Things took a bit more of a dramatic turn in the mid-season finale and mid-season premieres of The Flash, very deserved dramatic compared to last season, but with Barry still in prison and Thinker still out of the picture things took on a bit more levity this week. Season four gets points for being able to finally juggle fun and dramatic easily once more.
The Smaller Moments Matter
With Barry still firmly behind bars, dealing with some things on the inside, his team is working hard to get him out but has run into a bit of a dead end. Despite Harry’s very angry impassioned speech about trying to save Barry, the dead end means they have some other things to occupy their attention. While it’s funny, the Cecilie having psychic powers because of her pregnancy is a bit weird about out there. Which in a way makes it perfect for the episode that features a guy that can shrink things. Much like with this week’s episode of Supergirl, The Flash is wisely setting the Thinker plots aside somewhat so as not to dwell on it too much. Knowing how to wisely use your villain is key otherwise they become less of a threat (I’m looking at you Arrow/Cayden James).
These new psychic powers were not overly abused and were used more for levity at certain moments and also in a way gave us more insight into Cecilie who hasn’t had a lot to do in the season till Barry’s whole trial began. Putting the spotlight later in the episode on her and Joe and their relationship was also nice because Barry and Iris’ relationship took up a bulk of the first half of the season. Spreading around the character development moments now that Barry is in jail is a good way to go. It reminds us this is not just about Barry and his story.
It’s the little things (all the small references) that help flesh out things in a world like the new Central City Mayor not hiding the fact that the city and Star City have tech break-ins more so than other cities. It proves that while crazy things happen in these cities all the time, the writers and the characters within are not immune recognizing how absurd things are in their cities. Also, how does this shrink that Barry and Iris saw, and now Joe and Cecilie are seeing, have so many openings at a moment’s notice? Business either isn’t great or she’s just really helpful.
Hope Can Be A Very Dangerous Thing
Despite the crushing blow that he was dealt by his enemy, Barry Allen’s hope and heroism hasn’t dulled that much. Well, except for the whole using his super speed to cheat at prison poker (though the disgraced former mayor from earlier this season that is playing totally deserves to be cheated). Sometimes though, as Big Sir notes, hope is dangerous especially in the world of prison and when you were wrongfully put there. Barry still having hope makes sense, it’s a big part of who he is (outside of when that was stripped away last season), but Big Sir is a nice counter to it. The man has been in prison for fifteen long years for a crime that he didn’t commit. He has seen the dark side of the system and has long realized what his fate will be. It’s crushing when Barry makes the big mistake that many heroes make, promising something to a person that they cannot actually control.
Barry getting a taste of the truth of the world was well done, because he has to realize that things might not fully go the way he hopes. Despite that, he gave Big Sir some hope and then actually broke the law again with his powers to make sure that the man got a second chance far far away from Central City. It’s a shame to have Barry lose his only friend in the prison, but it’s a deserved happy ending for a character. Shame that his one good act in prison led to a bigger issue as the warden discovers who he is and takes a very evil turn. Amunet Black is the secondary villain this season that keeps coming back to mess with Team Flash.
Two Plots Collide
Because it’s a comic book series, of course, the two plots of trying to clear Big Sir and the guy that is shrinking things to steal collide with the man being the same one. It’s a little bit cliche and somewhat too easy but as Harry points out nothing is a coincidence with the Thinker in play. Everything seems to have a chance of being part of this overarching plan that DeVoe has put into place. What that plan is, that is still very unclear with the character and his wife taking a back seat currently.
Since Ray Palmer/Atom doesn’t have his own show it makes sense for The Flash to bring in Atom’s nemesis Dwarfstar and tie him into the season’s Thinker created metahuman plot. The comic version of the character has proven to be very psychotic and dangerous with this version a little less so as they lean heavily into the silly nature of him shrinking things to sell off for money. Clearly, he’s dangerous though from his past killing a guard that Big Sir was framed for.
The Thinker might not have been around this week, but his fingerprints are still all over everything. Beyond his part in Dwarfstar’s powers and Barry’s prison predicament, the best part of the episode was the character moments with the team as they try and find a victory when Thinker has been ten steps ahead of them long before they even knew who he was. Harry’s anger makes sense as he’s found a foe that is smarter than him, and he’s feeling a lot of things about his failure to help his friends. Any moment with him and Cisco is gold, even when Cisco is so tiny he can call a LEGO world home.
Season four has done a great job of trying to keep things fun but also dramatic, this episode is one of the better ones for that experiement. Everyone had a part to play this time, both big and small, and the development for much of the characters was really great to see. Hopefully, the Thinker’s plan starts to become clear soon as there is only so long they can keep dragging it all out.
Score: 9 out of 10