Posted in Anxiety, Reviews

Flash Season 3 Review

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.  

 

 

Posted in Reviews

The Flash, Season 2 Review

As per usual – spoilers ahead.  If you haven’t seen season 2 or 1, stop reading now if you don’t want spoilers.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!  😉

Season 2 starts out 6 months after the finale of season 1.  Barry Allen (the amazing Grant Gustin), The Flash, has forced everyone off of Team Flash due to his survivor’s guilt, so the first episode deals with getting the band back together.  Thanks to Iris (the always wonderful Candice Patton) the team does get back together, because she simply stops giving Barry the option of pushing everyone away.  In many ways, giving them a family history – having Iris know Barry better than anyone – really helps push some of these storylines.  Family often will step in whether you want them to or not, because they want to help.

Season 2 is a good season with an excellent bad guy, although two big bad speedsters in a row is a bit tiresome (more on that in the season 3 review) but Zoom is appropriately terrifying.  There are quite a few good stand alone episodes in season 2, something The Flash should do more often.  Sometimes having a bad guy of the week is more fun than the tedious, overarching bad guy that looms over the entire season.

To that end, “Family of Rogues” sees the return of Snart and his sister.  This is a great episode that I would give an A++ to except that during the episode, Snart uses the cold gun to freeze lasers during a heist.  He then walks through the lasers as they break.

He freezes LASERS.

We had to pause the television set as my husband lost his mind to a rant about how you cannot freeze lasers and are they kidding with this?

I’m a big fan of Rachel Bloom’s series, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and there is a song in the first season where they sing, “Don’t think about it too hard, too too hard” and season 2 is when the physics, such as freezing lasers, caused me to sing this quite a lot.  This song refrain got quite a lot more use in season 3, too.

Here’s the song if you care to hear it

However, other than the simple insanity of FREEZING LASERS the episode is one of the better ones, especially for fans of Captain Cold, aka Snart played by the wonderful Wentworth Miller.

Season two is a lot of fun, and has a lot of really great episodes.  We get a new Harrison Wells from Earth 2 and the Arrowverse is expanded into a multiverse, which is pretty cool because it explains away any continuity problems found in other iterations of DC including Kara Danvers and Superman existing on a different world altogether.  It also gives unlimited story telling options, as the multiverse itself is infinite.

The beginning of the season gives us a new love interest for Barry, one we all know is doomed due to his feelings for Iris, but fun to watch nonetheless.  Patty Spivot, a new police officer who falls for Barry, is played by Shantel VanSanten.  Patty is charming and fun and it’s nice to see Barry interested in someone who is free and clear to be with him.  Of course, because this is a CW show and you have to have the stupid romantic angst, (why not have people get together and stay together? why is it hard to write a decent relationship on tv?) things don’t work out well between them and she leaves.  However, she was a fun character addition while she lasted.

Season 2 has a lot of good things – the new Wells being kind of a dick, Cisco learning about his metahuman powers – although him whining about them and wanting to keep them secret felt out of character by a lot – and the addition of the multiverse creates a really fun season.  Also, by the end of the season, Iris’ confesses her feelings to Barry, which is good as she spends most of the year grieving for her lost fiancé.

Having Iris actively working with Team Flash makes the show better all around and helps grow her character.  In season 1 she was the love interest and often bait and not much else, although Patton did a good job with the material she was given, but in this season she stands on her own more.  She even shoots a bad guy at one point.  One of the better scenes is when the cops arrive, Iris’ friend says that Iris is a great shot and Barry basically says, yeah she really is.  The lack of surprise for Iris’ talents coupled with his casual pride in her was fun.  Gustin and Patton do such a great job with Barry and Iris, and the writers give them a lot of great material to work with.

While I warned about spoilers, there are really so many huge spoilers that I’m omitting because finding out about them as you go is way more fun.  The whole season is fun, but much of the physics of the universe is insane, so this season gets a B-.  I don’t mind cartoon physics, but you have to make the laws of your world a) consistent b) sane c) you can’t freeze lasers.  Also, I knocked off some points simply because two speedsters in a row in two seasons focused on one Big Bad is tiresome at best.

 

Posted in Anxiety, Reviews

The Flash – Season 1

Spoilers for season 1 – although light, are present in this review.

Back in the 1990’s, anti-heroes were a somewhat new craze and could be interesting.  In 2019, I’m heartily sick of anti-heroes, which is part of the reason I love the Flash so much.

Barry Allen is a hero, an altruistic one, and it is so much fun to watch.  As The Flash/Barry Allen, Grant Gustin is amazingly likable.  Barry Allen’s mother was murdered when he was a kid and his father wrongfully went to jail for the crime.  Barry works as a CSI for the police department with his foster father Joe West, and he does it out of a desire to help the world.  Much of season 1 explores him trying to clear his father’s name and figure out who murdered his mother.

One of the things The Flash does well is it establishes an ensemble cast right off the bat.  Barry gets superpowers and he goes to the scientists at Star Labs for help.  These people become Team Flash and having an established ensemble cast makes the show fun immediately.  Unlike the slow build of season one of The Arrow, the support staff for The Flash is present almost from day one.

Cisco, an amazing Carlos Valdes, is one of the most likable characters in season one because of his sheer enthusiasm.  Cisco and Barry are both really excited and happy about Barry’s abilities, and they tend to nerd out together in adorable ways.  Cisco is also a techno-mage, although the show says he’s a genius.  However, the things he creates are pretty impossible (a gold gun that turns everything into gold??  Really?) and so I justify this bit of outlandishness by just assuming he has superpowers, too, and those superpowers allow him to make things like a gun that can turn anything to absolute zero.  So, he is a genius, but they really mean techno-mage.

After so many shows where the main character wants to be normal (I’m looking at you, Buffy.  What’s wrong with you?) I’ve found myself enjoying the heroes who embrace it and really enjoy it.  The Flash loves being the Flash.  He loves his speed.  At one point a mugger attempts to mug him and he just starts laughing, “Oh, you’re going to kick yourself,” he tells the mugger before stealing the mugger’s weapons and clothes and then stealing a cop to put right in front of the man.

It’s hilarious and awesome.

The one problem with season one is Iris West, played by the delightful and charismatic Candice Patton.  They don’t seem to know what to do with Iris in season one, so for the first several episodes, she is the damsel in distress, although she does show her badassery by punching bad guys a few times, and even shooting another that tried to take her hostage.  Mostly, though, season one is just every single character in the show lying to Iris and gaslighting the fuck out of her to keep Barry’s identity as the Flash a secret.  Her father, Joe West, played by the always watchable Jesse Martin (loved you since Ally McBeal!) tells Barry and the rest of Team Flash to keep Iris in the dark “for her safety.”

When Iris finds out she tells him, “Did you ever think that telling me what was going on would keep me safe?”  Excellent point, Iris.  Knowing IS half the battle.

I know television shows can’t just have a couple that is together and happy.  I don’t know why – other than maybe television show writers have miserable relationships so they don’t know how to write that kind of thing – but much of season 1 is simply Barry pining for Iris unbeknownst to her.  Or hiding his fun superhero life from her.

When you make a character the killer of fun, fans are going to hate that character, and I’ve seen a ton of Iris-hate online.  As I am a watcher of fan videos and fan theories on YouTube, I’ve seen more than a few that call Iris a “cunt” for what I think is basically no reason.

In season one, she finds out her best friend is in love with her about the same time her boyfriend asks her to move in with him.  She is lied to by every main character multiple times.  She knows something is up – this is her best friend and foster brother who she knows better than anyone, but when even though she knows something is going on, they all just gaslight, gaslight, gaslight.  How Iris didn’t murder them all at the end of the season when she found out is mystifying to me.

I actually feels bad for Iris sometimes.  Iris wanted to be a cop, too, but her father stopped speaking to her until she withdrew her application.  This is a woman who longs to be a hero herself, but she is put in a safety box by the men in her life, even though she proves consistently that she can take care of herself.

Anyway, her character is certainly problematic, but Candice Patton is so likable, so charming, and in a cast of gorgeous people she is the stand out beauty in the bunch – all of these things help to offset the fact that the writers make her the assassin of fun in most of the first season.  Luckily, once Iris knows about Barry, she’s incredibly likable, fun, and good addition to Team Flash – within 24 hours of finding out she saves Caitlin Snow’s life by hitting a bad guy over the head with a fire extinguisher.  If kept in the loop, Iris is a badass and a hell of a team player, which she illustrates in later seasons.

Dr. Harry Wells is played by a long time favorite actor of mine, Tom Cavanaugh.  Dr. Wells is an enigmatic figure in season one and Cavanaugh portrays him – his good side and his bad side – with humor and aplomb.  As a mentor and hero to Barry Allen, he helps Barry with his speed and becoming a superhero.  I don’t want to say too much about his character, but he is a fun addition to the show.  I think if you made a drinking game of when he tells Barry to run, you’d die of alcohol poisoning, but it’s always very fun.

Season 1 solves the mystery of who killed Barry’s mom, establishes him as a superhero, and introduces a lot of other characters that will be important in the Arrowverse.  It’s a really enjoyable season, with the gaslighting of Iris West being the only exception.  It seems like a small thing, but it’s bad enough there are times you almost hate the main characters for doing it to her.  Even her boyfriend Eddie says, “So literally everyone but Iris knows,” when he finds out Felicity knew about Barry being the Flash.

Grant Gustin does a great job of making the Flash come to life – much like Joel Grey, Gustin has a dancing background so his physicality as the Flash is fluid and believable.  Other people have played speedsters on the show, but Gustin has a comfort and physicality that comes off more natural than a lot of the others.

The special effects are also just amazing.  With the Flash moving too fast for people to see, most of the time when he’s running it is a red streak of electricity and it’s fantastic.  In almost every episode there are special effects that look like panels from a comic book.  With a character that moves as fast as the Flash fighting giant telepathic gorillas (Grodd), special effects are important, and this show would be enjoyable simply on a “ooh, shiny” level alone.  When the plot isn’t my cup of tea, I can be content watching how amazingly cool the visuals are.

Overall, I’d give The Flash season 1 an A.  It’s not only watchable, but rewatchable.  Likable characters, altruistic heroes, and old school comic book mentality about being a superhero.  Some of the best fun is when Oliver Queen shows up and you get to see happy Barry dealing with anti-hero and grump, the Arrow.  The banter in the beginning of the below clip never fails to crack me up – Barry is quick witted and while he has some hero worship for Oliver, he also has no problem gently making fun of Oliver, either.  Huntress and Deathstroke are characters on The Arrow, btw.

The above scene is one of my favorites and anytime Oliver Queen and Barry Allen are on screen together is gold.  That’s part of why I love the yearly crossover episodes.

Overall, this is a good show, one that I highly recommend.

 

**For those, like me, who can find their anxiety going through the roof during certain shows, this one is anxiety producing, but mainly because the pace is somewhat breathless.  First time viewing for me I had to pause after -3 episodes and do something calming.  Now that I’ve already seen it once, the anxiety is less, but even the music for the show is fast and almost frantic.  Watch with some chamomile tea or something else that soothes you if shows cause you anxiety.