My normal spoilers are for light spoilers. This review is going to have major spoilers. Big time spoilers that will spoil everything about the season, pretty much, so read on at your own risk.
Season 3 of “The Flash” starts off with the results from Barry going to back to save his parents. This creates the alternate timeline of Flashtime, where Barry lives with his parents happily and eventually asks out the girl at the coffee place, Iris. Flashtime is entertaining because it does show what a happy life Barry would have had if his parents lived, plus alternate lives for everyone else. Flashtime is also Wally at his most likable, since he is the hero Kid Flash, and he doesn’t that huge chip on his shoulder about Barry being fostered with the Allens while they didn’t know Wally existed. Instead, he’s just a hero.
However, during Flashtime, Barry starts losing his memories of his other history, Wally gets injured in a pretty permanent looking way, and Caitlin is an ophthalmologist. One of the most likable scenes for Wally comes this episode as Barry collects everyone from Team Flash, but in doing so kidnaps Caitlin. He brings her to the cortex without really asking her permission. Everyone but Wally and Caitlin leaves and she asks Wally if she’s been kidnapped, and he kind of shrugs and says, “Unclear.” It seems like a little thing, but I thought it was hilarious.
Anyway, Barry puts everything back where it was before, but when he gets back to reality, Iris isn’t speaking to her dad because he lied about her mom (that season 2 boring ass storyline) while Cisco hates Barry because he won’t go back in time to save Cisco’s brother, Dante. Barry also has to deal with Julian, one of the most unpleasant people in the universe. Needless to say, things are different here, so he goes back to fix things again and is stopped by Jay Garrick. Garrick basically explains that Barry can’t fuck with the timeline anymore, as once it gets broken, it never really gets fixed the same way, plus, the speed force actively dislikes it and will send scary things after you when you do it.
So, he tells everyone, and the rest of the season is Blame Barry for Everything Because of Flashtime and Barry actually blames himself, too. I never enjoy when a series plays the game of punishing a character for an entire season (with the exception of Sam Winchester in season 4 because he started the apocalypse, that punishing was deserved and fun), and this season’s theme of “Barry’s bad” is just frustratingly stupid. However, it seems to be the theme as we start the season with his “crime” and end it with him in the speed force jail, paying for his sins.
First off all, I’m going to start with some Arrowverse characters who aren’t even on the show as regulars. Dig and Lila no longer trust Barry because they now have a son instead of a daughter. Keep in mind, they have no memories of this daughter, in their experience a child was born and it was a son, but yet, they really don’t trust Barry anymore because of this.
So, as someone who hasn’t gotten past season two of Arrow, yet, how awful is Baby John if they are this upset? Is he like a demon spawn of some sort? Or is he completely unlovable? While I’m not a parent, I assume that a parent would love any child they have and not totally lose their shit over some other theoretical child they have no emotional connection to. Baby John must be a real asshole is all I’m saying, considering the level of upset these two show Barry all fucking season.
Cisco this season is an unmitigated asshole, constantly. He hates Barry for Dante’s death, even though Dante was killed by a drunk driver. Dante, every time he’s been on the show, has been an over the top dick to Cisco all of the time. Honestly, I tend to fast forward through Dante scenes because his character is so nasty and irredeemable. But basically, Cisco is an angry asshole to Barry until the Crossover “Invasion” and then he lessens up.
However, Cisco is constantly an asshole to HR, the nicest and most fun iteration of Wells so far. First Wells was the bad guy, season 2 Wells was an ally (eventually) but totally an asshole just as a personality quirk, while HR is fun, funny, usually in a good mood, a writer, and all around good guy. However, because he isn’t a genius, Cisco treats him like shit, constantly. By the end of season 3 I pretty much hated Cisco and considered him to be irredeemable. Grief can make you a dick, I get it, but being a jerk to someone because they aren’t as smart as you simply isn’t acceptable to me.
Cisco sucked this season and I have no idea why they made the decision to make him such a total jerk. It wasn’t interesting, it didn’t make for interesting conflict, it just made me hate Crisco for being a whiny ass bitch all season.
Julian in the earlier episodes simply isn’t believable as a human being. He’s too full of himself, too much of a jerk, and too much, period. Julian is new to Barry, but has apparently worked with him for over a year and they have a mutual hatred of each other. While I can’t imagine Barry hating people who aren’t actual bad guys, I get why with Julian. Julian is the type of co-worker everyone hopes drowns in the bathtub. It is only after he joins Team Flash that he becomes more likable, but really that isn’t saying much.
Caitlin is turning into Killer Frost so she is also super annoying this year. She lies constantly, she betrays them whenever it seems like she might have the slimmest chance at an opportunity to get rid of her powers, and she inevitably turns into Killer Frost by the end of the season. First of all, the Killer Frost is evil and Caitlin is good thing just doesn’t work for me. They are in the same body, same brain, and therefore the same person. Caitlin acts like Killer Frost even when she’s just being Caitlin, and vice versa, so this whole storyline had me really hating her as well.
By the time she kept the philosopher’s stone, I was just done with her as well. Yeah, we get it, Caitlin doesn’t like asking for help, but for the love of God this much secrecy from her own Team is simply inexcusable. Furthermore, Danielle Panabaker does not look comfortable at all in the Killer Frost outfits. She looks like she’s afraid of falling down while wearing a corset she can’t breathe in. So over the top BDSM outfit really doesn’t work well with the actress as she acts like she’s uncomfortable even just walking, which really takes you out of the moment. Season 4 is better as they tend to dress Frost different, but not all BDSM-y, but the completely awful and unbelievable wig never gets better.
Basically, this season, all of Caitlin’s actions are inexplicable in the extreme as she tries every single dumb thing she can to get rid of Killer Frost. It’s stupid and it makes me think Caitlin’s stupid, too. I feel like the writers don’t really know what to do with Caitlin. First season, she was just either in grief or in search of Ronnie. Second season is the whole Jay arc of pain, then this whole Killer Frost nonsense this season. Find her a decent storyline that doesn’t make us hate her, sheesh.
The main three characters have always been Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry as Team Flash. They are the core group of people we have come to care for since the beginning. They were all three so likable and so likable together and played off of each other so well. Their excitement for science and for helping Barry was so fun and so full of cool moments, but it’s as if they’ve abandoned the scientific fun nerdiness of the three in favor of stupid, unbelievable, BORING angst. I get stories need tension, but the tension has to be believable or at least remotely interesting, and Cisco and Caitlin were neither this year. They were just the enemies within, being dicks to everyone all the time.
Flash does a lot of this type of angst, usually with their romantic relationships, enter Barry and Iris. They are finally together, living together and then engaged. The whole thrust of the year is that Barry goes into the future accidentally, and sees Savitar kill Iris. So Barry’s focus – other than blaming himself for everything that has ever happened ever – is saving Iris. In the future he saw, they weren’t engaged, so he proposes, trying everything to offset this future. Then Wally sees the same future, while Joe throws a really baby-ass hissy fit about Barry not asking his permission (for fucking real, Joe? Like, fucking SERIOUSLY??) so when Wally returns and acts like a dick about it, Iris breaks things off with Barry because he asked her for the wrong reason and “tainted’ their engagement.
Bitch, he loves you. He wants to marry you, but he didn’t do it completely out of love, some of it was to prevent your DEATH and you break up with him? Fucking seriously? This type of thing is pretty out of character for Iris, actually, who is exceptionally pragmatic about most things, which is why we viewed this as the show having to “CW things up” with the romantic angst. The next episode shows Barry going into the speed force to save the asshole Wally, while Iris is pretty cold to Barry and refuses to even give him a little bit of reassurance that their relationship is still salvageable. At the end of the episode, Iris realizes that she was an idiot for breaking things off with Barry, but he breaks things off with her instead.
It. Was. Hilarious. I don’t think the show intended to be hilarious, but it was so stupid, and Iris had been such a pain the whole episode that when Barry was like, nope, I don’t think so, it was hugely funny.
However, the very next episode is the musical episode with Barry and Kara Danvers aka Supergirl. The musical episode was awesome and fun. I love it when television shows realize that they have a huge amount of talent in their stars and just want to show it off and this episode did it wonderfully. Grant Gustin can sing so well I honestly think he could have a career out of it, if he weren’t so busy being awesome as the Flash.
The musical episode has the Music Meister giving both Barry and Kara the whammy, and they wake up in a musical together. The people they know are there, too, as musical versions of themselves. Honestly, the relationship between Kara and Barry is one of my absolute favorite things about the Arrowverse. Much like with Oliver, scenes with Barry and Kara light up the episode. They have such great chemistry together, but it isn’t the type of chemistry that makes you think they are attracted to each other. They have great friend chemistry. Basically, I think its awesome that Barry and Kara just like each other and have each other’s backs without there being hint of romance. Nice to see a platonic friendship on screen like that.
I’m Your Superfriend
Also, Melissa Benoist who plays Kara Danvers/Supergirl has as beautiful a voice as Grant Gustin does. Their duet, “I’m Your Superfriend” is a fun, tapdancing number that shows the nature of their friendship. Rachel Bloom, from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” fame, wrote the song, which I discovered after I’d seen it a few times, and knowing that she wrote it, I can totally see her humor in the lines of the song.
I actually saw a YouTube review of season 3 talking about how the musical was the worst episode ever and that Rachel Bloom was the worst thing to ever happen to music. Clearly, I disagree vehemently with both of those ideas. I actually forgive the stupidity of Iris and Barry breaking up because it was the set-up to the musical. Both Barry and Kara have suffered break-ups and the musical heals the relationship problems by giving them perspective they didn’t have before. So while I totally believe the Barry/Iris break-up was stupid and for no reason, it did give us the musical episode so I’ll forgive it.
Seasons 1 and 2 were both very solid, good seasons for me, but season 3 is where I tend to fast forward a lot when re-watching it. Wally being obnoxious, Cisco being cruel to team Flash, Caitlin lying and betraying everyone at every turn, and Julian are a lot to take this season. Lots and lots of unpleasantness there.
I’m not even going to go into Savitar too much, but I do wonder if the writers room ever stopped to think for even a second that 3 speedsters in a row as a big bad might be a bit much? Or that having a big bad for the entire season that Barry is too inept to deal with really makes things drag? Like, how about a villain of the day? The stand alone episodes are usually better than the fight the big bad episodes, so why not do more of them? This one big bad for the whole season bullshit gets even worse in season 4, but at least he’s not a speedster.
Savitar is my least favorite of the bad guys mainly because he makes the least amount of sense. The show either needs to explains time remnants in way that makes sense or they should stop fucking trying. Savitar isn’t interesting because as a bad guy his existence, even when explained, makes no sense.
One of the things I liked best about the season is that Barry and Iris are finally together, with the exception of 3 episodes. Barry and Iris have one of the best relationships on television, now that they are together. I am also really happy that they had them get together, and then they got married (like normal people do) and they are still doing well. They tell each other everything, Barry listens her advice, and even when Barry is asking her not to do something dangerous, he still knows her well enough to know she’s probably going to do it anyway. There are lots of little times between the two of them that are just sweet and kind and nice.
Grant Gustin “Running Home to You”
I think because drama revolves around conflict there aren’t many healthy couples on television, but I’ve always hated it. Characters you otherwise like and admire doing stupid things to wreck their love life has always irritated me, so I’m happy that Barry and Iris as a couple are awesome and excellent rolemodels. Part of what is wonderful about their relationship is that Barry allows Iris to be as awesome as she wants to be. Her strength doesn’t intimidate him, he loves her for it.
Another great relationship that forms, that is equally as healthy as Barry and Iris’ is that of Joe West and DA Cecil Horton. She’s a fun character and watching Joe care about someone other than his kids has been wonderful growth to see. I really hope she becomes a regular on the show as her character is incredibly fun and likable.
Season 3 is good and still very rewatchable if you fast forward the crappy parts. I give this season a C because of the above reasons.
While I’ve mostly bitched about the season, I will say that I still love the show. The special effects alone make this show worth watching because they are consistently really awesome. I love the fight scenes that are mostly CGI because they tend to look like the pages of a comic book, which is apt. I know I’ve raved about the special effects in the past two reviews of the show, but they really are part of what makes this show so great and so watchable even when the plotlines or characters tend to piss me off.
While I really can’t stand Savitar as a villain the fight scenes with him are amazingly well done by the special effects team. The final fight with Savitar against three speedsters is especially epic and awesome, and I continue to be impressed beyond all reason with the special effects, so kudos!
For those of you with anxiety, like me, season 3 of the Flash is the same as the previous two seasons. The pacing sometimes left me breathless, literally. I started watching episodes and cutting them off before the ending, because the ending was always a mild cliffhanger of some sort. Alternatively, I’d watch the next episode for the first few minutes just to put my mind at ease and the cliffhanger would be resolved. On repeat watching the anxiety factor is WAY down because the rhythm of the show is known as are the plotlines. My anxiety makes me nuts for spoilers. In that vein, Iris lives.