The Flash (2014)

S1 – 10/10 / S2 – 9.3/10 / S3 – 3/10 / S4 – 7.5/10 / S5 – 9.2/10 / S6 – 8.7/10

Plot Synopsis: Forensic scientist Barry Allen is struck by lightning & given the ability to run at superhuman speeds. He uses this power to fight crime as DC Comics’ hero The Flash and find out who mysteriously killed his mother when he was young.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

CLC’s Best #TheFlash Episodes: 1. The Man In The Yellow Suit, 2. Fast Enough, 3. Out of Time, 4. The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen, Pt. 1, 5. Flash of Two Worlds, 6. Going Rogue, 7. The Flash Reborn, 8. Welcome to Earth-2, 9. Legacy, 10. The Past is Prologue, 11. Things You Can’t Outrun, 12. Trial of The Flash, 13. Invincible, 14. Trajectory, 15. Enter Zoom, 16. King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd, 17. Therefore I Am, 18. Godspeed, 19. The Trap, 20. Mixed Signals, 21. Flash vs. Arrow, 22. Who Is Harrison Wells?, 23. The Man Who Saved Central City, 23. There Will Be Blood, 24. Fallout, 25. Cause and XS

Series Review: Lightning-fast, visually-stunning in game-changing TV VFX, full of heart with *pure* comic book tone, and meticulous in handling of the sacred comics mythology of one of history’s first superheroes – with legendary DC villains, diversity in cast, and a perfect geeky-CSI Barry Allen casting in Grant Gustin, The Flash brings to life one of DC’s most famous (and difficult) heroes phenomenally. 9.4/10.

Season-by-Season Reviews

Season 1 – 10/10

After the massive, game-changing success of 2012’s Arrow, the world melted with anticipation when it heard WB greenlit a Flash TV Show by the same studio. It was always curious why The Flash, one of the first and most universally recognizable/iconic superheroes of All-Time, had never gotten a live-action rendition. Maybe it was the super-advanced CGI needed to make his super-speed look feasible, maybe it was waiting to get it just right due to the mythology of the character? All I know is that every superhero fan worldwide eagerly awaited the series, especially when it was announced it would be headed by Arrow’s showrunners just capping off a legendary Season 2 while also having introduced and proof-of-concepted Grant Gustin to great ratings and a huge thumbs-up from audiences for his *perfect* capturing of Barry’s geekiness & comic persona. Our faith was rewarded: Lightning-fast, visually-stunning in game-changing TV VFX, full of heart with *pure* comic book tone, and meticulous in handling of the sacred comics mythology of one of history’s first superheroes – with legendary DC villains, diversity in cast, and a perfect geeky-CSI Barry Allen casting in Grant Gustin, The Flash brings to life one of DC’s most famous (and difficult) heroes phenomenally.

The show is so perfect in Season 1 that it’s almost hard to recount how many things it gets right. Let’s start with the titular hero. Through an intricately-crafted and phenomenally-written origin story and hero arc (that makes only minor and thoroughly-acceptable changes to the backstory for maximum entertainment value in the childhood lightning storm), we get a lovable and familiar Barry Allen that will make any comic book fan squeal with joy. Gustin gets the geekiness and awkwardness of Barry PERFECTLY in his CSI job while also balancing sure-headed superheroicism in high-octane exploits in darker-red but stunning suit showcased in S1E1 (THANK YOU!). That is a testament to Gustin’s range as an actor and reminiscent of Reeve’s Superman from 1978 or Downey Jr.’s Iron Man as one of the most spot-on portrayals in a superhero casting I can remember in the genre (Update: ESPECIALLY after seeing Ezra Miller’s dumpster-fire portrayal in the DCEU seemedly bent on its own destruction for not just bringing universally-beloved Amell and Gustin up, you *really* recognize how perfect/inimitable Gustin is in the role.)

The tone. The mix of tonal blends for the show is absolutely sensational. It gets the light-heartedness of Barry Allen and Golden-Age Scarlet Speedster just right with hints of humour and heart for what feels like you’re literally watching a comic book in motion as a little kid in pajama-clad nostalgia to simpler times. However, make no mistake: the show gets DARK surprisingly-often like in Barry’s mother’s murder plotline and his fight with unquenchable lust for revenge on the man who took her away from him – for a phenomenal, auterist blend that dips into both camps without ever getting stuck or tied to one in what should appease all tastes for universal palatability. I’ll admit, I was worried the tone was going to be over-dark by Arrow’s showrunners – I mean the Amell literally snaps people’s necks and kills anyone who slightly vexes him bent on sadistically, brutally punishing any criminals in Nolan-esque realism-steeped vigilantism – but the wild diversity and ambidexterity in showrunner skill Berlanti and his team display in bringing such a storied, mythological figure in comic book history to screen is absolutely impressive.

Third, Reverse Flash. OH MY WORD, I cannot put into words how flawlessly they brought one of the greatest villains of *All-Time* and Flash’s greatest nemesis life. Tom Cavanaugh’s performance as Eobard Thawne is absolutely PERFECT. In fact, it might be my 2nd favorite supervillain performance in cinematic history after Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. Cavanaugh’s portrayal of the genius speedster who hates Flash with every fiber of his being, but has to create him due to a time-paradox him and The Scarlet Speedster’s battles put him in is charismatic, exceptionally deep and nuanced, impeccably and skillfully alternating in a Jekyll and Hyde-style, and unforgettable. I will admit: my jaw absolutely dropped when they revealed who was Reverse Flash- one of the best plot twists and villain reveals I’ve ever seen on television, and 100% impossible to predict because it tricks comic-bookers who were scouting for Thawne but explains and justifies the reasoning perfectly later.

Fourth, the CGI and effects. This was the part that I was most worried about coming into the show. With a superhero that can literally run at the speed of sound and so fast that all you see is a red blur with yellow lightening weaving through it, it can be nearly impossible to depict. It is so much so that I almost forgive DC for never making a previous live-action adaptation for The Flash, as the technology may have not been up to par until now. Even with a budget not nearly as big as the movies, the show continually makes my jaw drop with how smoothly and fluidly they make his speed look, while also depicting insane spectacles like giant tsunamis and The Rogue’s powers like Mist and Cold’s freeze gun cinematographically. The cinematography and meticulous attention to detail in every frame throughout the first season is impeccable, even through a 23-episode season which would cripple most television producers in its sheer length but keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time, especially with their format and choice of story arcs/how they end each episode with a major plot twist/after-scene credit.

Following, the supporting characters. Other than Barry Allen and Eobard Thawne – two of the heavy hitters in the history of comic books, The Flash does a phenomenal job introducing and developing a whole host of rich and investable-in characters. First, CISCO. I absolutely love Cisco as a character – he is hilarious, geeky, and charismatic and a perfect compliment/comic relief that gives me several huge laughs every episode to go along with the superheroics. Danielle Panabaker’s Caitlyn Snow is also very good as a serious counter and intriguing character as every comic book fan is just waiting to see why they picked Killer Frost in this position and how/if they’ll have her transform soon.  Iris and Joe West are also extremely well-done with Joe being one of the most skillfully-acted parts in the show (Law and Order flashbacks) and gorgeojs Candace Patton as the iconic Iris West. I also really appreciate the diversity in casting and decisions to have many races fill the screen so that it’s not just whitewashed like many superhero movies, and there is not a single side character or cameo I would recast or wish wasn’t there.

The storytelling scope and iconic Flash moments are more of the reasons why this show is perfect in its first season. They tackle so many legendary heroes and villains from the comics in the first season alone; I hope they don’t run out of characters too fast in the long run! Literally in just one season, you have Flash, Reverse Flash, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Gorilla Grodd, Green Arrow, Firestorm, Weather Wizard, The Trickster, and Flash’s Rogue Gallery. That is certainly not scraping the bottom of the barrel and makes any comic book fan scream with joy that some of these famous villains and heroes are finally getting their turn on the silver screen. There are so many iconic Flash moments in this season too, that I am not ashamed to say that I almost shed a tear at some of them. A couple of the best moments I will cherish forever when now thinking of The Flash are 1. Flash’s suit reveal and running around the tornado in the pilot, 2. When Barry runs back in time to stop the tsunami from hitting Central City, 3. Reverse Flash reveal and Flash v. Rev. Flash showdown in the football stadium at Christmas, 4. Reverse Flash reveal and Cisco’s death scene, and 5. The Season finale (and its jaw-dropping ending).

Finally, that brings me to the finale. The Flash’s season 1 finale is one of the craziest episodes of television I have ever watched. I would easily put it in the Top 3 season finales I’ve ever seen. It is absolutely breathtaking in its scope of going back in time, construction in coming full circle to where we began in his mother’s mystery and him having to run backwards to stop the wormhole (tornado symbolism), pure emotion in his mother’s death scene (I literally cried and I’m not even the slightest bit scared to admit it, it was gut-wrenching), and that cliffhanger of him running through debris on top of the wormhole and it cutting black without letting us know what happened after.

There are few seasons of television I would consider perfect and The Flash Season 1 is one of them. I would put it in my Top 5 favorite shows ever, and 2nd favorite superhero show ever after Arrow S1-2 (personally, definitely get why people put Flash 1st) as well as one of the Top 5 greatest superhero adaptations of All-Time. Lightning-fast, visually-stunning in game-changing TV VFX, full of heart with *pure* comic book tone, and meticulous in handling of the sacred comics mythology of one of history’s first superheroes – with legendary DC villains, diversity in cast, and a perfect geeky-CSI Barry Allen casting in Grant Gustin, I am ecstatic to say that DC’s 75-year old iconic hero has finally gotten an adaptation to be proud of, and this is just the beginning.

Official CLC Score: 10/10

Season 2 – 9.3/10

After the unbelievable finale and perfection of Season 1 of The Flash, I came into Season 2 with monumental expectations. It is always a worry when a show has that good a 1st season that it will get cocky and lose itself in Season 2; seen it happen many-a-time and it can be the difference between cancelled and going 10 seasons. Well, I am happy ti say that The Flash season 2 did not disappoint and is another extremely strong season, even though it’s not as good as Season 1.

Where to start? First, Zoom. When I heard that Zoom was going to be the big bad of Season 2, and that they were going to have JAY GARRICK as a major character on the show, I almost lost my mind with hype. These are two of the biggest names in all of Flash lore and superhero history (Garrick is the original Flash before Barry Allen and Zoom is Flash’s 2nd biggest enemy). They are both depicted near-flawlessly by the unbelievable acting of Teddy Sears. He steals the show in the season, first as the charismatic and undeniably superhero-like Jay Garrick. and 2nd as the impeccably evil Zoom. Jay is a phenomenally written and developed character that brings depth and complements nicely to the team’s dynamic, and Zoom is so fast, beautifully-suited, and dastardly evil that they carry the strong season.

Also, there’s a whole new host of great bad guys and story arcs. For example, we get to see more classic Flash villains like Dr. Light, Trajectory, King Shark, and Sandman, while also getting the same recurring Season 1 villains with new plots just like the comic books. That is what I love most about The Flash: the show feels like a comic book in motion. The Jay Garrick and Zoom story arcs are impeccable, and who can forget story arcs like the Journey to Earth-2 which felt like a movie unto itself. Amazing.

The CGI and effects are also noticeably better, probably due to an amped-up budget after the slam-dunk success of The Flash’s Season 1. Things like watching Jay Garrick v. Zoom on a rooftop in a noir-homaged Earth-2 are stunning to behold, and deliver on the single most important thing for a superhero show: the action. Flash also learning how to do new tricks with his speed like throw lightning bolts is an awesome addition that shows just how insane The Flash’s powers are and will be when he learns all he can.

Finally, the Zoom reveal. Oh my word was I thrown for a loop when they revealed who Zoom was. They did it at the perfect time for an impactful and jaw-dropping reveal that no one could have possibly seen coming. They had a little difficulty in explaining it later as the Speed Force dynamics can get a bit complicated, but from a pure storytelling and mystery angle, it was an absolutely phenomenal reveal that built up the hype through an incredible and near-flawless back-half of the season.

Now, there were a couple of things holding the show back from its Season 1 greatness. First, the opening. The opening of Season 2 is quite disappointing in their decision to not have a straight continuation from the breathtaking Season 1 finale ending with the wormhole. I cannot understand why they would possibly do that as everyone going into season 2 wanted to see exactly what happened next and it’s kind of jarring. Next, the tone. The tone is noticeably different than it was in Season 1 – there is a darkness that is bizarre and unneeded in a Flash TV Show as he is one of the most light-hearted heroes and that was what made Season 1 such a blast.

The colors seem to have been darkened as well too which just contributes to the aura and is a questionable decision, perhaps spurred by the heads of DC to coincide with the DCEU and the tone of their films like Man of Steel. It does not work very well for Flash, and while it is not unbearable, it is slightly burdensome. Finally, the season finale is pretty underwhelming overall, especially with the wild end to Episode 22 with Barry’s dad and the stupid plot point of having him and Zoom simply forget their beef and race and barry’s team thinking they can stop a ~god of speed themselves.

Overall, season 2 of the Flash is a very strong season of television that continues the greatness from Season 1, while having a few minor flaws holding it back from the same level. With the ending setting up FLASHPOINT, I am more hyped for Season 3 than any comic book show out.

Official CLC Score: 9.3/10

Season 3 – 3/10

There are few seasons of TV that have disappointed me as much as The Flash Season 3, while also impressing me at the same time in a bizarre combination. From the end plot twist of Season 2 where Barry goes back in time to save his mother, thereby creating Flashpoint, I was HYPED. Flashpoint Paradox is one of my favorite and most legendary comic storylines of All-Time, made even more popular by the great animated DC movie released by the same name, so I was expecting something at least close to that in accuracy. However, what we got was barely even a Flashpoint. There were NO Flashpoint heroes, the defining Flashpoint hallmarks like Thomas Wayne’s Batman and evil Wonder Woman and Aquaman fighting each other.

I understand if DC didn’t want them to have Batman and Wonder Woman versions on DCTV with how much pressure the DCEU is under after BvS and Suicide Squad, but I have no idea why they couldn’t have at least had a Flashpoint Robert Queen Arrow and evil Supergirl or Legends in allusion to Flashpoint Batman and Wonder Woman, respectively, especially with how easy they can crossover with how the CW contracts are set up. Also, I don’t understand why they decided to only have their meta-“Flashpoint” storyline last one episode, instead of at least half the season that it easily could have with the aforementioned plot points and a little bit of writing. Instead, on the Flashpoint angle, what we’re left with is a soul-crushing cheap imitation if you’re a DC fan and a Flash fan who knows how great the show can be like in Seasons 1 and 2.

The season just feels like a slog of throughly harped on past material. Time Travel is nailed in so hard that you get almost physically sick of it by the end, and the change-time-to-stop-Iris’-death storyline is dragged on way too long and infuriating in that it basically undoes the entire lesson Barry was supposed to learn in Flashpoint and reduces the once strong female lead in Iris who used to be an intriguing and independent reporter into a damsel-in-distress act. I am also not a big fan of the addition of Julian. Malfoy from Harry Potter is an undeniably skilled actor, but I don’t know, he just doesn’t gel nicely with the team and his pessimsism and attitidue gets kind of annoying and burdensome.

Also, Cisco is not as funny this season which is a shame and Barry seems less capable and independent having to strangely ask his team for help on every little thing when he is THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE (Wally should not be faster than him already – smh another cringy season decision). There are some extremely questionable decision too like having a Musical crossover and The Rival as a big bad. Finally, Savitar is a great villain, but sadly mishandled this season in that they took WAYYYY too long to reveal him (21 episodes in a 23-episode season and all these false teases, are you freaking kidding me?!..) for it to have any impact and was potentially a jaw-dropping plot twist but you were so angry and fed up at that point to really care. Also, the season finale was very underwhelming and the ending stupid with the HR bullcrap misdirection and kill-Savitar-with-kindness speel before Barry sacrifices himself to the speed force (rendering the entire season pointless), although I can respect that they did it just to set up DC Rebirth and correct a lot of these problems like a weaker Flash and divided Team for next season.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many good elements of the season that should not be ignored or go unappreciated. For one, Wally West and Jessie Quick. I absolutely love how they brought-in and depicted Barry Allen’s legendary speedster sidekick in Wally, with a good-looking suit to match. Jessie’s portrayal is good too by the beautiful and charismatic Violett Beane, and two are good compliments to Barry, even though the palette seems overcrowded with speedsters quite often. What we do see of Flashpoint in episode 1 is very good as well (making me even more sad that we were cheated out of a real one). The Time Travel angle and Flashpoint’s effects are also cool and give strong plot points to set up the rest of the season, even though they are overbelabored in the 23-episode format of each season (not a fault of the show itself, thanks CW -.-).

The Invasion! crossover event was also absolutely NUTS! It was one of the most awesome things I have ever seen on television to have over 15 members of the Justice League team up to stop an otherworldly threat – like a mini-Justice League movie which will only get bigger in scope and scale every year from now on that it’s become a yearly staple and CW’s superhero show lineup keeps on growing with the additions of Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, Teen Titans, and so on. There are other cool story arcs and events like the Attack of Gorilla City 2-parter and the Savitar arc and reveal, which is very good and a great villain sadly mishandled or he could’ve been better than Zoom.

All in all, The Flash season 3 is disappointing, although still investable and good television by any other show’s standards. It is hard not to notice the slight decline in quality since Season 1, and I hope Flash will undergo an Arrow-esque return to roots in Season 4. With them setting up a DC Rebirth arc and The Thinker, it should be possible!

Official CLC Score: 3/10

…..

Season 4 – 7.5/10

I have to admit, I was slightly worried coming into Season 4 of The Flash. The Flash is one of my favorite shows of All-Time and was absolutely legendary in Seasons 1 and 2, but came across some problems in Season 3, from an underwhelming and too-short Flashpoint to tonal inconsistencies to speedster overload to a head-scratching finale leaving even the main character of the show: Barry Allen’s future in jeopardy. However, I am happy to say that I was WRONG and Season 4 of The Flash is a return to the light-hearted pure comic book fun of a show that I fell in love with back in 2014!!

There are so many things Season 4 corrects and gets right. First, the tone. The Flash is one of my favorite superheroes ever, and from the comics I used to read as a kid to animated movies to this show, Barry has always had one thing that goes hand and hand with his story: a light tone highlighting the heart and heroic optimism he overcomes the darkness in himself and his backstory to impart on the world. For the past 2 seasons of The Flash, they have gotten away from that tone that was established and made Season 1 one of the few seasons of television I would consider absolutely perfect. From a dark Zoom story paralleled by physically dark tints in the cinematography and camerawork, to another dark storyline in S3 with Savitar, it was kind of jarring and head-scratching leading people to believe a sentiment that has been problematically well-supported lately: DC is trying to make all of their live-action products Batman-level dark. However, I am ecstatic to say that S4 of The Flash returns to that light, heroic tone once again with humor, fun (not a crime to have happiness every now and then too), and even physically brighter and more vivid colors, set pieces, and a BEAUTIFUL NEW SUIT!! Not only that, S4 corrects one of my biggest and only problems with the show before: The Flash is MUCH faster and stronger now and did what was actually a great decision using the speed-force ending from S3 by using it to boost and power-up Flash to comic book level!!

There are several iconic Flash story arcs brought to screen this season too, the first one being Rebirth, which 4A brings to life beautifully with the season opener and, thankfully, Flash’s quick return from the Speed-Force as i had little to no interest in watching the show without Grant Gustin’s Barry as he is what makes the show and the only Flash for me. There is also Trial of The Flash in mid-season which is breathtakingly rendered on-screen as well giving legal junkies a cool trial and law episode and doing the unthinkable and emotionally heavy act of putting Barry Allen in prison, in the same cell as his father which is just gut-wrenching. Finally, there is the best storyline of this season and a villain I was unsure of how they would bring him to the screen but could not be happier with the result: The Thinker.

The Thinker is such a phenomenal villain that I cannot stop gushing having just seen the finale minutes before writing this. THANKFULLY taking the focus away from speedster villains, who can be great especially in S1 with Reverse Flash who is just god-tier, they were getting stale and adding a non-speedster villain who is even more powerful arguably than all the past villains put together is the injection of energy and freshness this show needed and was revitalized from. Neil Sandilands is a phenomenal actor and really entertains with his knowledge-lusting, brutal coldness and calculation, while also adding a new layer to the terror with body-snatching and the horror of imagining someone else being in control of your persona and watching as a bystander. Scenes like when Izzy is trapped by The Thinker and has to just look at Ralph saying “it’s going to be okay” as her body and powers are stolen is just brutally dark. Hot too, as let’s face it: what guy hasn’t dreamed what it’s like to be a woman. It also helps establish him as the strongest villain perhaps ever to be realized on superhero TV in that he absorbs 12 meta-humans’ powers and is damn-near untouchable at the ending having a super-tech throne, the ability to read minds, control technology and gravity, use psychic attacks, shrink and enlarge things, the power of luck, reanimate the dead, elasticity and shape-shifting, and a whole bunch more that makes him insanely overpowered and a true threat you can actually feel scared by. The scene in the penultimate episode of S4 “Fast Thinking” where Devoe breaks into an A.R.G.U.S. facility and takes down an entire army of agents using all of his powers to kill in intricate scenes, all in one-shot without cutting, is one of the most breathtaking and perhaps the greatest action scene I’ve ever seen in superhero TV. Legendary.

Miscellaneous other things the season does really well are a strong opener and finale episodes – the two most important things for a season to have, a great class of weekly villains all serving a purpose in the end villain’s agenda: Kilgore, Siren-X, and Hazard are my favorites, moving Wally and Kid Flash to Legends as i love Kid Flash and he’s important to the lore of speedsters but was being underused and did little but contribute to the overcrowded canvas of speedsters that was plaguing the show so good decision by the showrunners there, an intriguing new speedster in Barry and Iris’ daughter that leavest the door wide open for S5 in possibilities, Cisco and Wells’ impeccable and side-shatteringly hilarious bickering and comedy routines, and young-Jim Carrey-esque Ralph Dibny’s Elongated Man who is phenomenally developed over the course of the season, funny (most of the time), and does justice to one of DC’s oldest heroes and Justice League members while also throwing shade at Marvel and the fact that they clearly copied (like most of their heroes) from DC their famous Mr. Fantastic (first appearance: Nov. 1961) from DC’s Elongated Man (first appearance: May 1960). Love it.

Now, while there are FAR more pros than cons and anyone who tries to tell you differently this season is just silly, there is 1 huge, monumental problem with S4: IRIS. An originally likeable and strong female lead, capable reporter, and rootable and comic accurate love interest for Barry, she has turned into an absolute monster and UNBEARABLY annoying and bossy brat who actually thinks and the characters forced to say by the writers that she’s the boss/captain of Team Flash. LOL, I’ve never been more infuriated than when I heard her say the words “You’re not The Flash, Barry. We Are.” I thought I might punch a wall with how stupid the writers were on that, paralleled multiple times throughout the season in absolutely blashpemous episodes like Girls Night Out which is an insult to cinema and desparate attempt to be culturally relevant by screaming ‘#Feminism’ while showing more the fake feminism that’s more a hatred/disclusion of men all together which is sexist too.. and Run Iris Run which almsot made me throw up how badly they disrespected Flash that episode giving Iris Flash’s speed and demoting him to a side character on his own show.. I legit think they’re getting pressure by executives at the network to overindulge their female leads as it’s the exact same thing that happened with Felicity and made a lot of people hate Arrow, only Iris is even worse than Felicity in my opinion as at least Felicity as bad as she was in S4 never claimed to be as much of the Green Arrow as Oliver was despite not firing any arrows or running. Disgraceful. They show signs of Iris returning to journalism towards the end of the season which would be great, but we’ll have to wait and see if they actually follow through. The only other really minor problems with this season were a minor detour into comedy too close to the end of the season in the Council of Wells and Cecil mindreading personas, some unnecessary filler episodes, and the grating, annoying presence of Amunet Black, but these are trivial, besides Iris, in what was otherwise a great season.

Overall, Season 4 of The Flash is a rebirth of the show that corrects its tonal and speedster overload problems with a phenomenal and terrifying new villain that pushes the boundaries of superhero TV with a tremendously overpowered arsenal of abilities, great weekly villains and side characters like Kilgore, Siren-X, and Elongated Man, a beautiful new suit and speedster FX, wowing episodes and tributes to iconic Flash arcs like Rebirth, Thinker, and Trial of The Flash, and a return to the light-hearted pure comic book feel that made the show such a massive success and hit back in S1. Sure Iris is brutally annoying and there are some minor flaws, but there are overwhelmingly more pros and great things accomplished this season that make me back in full throttle for this show. Can’t wait for Season 5!

Official CLC Score: 7.5/10

Season 5 – 9.2/10

“2023: The Flash Missing – Vanishes in Crisis” Ever since S1, that infamous future tagline has been haunting our curiosities like the yellow-suited, red-lightening vibratory devil of Reverse Flash. Perhaps teasing Crisis On Infinite Earths (one of DC’s – and comic book history’s – wildest events ever), perhaps teasing a smaller beacon of danger; we all have been dying to know what this Easter Egg-trail so painstakingly laid out over 5 years meant – and now we have an answer by way of one of DCTV’s and The Flash’s best seasons of television ever. From ~perfection in new suit to addition of a bubbly, infectious new personality in show-stealing Dawn/XS, phenomenal character development for all team members, S1-callbacks with minimal fillers, & godly speedster villains in return of REVERSE FLASH AND GODSPEED, The Flash is BACK with its strongest season in years – since S2 over 60+ episodes ago.

Dawn (Nora) West-Allen/XS and New Suit. Easily the highlight of S5 and what adds a tremendous breath of fresh air is the addition of a show-stealing new character: The Flash’s daughter. Nora (originally Dawn from the original version of the timeline as teased by RF back in 2015) West-Allen is simply infectious in her bubbly, amiable, engaging sugar-sweet personality with dire secrets hidden under the surface that pave the way for *sensational* entertainment and callbacks to the best character in the show’s history later on, as I’ll get to. Brought to life by a stellar performance by Jessica Parker Kennedy that indeniably anchors the season, Nora is about as dazzling a new character addition as you could expect – and the show’s seen, balancing both sides of the speed force (with ample costume and speed force beautifully purple/yellow lightning) – and serving as a makeshift-S1 Flash where Barry goes from student to teacher and we can relive the nostalgia and Season 1 wonder of a new speedster learning their powers through new eyes in an equally-congenial personality. The new Flash suit is near-PERFECTION too (aside from the chin strap I wish was there but small wrinkle) adding more vibrancy in red hues, thicker gold Mercury-ic accents, and more even stitchwork and solids for the definitive visual live-action Flash – plus, we finally got the perfectly comic-accurate ring suit after waiting only 5 seasons!

Father-daughter character arcs with strong development all around and minimal fillers. Character development is also put on as dazzling array as all the speedster VFX (as good as or even better than ever with markedly more inventive cinematography in signature-vibrancy super-speed/slow-motion shots) with the smart screenwriting prowess lacking in S3/S4. The writers’ room clearly put on their poker faces with a cleverly-scriped season that actually overcomes one of the worst-dealt studio hands given to them instead flipping it to their advantage: the 23-episode burden unloaded by The CW. Being 2x (even 3x) longer than most other TV series’ episode counts for a season and thus requiring difficult stalling or filler episodes discordantly injected throughout the slate to distract from the main plot to meet quota, this imbecilic rule by the studio is overcome through masterful juggling of storylines to instead use the extra time to flesh out each character on the show with their own self-discovery/development arcs. Obviously Barry, Iris, and Nora are given the lion’s share with their sweet and fascinating parental themes/arc coming to deal with having their future daughter suddenly appear and grow close to them, but Cisco is taken to the edge of his character’s limits both psychologically and physically learning what life without powers is like and choosing between being Vibe or the possibility of having a family and normalcy (of which I will miss him sorely as easily one of the show’s best characters but love his departure’s handling), Caitlin grows closer with Killer Frost and her family by way of multiple revelations on the primal backstory of KF and sacrifice of her father, Joe and Cecil are sequestered with a new baby, and Tom Cavanaugh is back with yet another phenomenal new character showcasing his immaculate/inimitable acting array in the fascinating det. Sherloque. All these arcs are fit in like a puzzle throughout the season so that it rarely if ever feels draggish or fractured like was sometimes the case in S2-4, instead still fitting in with the overarching storyline nicely and as well as its big bads do.

Finally, the big bads. HOLY MOLY. I cannot even describe how stunning this season was in terms of one thing – THE RETURN OF REVERSE FLASH. The *ultimate* Flash character – and best villain performance I’ve seen since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight – is back with a sensational pulling-strings arc on death row having the concoct a way to get out. The whole season’s myriad of events spanning months – and multiple villains/character pawns from Cicada (intriguing idea and backstory being a meta-human slasher with multiple versions throughout the season, even if problematic as I’ll later discuss) to playing Nora like a violin to do his bidding while also fitting in a soul-crushing blow to his greatest enemy in Flash turning his daughter into a weapon against him to also delving a bit into his psychology and backstory of why he became the Reverse Flash and was destined to be Barry’s greatest fan-turned-enemy – absolutely *unbelievable*. The show was genius to bring back their best character in absolutely BADASS fashion that does nothing but add to his lore/legend in show-stopper scenes like the electric chair in slow-motion only to go wrong and final Cicada dagger reveal that he was playing everyone the whole time. As Ralph said best: “Thawne’s plans have plans”; Truly S1-like incarnate reminding whole-heartedly why I fell in love with The Flash in the first place. Beyond RF, multiple other incredible villain ep’s are fit in as well like King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd in magnificent kaiju/monster-battle fashion (not-so-coincidentally released at the same time as Godzilla: King of The Monsters), Icicle vs. Killer Frost, a Negative Speed Force-controlled XS leading a new version of Rogues, and GODSPEED who is simply godly as one of the most fascinating and powerful speedster adversaries in comics I can’t wait to return next season as big bad.

Minor flaws in S5 are pretty much limited to Cicada. Cicada’s look is problematic trying to lean too hard on its Jack The Ripper motif with a hoody/trenchcoat that just looks off/doesn’t fit properly, overlong mask, and too-big dagger. The character is also tremendously overacted by its questionable-actor/actress choices both times visibly straining to – for some reason – wildly oversell the anger part so that it’s not even remotely believable/natural and far less entertaining/intimidating than Reverse Flash, Godspeed, or even a Negative Speed Force-controlled Nora that deliver A+-villainy without having to convince anyone of it and should’ve been given far more time in Anakin-turned-Vader, hero-turned-villain glory. The character cast is also still a bit crowded with Cecil and Ralph still being unnecessary characters I wish would go away or join Legends until the crossovers, season still overlong through no fault of the show only studio in CW (and they mostly get around it but still: 22 episodes is a longseason) and there are a few SJW-isms like whole “most of the men in this city” Kamilla-date replays and Iris being Iris like getting mad when Barry sent Nora back after learning she lied (absolutely right to be upset his own daughter could knowingly work with RF and 100% right he manipulated her).

Overall, S5 of The Flash is absolutely sensational and one of its best seasons in years. From ~perfection in new suit to addition of a bubbly, infectious new personality in show-stealing Dawn/XS, phenomenal character development for all team members, S1-callbacks with minimal fillers, & godly speedster villains in return of REVERSE FLASH AND GODSPEED, this season reminded me whole-heartedly why I fell in love with The Flash in the first place as one of my favorite shows ever back in S1. Despite its problematic villain-portrayal in Cicada – a minor gripe compared to its RF pulling-strings arc that will leave your jaw dropped well past the last flickers of credits, The Flash is BACK in form and trajectory at the starting line of what’s set to be the wildest event in DCTV history clearly teased with that final post-credits time flux: Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Official CLC Score: 9.2/10

Season 6 – 8.7/10

The cliffhanger. ‘The Flash Missing – Vanishes In CRISIS‘. A newspaper headline & crossover event teased all the way back 6 years ago in 2014’s S1 now moved up to 2019, and one that promises inconceivable changes to the story – or even the death of Barry Allen. S5 was the best season of the Flash since S2, and massively superior to seasons 3 & 4 in every possible way getting back to the pure comic book tone that skyrocketed the series to where it is today – with some added slasher-isms and a Reverse Flash arc that not only brought back one of the greatest villains and villain performances in superhero media history – but made way for an exciting, bubbly new personality in Nora/Dawn that delighted critics and (level-headed) fans alike. The speedster series is back with its 6th go-round – and it is better than ever.

A textbook case on how to utilize season structure accordingly. What’s most dazzling about S6 is how brilliantly Berlanti and the showrunners have finally cracked the code in getting around The CW’s (imbecilic) 23-episode season structure: splitting off characters into side arcs that test range and bring new situations to the table. I was positively shocked to find everything from Indiana Jones-adventure hunts to Zombie Horror to Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk Whodunits to swanky undercover Spy Thrillers feeling straight out the annals of classic Bond entries – in a series that should be only about super-speed superheroics. It is an indescribable pleasure to see the series take one of the CW portfolio’s biggest achilles heels – absurdly and pointlessly-long season episode-counts nearly THREE TIMES any other network on television (8-10, so technically Flash would be in season 17-18 by normal episode count) for a package loaded with filler and a downright chore to get through so many hours in front of the TV – and turn it on its head, throwing our characters into loads of exciting and diverse situations that not only give the screenwriters and actors stuff to do and be excited about – as well as showcase their range and talent/skill that extends far beyond superheroicisms if anyone gave them the chance. This could be a turning point for the network in how to keep fans engaged through double-digit (unparalleled, when applying the 3x-multiple) season counts if they don’t want to just simply shorten episode-orders for each season – and one I hope will be applied to all DCTV series.

An innovative use of soundtrack. Something I also noticed from the first episode that differentiates S6 from other seasons in a good way is a brilliant use of soundtrack to make the series feel far more idiosyncratic – and cinematic. We’re bombarded with things like ’80’s Queen in ultra-cheesy, classically-innocent, throwback comic-book Flash gloriousness, booming orchestral sequences feeling straight out the radio halls of blockbuster scores, moombahton party sequences, electro-pop, jazz-hat trimbles and boingy-Bond theme homages, and cascading sci-fi synths for what is a fantastic auditory accompaniment this season that’s a treat to behold – and deserves major praise for Blake Neely pushing himself as much as the show is to do something new and different.

Phenomenal character arcs & expansions. S6 also has tons to say about its current slate of characters – redeeming some, fleshing-out others, adding newcomers, and exploring new angles untreaded in CBM territory altogether. First and most sensational, IRIS IS PALATABLE AGAIN! What looked to be a classic case of franchises never listening/learning from their mistakes, S4-5’s sacriligeous posit that Irish is the new leader of Team Flash – and even, breathtakingly, just as much The Flash as Barry is…. (feels unholy to even say aloud but, yes, that happened..) looked to be replicating the self-made dagger that killed the greatness of Arrow in Felicity and a demotion of its titular superhero to a bystander on his own show. That has been swiftly retconned into a new arc for her that gives her plenty to do and doesn’t lose female character agency or power and boasts the best parts of her S1-2 character – building a news conglomerate in The Citizen and taking a new (fine) character under her wing in Allegra Garcia as well as adding to Kamilla’s reservoir for a trifecta of diversity and women power that’s not overbearing or forced balancing the best of both worlds.

Killer Frost and Ralph/Elongated Man are given the lion’s share of new characterization with fleshed-out, brilliant arcs exploring completely new, innovative territory for CBM’s: life experiences & reciprocal slavery positions of dual-persona/alter-ego’s like Hulk and KF (why are they forced to come out to fight bad guys only, then “returned to their cage” to wait in darkness til the next summoning? Don’t they deserve to live too?) & toxic masculinity/relationship trauma as a dark, weighty theme through the lens of Ralph’s mother coping with his father’s desertion only to escape commitment in new suitors and Ralph’s pain he kept bottled up and was conditioned as a man to suppress and not express when she made up lies that they died. Cecil becoming a meta-human attorney is also exciting, Chester P. Runk is a fantastic new character screaminng S1-2 enthusiasm and geekiness, Cavanaugh is back with perhaps the best new persona ever after Reverse Flash in Indiana Jones-y Nash Welles, and finally, the man of the hour – Dr. Ramsey Rosso.

Dr. Ramsey Rosso. Sendhil Ramamurthy gives one of the greatest villain performances I remember in a long time as the torn, cancer-struck Dr. Ramsey Rosso. A former pre-med student who changed career paths when he got introduced to acting (and boasts Indian diversity I and literally Billions of others are relieved to finally be given the slightest consideration in Hollywood), Ramamurthy’s Victorian thespian pedigree – down to even the British accent and way he hits his cues/monologue delivery – bleeds through every frame he’s in for a show-stealing performance steeped in philosophically themes rife with existential complexity. His backstory is unconscionably dark – losing his beloved mother to a horrific systemic inflammatory syndrome with fatal effects called HLH (Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis) she refused to put up a fight against, chalking it up to happy-go-lucky ‘we’ve all got to die sometimes’ metaphorical cliff-jumping with a smile on her face. Dr. Rosso is torn apart by this, not only losing his mother and the concept of death coming for good people way before their time but how some people refuse to even question the Grim Reaper’s judgment. When he’s self-diagnosed with HLH himself (a heriditary recessive-autosomal slim chance enacted by a cruel fate insatiable with just one Rosso in the grave), he loses his trust in the balance of order and nature – beginning medically and ethically-questionable morality stunts like stealing dark matter and human trials without the litany of paperwork trails and years of testing requiscent beforehand. This leads him to, by accident, get infected with a dark matter condition that allows him to sap life force from others and turn them into his minions in the process – giving them everlasting life but as subjects to his will. His zombifying powers, final monstrous red-being appearance, and pedigreed acting performance showing the slow hypnotic psychological descent from Medical Doctor living by the Hippocratic Oath to standing over a shattered frame of it killing the patients he once saved is absolutely powerful and indescribable darkness and God-tier Villainy of the highest possible order.

The immaculate zombie & medical/body/creature horror that follows is sensationally-entertaining – but what’s the best part of this entire season is what this does to Barry. The lens of Crisis being told (& shown) firsthand that his inescapable fate is to die so that everyone on his Earth can live is about as dark and brutal a fate as one could hope for – and one that tests the sanctity and purity of his soul and heroicism to the bone. Even though heroes are by definition supposed to sacrifice so that others can live, is it really fair that someone so young having just been given a glimpse at life themes like marriage, parenthood, and a friend canvas where everything’s right has to give it all up (and the decades to follow) in their mid-20/30’s? Rosso attacks this doubt and faithlessness like a parasite and the Devil incarnate, twisting his psyche to accept his ‘cure’ and life eternal as a temptation of Biblical sin and soul-selling in one of the greatest episodes of the series – and, perhaps, modern TV – HISTORY in The Last Temptation of Barry Allen – where the most jaw-dropping character decision I’ve witnessed in years happens: Barry is conned using nightmares straight out the annals of The Twilight Zone, rejects God (The Speed-Force) to his face, and shakes the hand of the Devil becoming a Dark Flash as perfect and gloriously-evil as one could possibly design and imagine. The best moment in the show’s history since S1. HOLY SH*T – Viscerally Brilliant and the ‘hero’-turned-dark shock factor/defibrillation the series needed to jump-start it into a new era and multitude of seasons at this rate.

Flaws include a retread of past themes in fate and changing the future, weak opener, and Rosso appearance later-on. Someone from Team Flash is marked to die and they have to spend entire chunks of the season trying to find a way to change the future and get them back – tell me where you’ve heard that before. The season’s Crisis-impending doom storyline is an exact retread of Season 3’s Savitar/Iris arc that makes for a tiresome repititon that’s maddening in how much it highlights how much better the concept could have been – and how awful Season 3 was. It’s no secret that CLC wholly views Season 3 of The Flash not only as the worst season of the show by speedster-travelling miles, but one of the worst, most inane, contrived, messily-plotted, and wasteful seasons in superhero TV history for how sacrilegously it wasted Flashpoint (even with an entire DCTV empire around it to use) and handled Future Flash lore. The roller-coaster ride to save Iris was amongst the worst part of the season too, and what was bad is not unforgivable in how much better it’s handled here – yet tiresome to see the exact same thread and plot point served again at a time where it’s ‘been there, done that’ and soggy. The S6 opener is also perhaps the weakest season opener in series history bizarrely even finding a way to be boring with Crisis On Infinite Earths on the horizon and a stunning cliffhanger to set-it-up (corrects in E2 and becomes a strong season but starts sloppily). Finally, while Ramamurthy’s Bloodwork is a sensational villain in goals, backstory, characterization, and powers – his transitional look with black veins all over his face is a bit messy and brings up Venom throwbacks of the worst kind (read CLC’s review eviscerating its cacophony for reference.)

Official CLC Score (At Midseason, Subject To Change By Season’s End): 8.7/10