Part of this review may be a rant (Okay, most of it is a rant) because this is a show that has so much potential to be amazing and it keeps letting me down. The first season was so “great”, the second season was “good”, but this season is more “okay”. Due to some questionable decisions this season of The Flash took a bit of a step back in quality, making me worried about the future of the show. Be warned, I will delve into spoilers!
It’s called Flashpoint, apparently.
This season started off with a bang: Flashpoint. The big issue here was that Barry only spent an episode in Flashpoint, which I still find odd. There were certainly other episodes down the line that felt very “filler”, so it would have been nice to spend two or three episode with Barry dealing with his life in this alternate reality. However, I am a big fan of the second episode “Paradox”. This episode mainly dealt with the fallout of Barry messing with time. I found it an incredibly powerful episode, and Grant Gustin gave a fantastic performance when he told the rest of Team Flash how he has changed all of their lives.
The problem here is that too many episodes do not focus much on the ramifications of Flashpoint. In that episode Iris and Joe are not speaking, Cisco is angry at Barry, and it is revealed that Caitlin has powers. It does not take much time before Iris and Joe are back to how they were last season, and the whole situation with Cisco was very much on and off throughout the season. I am glad that they did not forget about it, but most of the time the season felt like “business as usual”. The biggest game-changer of Flashpoint (Other than Savitar) is Caitlin turning into Killer Frost. Unfortunately, the show did not know what to do with her. They introduced more of a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” nature to Caitlin and Killer Frost’s relationship, but it never quite worked. In the end she became stuck as Killer Frost, but now she is not evil anymore. She need to “find herself”. On the one hand I am glad they are finally giving Danielle Panabaker something to do other than become involved with a new guy (even though they did do that with her and Julian), but on the other hand what they ended up doing with her was not very good. As the season went on and the “big bad” was revealed more problems with the show arose.
I am the Future Flash
Savitar was revealed early on in the season (his character, not his identity), but everything about him felt so complicated. When it was eventually revealed that he is a time remnant of Barry Allen the show did not know how to properly explain that. The writers basically said “Yeah he is just a product of Flashpoint, stuck in a closed time loop”. To me that is just lazy writing that really wastes an interesting idea. Savitar’s plan in general is questionable. Last season Zoom had a plan that did not make much sense and the same can certainly be said with Savitar. Part of the reason why he is a weak villain is that they took far too long to reveal his true identity. The reveal was interesting, but I would be lying if I said I was not surprised. I thought Barry was Savitar since the Christmas episode. Now perhaps the biggest problem I have with this season is that they opted not to kill off Iris. I absolutely loved the penultimate episode, “Infantino Street”. It had a perfect mix of humor and drama, which ended on a moving send off for Iris. However, in the finale they quickly undid that by revealing that HR had switched places with her.
It is a clever twist, but it makes much more sense from a storytelling perspective to have just kept Iris dead. It would have tested each of our characters in ways we have yet to see, and it would have made the entire second half of the season a bit more memorable. There is something tragically beautiful about knowing the future but being unable to change it at all. This would have been a great lesson for Barry so that he does not meddle with the timeline in the future. Barry is paying for his mistakes by voluntarily going into the speed force, but I doubt he will be there very long. I think Iris’s death would have been an appropriate direction to send the show. Overall, I found the finale to be rather lackluster. Savitar did not prove to be much of a threat, Killer Frost is off finding herself, and Barry decided to calmly enter the speed force when the entire city is being attacked by lightning. Now despite everything I have said, this is not a bad season. It still did a lot with side characters like Cisco and Wally. It introduced some cool new villains and even had several great episodes.
Even after all this, I am looking forward to the upcoming season of The Flash (although, perhaps not as eagerly as before). I hope in the next season they take more risks with their narrative instead of these “half-measures”. Keep Barry trapped in the speed force for a couple of episode, do not have a speedster as the main villain again (they said they would not, but I will believe it when I see it), and do not be afraid to take a more dramatic approach. While I love the levity this show is known for, there is plenty of drama as well. I hope in the future the show takes more chances instead of taking the easier road.