After the dour depressing atmosphere of season three, producers promised that they would right the ship and get back to season one era fun with season four of The Flash. Three episodes in it’s clear that for the moment they are succeeding at that mission. When fans hear that a show wants to recapture it’s past after numerous seasons of growth it can be seen as a downside, but man did this show need it. Just like the episode the week before this new episode is funnier and brighter than the series has been in some time and it’s more than welcome to stay that way.
Bringing back the Earth 2 version of Harrison “Harry” Wells back, unfortunately to bring Wally some bad news at first, is a great move because it’s a Wells that we know. Seeing the various versions of Wells from other worlds was fun but not sustainable forever. Bringing back this Wells also avoids having to spend time setting up what the dynamic between the character and Team Flash is. Harry might be salty, as Cisco stated, but he fits well with the team. He’s the blunt voice of reason and insight that the team needs at times.
Another difference between season three and season four manifests itself very early in the episode. After an encounter with the new meta-human Becky Sharpe, Hazard, the team quickly learns that their returning of Barry weeks before is what caused these new meta-humans as they exposed a bus of people to Darkforce through the portal which Barry returned through. Unlike when things messed up because of the team’s actions with Flashpoint or other things in season three, they didn’t spend the whole episode beating themselves down or blaming one another (outside of the fun exchange between Harry and Cisco where Wells did blame them). They realized their mistake but kept going and did what needed to be done. There is no time for sulking when there are weddings, old houses and meta-humans to focus on. Barry as the voice of reason about jinxes was a nice change from his mopey self in the last season.
This wasn’t a like laugh out loud fest, that’s not what made it fun and bright. Even when things got serious as Becky’s bad luck field grew and put the city and parts of Team Flash into danger (though the Flash falling and cuffing himself was pretty hilarious), it wasn’t like dire dark serious. There was still levity to the moments and the team shined and did what they do best, when even when the odds are actually fully stacked against them.
One issue that cropped up in season three, and happens to most shows as they get older, is that the amount of characters that it began to accumulate was reaching a point of too many. Meaning that certain characters were fighting for spots in the spotlight and moments of development. Bringing Harry back to Earth 1 and having a reason he can’t go back and having Jesse break up with Wally, meaning we likely will not see Violet Beane back as the character anytime soon, looks to be part of trying to consolidate things back down to that season one level of just focusing on the main members of Team Flash. Same reasons that they likely decided not to bring back Tom Felton’s Julian Albert for the new season. Trimming out the characters though did not stop there.
It was clear in the first episode of this season, and even before then, that the series writers did not know what to do with Wally when Barry is actually around. There was the moment at the start where Cisco and Wally worked great together but then Barry was back and all focus was on him & in episode two had him knocked out during the metahuman battle for Barry’s focus. So it was not a shock at all that the writers decided to have him leave in this episode to go to the fictional DC city of Blue Valley to find his own way as a person and a hero. It sucks because Wally has so much potential but unlike the comics where he could have his own series to focus on him he’s forever cursed on the TV show with this being a show about Barry meaning Barry is going to be the speedster that gets the focus. It’s doubtful we’ve seen the last of Kid Flash with his family relations within the team, but for now the show is back down to just one speedster and a slimmed down cast.
So far The Thinker is proving to be the most interesting big bad the show has had since the original Harrison Wells/Reverse Flash. Dropping bits and pieces about his plans including the metas and Harry being able to piece together that their mystery foe was making things like the meta-human creation happen through a thought out plan is a good way to go. It allows the bad guy to exist separate from the team for the time being while they are actually all pursuing the same thing.
This is The Flash as it should be. A show that has character moments and lets the characters have a good time while still being about heroes. Not every threat has to actually be some big menacing opponent, as Becky really proved to be a bigger issue than some of the many other threats they’ve faced based upon the issues her powers could cause. Last week had the cackling “I’m out for revenge” type villain, and this week was just having the “I’m using my powers for my own gain” type of villain both alongside the overarching plotting from the shadows type villain. All of them can & should exist alongside one another. Having Harry back and trimming the cast is the best move for the series because it allows the show to easier focus back on less characters and do more with what they have rather than trying too hard to cover so many. Though I guess with the last revelation about Joe and Cecile’s soon to be new addition, the cast could be growing by one again.
Score: 9.5 out of 10