This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 4 Episode 22
What an incredible turnaround from the insipid nonsense of “Harry and the Harrisons” to this week’s opening moments. The first few minutes of “Think Fast” were the best looking, most imaginative, downright cinematic of the entire season. For the first time all year we got a true sense of the scope of DeVoe’s powers, and the genuine menace that Neil Sandilands can project as the character. Excellent special effects, an truly inventively staged action sequence, and finally, DeVoe felt like a villain worthy of this show.
It was great.
And then it all went to hell. Again.
All that goodwill was immediately squandered by the show’s insistence on playing Harry’s mental decline for nothing but laughs in another seemingly endless sequence of alleged comedy, centering on Iris’ “all-important” blog…which ends up not even being all that important. This is a beloved character played by a series regular who is integral to the fabric of the show. But Harry’s arc is perplexing. It’s not particularly tragic, and the humor isn’t funny. How are we supposed to feel about this? Because the only thing I feel is annoyed, especially when he’s walking around bellowing for “West-Allen.”
As if this wasn’t enough, we’re then brought into another therapy session, this time involving Caitlin. There is no well more dry than the “superhero in therapy and the therapist is trying to offer straight diagnoses for extraordinary problems” gag. This whole thing was barely funny when it was couples’ therapy early in the season, and the fact that we’re still spending time here in the second to last episode of the season is astounding.
And once again, as it was last week, Caitlin’s pining for Killer Frost is simplistic nonsense and a disservice to the journey we’ve seen this character take over the last four years. I fear that whatever nonsensical addition to her origin story we were teased with tonight will only serve to undermine Caitlin’s character even further.
And then there is Cecile, a formerly great character, played by a talented actress. Cecile is saddled with the most excruciating scenes and dialogue of the entire season in this episode. Her meta powers have been a perplexing irritant since day one, and we were saddled with no fewer than three “comedy” scenes with her in this episode, including an agonizingly unfunny moment with a pizza delivery guy.
I hate singling out characters and performances like this. The Flash is built on its strong cast. But the weaknesses of this season were apparent from early on. The show doesn’t seem equipped to deliver 23 episodes that try to lean as heavily on comedy as this season has. What’s worse, it’s pretty obvious that there were barely 13 episodes of actual story to be had this year, and we’re left with episodes like these most recent two, which have to fill their middle acts with confused rambling.
There are a few things that save this episode, though. The intro, which I already discussed, is one. Barry’s initial work training Cisco and Caitlin in the ways of flashtime made for a nice visual, and was a nice symbol of how interconnected this cast is and how the show relies on everyone to be their best (hence my annoyance at their treatment of Caitlin this year).
But the other was Cisco giving Barry a much needed and long overdue airing out. Barry has been a little unfocused this year, and he doesn’t really have the right to be making the kinds of decisions he was about to make on behalf of Cisco and Caitlin here. Cisco rightfully handed Barry his ass, and it works doubly well since he is the only character in our core cast who has managed to escape the lows of this season unscathed. Carlos Valdes, once again, is this show’s rock, and it’s a terrific performance, full of underplayed anger.
Unfortunately, once we get back to the big plan and what DeVoe has been up to this whole time, I had nearly forgotten about that brilliant intro. It still feels like we’re getting ready for a video game boss fight, which is never a great sign when you’re trying to set up compelling superhero/supervillain battles.
I really hope this show is able to pull it together for the season finale. The Flash has always managed to come up with a compelling final hour, and I have faith that they’ll be able to do it again. But it’ll have to be something really special to change the narrative surrounding this season.