The Flash is back to form! After a rather dark season last year, the fun, laugh-inducing CW superhero show has returned to what we first fell in love with. The first couple seasons of the series offered levity and heart that contrasted the dark, more violent companion series, Arrow, and that distinction was sorely missed. In “Mixed Signals,” The Flash found its spirit again in its characters, their relationships and humor.
Post-Speed Force Barry is a blast. He’s fun, energetic and making up for his lost six months. Risky Business Barry had me grooving on my couch, Spoiler-Phobe Barry had me cracking up, and then there was Wedding Planner Barry…. Oops. This new Barry couldn’t be perfect, right? It was a delight to watch Grant Gustin embrace this new, carefree, super-speedster Barry.
Team Flash is stronger than ever and expanding their presence in Central City. Cisco’s role as a police department tech consultant fills the void left by Tom Felton’s Julian, while also shifting the tone in a lighter direction. Cisco’s one-liners and humor highlighted Julian’s previous dour presence as well as this season’s sharp contrast in tone.
The cyber-Meta, Deacon, offered a reasonable “in” for Cisco to officially be involved in the case, and provided the basis for some hilarious moments regarding Barry’s new technology suit. While he may not have been the most formidable nemesis, and his motivations were quite common, his powers and how he got them opened new avenues to be explored.
The most notable moments in “Mixed Signals,” came from the the relationship struggles between Barry and Iris, as well as Cisco and Gypsy. At first, I worried Barry and Iris going to couples counseling for their communication issues would be standard fare, but the writing for these scenes was spot on. There was humor, but it did shy away from their real struggles, not to mention Iris’ emotional breakdown. It wasn’t about communication at all. It was about Barry leaving her behind. That situation wasn’t forgotten or overlooked. It hurt and she let him know.
The idea of “Barry and Iris” as The Flash is a touching one. They are partners in every sense and recognizing that should help solidify their love and working relationship. It likely won’t be smooth sailing, but their bond is stronger now than ever.
Barry and Iris are pretty far along in their relationship, so it was a refreshing complement of their struggles to see Cisco and Gypsy’s new romance. That couple is still learning about each other, and have to deal with not only that but also bridging the gap between their environments. This relationship-heavy episode worked, but most especially, this hour set the stage and base of where they all are in this moment, and so mostly likely the relationship struggles won’t need to be as prominently featured in upcoming episodes (though this is The CW).
The villain, Deacon, wasn’t one of the best of the series, but he was unique, had good motivations and provided intriguing insight into the larger big bad of The Flash Season 4. Overall, “Mixed Signals” was an enjoyable hour and set up the tone, threat and characters for the season’s longer arcs
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent