The Flash ended what has been a very long season four. Baz Greenland steps in to discuss the climatic finale.
I’ve stepped in to cover the season three finale of The Flash while usual reviewer Steven is on holiday. One thing that has been very clear this year, is that all the Arrowverse shows could do with a reduced, more focused episode count and that has been most apparently with The Flash. While there have been moments of fun that dared to capture the heights of the first season and Neil Sandilands’ DeVoe has proven to be a formidable villain, the good has been lost under a somewhat tedious, drawn out 23-episode run.
Caitlin’s acceptance, loss and desire to reunite with Killer Frost amounted to nothing. The whole trial of Barry Allen was a dull farce (seriously Cecile is possibly with worst lawyer on television). And talking of Danielle Nicolet’s character, the random meta powers were just plain irritating at times. Even Devoe, starting off with so much promise took far too long to deliver his master plan – but hey, at least he wasn’t a speedster. Perhaps Wally West had the right idea, speeding across to the far superior Legends of Tomorrow, which is notable for a lesser episode count to the other big three shows.
But what about the finale? Well it was mostly fun and delivered an intriguing premise – Barry using Cecile’s powers and enemy-turned-ally Marlize’s technological skills to enter DeVoe’s mind. There were nods to Inception and The Matrix trilogy, though the execution didn’t quite reach those heights, but it did give us the return of Hartley Sawyer as Ralph Dibny, AKA Elongated Man.
He might be a bit of a marmite character for the show, but I thought his introduction and continued presence have given an energy and sense of fun to The Flash season three where it was otherwise lacking. His death – while inevitable – was heartfelt and I honestly wasn’t sure how the show could realistically bring him back (at least in terms of the show’s narrative). But I actually found his ‘resurrection’ satisfying, trapped in Devoe’s mind so that the villain could control his body and then working with the Flash to travel through the Hellmouth (nice Buffy The Vampire Slayer reference) to retake control of his body and destroy DeVoe from the inside.
The whole multiple DeVoes / Agent Smith wannabes actually felt a little pedestrian (though I loved Barry using Ralph as a slingshot), but perhaps that was a problem with the whole trip into the villain’s mind. For someone so powerful and malevolent, I was expecting more than just a tour of the set pieces already visited in flashbacks. Still, it worked to credibly destroy DeVoe; I even bought the love for Ralph was something the villain couldn’t comprehend speech for the team.
There was a great sense of action throughout the episode, from the impending destruction of everyone’s minds, to Marlize zapping the team through pocket universe to stay one step ahead of her husband, while Cecile struggled not to give birth. The falling satellite added a shot of drama to the episode’s climax, though Marlize switching off the chair a dying DeVoe had activated felt a little anticlimactic given his intelligence.
The emotional heart was actually the deterioration of Wells; his farewell to Sisko as he wore the thinking cap for the last time was heartbreaking. Marlize saving him was a nice twist, as was the change in his character; no longer as highly intelligent as he was before but more emotionally grounded, there was something lovely in his final farewell hug to the team; the change of personality has allowed The Flash to continue its tradition of having a different version of Wells each season while still keeping the character alive.
But for all the action and drama, there was also a sense of wanting to get it all over and done with. While DeVoe might have been a formidable villain at times, We Are The Flash didn’t have the emotional drama in previous season finales and I ended season four without the excitement for next season. Even the surprise reveal of Barry and Iris’s speedster daughter hasn’t really hooked me for season five. But perhaps a break will be good. When The Flash is great it is really great, but outside episode like Flashtime, it really achieved its potential this season. Hopefully season five will be a bit more fun and energetic; I’m just hoping they make Hartley Sawyer a series regular.
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