As with all my reviews, there are spoilers aplenty, so feel free to skip this if you haven’t seen the season and don’t want to be spoiled.
I find season 4 to have some of the best and worst moments of the Flash. What I like in this season, I truly and fully love in full fan-girl mode, but the bad is SO bad. Just so SO so bad.
So, let’s start with the bad so we can end on an up note: DeVoe. I really hate the entire “bad guy for the season” trope as it just makes the heroes look like incompetent fools most of the time. What do the people of Central City think? The Flash only gets rid of really bad metas in May? Like, seriously, do a couple of a bad guys a season, this one evil villain for the whole season bullshit is old, played out, and just fucking BORING.
DeVoe kicks their asses all season long. They have few, if any, wins against DeVoe. The entire season is painful to watch because Team Flash fails over and over and over and over and over again, ad nauseum. It’s difficult to watch, and not that enjoyable either. I get that sometimes drama is mined from the angst of losing, but in every fucking episode with DeVoe? Really? This made me actively HATE the writers for forcing this storyline down my throat.
Also, I hate Marlize. If you made a drinking game of how many times they say “my love” to each other you’d be hospitalized with alcohol poisoning. Who the fuck talks that way? Her reasons for taking part in the enlightenment aren’t really well fleshed out – she got injured because someone stole her tech so it makes sense to her to mind wipe the entire world? On what planet is that sane? Also, her weird competition with Iris over who was the more devout wife was bizarre and sexist as fuck. I do like Iris asking Marlize what she’s willing to do the for the world whereas Marlize asked Iris what Iris was willing to do for her husband. Marlize feels like some sort of weird 1950’s throwback and her turnaround at the end does not make me hate her any less. I wish she’d died along with DeVoe.
Also, did they really need to pull a whole “Flowers for Algernon” plot for Harry? Seriously, it did nothing but piss me off that they made him stupid. And can we talk for a minute about how impatient and assholish Cisco is when someone doesn’t get what he is saying? He was downright fucking abusive to HR and while he helps Harry the whole plotline seemed tired, stupid, and a waste of screen time. You have these talented actors, can’t you give them something decent to do instead of stealing plots from every fucking sci-fi show in the history of the universe? I don’t know why sci-fi writers have such a hard-on for “Flowers for Algernon” but just stop already.
Upon re-watching this season, it has the most episodes I just skip entirely and it has the most fast forwarding of any season to date because it is miserable to watch. How many friendly bus metas did we have to see DeVoe brain suck right in front of our incapacitated heroes? Why, all of them! It’s a miserable season where they lose constantly. Now, most of the bus metas are assholes, but the nice ones dying is more than a little demoralizing.
They could have left DeVoe powerful but still allowed Team Flash some wins, but I guess that isn’t enough angst-porn for these fuckers. I know the hero can’t win all the time, but when he gets his ass kicked repeatedly and for stupid reasons it really does make for an annoying and unenjoyable watch.
While I like Caitlin and Killer Frost, Caitlin’s obsession with her alter ego to the point of selling out her team over and over and over and over and over again makes me really hate her at times. The writers need to stop using Killer Frost as a reason for Caitlin to act like a selfish bitch to the whole team. When it comes to her alter ego she’d sell out Team Flash in a second, and can we just have her get the fuck over it already? “I hate Killer Frost!!” “I love Killer Frost!!” Just stop already. You’ve played this one out, so just stop. Find a new storyline instead of variations of this old and boring one, thanks.
That said adding Killer Frost to the hero line-up is very cool, pun intended. I like that this season it really is Team Flash and not just the Flash running around with coms in his ear. It makes the unbeatability of DeVoe even more unbelievable, but because this season weaves the good into the bad so tightly, they can’t be separated, but at least they decided to throw some good stuff at us, even if they mostly were just hacks throughout this season.
I’m sorry, but I will never believe anyone is smart enough – dark matter of no – to predict people’s behavior, how many people were on the bus, what types of powers they eventually would have, Team Flash’s reactions, the speed force, and on and on. DeVoe just wasn’t believable in his brilliance at all. There are too many variables that can be off-set by the unpredictability of human behavior. Intelligence does not mean omniscience, but the writers don’t seem to notice or care.
Ok, for the good – Barry and Iris start seeing a couple’s therapist and it is awesome! This therapist provides for some emotional scenes but is mainly played for humor.
The above video moves away from their therapy season for a minute or two, but then gets right back to it after that, and it is pretty funny.
One of my disappointments with season 5 was the lack of the therapist. She would have been an awesome addition – especially with the changing family dynamic that season.
The relationship between Barry and Iris has been the central one to the show, so watching them work through things – of course Iris would be upset that Barry left her without discussion or consideration to save the city from the speed force.
One of the best moments of the season comes out this conflict – when they do finally discuss it, Barry, per his usual, wants to say that when he is the Flash he has to put those considerations first. Iris tells him that when they got engaged, he was no longer the Flash, THEY were.
Boy did the misogynistic fanboys HATE that one! It’s pretty funny how pissed off they got over this, but it does illustrate why they have trouble getting relationships of their own – they don’t understand the dynamic.
Specifically with Barry, if Iris were to let him carry the hero mantel on his own without her, he would make decisions without her by using the “I must save everyone” logic that is such a part of him. I will say that at the time of the incident, there wasn’t really opportunity for a discussion as the city was being ravaged with earthquakes and lightning, but as a general rule, I liked it.
Everything Barry does as the Flash has a direct impact on Iris because they are married – what happens to one happens to both so those actions need to be discussed by both. Barry has told Iris repeatedly that there would be no Flash without Iris West, and he isn’t lying. Barry is one of the more emotional heroes we have seen, and sometimes the sweetness of the series can be a little bit much, but it is exactly why Barry needs his team either around him or in his ear – if Barry’s emotions are out of whack, he tends to fail. Iris has brought him back from the brink of failing over and over and over again.
While season 4 has a lot of things I hate (I hate prison stories, just fucking hate them) it does have my all-time favorite (so far) Flash episode, “Flashtime” where a nuke goes off and Barry enters Flashtime, where he’s basically moving so fast time has seemingly stopped. He has to figure out a way to stop the nuke before it destroys the city. This episode has spurious science and a few plot holes a truck could go through, but mostly it is just really great story telling. It also has one of my favorite moments between Barry and Iris.
In the above clip, Barry has been working the problem for a long time and despair has set in so he finally goes to Iris, not for help, but just to be with her for a moment more. Iris even comes up with a working solution that saves the day, something Barry couldn’t think of. In my own marriage, the number of times I’ve been hip deep in a problem I’ve overanalyzed from every side and my husband pops in with a solution because he has a different skill set, different knowledge, a different way of looking at things, and new eyes. Watching that played out on television with unarguably bigger stakes was pretty fun.
This doesn’t mean Barry’s an idiot or weak or whatever the fanboys who hate this scene think, it just means that sometimes you get so involved in a problem that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Iris brings fresh eyes to the problem, and the look Barry gives her, like she is some sort of miracle he is lucky to be around, is just awesome. I love everything about this scene because it shows that the two of them have a great partnership and Iris saying, “every moment with you, Barry, has always been nice” even as a nuke is basically going off is serious spouse goals.
One of the things I like about this show is that it does a good job of showing healthy relationships like Barry and Iris. Joe and Cecile also work as a team, as partners, and I think that so many people view their romantic interests as someone to compete against or who is against you in mentality, where good relationships are about making things better for each other because you are a team. The Flash does a good job of showing this with these two couples.
Can we also talk for a minute about Cecile? She is one of my favorite characters and she is so much fun. Her mind reading powers make for a lot of fun moments, and I love her zeal in wanting Joe to go after a woman in the crowd who was stealing staplers from her employer. There are many moments with her that are delightful and fun, and her relationship with Harry makes both of these already delightful characters even more likable. Her addition to Team Flash is a welcome one. Also, can we stop for a moment and just marvel at how gorgeous this entire cast is? Holy cow are they a good looking group!
Ralph Dibney was added to the hero roster this year, and he is a great character. I freaking love Ralph for so many reasons, but one is his dynamic with Barry. Barry starts off not liking Ralph due to past actions on Ralph’s part, but throughout the season the two go from hating each other to being incredibly close friends. Ralph working his way into Team Flash is a fun journey, because he is a character unlike the rest of them as he starts off really shady.
What is interesting to me is how Barry treats Ralph. Barry is kind and careful with pretty much everyone but with Ralph he’s impatient, almost pitiless, and when Ralph complains because the Flash knocks him out Barry replies, “You can take it,” without a flicker of remorse. Captain Cold once told Barry that he had the same ability to be ruthless, and we see a glimpse of the ruthlessness here in his interactions with Ralph. Ralph is the only person Barry has casually threatened with violence and seeing Barry dislike someone who isn’t a bad guy is pretty fun.
So, again it is hard to rate this season because I both loved and hated it. I’m giving it a C because there was enough good to offset the bad, but barely. Can we have more than one big bad a season now, please?