Reviews TV

Arrowverse – The Flash 4×17 “Null and Annoyed” review

Another bus meta-human plagues Team Flash as The Thinker moves more & more towards a monster of a villain.

The Flash 4x17

After a sudden out of nowhere month-long hiatus, The Flash is back and it’s more annoying than fun. Having lost another bus meta-human to Thinker, Team Flash is regrouping and trying to find the final two meta-humans after Harry used the Thinking Cap to decipher their identities. Turns out one of them is a criminal with an ability to make things lighter, easier to steal in a way, and proves to be an inconvenience to the team (at least till the final third of the episode as usual). Team Thinker is apparently just as stumped about finding the last metas, but is dealing with their own drama as Marlize discovers what Clifford has been doing to her for quite some time now. Oh, and Ralph spends the episode being a joking jerk till he finally does what’s right.

Season four started with such potential, shedding the emo drama of season three and finally presenting a villain that wasn’t a speedster that was set to be a new type of threat for Barry and team to handle. All was well and good till the midpoint of the season where things began to lose steam, the drama of Barry behind bars was wasted, and Thinker went from a calculated sympathetic tragic villain to a caricature and a monster. Something major was lost when Neil Sandilands stopped playing the character and DeVoe began rotating hosts through the various meta-humans. Sandilands brought that tragic energy to the character, making you feel for the villain which is the best way to build a villain. Make them a dynamic character that isn’t just some world-conquering zealot type.

Seeing Clifford drugging his wife over and over, to keep her docile, and finding out that Thinker planned this from the beginning (The Weeper meta-human with euphoric tears was never meant to be a host, just to use to sedate Marlize) makes things even more disgusting. The character is just some humanity less monster now with a plan that we still know nothing about. Also, how did he go from being ten steps ahead of Team Flash to now apparently barely a step ahead as he doesn’t know where the final meta-humans are either. Team Flash is dealing with the latest one, but Thinker has no clue where she is. The character went from super smart to plot restricted average. If Thinker created the meta-humans with purpose & knew who they were…why are they not all collected easily?. This is why increasingly the use of a season-long big bad is becoming more of an anchor around the neck of a show rather than a useful thing. Dragged out threats tend to become less threatening the more episodes that have to be filled in order to keep the threat around.

The Flash 4x17 Breacher Vibe

Another issue this season, the meta-human threats are so very cliche. Every episode they start off introducing the latest meta of the week, Team Flash learns who or what the threat is, they get one over on Flash or others of the team, Team Flash has heart to hearts to prove they can do what needs to be done to stop the threat, final act they of course defeat the meta. The day is saved. Sure, comic books are about the sort of repetitive nature of taking down villains and threats that keep coming back, but what makes comics work and has made other comic shows work is the who and the how is mixed up. Maybe throw us some two-parters, with a threat that gives them a run for their money. Or they get away, to return another day. The formula is becoming way too apparent. Also, Null was just a boring threat. She’s pretty much on the level of that radioactive guy from weeks and weeks ago who wasn’t even an active villain.

So we lost Wally West, who became a great member of the Legends on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, so that Ralph could be on the team but it’s becoming a bit tiresome. Many episodes ago he grew somewhat as a character during the whole thing with the return of the Trickster since then though he’s been a bit all over the place. Gone for whole episodes, hiding in the basement for fear of DeVoe getting him, and we’re meant to believe that he’s acting this way out of fear and out of grief (after falling for the new meta-human The Fiddler that DeVoe took over a few episodes ago) but not buying it. The writer seem to want to keep mining the drama out of Ralph butting heads with Team Flash members, this week that head belonging to Barry. They figured their thing out, but both characters came off as pompous and out of their element.

Lastly, the B-plot with Breacher was a bit odd to have thrown in here. It furthered story bits with Cisco but it felt a bit out of place amongst things but a lot of the B-plots have felt that way this season. Breacher finally realizing he’s too old to do the job was a good moment, though not certain where this offering Cisco his job tracking down foes through the multiverse will go. Also, what the heck is up with Harry? Clearly, the thinking cap has done something to him as a more sinister looking Harry might be coming back with the whole using Thawne/Wells hidden chamber and bringing Gideon back online.

Final Thoughts

The Thinker’s supposed master plan that has yet to be revealed bogs things down for another week as another of the metahumans is found and captured, and the main villain went from sympathetic to disgusting faster than the Flash can run. This cast continues to prove to be a bit too bloated still as various members haven’t had any worthwhile plots or moments for weeks. Hopefully, the actual battle against The Thinker next week can at least redeem the show some, it could use it badly. Bonus points for episode director Kevin Smith and guest Jason Mewes somewhat reprising their Jay and Silent Bob roles as security guards.

Score: 6 out of 10

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