Coming off its darkest season yet, The Flash Season 4 opened with Barry gone and his team working to protect Central City while a little of that darkness remained. Things went crazy, but the story came out the other side with “The Flash Reborn.”
Six months after Barry’s departure, Team Vibe (or if you prefer Team Kid Flash — that is a bit long and clumsy though) was doing its best to keep Central City safe, but their Meta capture rate suffered without The Flash. While the team may not be as successful overall, together they used wit and teamwork to capture Peek-a-Boo. Cisco and Wally complement each other with their powers, while Iris proved herself invaluable as the person behind the computer.
While I would have enjoyed seeing Team Not-Flash for a little longer, it’s not really The Flash without The Flash, is it? At least, the timeline moved forward six months, so Barry’s absence was truly felt by those who love him. The show’s not the same without Barry, as he’s the glue that keeps everyone together. Even when he was in the Speed Force, they continued to protect the city in honor of Barry and seemed to take their failures as dishonoring him.
It wasn’t a surprise that Cisco would have been working on a way to bring Barry back; it would have been out of character for him to not look for a solution. But asking the other minds in the Arrow-verse for help was a nice reminder of the broader universe of the series, and felt like a natural fit.
Though Iris’ disbelief was initially unexpected, it made sense after we got a better feel for her emotional state. She locked away her heart and guarded herself from her feelings for Barry and any possibility of his return. He was gone and that belief allowed her to move forward and “keep running,” as he asked of her.
Barry’s return in a confused state worked well. There was a consequence to his time in the Speed Force, and I hope that even though he appears cured that some side effects remain and/or his gibberish provides useful information down the line.
While several aspects of Barry’s return felt convenient and a bit contrived, overall it worked more than it didn’t. Samurai wanted to face-off against the Flash, but why? Even with the final reveal, the importance of the Flash’s return isn’t clear and won’t likely be for many more episodes.
Barry’s sudden cure when Iris was in danger was the quickest solution to getting him back to normal, with only 40 or so minutes to tell the story, but it was also the weakest aspect of the hour. It’s not because he wouldn’t do anything to save Iris, but he went from a person with no sense of self or of those around him to busting out his super-speed and sanity at the mention that Iris was in trouble. The new and improved Flash, then, had no problem taking out the Samurai.
The final moments welcomed the Mechanic and the Thinker as the villains of The Flash Season 4. They must not have been able to get Barry out of the Speed Force themselves, so they forced the hands of his friends who could. Their agenda remains unknown, but their abilities and threat are definitely nefarious and going to challenge Team Flash.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
— Slick move by Cisco and Wally to get Peek-a-Boo.
— Cisco: “I’m so proud of us. That was a good hustle out there, Team Vibe.”
Wally: “It’s Team Kid Flash, but thank you.”
— Wally: “Team Kid Flash is on the case.”
— Joe: “Son, I love you, but ain’t nobody feelin’ Team Kid Flash.”
Cisco: “It’s like too many syllables.”
— Joe: “When HR died, we had a funeral. We spoke about his life. Maybe we should do the same thing for Barry. Give us all permission to grieve.”
Iris: “And what are we going to bury, Dad? The empty suit in the lab?
— Wally speaks Japanese?
— Samarai: “You’re not the Flash. You’re not the best. Bring me, the Flash.”
— Whoa. That’s a damaging sword the Samurai has. Nice special effects. Glad to see Cisco was impressed by the sword too…
— Cisco: “What the hell kind of sword is that?”
— Cisco: “We need to bring Barry back.”
— Uh oh, what has Caitlin gotten herself into with this new guy and girl?
— Cisco: “Is there anything you can’t do?”
Caitlin: “Move on, apparently.”
— Nice Season 1 callback with Cisco playing Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”
— Barry’s message: “This house is bitchin’.” — Will this end up meaning something down the line?
— Cisco: “I didn’t do it to save the city. I did it because it gave me an excuse to bring him back. I did it because I miss my friend.”
— A very touching moment when Joe shaved his son, Barry.
— Iris: “Take me. He’ll come for me.”
Samarai: “How do you know this?”
Iris: “I believe.”
— Iris: “Barry, you came home to me.”
— Barry: “It feels like I’ve been reborn.”
— What mess has Caitlin gotten herself into?
— Killer Frost: “Don’t let your beer get warm.”
— Caitlin and Killer Frost: A multiple personality mess. It’s going to be an interesting ride!
— The Mechanic: “What’s our next step?”
The Thinker: “I’m thinking.”