THE FLASH S4X02 – MIXED SIGNALS

Barry Allen’s out of the Speed Force and back as The Flash! But the team dynamic has changed in his absence, particularly Iris’ role.

Previously, on THE FLASH

Last season, The Flash went way too dark and dramatic, with Barry running around under a cloud of guilt and misery. It made this one-time upbeat show a lot less enjoyable to watch. In this week’s episode? Barry’s first appearance finds him pulling a Risky Business tribute and dancing to “Old Time Rock and Roll” while making breakfast. He follows that up by speed-watching all his favorite TV shows that he missed in the Speed Force. The Game of Thrones reference is great – “Ohh, Jon Snow’s dead…oh, he’s alive!”

This is a whole new Barry and a whole new Flash, which actually feels much more like Season 1 in tone. But that doesn’t mean it’s free of any serious moments. As the team faces off against a meta that can control technology, Barry and Iris have trouble working together. Barry’s used to making all the decisions on the fly, not taking into account Iris’ role as director of the team. For example, when trying to save a guy trapped in a hacked, speeding car, Iris advises Barry to turn it left as that area’s abandoned and will slow the car down. But Barry turns him right, stating it’s an empty street. However, Iris knows they’re doing construction on that road. Barry has to disassemble the vehicle to prevent a bad accident.

While it seems like Barry and Iris work it out during our FIRST HALLWAY SCENE OF THE SEASON, she suggests couple’s therapy. Yes, this is as awkward and funny as it sounds. At least until Iris breaks down over Barry leaving her to enter the Speed Force. Unlike the manufactured drama of last year, this is an actual, understandable problem for the two of them to have.

That trust they rebuild comes into play during the climactic battle against the hacker meta. The new suit that Cisco made Barry is like the high-tech outfit Peter Parker got from Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s got every gadget, gizmo and app in the box. And the villain uses all of it to immobilize and harm Barry. Iris suggests using his own lightning throw to short circuit the suit. It works and Barry saves the day. It’s good to see the writers have relearned how to create serious moments and stakes again, but can also keep the episode light.

Plus, we get another hint of The Thinker’s plan. The hacker is just one of 12 people that he wants in place. Who are the other 11?

Show notes:

  • Cisco and Gypsy are a couple, but he has to cancel her date to stop this week’s villain. They argue about it, but he makes it up to her with a romantic dinner. And that’s where we learn Gypsy’s Earth has a St. Shaquille O’Neal Day. Amazing.
  • It’s pretty funny hearing Iris in therapy list off how many cast members have died in the last four years. After one session, I’m sure their therapist thinks she’s sitting on a psychological goldmine!
  • The coolest scene has to be when Barry catches the shrapnel of an exploded grenade to save Joe. It’s another way of challenging The Flash without him carrying the idiot ball.
  • “You have a collect call from…GUYS, HELP ME.”

The Super Cinco

  1. Barry Allen / The Flash – He’s back home and he’s happy! Barry’s lighter personality is really such a better touch than the gloom and doom of last year. As The Flash, he gets a few great action scenes. And as Barry, he admits to his mistakes and talks them out with Iris (after therapy) in a mature, thoughtful manner! Win-win.
  2. Iris West – After establishing herself as a key member of the team last episode, she’s not giving up her new role just cause Barry’s back. When he makes plans for the two of them without consulting her and ignores her advice in the field, she brings him to therapy to talk about their issues. Plus, her lightning bolt idea saves Barry’s life.
  3. The Thinker – He only appeared at the end of the episode, but he’s still an intimidating presence. Clearly playing a long game, his pieces are starting to fall into place. Plus, he may have created the hacker meta. And he’s got 11 more visitors to come for The Flash.
  4. Cisco Ramon / Vibe – He had trouble figuring out the code the hacker meta used for murder. The tech-heavy Flash suit he made almost got Barry killed against the same meta. And he blew off a date with Gypsy. But in the end, he made it up to her so points for that.
  5. Caitlin Snow – I was excited when Caitlin rejoined Team Flash last episode, but she had virtually nothing to do this time around. She gave Cisco some relationship advice and figured out some technobabble about the villain. But that’s about it.