Genre: Action, Adventure
Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Hartley Sawyer
When last we saw Barry Allen in The Flash winter finale, his world had shattered. After marrying the love of his life, Allen was forced behind bars as a murder suspect. The show had given the lead character everything he had imagined, only to take it away in a cliffhanger that really changed the program’s dynamic.
The winter premiere ended with Barry (Grant Gustin) convicted and sentenced to prison. The Flash has officially been sidelined. Now that the second episode of the season’s second half has aired, it’s a perfect time to appreciate the show’s new direction.
The first half of the fourth season felt uneven with the awkward introduction of the womanizing Ralph Dibney (Hartley Sawyer). Dibney, a detective who now has the power to stretch his body, seemed like a strange addition to the team behind the Flash. In its first three season, the CW drama has really stood out because of its sensitive and empathetic Allen so it seemed strange to have the offensive Dibney join the team after gaining his new powers.
After a few weeks though, Dibney’s character has grown and now he actually fits into the team, where he works alongside the Flash’s strong supporting crew.
The season’s first half did include a solid build-up, both to the wedding of Allen and his longtime crush Iris West (Candice Patton) and the introduction of the villainous Clifford DeVoe (Neil Sandilands). Devoe has stood out as a monster hiding in plain sight. The paraplegic professor seemed innocuous to the team but Allen knew something was lurking, leading to an interesting storyline featuring Allen breaking the law in an effort to undermine his adversary.
That effort ultimately backfired on Allen, who has since been arrested for DeVoe’s murder.
On a show that so often relies on the hero saving the day, it’s a great change of pace to find the hero imprisoned and his band truly coming forward. In the first two episodes of this season’s second half, it’s been the supporting characters that have really stepped up. Last week featured Killer Frost and Cisco teaming up to help The Flash and this week, it’s been left up to Dibney. In some ways, the Flash has gone from the main hero to a guide-like figure for the supporting players.
This set-up can lead to great possibilities and a greater chance for the individual characters to stand out.
Far too often, it feels like new powers (and even characters) are introduced only to eventually be sidelined. Cisco, for one, is one of the best standout characters here (with his pithy one-liners and affection for nicknaming the villains) but his power is often glossed over. The same can be said for Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), who is often sidelined with no clear explanation. The program has such a great ensemble that it’s often hard to lose sight of that.
Hopefully, the decision to place Barry out of bounds could revitalize some of these supporting characters.
Even the relationship between Barry and adoptive father Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) sometimes suffers.
Despite its flaws though, the show does have a great heart to it and many of the villains do stand out. At the program’s core is the team behind the flash (and the dialogue between them is usually well-crafted) but one does wish that some of these supporting characters had more of a chance to shine. With this second half of the fourth season, the program does seem to be playing around with its premise and this could be the prime time for this show to really explore all of the distinct characters in a really powerful light.
Review by: John Hanlon