The New Rogues
Borrowing Problems from the Future
Dead Or Alive
Attack on Gorilla City
Attack on Central City
The Wrath Of Savitar
Into the Speed Force
The Once and Future Flash
I Know Who You Are
Cause and Effect
With the DC universe expanding and the subsequent need to cross-over all the characters into other shows continues to grow, the third season of The Flash is disjointed and unevenly paced for much of its run time because of this. Whilst the ideas are interesting and well acted throughout from the largely unchanged cast, the execution is sloppy; subplots are left unresolved, the plot follows clichéd resolutions and it all feels messy compared to the tightly woven first two seasons. Whilst still entertaining and gripping throughout, the rush to make the third season as big and brilliant as possible is The Flash’s ultimately downfall as it unintentionally becomes a little too convoluted for its own good.
After Barry’s (Grant Gustin) traumatic fight with Zoom last year and rewriting history by stopping his mother from being killed by Reverse Flash, a subsequent new reality is created dubbed Flashpoint. Things aren’t quite what they seem though as the familiar returning cast of characters from the first two seasons are changed to align with their new personas in Flashpoint. Struggling to survive in this new world, Barry Allen finds himself trying to get back to the original world he left behind to disastrous consequences. Whilst this is transpiring, a new villain lurks in the shadows, a speed God named Savitar (Andre Tricoteux) who’s hell-bent on destroying the new reality Barry finds himself in and ultimately killing a key member of the team in the process. With a season full of reality bending and time travel, The Flash is as quick paced as ever and whilst this helps to keep the plot moving, it also lacks the same cohesive touch with characterisation this season is in desperate need of.
Although the first two seasons always had an element of complication injected into the plot, the third season takes it a step further by implementing the full DC cinematic universe and the multiverse into the story. Piggybacking off the success Marvel have found with this technique in their films, The Flash managed to maintain its general shape by leapfrogging to Arrow and back again in years past. Keeping the intrusion minimal and away from the larger plot points to keep the story cohesive and consistent to The Flash, the third season tampers with this formula to disastrous result. With the inclusion of both Supergirl and Legends Of Tomorrow to the mix, Season 3 carelessly jumps between all four shows, regularly introducing key subplots or character conflicts in The Flash that are mysteriously resolved in another show or never spoken of again. Whereas before you could just watch The Flash and understand everything, its increasingly clear that the creators want the full cinematic experience in order to reel people in to the full experience. Captain Cold in Siberia in 1890 and Cisco and Barry’s conflict suddenly resolved between episodes are two of the most obvious but there are numerous instances dotted throughout the 23 episodes that make it hard to ignore. Going into this with no prior knowledge of the DC universe is sure to leave you more than a little confused and apathetic effort toward actually explaining this to the audience is more than a little annoying.
Its worth mentioning here too that despite a gripping and intriguing plot that evolves over the 23 episodes into a more substantial narrative than the one it begins with, the season borrows heavily from season two in terms of the structure of the season and the episodes themselves. The obligatory Grodd episode, The Flash training to be faster than a blue-streaked speed-demon, jumping to the past and future to try to find answers, the cross-over episode and so on and so forth. Whilst this comparison ordinarily would make for a fascinating study, at 23 episodes The Flash is a big investment of time and seeing this time squandered by the lazy approach to storytelling, rehashing the plot lines of old, does feel a bit of a kick in the teeth. Add to that the bizarre inclusion of a cross-over singing episode with Supergirl that upsets the tone and pacing for the season, and what you’re left with is a bit of a mixed bag that makes it difficult to really love this season but also hard to dislike.
When The Flash works, it works well. There’s some good twists thrown into the story, the time travelling and constant shifting between realities still manages to throw up some interesting and challenging scenarios. Seemingly to avoid things becoming stale with one speedster, the third season sees a plethora of different Flash variants crop up too. Whether it be a female flash, Kid Flash, Savitar or the numerous different variants of The Flash dotted throughout the realities, there’s certainly a desire here to cram as much as possible into this season to make it the best yet. Whilst these ideas are interesting in theory, they’re never given a satisfying arc with a finale that’s easily the worst out of all three seasons, borrowing heavily from the first season, right down to like-for-like shots and story beats of this particular plot point… It’s a shame too but The Flash feels off this season and a lot of that is due to the writing.
Going into the third season of The Flash after two previous seasons of 23 episodes, you probably already know whether you’re a fan of the show or not. Although season three is a step down in quality and structure compared to the first two, there’s still enough here to like. The acting is on point again, typified by the cast’s effortless portrayal of their numerous doppelgänger in different realities and there’s an urgency to the story for most of the season bar the couple of cross-over episodes that ruin the narrative flow. Despite the rehashed ideas and slight laziness toward the story structure, The Flash is still one of the best superhero shows on TV. It once again manages to deliver a fine season of entertainment, tinged with mostly good humour and full on action, but the flaws are hard to ignore, making the third season the worst of an otherwise great show.
Verdict - 6.5/10