That title shouldn’t mislead you into thinking this season of The Flash was utterly terrible. It was just much worse than the previous two.
Also, what’s conventional for a weekly show is to review every episode as it goes by, but I’m reviewing the season as a whole, so this will be pretty long.
And for the first time ever, I’m writing a review without any care for spoilers, so you’ve been warned.
The Flash is a DC television show that airs on the CW Network, and is a part of the larger ‘Arrowverse’ that dominates the same network. After two great seasons, the finale of season two promised Flashpoint in the third season, so naturally, there was a lot of excitement.
So… Flashpoint. Kind of.
Look, nobody expected a Thomas Wayne Batman or a world war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman, but having Flashpoint basically last one episode was rather disappointing. Sure, the effects of it were felt throughout the season, particularly (and thankfully) bringing Tom Felton’s Julian Albert into existence. Tom Felton was a very welcome addition to Team Flash, and I hope he remains for season four.
When Barry returns to the normal timeline, things look great… And then they don’t.
The false flag for the big bad of this season, Alchemy, was bland but could have been potentially great. After only a few episodes, he is revealed to be Julian (big surprise), and to be a puppet of a bigger threat, Savitar… Another speedster.
After two seasons of having speedster villains, it was absolutely time for a break, and who the actual villain should have been will be discussed in a little bit. I don’t think Savitar was the right villain for this season, because tonally and narratively, he took the season down the wrong path.
The villains of seasons one and two were great. The Reverse Flash being hidden in plain sight for most of season one, and Zoom being there simply to test Barry’s abilities provided for interesting angles for the first two seasons of the show.
Savitar made it very difficult to effectively deliver on a hero-villain juxtaposition, 1: because the speedster-speedster clash has been seen twice before and 2: because Savitar’s own character was so uncertain until the very end of the season.
More on that later.
The real big bad of this season should have been Killer Frost, who was also created as an aftermath of Flashpoint. She does become the secondary villain, but the scenes that she’s in only serve as teasers for what could have been. Kaitlyn Snow, being the goody-two-shoes she was in the first two seasons, becoming a cold (no pun intended) villain provided great personal moments between her and Cisco, and between her and Julian. This is what the third season of this show needed. It needed to flesh out Team Flash and make them all as important as Barry Allen. Sadly, it did not.
Let’s talk about Team Flash for a second. Candice Patton’s Iris West served one purpose this entire season: Being the biggest plot device. The mid-season finale teased that she will die in Savitar’s hands, and immediately, one could see where the season was going. Not only did this make Iris a completely uninteresting character for the whole season, but it made the rest of the season very predictable.
Wally West. What in the world were they thinking with this character? This is his entire season arc.
- Wanting to be a speedster despite everyone not wanting him to be.
- Being gifted powers by Savitar.
- Becoming Kid Flash but wanting to prove himself.
- Finding love and having it taken away from him for nothing.
- Stupidly helping Savitar.
- Being trapped in the Speedforce.
- Escaping the Speedforce, and then being sidelined for the rest of the season.
The biggest reason I’m upset about this is that it appeared as if the writers didn’t even care about him after he got out of the Speedforce. They didn’t care about the effect it had on him, or how he was going to do anything at all to help Iris not die. It looks like he’ll have a bigger role in season four, but in this season, his writing was atrocious.
Cisco is only anything more than the geeky tech guy when he has encounters with Killer Frost. Other than that, he’s just Cisco who mopes around for half the season because Flashpoint killed his brother, and then becomes normal loveable Cisco again. He has a romantic arc this season with Gipsy (a character that I won’t bother explaining), and it’s… Okay, I guess.
Joe West does nothing except worry about his children and have a new relationship with a colleague in the police department. That’s it. However, Jesse L Martin never fails to amaze with his performances.
My favourite character this season has to be the new Harrison Wells (or HR, from Earth 19). Having a new Wells every season is weird, yes, but this particular one was not a science geek. He was more of an artist, coffee lover and team cheerleader, and he was so much fun to have on screen. I’ll explain more about that in a bit. Tom Cavanagh proves his amazing talent once again, this time even directing an episode.
Now let’s get back to the story. Unlike the first two seasons, the third season of The Flash is a drag. Savitar gets supposedly taken care of pretty quick, and later comes back through some magic time blah blah that the writers never truly bother to explain properly, and even then the season doesn’t kick into gear as well as it should.
There is a lot of filler this season, which is really saying something for a show that spent a lot of its first two seasons using one-episode-only disposable villains. Jesse Quick is in this for some time… For some reason. There’s an episode dedicated to Gorilla City and Gorilla Grodd. There’s a musical crossover with Supergirl. The third last episode of the season had Barry Allen lose his memory and spend the whole episode like that.
Savitar’s identity reveal takes a long, long time to arrive. Speculation on the internet led everyone in a few different directions, but when it was actually revealed, it was kind of a letdown because it was so late, and by then everyone had pretty much figured it out. Barry Allen himself (a time remnant from the future; some more magic time blah blah) being revealed as Savitar somewhere around episode sixteen or seventeen would have made for a much more intense, compelling season. But episode twenty? There was no reason for it to be held back that long. And even after this, the writing was horrible. There were virtually no effects of Savitar being Barry to all of Team Flash. They just ran with it. Perhaps this is why the reveal was held back so long, so that they wouldn’t have to use time to have Team Flash cope with this idea.
On that note, however, let’s just talk about the absolutely bizarre last few episodes of the season. These are the things that happen:
- Barry Allen decides to ignore the consequences he has learned of time travel to go to the future, to learn nothing except that a few years after 2017, a scientist develops something to trap Savitar in the Speedforce.
- When he comes back, they find this scientist to get her to develop this device ahead of time.
- Savitar’s identity is revealed.
- Barry loses his memory.
- They need a power source for this ‘Speedforce bazuka’, and so the penultimate episode is about a break in to ARGUS with the help of Captain Cold from the past showing Barry is still an idiot.
- Iris actually dies.
- Wait, she doesn’t. HR was in her place, and his death is quickly forgotten about to stop Savitar.
- Savitar doesn’t kill Iris so technically he shouldn’t exist, but apparently he will be erased from existence in a few hours rather than instantly… For no reason other than magic time blah blah to not have the season finale end abruptly.
- Barry decides to try and help Evil Barry, and actually believes that it’s working.
- Instead, Evil Barry just uses STAR Labs as his starting point to literally becoming immortal by being fragmented across time (it’s at this point that you wonder if the team of writers for this show are on acid when they’re thinking of where the story should go).
- Barry defeats Savitar with the help of Wally and Jay Garrick, who was placed in the Speedforce prison earlier in the series and was just forgotten about.
- Killer Frost isn’t so evil, but doesn’t give up her powers, which is a good thing for the show going forward.
- The Speedforce needs a prisoner now that Jay is out, and Barry voluntarily goes in, ending the season, as usual, on a cliffhanger. Sure, whatever. He’s going to get out in the first or first few episodes of season four, so this was entirely unnecessary, but sure, if it’ll help a few people keep interest.
All of these things just sum up what was wrong with this season. It was all over the place. There was barely any focus for the majority of it, and most of the time I was hoping something of substance would happen. But it just didn’t.
But that’s not it. The biggest reason this season pales in comparison to the first two is its tone.
Arrow is supposed to be mature. It’s supposed to be gritty and dark. When The Flash came around, the best thing about the show was how fun it was. There were dark elements to the show, but at its heart, it was so much fun. This season takes itself way too seriously, and it was a bad decision. It’s so sappy and depressing and tiring.
I mentioned that the episode in Gorilla City, the musical and the amnesia episode were fillers, but the truth is, they were the best episodes of the season, because they were reminders of how awesome this show can actually be. The episode in Gorilla City is so insane, but that’s what this show is about. The musical episode was just magnificent. And despite how late into the season the amnesia episode was, it displayed Barry Allen with such a sweet innocence to him. The purpose of the episode was to contrast how Barry was to how he is, and it’s pretty clear. Barry became so… Sad. In this episode he was so loveable, throwing smiles around everywhere and making everyone around him happier. One of the biggest reasons HR Wells seemed so great is because he was the only member of Team Flash who seemed to have a real spirit to him, and his death was pretty much a perfect character arc, despite the fact that there seemed to be almost no emotional impact to it.
Those were the highest points of the season, when it became more lighthearted. Sure, it should be more mature at this point, but not this much. The last episode of season two was titled ‘The Race of My Life’, and just the title itself is so much fun. That’s supposed to be the point of this show and it’s what made it so popular in the first place.
The biggest plus point about this season, though, is Grant Gustin, who has proven how versatile he can be with one character. In this one season, he had to be Barry Allen, Future Barry Allen, Evil Barry Allen and Memory-less Barry Allen, and he managed to make them all distinct characters. I like Ezra Miller, but I don’t think he’ll be able to top what Gustin has done with this character.
It actually hurts to give this season the rating I am going to give it, but I do it with the hope that the writers will learn from their mistakes and make the series better going forward. I really do love this show, and I want it to be as great as it can be.
The third season of The Flash is by far the worst of the lot. I maintain that season two is the best. This season was an overflowing cauldron of elements that just didn’t mix well to make an effective potion. I commend the writers for being ambitious with this season, but it really did not work. I hope the show become lighter, makes more sense and is a lot more fun going forward. And I hope it learns to handle its characters better. It really needs to.
On a scale where M is the lowest, and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:
The Flash season 3: MIHIR
My review for the fifth season of Arrow will arrive tomorrow, and it will be a lot more positive than this one.