Welcome back to my weekly recaps of The Flash. To read previous coverage, go here.
So The Flash came back tonight and I have thoughts. Here are the few things that stuck out to me the most in the return to series three.
Kid Flash Continues to Dull
Kid Flash is a character I had an immense amount of anticipation for leading up to his unveiling in series three, and really ever since Wally West was introduced as a character in season two. While I’ve never quite known where to begin with the comics I was a devout Young Justice fan and therefore a fan of the character. However, ever since he’d donned the famous suit there’s been a feeling of something lacking from his character. Perhaps it was the lack of build up to the character or the lead up to his struggling to understanding his power but it lacked the punch needed to make him a riveting character. The performance continues to be a highlight and I appreciated his back and forth with Barry tonight as it felt tangible and reflected what felt like a real life back and forth between mentor and student but the show would benefit from writing him some greater stakes beyond casual onlookers not believing he’s as fast as the Flash.
The Team Flash Group Meeting Was Perfect
I have this nudging feeling that I’ve spent a large portion of season three thus far complaining. Granted, it’s been for good reason as the show has relied heavily on it’s worst, dour, tendencies, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped enjoying the show in it’s entirety. In fact, there was a scene in this weeks episode that reminded me of all of the reasons why I loved the show to begin with while simultaneously redeeming itself for some of its prior misdeeds.
The scene comes when the entirety of Team Flash (minus Joe) comes together to formulate a plan that will save Iris’s life in the future. This involves everyone working together despite any differences they might have held and seeing the entire group together for a common cause is a satisfying moment when for so long season three had seen the team fractured.
Following up from a highly emotional scene between Iris and Barry and he tells her the truth about the future (and really, a pause here to emphasize just how good Candice Patton and Grant Gustin were in this scene) it’s a nice reminder to see that when this team works together, great things can come from it. Ones destiny is not a fixed point in time, everything can be changed and they’re going to try their damnedest too which includes changing both Iris’s fate but also Caitlin’s descent into Killer Frost.
In an episode with enough superspeed chases and call backs to other DC worlds (hello Teen Titans nod) the strongest moment comes when all of the characters and their shared motivations are given the highlight. It’s a superhero show first, yes, and the scene does little to diminish the fact and the loopy science that goes along with it but any fan will tell you that the best superhero outings are the ones that have an innate understanding of their characters and this scene alone proved to us that the writers for The Flash still, thankfully, do.
When is Death Going to Stop Being a Motivator ?
Must we blame Game of Thrones for putting this idea in showrunners heads that the only way to create tense and intriguing television is to always have favorite characters teetering over the line of life and death? That to create great thrills there needs to be at least one shocking death per season? It’s a trait that many shows had picked up over the years and it’s grown increasingly tiresome as a plot point. While there needs to be real, tangible stakes in a superhero series-these are individuals risking their lives on a day to day basis to help save their worlds-the threat of a loved ones livelihood needs to exist for more than just the sake of shock value. It needs to somehow benefit the storyline and move the show forward. Considering Barry has already lost his mother and father in front of him, taken from other speedsters, how would loosing Iris be any different beyond severing one of the shows greatest assets, enraging fans and creating a version of The Flash that’s already grown increasingly dour?
Regardless of those concerns, the episode offered up enough optimistic promise for the back half of the season and if it continues on the pace of that one scene where the group came together, perhaps there’s a chance the series can reclaim some of it’s earlier series magic?