ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 10.10.17
Everybody’s gone. And (almost) everybody’s back. In a Flash! (But seriously that sentence was a little more fun than this episode.🤣)
The State of the Flash Nation
It would be premature of me to say this, but the show with this first episode is officially trying too hard. But we’re just starting the fourth season, so I won’t pull that trigger. Yet.
I will say to read my review of last season’s finale before reading further.
Our opening status quo for this season premiere ep was action packed. Central City still needs protection and Barry is nowhere around. He’s still trapped in the Speed Force. (And for the record the Speed Force is not supposed to be antagonistic against Speedsters nor a prison. But anyway.) Wally is the only current speedster, and he and Cisco and Joe have teamed up to become….The F-Men! With Professor Iris Xavier being “in charge” now. Sure she is.
Yep just couldn’t take all that as seriously as I would’ve liked to. Know why? I’ll tell you why. Because exactly how does Iris qualify for that? They literally had her change personalities. She ALL OF A SUDDEN can coordinate tactical strikes of two metas and a human detective against super powered foes? How? From all her previous seasons of standing around and crying? 🙄 This was the first big example of trying too hard. As I explained to you before, this characterization of Iris only exists to be Barry’s love interest. She’s The Flash‘s Lana Lang. The end.
Doing the Best We Can
I loved the action sequence of them chasing PeekaBoo but the ending was a little improbable. She’d been jumping and then she decides to shoot them? Good thing Joe was right there. Anyways. (When they list all the actors in the opening credits it’s kind of a reveal squelcher.🤣) So “Team Kid Flash” (which ain’t nobody feelin’) is being chastised by Boss Iris who is clearly drunk with power and taking her bitter pills. Earth Two detective Iris West was more believable.
Blah blah blah Cecile and Joe.
Julian’s gone! Let the pigeons loose. We all rejoice. (I’m sure the writers and Tom Felton got the message.) Nobody liked Julian, and we liked him even less with Caitlin. And nobody believed that “love.” Not even Caitlin. But the real squash here is Iris trying to be “strong.” I think this is supposed to be her showing her pragmatic side, because “Barry told her to be strong.” She’s not the type of woman to “curl up in a ball and cry all day.” Yep, trying too hard again. To the point where it starts to make us believe what Cisco actually says later: she comes across like she doesn’t want Barry back. Yeah, you can’t have that layer AND expect us to believe that she’s the love of his life. Because the love of your life would never act that way. The way Iris felt about Eddie is what they want us to believe she feels about Barry. But it’s still, still not working.
Notice that Joe says Iris “stepped up at S.T.A.R. Labs.” I TOLD you she didn’t have a job as a reporter or a career as a journalist. Did she just walk away from all that to become leader of the Doom Patrol? Give me a break and not the Kit Kat kind.
So McFooNay the Samurai (Cisco’s still got it) is looking for the actual Flash. And the city’s gonna pay the price if he doesn’t get him. Wally’s Japanese here was a nice touch. Totally rando, but still nice. We later find out what the Samurai is, but not how that sword works. Hmmm.
And just like that, Cisco reveals his fears for the city’s safety. And the secret plan he’s been working on to bring Barry back.
Now wait just a minute.
Everything about that reveal just happens too fast and too matter-of-factly. None of Team-Barry’s-Gone communicated the weight of what the last six months has been like. From Iris’ opening monologue to Cisco’s plan, they made it feel like no time has passed at all. They said the words, but there’s no emotional weight there. And Iris is cynically ripping into the flaws of Cisco’s plan with no mercy. Again, what is the goal here for her as a character? She’s showing nothing but disdain and disrespect for her team, and a total lack of hope that Barry would ever return. She talks to all of them like they’re nothing but a bunch of stupid idiots for even considering that Barry could return. Yeah, that’s not Iris West (who in the comics is FROM THE FUTURE). That’s J. Jonah Jameson. I didn’t think it was possible for Iris to become more unlikable. I was wrong.
Aaaaand just like that, Cisco finds Caitlin. Do they get that there is absolutely no tension and release in this approach? They don’t even react to each other like they’ve been apart for half a year. Get used to that. It comes up again later.
This whole Caitlin is a bartender thing just feels like an excuse for them to get Danielle in some tight clothes to be honest. Is she a biker chick now? How? Why? We get some more clues later, but I’ll get to that in a minute. It feels disingenuous to the character, and to she and Cisco’s relationship. I think that choker necklace she’s wearing is an inhibitor collar of some kind but we’ll see. Her one-eyed boyfriend almost starts a fight with Francesca so we know we’ll be seeing him again later. And Caitlin is non-plussed about it all. That’s not the woman of heart that we’ve known. But okay. And she gets talked back onto Team Find Barry in less than five minutes. Ugh.
Move on, apparently
Said it before and I’ll say it again: Cisco loves Barry more than Iris does. Caitlin shows up still wearing her I’m Bad jacket from the Michael Jackson video and eeks out an apology to Joe. And just like that, he forgives her. *sigh* No tension. No release.
So they’re on the field where Barry first tested his powers. I want to pause here and say, this is where it became clear to me that they are trying to recapture the magic of Season 1. That’s as plain as day now. But they don’t get it. They can’t. They have put both us and the characters through far too much. That innocence and light-heartedness and optimism isn’t coming back. And we no longer believe that the show will resolve any of its story lines in an emotionally satisfying way. Or with any logic. Do they remember the Season 3 finale?? This isn’t the same show, no matter how much they try and wink to the greatness that was Season 1.
Best Laid Plans
How this should’ve gone? It should’ve been much harder to even FIND Barry, no less just pull him out of the Speed Force, especially the way they’ve presented the Speed Force to us in the past. But it works, the first time. The only wrinkle is that Barry doesn’t show up on the field where they activate the gun. He shows up naked, downtown. Then he speeds to a country road and passes out. Okay then.
At this exact point in the show, we’ve gotten precisely what they were going for: a complete reset. Which means there’s very little tension left, if any. The best thing that happens all episode is the ramping up of Barry’s powers. I called it on Twitter though; I knew he wasn’t going to train, they were just going to leap him there. And that’s exactly what they did.
Because they don’t get that what we as the audience wanted?
Was to actually see the journey.
We wanted to see and participate with Barry as he grew into greater levels of power. But nope. He’s gone six months, he’s pulled back in less than five minutes by a gizmo that works the first time, and he’s super fast. And super bubbly as soon as we get passed the Bearded Beautiful Mind scenes. I especially didn’t like Iris snapping at Caitlin. Caitlin was trying to help bring the man she loved back, and she clapped back at Cait like she was an AWOL soldier. That’s something Batman would say. Someone who’s fighting their own personal war. Iris hasn’t earned a sliver of that.
Stars Melting like Ice Cream
Two things happened with Barry’s gibberish if you were paying attention. Barry was living his whole life at once in the Speed Force. Being pulled back into linear time is what threw him into that confused state. But the show was also hinting at storylines to come. “Your honor, I’m innocent. I didn’t kill anyone.” In the comics Barry went on trial after he killed Zoom. (See the comic link below.) “I’m just not like you, Oliver” will probably be said in the crossover ep. There were signs in that super speed babble of things to come. Also, if I’d have written this episode I would’ve had Barry talking at super speed literally.
Also I was done when they fired up Poker Face. That didn’t have the effect that they wanted, at least not on me.
And again, Barry’s line about “We’re gonna need more diapers?” guaranTEE you that will be spoken when he and Iris get the news about her having the Tornado Twins.
Blah blah blah Iris’ impassioned plea. I felt nothing. Her just switching emotional states so rapidly is just…just no. So Caitlin uses a freeze gun and aGAIN is faster than a speedster. Wally gets his butt handed to him aGAIN by Samurai. And Wallster gets his leg impaled aGAIN. Okay.
Caitlin should be amputating, but that speedster metabolism saves Wally aGAIN. Because he still hasn’t figured out that he’s not a Jedi yet. Best moment of the show is that quick tenderness between Caitlin and Cisco. Along with “Great Caesar’s Ghost” and “Excelsior!” But again, even though Dr. Snow is Hardcore Street Caitlin now, it still feels like she was never gone.
“She goes looking for danger.” That’s a future Barry-Iris-Joe line too. But at least Joe shaves Barry and Slightly Emo Barry is back. Then Joe preaches a straight up sermon! A sermon about faith to Iris. He mentioned a priest and homiletics so I’m assuming Joe went to a Catholic parish with Cecile. Now those that know me know I’m a Protestant Christian, so I was all good with it…but they were certainly hitting those of differing or no religious beliefs squarely over the head. It was so heavy-handed, I was like, whoa! If the CW has turned into the Christian Works station that’s cool, but they might alienate some of their audience.
Come Get Me
I didn’t catch what Iris said on the first watch through, but it was “come get me.” She was programming Barry I suppose. I dunno, I still think that someone that lost their fiancé would be acting differently than Iris has been this whole episode.
And then she marches right up to Samurai and surrenders because she “knows Barry will come get her.”
*sigh* That was a real Felicity-confronts-Ra’s-al-Ghul-moment to me. It was not only monumentally stupid, but heavily tactically dangerous for the police. And for Iris herself. What if the cops had opened fire? Samurai had proven himself to be a credible threat. It’s at this moment they might as well have put “Look at how strong Iris the Magnificent is” on the TV screen. This was also the strongest try-too-hard moment of the whole show.
Let me state, for the record, that being “strong” =/= “doing stupid things in a false show of bravado.” Being “strong” is also =/= “being so rude to your team you’re unstomachable.” Just had to state that for the record. So Sammy the Swordsman flies off with Iris the Virus and we all know what’s going to happen next.
I’m not a damsel in distress but rescue me because reasons
We know what they were going for here. They were trying to show that Iris being in danger would snap Barry out of anything. That she’s his anchor. His reason. The Lois to his Clark, or more accurately, the Linda to his Wally.
Nope. Candice and Grant just do not have the chemistry for us to believe that. And the way Iris is written, no one would ever believe she loves this man. Iris always just seems to have something to prove. Doesn’t make us care as an audience.
Let me also state for the record that Barry’s S3 moment with Caitlin, challenging her to kill and talking her down? Had more impact. Because there is actual love there. And actual chemistry between Grant and Danielle.
Did anybody else think that abrupt takeoff should’ve snapped Iris’ neck? Maybe that was just me.
As if there was any doubt as to how this was going to play out. Joe yells at Barry that Iris is danger, and somehow it cuts through the haze and SuperFlash is back baybeh! They say he’s so fast now, they’ve never seen anyone move like that. Ummm…does that include Zoom and Thawne? Just wondering. So again, with Barry being officially booted and suited in the premiere, it feels like he never left. He beats Samurai with some sweet moves and discovers he’s an android. Hmmmm. Also. Flash got super leaps! It was like the Teen Titans up in that mug!
Blah blah blah Barry and Iris reunite. It’s not epic, it was just trying to be.
I’d like a Urine Sample
I think they really thought that this scene would make us feel Season 1 Team Flashy again. But it didn’t. And even when Danielle says Caitlin’s now snarkier lines, she still says them really sweetly. So everybody snaps back into place. Barry’s reborn! Yeah that’s a big wink to DC Rebirth but of course it is.
So we finally get to the only storyline (aGAIN) that is remotely interesting, or has any mystery or tension, which is Caitlin’s. Seems like she’s been working as Killer Frost for a hidden crime boss, and now she wants out. But this scene makes it seem as if the Killer Frost side of her is still Jekyll n’ Hiding its way around in her body. It was fun to see the Ice Queen, but…doesn’t that just reset her to Season 3 status? Like Caitlin’s fighting to keep Killer Frost under control? They’re sharing the same body but vying for dominance. Didn’t we play that storyline out already? She even para-quotes the Hulk line from the Bill Bixby TV show: “Don’t make me frosty(angry). You wouldn’t like me when I’m frosty.” *sigh* Oh well. Let’s hope we get some answers this time. But I’m not holding my breath on that one.
Mind over Muscle
Two lovers reunited like Barry and Iris were would jump into bed and make love all night until they got their fill. They wouldn’t be talking. But Barry has to speak of his magical soul reset, so okay.
So we get the final scene. They’re trying to mimic Season 1 again. The Thinker built the Samurai specifically to get Flash back into Central City. We’d better see his endgame plans pretty soon or it’ll be another season of waiting for the villain to make his move, and it’ll be stupid, and all we’ll care about is Caitlin Frost anyway.
Like I said in last year’s season finale review, I knew that Barry would be back in episode 1. But the only reason I knew is because they’re afraid to take real chances on this show. If you think about it, the only things that have stuck and really made a difference since Flashpoint are Caitlin’s powers and Dante’s death. And Cisco has already healed from that and is always more concerned about Barry than anyone else. They most definitely are trying to restore the lighter tone, but you can’t have that and Killer Frost running around wreaking havoc. We want to see more of her, and we want answers as to exactly why she’s evil, conflicted, and why her powers turn her bad when that almost never happens to any other meta. Other than the return of Harry and some new version of Wells, and maybe Tracy, what else are we anticipating? Think about it. Is there any other character that we have burning questions about besides Caitlin?