The Flash Review by Henry Tran

The Flash 4.01: The Flash Reborn

The Flash 4.01: The Flash Reborn

Written By:
Andrew Kreisberg, Todd Helbing, and Eric Wallace
Directed By:
Glen Winter

Let's get this out of the way so that I don't have to discuss it any further: The third season of The Flash was not good. That's being somewhat generous. I think the writers and those in charge of the show knew this was the opinion in general, and it looks like they've put in the time while the show is off the air to make some corrections. The fact that the writers are trying to go all the way back to a slight emulation of the first season (still the show's most successful one) is a bit of a strange direction to take. It makes the writers look like they can't seem to move on from that season. Or that they continually try to re-capture the magic of that season with mixed results (it isn't the first time this kind of thing has been tried). It'll take a few episodes to really see if the changes take.

 


 

Immediately, though, the changes are evident. With Barry stuck in the Speed Force, Team Flash (or Team Vibe or Team Kid Flash, according to either Cisco or Wally) needs a new leader, and that somehow became Iris. Seeing a more confident and direct Iris is refreshing, especially in light of the fact that she has spent much of the show so far being the damsel in distress or the one person left completely out of the loop. Iris' new attitude would also feel unique if I hadn't recently watched the season premiere of Supergirl, which has Kara going through basically the same story arc. Both women are trying to cope with the loss of their loved ones, mostly by overcompensating and overdoing their jobs in the superhero arena.

 

The key difference is that while Kara Danvers likely won't see her lover ever again, there is the very real possibility that Iris will see Barry again. Putting aside the fact that the show is named after him, and the show rarely functions for long without him in the picture, it's only a matter of time before someone or something breaks Barry out of the Speed Force. The show does give a good crack at trying, though. There's Wally, who is the team's resident speedster, even if he's only an approximation of Barry's capability. Cisco seems more comfortable with his Vibe powers, and Joe can provide great support with the assistance of the Central City Police Department. Taking out Peek-a-Boo in the first act proved that the team could operate well enough at least to keep the more manageable villains at bay. When a bigger threat shows up, such as a hulking, flying samurai with a powerful sword, the deficiencies of the team start to come up. Tricking the samurai by having Wally masquerade as Barry is snuffed out quickly, though that was more of a strategic failure on Wally's part than anything regarding the team's decisions on how to combat the episode's central villain.

 


 

It's actually Cisco's repeated attempts to find a way to break Barry out of the Speed Force that causes the internal conflict holding Iris back. The confident bravado and leadership skills she showed in the beginning were used as a shield against her accepting the fact that Barry is gone, never to return. Like Kara on Supergirl, Iris' grief adds to the drama quotient of the episode, and it's handled better than I would have expected. The Flash is supposed to be pulpy fun. Handling heavier, darker emotions has never been quite in its wheelhouse, as last season can attest. The writers want to get to the reset point as quickly as possible, and that means largely forgetting about last season.

 

Where things are fumbled a bit with Iris, the show compensates by revealing wholesale changes to Caitlin's character. At the end of last season, she told the team that she wasn't quite Killer Frost, but she's also not quite Caitlin either. Now, she's working as a bartender in a biker bar, while doing some shady side jobs for someone named Amunet that isn't made very clear in the episode. She readily helps Cisco and the team get Barry out of the Speed Force and diagnose his condition once released, but the end of the episode reveals that she's struggling to control the Killer Frost persona. While this is an interesting development for the character in general, I'm cringing at the possibility that the writers will extend this Jekyll-and-Hyde act in the season for too long a time.

 


 

Barry's "condition" when he's released from the Speed Force looks like some advanced form of dementia or fugue state. In addition to constantly writing non-sensical symbols on any surface (I don't buy Cisco's translation of "This house is bitchin'" as sensible for one second) available to him, he spouts dialogue from the series' past mixed with some random phrases that only a "crazy" person on television would say in order to sound crazy. I briefly had the theory that maybe the team had gotten a Barry from a future time, but that would be a foolish choice from the writers given the myriad timeline manipulations of the past two seasons.

 

Like Iris' assertion that she had permanently lost Barry, Barry's "condition" proves only temporary. Iris had to get herself in the middle of life-threatening danger for the "real" Barry to resurface again, but it was accomplished in order for The Flash to show off another CGI-filled action set piece (spectacular as it was) and to reset the series enough to get back to near its original state. Team Flash is whole again, with its leader now in possession of a new and improved suit along with presumably six months' worth of knowledge from the Speed Force. It's almost as if nothing has changed in three years. Almost.




Our Grade:
B
The Good:
  • The dramatic elements with Iris work better than one would expect after last season’s mess
The Bad:
  • The writers need to stop chasing the high points of the first season; it’s holding the show back

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

The Flash by - 10/12/2017 9:34 AM26 views

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