more bending to the whims of where the writers needed him to fit, as opposed to what worked for the character.

Cisco looking unhappy on The CW's The Flash.

(image: Dean Buscher/The CW)

At times, it was difficult to see such a vibrant character sidelined for dramatic effect, especially when you look at how his signature peppy attitude was slowly chipped away by season after season of trauma. He was still fundamentally Cisco, but the writers seemed to be forgetting why fans were so drawn to him in the first place: his charisma, his wittiness, and his genuine joy at getting to fight crime and save the city every week at work. So, when it was announced that Carlos Valdes would be leaving the show, some fans were understandably worried that Cisco would be written off in some new traumatic twist to explain his absence—an ending which would’ve been far too cruel for the character, but lined up with past story arcs.

Thankfully, though, what we got was a joyous, celebratory farewell that fully understood and celebrated why fans love Cisco and Carlos so much—not only giving his character a time to shine while also passing the torch to the new generation, but also paying homage to season one and the original Team Flash. “Good-Bye Vibrations” isn’t the meatiest of episodes. In fact, all things considered, it’s probably one of the goofier exploits the show has come up with since season one. But the sheer silliness of it—a meta who induces utter joy and happiness in her “victims”—is the perfect sendoff for a character who wormed his way into our hearts by making fans smile.

“Good-Bye Vibrations” also made perfect use of Cisco’s strengths as a member of Team Flash—his technical aptitude for gadgets, his loyalty to his friends, and his courage in the face of mortal danger, even when he doesn’t have powers. From the beginning, Cisco’s willingness to put his life on the line for the rest of Team Flash, especially without superhero abilities, has always been one of his most admirable characteristics—and “Good-Bye Vibrations” totally understands this and weaves his altruistic nature into the episode’s climax.

Not only was the episode a perfect sendoff for Cisco himself, but it also works as a sort of pseudo goodbye to the era of The Flash that began with him and is now ending with his departure. Understanding the significance of the original Team Flash’s bond, the majority of “Good-Bye Vibrations” is devoted to giving the remaining original Team Flash members—Barry and Caitlin—a chance to say goodbye to their oldest friend and the only other remaining member, now that Harrison Wells(es) is also gone for good.

The episode packed in an emotional rollercoaster for O.G. Team Flash fans, with Barry and Caitlin trying to put on a brave face and support Cisco in his departure, while also being gutted at the idea of his loss. In a way, Barry and Caitlin are stand-ins for the audience—though we’re happy Valdes is moving on to bigger and better things, it’s still heartbreaking to see him go, especially since he’s been there since day one.

After all the tears have been shed, though, the episode ends on what could possibly be my favorite scene in the entire series: Joe, Barry, and Caitlin—all original Flash cast members—singing “Poker Face” while each wearing one of Cisco’s iconic graphic t-shirts. It’s a sweet, goofy sendoff—just like Cisco himself, and the throwback to Cisco playing “Poker Face” to wake Barry from his coma in the opening moments of The Flash pilot is a perfect and utterly fitting goodbye to fade out in Cisco’s final moments on the series.

Through the ups, the downs, and the questionable story arcs in between, Cisco Ramon and Carlos Valdes have remained the unrelenting, infectiously lovable elements of The Flash that keeps us coming back season after season. Though we hate to see him go, with “Good-Bye Vibrations,” The Flash crafted the fitting end to an iconic era, and a perfect goodbye to one of TV’s most beloved characters.

(image: Katie Yu /The CW)

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Lauren Coates is a Chicago-based film & television critic and freelance journalist who works as a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. You can find her on Twitter @laurenjcoates and read more of her work on Culturess.