The Flash: 4.02 Mixed Signals
As enjoyable as the last episode was, it wasn’t without flaws, failing to capitalise on the dynamic change from previous climaxes and leaving unanswered questions. Moving on to episode two , Mixed Signals, it’s clear, the writers are attempting to bring back the light hearted tone from seasons past. The characters have reverted back to being humorous and generally more upbeat; this is a hugely welcome change I hope they stick with for the remainder of this series.
Jumping straight into the action, a wealthy man enters a lift after casually purchasing an incredibly pricy penthouse but something’s goes wrong as he’s flung several storeys up and down to his ultimate death. Enter Barry as his CSI alter ego along with Joe, Cisco and the Boss, immediately here was a scenario to explain Barry’s absence from work, explained simply as an extended sabbatical which was fine although left the question as to who filled in for the past 6 months (I guess that’s a topic for another episode, new character perhaps?). We’re then treated to our villain of the week ‘KILG%RE’ a meta-human who control’s technology bending it to his will, a terrifying mystery that’s left in the hands of Cisco and Caitlin.
Next we’re given an up close view of the Flash’s new suit that was briefly introduced last week, and wow …….. what a disappointment, it’s simply brighter and riddled with pointless tech. The previous suit was fine but I suppose the change is necessary otherwise ‘KILG%RE’ wouldn’t be able to challenge The Flash one on one. Small nit-pick to point out, Cisco gives Barry the instruction manual for the new suit (huge file, stupid!), after glancing at it Barry says “I’ll look at it later” insinuating it’s too long, yet in previous scenes we’ve seen him read and watch content just as quickly as he runs, so why not read it in 5 seconds, understand and give opinion of the suit etc. (of course I’m well aware why, it just bugged me).
Adding to the new light hearted fun tone was the emphasis on Barry’s increased power. Together with disassembling a moving car and catching shrapnel from an exploding grenade he’s obviously super-fast and though our villain may not be able to directly defeat the Flash these small scenes demonstrate how the team will be (hopefully) tested to their limit as their desire to save lives is constantly exploited.
The show then slows down concentrating on relationships throughout the group. We learn more about Cisco’s love life with Gypsy which offered both humour and a new side to the supporting cast. More importantly is Barry and Iris’ couples therapy, although playing to the usual clichés a little too much, this subplot provided further development into their relationship as there’s no way everything was hunky dory after a 6 month absence. There was a nice balance of humour, heart and emotion while keeping the main episode’s tone unaffected, to that I say well done.
Onto the final confrontation between KILG%RE and the Flash (oh and ‘Kid Flash’ believe it or not), it’s this moment when the new capabilities of the suit are exploited and shown to the audience. Although somewhat comical for Barry’s suit to become his enemy, it appears the show is trying to emulate successful superhero movies, with the likes of Iron Man and Spiderman’s suit technology copied, not to mention the pulse cannon that looked identical to Iron Man in every way. This comes across as uninventive and not what the show has ever been about. Hopefully this was a satirical look at those tropes and not something that’ll remain.
The final scene establishes The Thinker’s motives, surprisingly it looks like this week’s villain wasn’t a child of the particle accelerator, instead created or at least tracked down by The Thinker. Along with this we see a monitor consisting of 12 boxes one showing KILG%RE in Iron Heights (prison), one would assume this is teasing a further 11 villains before the true turmoil begins for team Flash.
Overall a highly enjoyable episode showing the old light hearted dynamic being re-established, the team are more upbeat and playful with one another. Cisco especially is firmly back to his humorous self, and Barry’s general attitude is more uplifting, remaining optimistic about situations and having fun being a superhero rather than being overly emotional, continually blaming himself for every action and decision. Caitlin took a back seat however a small clip of her struggling to keep ‘Killer Frost’ at bay was both interesting and sparked curiosity.Unfortunately issues are never too far behind; the main irritation surrounds Wally’s diminishing importance in the group since Barry’s return. This episode showed him little respect (no new suit), treated as a second rate hero (Barry not accepting his help or appreciating the work done in his absence) and shown to be worthless by being nothing more than the villain’s punching bag.
There is much about this episode that could have been improved but this series general direction (so far) shows increasing promise and something that I look forward to seeing develop.