Flash Season 4 Review: Despair and Hope

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If you have followed the Crusaders for any length of time, you have probably heard us say that “This is a great time to be a comic fan!” We have the MCU, DCEU (which I am just as a big a fan of despite the general despair from the fan base), the Marvel Netflix shows and the CW DC show, along with many others. While Marvel has done an unparalleled job of creating a wonderfully connected universe on the big screen, DC/CW has created a well-connected universe for the smaller screen.

While I love all comics from DC, Marvel, Image and others, I am firstly a DC fan. So I have done my best to keep up with the “Arrow-verse” as it is commonly called. This year I cut back but still followed Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash. Out of these three series’ The Flash has been the best. While the crossover was fun, cinematic, and amazing, The Flash consistently had the strongest season. I say this as a fan who was beginning to get tired of The Flash taking on speedsters three seasons in a row.

The formula of: “Hey I’m the fastest man alive” to “oh crap this dude is faster and he beat me” to “how do I get fast enough to beat this new baddie” was getting stale. That is why this season when they introduced the Thinker as the big baddie had me excited! While The Flash still had to be faster than ever before to beat him, or so he thought, it wasn’t always about punching in super-speed. This season brought more heart to the show than ever before, and heart is what really makes comics great.

I’m sure my fellow Crusaders will laugh at the fact that it is me, the Son of Mander, that is talking about heart, as I am often teased for my lack of emotional awareness (being partly Vulcan). However, as a husband and a father, I appreciated what this season brought. The status quo was broken. Characters took on different roles, Iris West for instance, being the team leader, while Barry still remained the heart of the team. Heart, however, would not necessarily win the day.

Across the three series’ that I kept up with, this was the darkest by far, and the darkest season for The Flash yet. Normally, The Flash gives us glimmers of hope throughout the season. This season had very little hope, as The Thinker bested Team Flash at almost every turn. Every time it appeared that the good guys achieved a small win, The Thinker showed that it was all part of his plan. We see this drive the Flash farther into despair than any previous season.

The shining light in all this darkness? Iris West-Allen! Iris kept Barry from drowning in the depths of despair. No matter how many times defeat felt imminent, heart kept the team going. Ultimately, it was heart, or the emotional equation, that kept The Thinker confused the most. As his power grew, his connection to his human side, the emotion that defines humanity, diminished. His calculations grew further and further from emotion and more and more based in logic. Honestly, the Thinker should have taken a page from Spock’s book, think logically but plan for emotionality.  

Despite all these set-backs the final episode begins with the culmination of The Thinker’s plans. How do you defeat such a logical being? Strike at his heart! Find the good still inside of him. I won’t spoil too much, but this quest leads them in a different direction than the team expects. The final defeat doesn’t come from The Flash alone, it comes from the team. Team Flash leverages the knowledge of the city to locate The Thinker and fight him on their own terms. The city together restores hope to Barry and Team Flash. The final blow is delivered by The Flash, and a mystery speedster, streaking pink lightning behind them. This final blow ends the threat and sees our hero being cheered by the city he has vowed to protect and bring hope to, which he has continued to do. 

Switching gears, and to wrap up, there was one odd element through out the entire season. A character that seemed to sporadically show up, make herself noticeable, but only enough to draw minor suspicion. In the next few episodes you wouldn’t think anything of it, until she showed up again. This character drew attention to herself because she has way too much energy, and talked way to fast. In the final scene of the finale, she once again shows up, by this point we’ve pieced together who she probably is, and she announced “I’m your daughter Nora from the future, and I think I made a big, big mistake.” BOOM! Right? Ok, not really, I saw it coming from mid-season. However, I love that the seeds for season 5 where spread throughout the season, and that final victory in season 4 was delivered by a family, even if Barry didn’t know it at the time.

I can’t wait for season 5 of The Flash! Let us know what your favorite moments of season 4 were and any theories, hopes or dreads you may have for season 5.

-Manderson, the Son of Mander