The Flash – Season 4 Episodes 1 – 9 Review

Flash S4 P1

The Flash Season 4’s first third (or the part of the season before Christmas, yes I’m running a bit behind… stupid Regeneration Marathon!) sets an interesting new tone for the series, replacing it’s mysterious speedster enemy with a new type of foe who has his backstory revealed in Episode 7! So let’s take a look at this season’s story so far…

Synopsis:

Iris has been aiding Team Flash in Central City for six months, but refusing to grieve Barry. A flying Samurai with superpowers appears in Central City, threatening to destroy the city if the real Flash does not face him. Cisco reveals he has formulated a way to bring back Barry without destabilizing the Speed Force, and tracks down Caitlin for help. Against Iris’ direction, Team Flash successfully returns Barry, but to their surprise he appears to be rambling random statements and continually writing symbols on walls…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Flash S4 P1 1

Yeah… not the most threatening group ever.

Barry Allen / The Flash (Grant Gustin) – Barry locked himself away in the Speed Force to both save everyone and pay for his destabilising of the timeline… but if there’s a way to come back and quickly act like none of that happened, then… way-hey!

Iris West (Candice Patton) – Iris has been pushing forward with her role guiding Team Flash in Barry’s absence, though those around her can plainly see that she hasn’t had time to grieve yet…

Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) – Cisco is still his funny, nerdy self, having had time to grieve and make sure he can still help the new Team Flash without Barry around.

Caitlin Snow / Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) – Caitlin has Killer Frost under control… unless she become scared or panicked, but you know… it’s an improvement!

Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) – Joe has managed to get past the loss of his may-as-well-be son Barry and is moving forward with his new relationship, though he is worried about his daughter’s state of mind…

Wally West / Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) – Wally has been the new Flash for the past six months, and is surely due for a big role in the future!!

Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) – The Earth-2 version of Harrison Wells, he finds himself at the loss when he falls out with his daughter, leading to him jumping at the chance to join Earth-1’s Team Flash…

Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer) – Former police officer-turned Private Investigator… turned plastic man (or Elongated Man, if you will…) someway or other, he’s going to become a hero! … or at least someone who can be useful. Maybe.

Clifford DeVoe / The Thinker (Neil Sandilands) – DeVoe used the instability created by the particle accelerator explosion to greatly increase his intelligence… at the cost of his own body. Now, if only there was someway to fix that…

Amunet Black / Blacksmith (Katee Sackhoff) – A prolific arms dealer and general underground kingpin with the ability to control metal… and a really awful attempt at a British accent.

and many more!

The Good:

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Love the fact that they went full-on comicbook cheese with his look.

One thing the start of this season gets right that the previous didn’t is keeping a fun atmosphere while dealing with the dramatic. Key comic relief characters like Cisco are still fun and although it was poorly handled, Barry is soon his more laid back and fun self for most of the time (again, except when he needs to be serious, which is obviously fine!) Caitlin is back and her normal self, though can still turn “Killer Frost” if the story calls for it.

Another thing this season gets right is the lead villain. The Thinker is unlike the other lead villains in that he’s not a speedster, he’s got abnormally high intelligence and uses that as a weapon… well, that and a high-tech flying chair. When Barry and co. catch on to him but he manages to convincingly project a harmless persona to everyone but our lead hero was great fun to watch. It’s also nice that his backstory has already been shown (and a good, somewhat tragic backstory it is too) so there isn’t a lingering mystery to the villain this season either. The end of Episode 9, where DeVoe has transferred his mind to a new body and framed Barry for his old self’s murder is a great cliffhanger, though not without issues…

Another new thing this season is the introduction to the Elongated Man himself, Ralph Dibny, absolutely perfectly played by Hartley Sawyer. The down-on-his-luck and constantly sarcastic P.I. routine is done perfectly here, as is his reaction to having his powers. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes and generally looking forward to more of the character.

A bunch of new metahumans for the team to fight (or ally with) were created when Barry was pulled from the Speed Force in the first episode (all part of DeVoe’s plan!) and some of them have been good fun, especially Episode 3 “Luck be a Lady”, which sees normally unlucky Becky Sharpe gain the ability to have endless good luck, at the expense of everyone else around her. Also Episode 4 “Elongated Journey Into Night”, not only featured the debut of Dibny, but also had a really funny sub-plot with Cisco’s other-Earthly girlfriend turning up with her father, who’s actually a pretty crazy and psychopathic leader of the Collectors (the group his girlfriend works for) who doesn’t like anyone who dates his daughter… and is played by Danny Trejo! Great stuff!

Oh and Crisis on Earth-X was a fantastic cross-over that was featured in Episode 8 of this batch, but I covered the whole event as a separate article…

The Bad:

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Starbuck as an evil Mary Poppins, apparently…

So, it’s similar to what I said for the Supergirl first third review this TV season, when you have a show that always takes a break for six months, it can lead to some unsatisfactory pick-ups, but in this case Barry being trapped in the Speed Force and everyone having to get on with it made sense and was done well… until it took less than a single episode for Barry to return to normal and for him and Iris to start replanning their wedding as if the past six months never happened. I mean… at least give us an episode or two before everything returns to the status quo.

I have to say, the cliffhanger annoyed me slightly. So Barry Allen returns home, sees DeVoe’s body with a knife he had previous held stuck in it as the police knock, and he mutters to himself “don’t run” and lets himself get arrested. Erm… Huh? Just speedster the body to somewhere else! He had at least 30 seconds to a minute from when the police knocked to when they broke in, he could have easily avoided it in many different ways through many different exits and then stand right there and greet the police as they find nothing, then get on with fighting the new DeVoe. Makes no sense. It’s not like he wouldn’t be able to see Iris again if he hides the body in STAR Labs or where ever, in fact now he’s in prison he actually won’t get to see his new wife that often! What was he thinking?! *sigh*… anyway…

Poor Wally West… He was introduced, I said (to myself as it was pre-Blog) that it was too early for him to become Kid Flash, and sure enough, he’s constantly being written out of the show because having a second speedster around makes a lot of Barry’s fights too easy and lack jeopardy. I guess he has to hope that eventually the writers will figure out a way to have him hang around again…

Oh and I love that Katee Sackoff is back on my TV (ironically while I’m rewatching the rebooted Battlestar Galactica for the first time), but why she is putting on a bizarre and super over-the-top English voice I have no idea. It’s so Mary Poppins even Mary Poppins would think she’s having a laugh.

Overall Thoughts:

Flash S4 P1 3

Oh look! A picture of The Flash! Why not?

Despite a shaky, rushed opening episode and a pretty shit, nonsensical ending, this chunk of nine episodes was the freshest The Flash has felt in a good while. He not battling a mysterious speedster, his co-stars are acting like themselves and keeping the fun atmosphere, and generally it’s back to being a really fun 45 minutes each week. Hooray!

4 Star Watch

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