‘The Flash’ (Season 4): Picking Up Speed

Barry and Iris - The Flash

Six episodes in, The Flash is keeping its winning streak going strong, the back-to-basics approach and increase in humor bringing the show out of its third-season funk with ease. Though my early worry was that the show was going too light-hearted with its storytelling, the show is making a solid effort to add new depths to its wide cast of characters, while also adding in some much-needed new blood to the cast.

Starting with the classic characters, the show has wisely given everyone something new to do this year. Specifically, I’ve really been appreciating the show’s effort to give its female characters more agency and plot relevance this year. For Caitlin, it’s meant the ongoing struggle with her powers and her Killer Frost persona, which has already given her a more engaging storyline than she’s had in a while. As for Iris, it’s been great to see her step up as a leading member of Team Flash while also demanding more respect from Barry. Heck, “Girl’s Night Out” made it clear that Caitlin and Iris are strong enough to lead an episode completely Flash-free.

Mercifully, the show has also remembered that Cisco works best as a comedic presence, and it’s been great seeing him exploring his relationship with Gypsy further. His true partner-in-comedy, though, is the returning Harry Wells, with Tom Cavanaugh revisiting his season two version of the character in the wake of H.R.’s death last year. We’ve seen a lot from the gruff Harry in the past, but it’s great seeing the writers develop him further here. And even without the character development, it’s just great to have Harry and Cisco sniping at one another again.

Even the new blood is bringing some great material, with Ralph Dibny being perhaps the most immediately successful new character to walk into STAR Labs. Though his sleazebag persona is a major change from the comics – and, yes, a bit much at times – it’s good watching Barry assume the mentor role in a way he never truly did with Wally or Jesse, and it’s already clear that Dibny has a heart of gold and is growing to be a true hero. Further, plenty of the classic Dibny touches are there, from his love of mysteries to the rubberized nose twitch.

Really, the only downside to this season so far has been Wally’s departure to find himself, which has removed one of the show’s better characters. I get the desire to remove a few of the show’s many speedsters – another plus to this season is the first non-speedster Big Bad – but I hope Wally returns, or we at least check in on him, soon. Overall, though, The Flash is looking brighter than ever as Barry preps to face off against the Thinker for the first time this week.