Of the four “Arrowverse” shows, The Flash is generally considered the crown jewel. It’s not as serious as Arrow, as wacky as Legends of Tomorrow or as dopey as Supergirl. It’s just a pleasant, fun show that is equal parts comedy and drama, and it is extremely well written compared to the others. It also doesn’t hurt that it has the strongest acting and the best visual effects of the quartet of shows. The first two seasons were some of the best things on television, so it is somewhat surprising that the third season seems to have lost its way after an awesome first couple episodes.
At the end of the second season, Barry Allen (aka Flash) decided he deserved some happiness in his life, so he travelled back in time to prevent his mother’s death. While he was enjoying his new life, things didn’t feel right. His friends and family didn’t know him anymore, so he decided to put the past back the way it was intended to be and return everything to normal. Upon going back to the “normal” timeline, Barry discovers he has created a slightly alternate reality where some things have changed. None of these changes are as serious as the fact that Barry somehow brought back Dr. Alchemy, a villain from the alternate timeline, and he is going around giving the people who had meta powers there the powers that they no longer have. An even bigger problem still, a speedster named Savitar has come into existence and has let the gang know that Iris is fated to die by his hand – and there is nothing they can do to stop it.
This season of the show had two main problems. The first is that while season 1 and 2 had season long story arcs, there were still many single episodes that focused on different villains from The Flash’s gallery of rogues. Season 3 had a few of them as well, but almost every episode focused on Savitar and/or Dr. Alchemy. There were a couple highlights, such as the two part Gorilla Grodd episode and the great 4-way Arrowverse crossover, but mostly it was all Savitar, all the time. The second, and much bigger problem, was that the producers waited far too long to give us the big reveal as to who Savitar actually was, and the payoff just wasn’t worth it. Not letting us know until the third to last episode was a risky move, and it almost wrecked the entire season.
Of course, there were many things that did work throughout the season. Three new people joined the cast, and they were all welcome additions. Julian Albert was a result of Barry’s time travel shenanigans, and his transition from Barry’s foil to friend was great. Gypsy, a meta with similar powers to Cisco was more of a recurring character, but was the highlight of every episode she appeared in. Finally, Tracy Brand was introduced near the end of the season, but should she stick around she will be a very welcome addition to the team.
On top of the new blood, there were big changes in existing characters. Tom Cavanagh once again proved to be the series’ MVP by giving us a very distinct (and funny) third version of Harrison Wells in HR Wells, a wannabe romance novelist and overall useless faker from Earth 19. Wally West’s transition from secondary team member to the full fledged speedster Kid Flash worked out better than anyone could have expected. The big reveal that the sweet, kindly Caitlin Snow was slowly becoming Killer Frost trumped everything else during the season and will hopefully be an arc that continues well into next season.
So while The Flash – Season 3 failed to live up to the previous seasons, it was still better than some other superhero series to air this year. It wasn’t as good as the newly reinvigorated Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow, but it was definitely an improvement over the lackluster season of Supergirl. The recent announcement that the fourth season will not feature yet another speedster villain should definitely get the show back on track, and if the fun new additions stick around it should be smooth sailing.