Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 26, 2018)
More adventures of the World’s Fastest Human head our way via Season Four of The Flash. This four-disc set includes 26 episodes, a run that also features crossover programs from other DC series. The plot synopses come from IMDB.
The Flash Reborn: “Barry (Grant Gustin) is brought out of the Speed Force to help fight an armored villain, but he isn't the same person.”
With the Flash lost in another dimension at the end of Season Three, “Reborn” needs to take a largely expository tone in its attempts to bring him back to normal. It’s a perfectly competent effort in that regard, one that doesn’t seem especially memorable but it does what it needs to do.
Mixed Signals: “Barry deals with the ramifications of abandoning Iris (Candice Patton) while facing a meta who can control technology (Dominic Burgess).”
“Signals” continues the season with another perfectly adequate show. The new villain seems mildly intriguing but not more, and the plot doesn’t add a lot of spark. Still, it’s a decent episode that comes with no obvious flaws.
Luck Be a Lady: “A new meta called Hazard (Sugar Lyn Beard) causes bad luck for Barry and the team. Harry Wells (Tom Cavanagh) returns to Earth-1.”
Though she reminds me a little too much of Deadpool’s Domino, Hazard adds a fun new villain, mainly because she seems so improbable. Beard makes her endearing despite her semi-evil orientation, and her presence helps turn this into a good show.
Elongated Journey Into Night: “Gypsy's (Jessica Camacho) father Breacher (Danny Trejo) takes an immediate disliking to Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and decides to hunt him. Barry runs into his old nemesis, Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer).”
After Hazard, it seems a little soon to concentrate on another meta who leans comedic ala Dibny. Despite that semi-redundant feel, “Night” works well in its own right and helps develop the season’s overall narrative nicely.
Girls Night Out: “Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) fears that her past time as Killer Frost may be back to haunt her. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) helps celebrate Iris's bachelorette party, while Barry is taken out for a night on the town.”
Arguably the weakest actor on Flash, Panabaker makes Caitlin and Killer Frost characters who disappoint. Her prominence here means “Out” becomes a lackluster episode, and “drunk Flash” doesn’t help.
When Harry Met Harry…: “When Native American artifact collectors are attacked by a meta who can bring inanimate objects to life, Barry turns to a surprising ally for help. Harry enlists Cisco's help to determine the identity of the Thinker (Neil Sandilands).”
After the largely lousy “Girls”, S4 rebounds nicely with “Met”. The scenes with Harry’s doppelgangers amuse well, and the main plot accelerates events in a solid manner. All of this adds to a better than average episode.
Therefore I Am: “Barry comes face to face with DeVoe, whose past is revealed through flashbacks.”
We’ve gotten glimpses of Thinker/DeVoe throughout the season, but only hints of his capabilities and desires. “Therefore” explains a lot of this material in a positive manner and helps advance the season’s narrative in a satisfying way.
Crisis On Earth-X, Parts 1-4: “The gang comes together for Barry and Iris's wedding, but the ceremony is crashed by villains from Earth-X.”
“Crisis” spans four episodes, each from a different series. “Part 1” appears in Season Three of Supergirl, “Part 2” comes from Season 6 of Arrow, “Part 3” brings us to Flash and “Part 4” stems from Season Three of Legends of Tomorrow.
That’s a pretty ambitious undertaking, and one that may bring minor spoilers for those of us who’ve not yet seen those other seasons, mainly via personal relationships. These don’t feel like egregious reveals, though.
In terms of story elements, “Crisis” tends toward the sloppy side of the street. It throws a ton at us and not all of it makes a bunch of sense.
Nonetheless, the “crossover event” manages a lot of good action, and it keeps us with it across the four episodes. While this doesn’t become a great package of shows, it offers pretty solid entertainment.
Don’t Run: “Amunet (Katee Sackhoff) kidnaps Caitlin and forces her to perform a tricky medical task. The Thinker traps the Flash in a speedster-proof prison.”
After the long detour of “Crisis”, we return to S4’s main narrative via “Run”. It focuses more on Caitlin/Killer Frost than I’d like, but it also offers some juicy story developments, and those become enough to make this an effective program.
The Trial of the Flash: “Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris must decide how far they're willing to go to keep Barry out of prison as his trial for the murder of Clifford DeVoe begins.”
“Trial” leans heavily on melodrama, and that becomes a liability. A new villain adds some intrigue, but the silliness of the court scenes makes this a mediocre show.
The Elongated Knight Rises: “A familiar villain returns to terrorize Central City. Ralph must rise up to defend the innocent while Barry is detained in jail.”
Maybe the “Barry in prison” plot line will become interesting eventually, but so far it just feels like a gimmick. At least that side of the season allows Ralph to come to the fore, which he does pretty well. Prank and Trickster feel like Batman villains, but they still add some fun to the proceedings.
Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash: “The team battle a meta who can shrink anything he touches. Cecile's (Danielle Nicolet) pregnancy gives her temporary powers.”
“Barry in prison” continues to be a drag, but the other story elements fare better. Cecile’s new powers prove surprisingly entertaining, and though predictable, the “tiny team members” bits seem enjoyable. The pros outweigh the cons overall.
True Colors: “Amunet makes a deal to buy all of the metahumans in Iron Heights, so Barry must decide if he should expose his powers to save his cellmates.”
Admittedly, the “metas for sale” theme adds spice to Barry’s incarceration. Nonetheless, I look forward to his freedom, as I find Barry’s time as an outlaw to be tedious. At least the combination of metas and Ralph’s new skill makes the episode mostly fun.
Subject 9: “Barry meets a powerful woman (Miranda MacDougall) whose abilities could help him in his battle with DeVoe.”
The new meta offers an intriguing element, though I might like her just because MacDougall’s really hot. Other aspects seem less enchanting, though I’m happy Barry’s fully out of jail.
Enter Flashtime: “Barry, Jessie Quick (Violett Beane) and Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) slow down time when a nuclear bomb detonates in downtown Central City.
Three times the speedsters, three times the fun? Honestly, “fun” isn’t the right word for “Enter”, mainly because it follows a more somber, dramatic path than usual. It does pretty well in that regard, as it offers an engaging tale with some emotional impact.
Run, Iris, Run: “Iris is given Barry's speed when the team fights a bus meta (Leonardo Nam) who has the ability to swap people's DNA.”
The “power-lifting meta” boasts potential, but too much of “Run” focuses on Iris’s own inner drama. That makes the episode feel a little too much like an “Afterschool Special” and it doesn’t become a consistently strong episode.
Null and Annoyed: “Barry and Ralph try to find the remaining bus metas, but clash over what it means to be a hero. Breacher returns to ask Cisco for a favor.”
Kevin Smith visits the director’s chair for “Null”, and that means a cameo from Jay and Silent Bob. Outside of that cute element, “Null” feels like a decent episode at best. While it boasts reasonable entertainment, it never quite connects.
Lose Yourself: “Barry and the team find a way into the Thinker's lair. Ralph considers crossing a dangerous line to defeat him. Joe is concerned by Harry's recent behavior.”
Though it touches on some serious topics, “Lose” manages a good balance of comedy and drama. The new meta becomes unusually entertaining, and the show advances the overall narrative well.
Fury Rogue: “When Barry needs help transporting a dangerous meta, he calls on an old friend for help: Leo Snart AKA Citizen Cold (Wentworth Miller). Meanwhile, Cisco becomes suspicious of Harry.”
When the episode sticks with action, it works fine. Unfortunately, it delves into psychobabble related to grief too often. Some shows could pull off those themes, but not Flash, so this ends up as an inconsistent show.
Therefore She Is: “Barry and Team Flash team up with Gypsy to try to thwart Thinker's plan. Meanwhile, Cisco and Gypsy have a heart to heart talk about their relationship.”
“Therefore” gives us the backstory behind the DeVoe/Marlize relationship, a development that seems interesting in theory but less effective in reality. The Cisco/Gypsy bits also become tedious, so the emphasis on couples turns this into a mediocre episode.
Harry and the Harrisons: “The Flash and his team put their faith in an unlikely ally, Amunet Black, to defeat DeVoe. Harry hits an all-time low when the ‘Council of Wells’ kicks him out but then Cisco introduces him to the ‘Council of Harrisons.’”
With little time left in S4, it feels like we should ramp up the tension and action. Instead, “Harry” continues the recent emphasis on touchy-feely emotional areas. Again, these add a little depth but they lean cheesy and make the show less than engaging.
Think Fast: “DeVoe assaults an ARGUS facility to complete his Enlightenment Machine. Barry is reluctant to risk his friends' lives and considers taking on DeVoe solo.”
As S4 heads toward its conclusion, “Fast” heats things up – sort of. It seems oddly unfocused for an episode that intends to lead to the big finale, partly because of the season’s continued affection for “love will conquer all” themes. Still, the sight of Cecile as she channels others’ personalities amuses.
We Are the Flash: “The team gets help from a surprising ally in their battle against DeVoe.”
Given the themes of previous shows, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the finale leans touchy-feely. This doesn’t make it a bad show – and the return of a “dead” character adds spark – but it seems like a lackluster end to the year.
Overall, S4 provides reasonable entertainment, but the main narrative simply never becomes all the involving, as the Thinker remains a bland villain. I like The Flash an find enough good material to endorse S4, but it’s not as good as I expect from the series.