WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR S4 E1 OF THE FLASH
Last year, I feel it’s safe to say that most fans of The Flash were left disappointed with the show’s dark tone, predictable writing and stubbornness to abandon the formula of having a speedster (Savitar) as the show’s big bad. Team Flash became too overcrowded and the CW’s once flagship superhero show became a chore to watch. Thankfully, the premiere of Season 4 seems to signal a course correction for the series. With a thinned down roster at Star Labs and a first glimpse at this year’s main villian, The Thinker, The Flash Reborn starts off this season on a high note.
After a recap of the closing events of Season 3, the episode opens up with Iris (Candice Patton) revealing it’s been six months since Barry (Grant Gustin) disappeared into the Speed Force. Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) are then seen taking down a criminal with the help of Joe (Jesse L. Martin). All in all , it doesn’t seem too bad without Barry; Iris is actually being used as something other than a damsel in distress with her taking charge of the new team. But a new samurai villain shows up demanding The Flash make an appearance or Central City will be destroyed. When it’s clear that the team is out of their league, Cisco recruits Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) back to the team to get Barry back home. After some science shenanigans, Barry is removed from the Speed Force but is not in the greatest of shape.
Barry is rambling incoherently, almost as if he’s existing in every time period simultaneously. He goes from proclaiming his father’s innocence with the murder of his mother and then exclaiming that they’re going to need more diapers, almost certainly referring to his and Iris’ future children, Don and Dawn. After nothing seems to work to get him out of his beautiful mind state, Iris lets herself be taken by the Samurai telling him that if he wants The Flash, this would be the way to get him. Once Joe informs Barry that Iris is in danger, he snaps out of it and goes after her, the classic lightning rod scenario.
The Flash takes down the Samurai which is then revealed to be a Samuroid, one of an army of Samurai Robots used to lure Barry out of the Speed Force by Clifford Devoe (The Thinker) who is shown briefly at the episode’s end. Devoe’s name was of course mentioned last season by Future Barry so we have known for a while that he would be making his presence felt on the show.
While the way Barry was retrieved from The Speed Force was a bit of a mess, this episode did a good job of resetting the series. With Julian and Tracy seemingly gone from the show and the (hopefully not permanent) absence of any version of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the focus of the episode was on the core characters of the show. And some of the fun that was missing last season has also seemed to find it’s way back, just like Barry did.
All in all, a solid start to the season. While I hoped that Barry would end up truly gone for a few episodes, realistically I knew that wouldn’t happen. The show did a good enough job trying to reinforce the idea that our hero has really been gone for 6 months, even though none of it appeared on screen. Truly looking forward to seeing the duel between The Fastest Man Alive vs The Fastest Mind Alive play out throughout this season.