This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 4 Episode 3
Well, the good news about “Luck Be a Lady” is that the sudden pivot to all out Legends of Tomorrow style humor is still working. The jokes are funny. The tone is bouncy. This cast is extraordinarily well suited to rocketing from joke to joke, and their comic timing is impeccable. I need to get this out of the way up front, lest you all think that I have a problem with the new direction the show is taking.
The bad news is that “Luck Be a Lady” is our second consecutive disposable episode, featuring another low-grade villain of the week, one perhaps even less threatening and more nonsensical than Kilg%re. In past Flash seasons, our main threat was established early, and while there would always be a handful of disposable villains to set the table, we usually had an idea of the scale of the overall threat within a few episodes. I can’t get a read on The Thinker yet, although he certainly looks extremely cool, but when so far his only plan seems to be to throw half-assed metahumans at the team in order to get his chess game moving, it doesn’t really give me a lot to hang on to. I did enjoy opening on his narration, though, and hoped that would be a device throughout the episode.
I totally get why The Flash is taking a less serialized approach this season. The second half of season three was exhausting in that regard. Returning to the fun and humor of season one isn’t just a natural exercise, it’s the smart move. But like I said last week, the transition is a little too jarring. There were no real consequences to Barry’s time in the Speed Force other than this week’s questionable revelation about dark matter, buses, and metahumans and last week’s couples’ therapy excursion.
Hazard isn’t a particularly threatening villain, but of course that was never really the intent. She’s just an excuse to get Harry back on the team (and what a wonderful, welcome presence Tom Cavanagh is…it’s great to have him back), to illustrate the growing desperation of the impending West-Allen nuptials, and to explain a small portion of the Thinker’s mysterious plan. Sugar Lyn Beard is certainly fun, particularly in her two scenes with Grant Gustin (Barry’s “no way” headshake when she asks if he won’t arrest her is a perfect, perfect Flash moment), but the explanation for her probability manipulation powers is impenetrable even by sci-fi TV standards. They could have gotten away with it if so much time wasn’t spent on it, and the particle accelerator near-miss/disaster was just a bridge too far for my taste.
I probably would be a little easier on this episode if not for one thing: Wally’s departure. I can’t imagine this sits well with anybody, even if you don’t agree with my overall assessment of the quality of the episode. What were we supposed to feel in this moment? There’s been no indication that Wally has been conflicted about his role as Kid Flash. In fact, the impression has been quite the opposite. This felt perfunctory (I expect this was due to some other obligation), the character deserves better, and if they knew that Keiynan Lonsdale had a conflict coming that would make this necessary, then more time should have been spent setting this up in the previous two episodes. There’s one potential bright side to this, though, and I get into it down in the Flash Facts section, so don’t give up on me yet!
Look, please don’t mistake me for a hater. I love this show, and I certainly haven’t hated these episodes. This cast is too charming, and the writing of their characters is entirely too on point to try and pretend like I haven’t gotten some enjoyment out of these. Caitlin’s “we’re not done” to Harry was a genuine laugh, and it was far from the only one to be had. On the other hand, I found Iris’ “let’s get married right now” moment to be really irritating, and the jokes in that entire scene were really flat and on-the-nose.
But for the second week in a row, I feel like we missed a few episodes along the way. Both “Luck Be a Lady” and last week’s “Mixed Signals” would be perfectly appropriate installments used to break up a larger storyline, using a disposable villain to put the focus on the fun the show can have with its characters. But this early in the season, where the stakes haven’t been clearly established, characters like Kilg%re and Hazard make it feel like there are no stakes at all. And there are 10 more of these villains that Thinker is assembling? Oof.
I hope I’m wrong.
– OK, so a couple of cool things about Hazard. For one thing, she first appeared in a fave nearly forgotten DC Comics series of mine, Infinity Inc. Not just that, her first appearance is one of the earliest works of Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, who co-created her with DC Earth-2 master Roy Thomas.
In the comics, she’s the granddaughter of Stephen Sharpe, who was known as The Gambler (appropriately enough) and often faced off against Alan Scott, the golden age Green Lantern. I’ve long wondered if one of these shows (probably Legends of Tomorrow) could find an excuse to sneak Alan Scott onto our TVs, and while it’s not overly likely, I feel like Becky Sharpe is a step. Maybe.
Her blackjack dealer work uniform sure looks more than a little like her ridiculous comics garb, too.
– Blue Valley is where the comics version of Wally West grew up, so that’s kinda cool. But I have another sneaking suspicion, too…
…is there a chance he’s going to show up on the Titans TV series? I know that when these shows air on different networks it usually means they take place in different corners of the DC Multiverse, but taking Wally off the board here just as Titans is about to go into production seems a little too convenient, and Kid Flash is the only iconic member currently missing from that TV lineup. And it’s not like he isn’t experienced in traveling to different Earths…but maybe it won’t be necessary. After all, Arrow finally acknowledged the existence of Bruce Wayne in this world, so maybe Dick Grayson is around, too!
– Speaking of Batman, ready for a cool Batman connection? The version of Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady” has bandleader Nelson Riddle at the helm. Riddle, aside from having a cool name and having collaborated on some of Sinatra’s best and most fun work, also created much of the music for the 1966 Batman TV series.
– The “break up cube” being made of “shoddy Atlantean plastic” isn’t the first Earth-2 Atlantis reference we’ve had on this show, and I really hope we get a glimpse of it someday.
– We see “Algernon Arcade Supply” as the source of some of Barry’s woes. Aside from their cool Pac-Man-esque logo, I wonder if this is a hint at the TV version of the Thinker’s origin. Flowers For Algernon tells the story of a man who becomes brilliant, but there’s a price to be paid.
– The “bad luck pilot” sure looks a little a little like Capt. Chesley Sullenerger, who famously landed a plane on the Hudson River after a bird strike killed his engine. Also, Canada Geese are the absolute worst.
– Did…did The Thinker just say Becky Sharpe has a Myspace page? For real? It’s 2017. She’s supposed to be 24. This is nonsense.