Tonight was the much anticipated Season 4 premiere of The CW’s hit show The Flash. I love the “CW DC Universe”, The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, etc. and at certain points over the last 3 years, The Flash was my favorite out of all of these shows ( I’m not crazy about Supergirl, but I do watch it). The Season 4 premiere is a bigger deal than usual because after 2 amazing seasons, Season 3 of The Flash was a much weaker show than previous seasons. So a lot of the viewers, myself included, were tuning in to see if The Flash got his grove back. The answer is… too soon to tell. I think we need to see a few more episodes before we can determine if the show has improved significantly over Season 3 and so far all the pieces seem to be there for a return to form. Having said that, Episode 1 of this season “The Flash Reborn” had some big problems.
Last season ended with Barry trapped in The Speed Force, possibly forever. The Speed Force exists outside time and space, so for characters like Iris, Joe, Cisco, and Wally it’s only been 6 months, but to Barry, millennia could have gone by. Kid Flash and Vibe (Wally and Cisco respectively) with Iris running the team out of S.T.A.R. Labs, have been protecting the city in Barry’ absence. That is until Cisco finds away to get Barry out of his Speed Force prison, but there’s something wrong with Barry when he returns. His brain is scrambled from all that time in another reality. There’s a lot I’m leaving out, but that’s pretty much the set up of the episode.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with Barry being brought back so quickly. Barry made a lot of mistakes over the last few seasons and had a lot to answer for. So this was a good way to give Barry some redemption and give the show a clean slate going into this new season. I’ve heard this season will be lighter in tone, closer to Seasons 1 and 2. Season 3 was pretty dark and that’s more Arrow’s territory.
The main issue that hurt this episode was the writing. I understand that Barry is the star of the show and they need to find a way to bring him back, but this just feels like lazy writing. A new generic villain comes to town and demands “Bring me The Flash or I’ll destroy Central City!” Wally and Cisco should have this easily covered. In the comics, Barry sacrifices himself to the Speed Force in a famous DC story that the show has been hinting at since the Pilot, which was similar to last year’s finale. Following Barry’s absence in the comics, Wally was The Flash for decades of storytelling. Arguably becoming a better and more beloved Flash than Barry Allen. In those stories, he managed to protect the city all by himself. He didn’t have Cisco AKA Vibe, one of the most powerful meta-humans on the planet, backing him up. Not to mention what’s left of the S.T.A.R. Labs team and Joe and the CCPD. Wally and Cisco should wipe the floor with this D-list villain!
I love Barry and I’m happy too see Grant Gustin back playing the character, but it feels like the show put almost no effort into crafting a believable and compelling reason for the team to pull him out of the Speed Force.
By the end of the episode we’re introduced to what we’ve been told is the “Big Bad” for the season, The Thinker. I’m the biggest comic book geek you could find. I’m literally surrounded by comics as I’m writing this (many of them Flash comics) and even I had to look up who the fuck this guy was.
I was thrilled when the show runners announced the Big Bad for the season was not a speedster (one season too late in my opinion). Reverse-Flash: the first and the best, Zoom: damn near close to Thawne as the shows best villain, Savitar: started off very weak, but ended strong. The Flash has the best villains in the DC Universe besides Batman. We finally get a season without a speedster and the best they can do is The Thinker?
Here’s a scenario: In the comics, villains like Captain Cold and Weather Wizard are known as The Rogues. In the show and the comics, Captain Cold and Mirror Master are rivals for control of The Rogues. So far The Rogues that are still alive and in play on the show include Captain Cold (technically dead, but that hasn’t stopped him before), Heat Wave, Mirror Master, The Top, Weather Wizard, Golden Glider, The Trickster, Magenta, Tar Pit, Pied Piper, and Captan Boomerang, and much more. Have them each pick sides: Cold or Mirror Master and do a full on Rogue War! That would be amazing and definitely large enough of a threat to take up a whole season. It’s like a mob war with super powers. Hell, with Caitlin’s power set and her intimate knowledge of the team’s strengths and weaknesses she could be a Big Bad all on her own. Hopefully The Thinker will exceed my expectations and we’ll have a really cool new villain (they’re off to a bad start though with his cheesy faux-futuristic lair though).
Despite my issues with the season 4 premiere of The Flash, there were some great parts. First, I forgot how much I missed this show and how much fun it is watching all of these characters together again. Seeing Cisco, Joe, Iris, and Wally trying to take down meta-humans and protect the city brought a smile to my face. One of the shows biggest strengths has always been it’s excellent VFX and one scene in particular where Barry is chasing the Robot Samurai that has Iris hostage (what a ridiculous sentence) was exceptional even by this show’s high standards. Oh and before I forget to mention it, I really dig the new costume. I love how it evolves a little each season.
All criticisms aside, it’s great to have The Flash back, warts and all. It seems like they learned from some of last seasons mistakes and hopefully we’ll reach the heights of the first two seasons again. I know I’ll be watching. Because a weak episode of The Flash is still a whole hell of a lot of fun.
EPISODE SCORE: 7 out of 10
Thanks for reading !