There was a time in the not-so-distant past when The Flash was the crown jewel of the Berlanti-verse. Not mired in darkness like Arrow (which had, at that time, lost its way), nor as chaotic as Legends of Tomorrow, nor as preachy as Supergirl, The Flash had a fantastic cast who interacted together in funny, compelling ways, as they fought well-conceived villains. But in this past year, things took a turn. Arrow got its early-seasons mojo back with Prometheus, Supergirl moved to the CW and embraced its joy (while losing its Heavy-Handed Feminist Speeches and started showing rather than telling), and Legends of Tomorrow somehow became the best of all with a rebooted team and a solidly dastardly team of villains. The Flash, meanwhile, languished as it was hamstrung by an ineffectual villain, a far-too-short exploration of Flashpoint (one episode?!), and a focus for half a season on a future death scene that we knew would never stick.
The Flash’s Season 3 finale, “Finish Line,” could have probably gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for the show’s over-reliance on the Deus Ex Machina that is the Speed Force. Those final moments were nonsensical — there was no context for why the Speed Force needed Barry (if it needed a prisoner because of Savitar, surely with him being gone that position can be vacated? How did Jay Garrick get released?), nor why Wally, Savitar, and Jay Garrick were forced to experience an unimaginable hellscape while special Barry gets to go in to Odin Sleep for an indeterminate amount of time. More than anything though, why was he so happy to leave the woman he finally had secured a future with? He essentially tra-la-la’d into the unknown, leaving his entire team behind. Also, R.I.P. HR? Your death kinda didn’t matter in the end. What is going on!
Even if you were onboard for this season, I think we can all agree that The Flash has some problems. While some have postulated that the show could be doing a soft reboot by keeping Barry in the Speed Force to start Season 4, it’s extremely unlikely. This is Grant Gustin’s show, no matter how badly his character has been treated this season. Wally is, at this point, no substitute for Barry story-wise, and Gustin’s charisma is what holds this whole thing together (which is one reason why dark, sad Barry has been so tedious — give him back his happiness!) So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some ideas of how The Flash can be great again in Season 4: