Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer.
Season Three of The Flash ended on a pretty dark note. Barry West/The Flash (Grant Gustin) was stuck inside the Speed Force. H.R. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) sacrificed himself to save the world from Savitar. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) has disappeared for fear that she’ll remain Killer Frost forever. There were some really great moments that season and The Flash remains my favorite series in The Arrowverse, but there is no doubt what was usually the lightest show had taken a dark downturn.
Season Four picks up shortly thereafter. The ever-so-thinned out Team Flash is learning to work without their namesake. Wally West/Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) has taken the reigns as lead meta but he has to work through many of the same mistakes Barry did as he learned how to handle his new powers in Season One. They’ve basically dropped Iris West’s (Candice Patton) pretense at being a journalist and instead she’s now in the Felicity-esque role of Team Leader keeping a watch on things through the high-tech stations at S.T.A.R. Labs. Cisco/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) remains Head Geek and is really learning to utilize his new super powers. Caitlin is brooding while working at a bar, staying as far away from the gang as she can.
Things actually work pretty well for this streamlined team. Team Flash had started to feel overstuffed last season so it's nice to see it paired down even if I might quibble with who left and who remained. Not that it matters because in a flash (see what I did there?) everything is about to change. Cisco figures out how to bring Barry back from the Speed Force without destroying the world. It's a bit of a rough transition for the boy, but he’s back to his old self pretty quick (I did it again). Caitlin gets found and gets moved back into the team with nary a mention of the conflict between her and Killer Frost. The writers seem to have decided that bit of character growth not worth dealing with so instead Caitlin gets to be Caitlin and Killer Frost comes out when a bit of cold action is needed, but can quickly be shoved back in without a worry in the world. Wally speeds off for another town, good old Harrison Wells 2.0 comes back from Earth 11 lickety split (sorry, I just can’t help myself with these speed puns). Suddenly, the old team is back.
This season’s Big Bad is thankfully not another speedster, but The Thinker (Neil Sandilands), a super genius who can foresee every possible move our heroes can make and stop them before they even begin. He’s a background kind of baddy who prefers manipulating villains of the week (and there is a fresh batch of Metahumans thanks to excess Speed Force energy hitting a bus when Barry finds his path back to Earth) over a more hands-on approach. Luckily, there is a second big baddie (Little Bad?) by the name of Amunet (Katee Sackhoff sporting a pretty atrocious English accent), who likes to fight up close and personal.
Good gravy, I’m already 500-plus words into this review and I’ve not even mentioned the newest member of Team Flash. Ralph Dibney (Hartley Sawyer) is a sleazy private eye who was on the aforementioned bus and has now become Elongated Man. He is the series answer to all the complaints about Season Three being too dark. He’s silly, he’s goofy, he’s the new comic relief. He mostly works in small doses.
This season's crossover episode, "Crisis on Earth-X," is the best yet. If last year’s crossover, "Invasion!," started off too slow for fans (the Supergirl episode only had a crossover moment in the last few minutes), this year's starts off with a bang. In its opening scene, we find all of our heroes from all of our shows battling it out with multiple baddies and it just explodes from there. As if having a crossover episode wasn’t enough, the event that brings them all together is Barry and Iris’ wedding, which is then interrupted by Nazis!
Like I said, it is a very busy season. In preparation for this review, I was reading recaps and was surprised at how much they packed into it. All the stuff about Kid Flash and Barry trapped inside the Speed Force and Caitlin in a bar seemed like about eight seasons ago. It was shocking to remember all that happened at the beginning of this one. A lot of Season Four feels like course correction. While I still really enjoyed Season Three, its dark turn did feel like a bit of a slump. The Fandom complained pretty loudly, which is likely why the series returned to its core characters and relied heavily on the family dynamics for its drama. Then, they turned around and stuffed it with plot overload, two major villains, and so much action I could hardly keep up.
The four Blu-ray discs come with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It looks good with vibrant colors, solid blacks, and fine detail. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and has a very good range. Dialogue is crisp, and the surround is active but not overpowering. Extras include featurettes on the making of the crossover episode (and for once all four episodes are included), the Elongated Man, Amunet, and The Thinker, plus highlights from Comic-Con panels from 2017.
The Flash remains my favorite series in the Arrowverse and continues to be highly entertaining. It would be nice to see them really get back to basics with the main team fighting villains of the week while growing as characters. A little breathing room once in awhile without the need to carry a notebook to keep up with all the plot machinations could would help as well. But overall, it's was a good season and I’m still completely on Team Flash.