The Flash (2014): The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray Review: The Stories Feel Undercooked and Underwhelming

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.

The longer a television series is on, the more difficult it is to keep things fresh and interesting. This is especially true of serialized shows that have around 20 episodes per season. Somewhere around Season Five or Six, things usually start to go stale. It has to be difficult for writers to keep coming up with good material from the same concept over and over and over again. This is usually why that about this time in a series we start to get new characters and also about the time old characters start to leave (it’s also about the time actors start getting tired of spending their lives playing the same character and quit). New characters are always a crap shoot. By this point in a series, established characters have been well developed and their relationships are solidified. New characters just as often as not don’t gel with the old ones, or their arcs wind up feeling like a retread of previous ones.

Unless a show is willing to completely break out of its mold and do something different, it will inevitably grow stale and moldy. And few shows are willing to do that as the chances of turning off audiences (and thus those lucrative advertising dollars) is high. ‘Tis better to fade away than to try something new and burn out as Neil Young might have said were he a showrunner for a superhero show.

So it is with The Flash, a series that has been one of my favorites in the Arrowverse, which to be frank, kind of sucked this season.

It wasn’t entirely their fault. Rather than having one Big Bad that was dealt with over the course of the entire season they’ve recently started breaking down the season into two mini-seasons with their own Mini-Bads. They call these mini-seasons “Graphic Novels.” Since COVID shut down production early last season, the second Graphic Novel, “Reflections and Lies,” was cut short. Season Seven then has to pick up where that story left off and finish it out. This season also was only given 18 episodes, rather than the usual 22, to tell its story. Ultimately, that wasn’t enough time to flesh out two Graphic Novels’ worth of stories and finish last season’s story, leaving all of them feeling undercooked and underwhelming.

Add to this mix the fact that two of the main actors were intentionally leaving the show this season and one was summarily kicked out and you’ve once again got a show in flux.

Some version of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) has been with The Flash since Season One. We’ve seen multiple versions of the character from various Earths throughout the Multiverse. It is like how Doctor Who has various versions of the Doctor, except here the various Wells were all played by the same actor. It was a fun way to play with the concept of the Multiverse, play with the different versions of the same character, and Cavanagh has clearly had a blast doing it. The character’s departure felt meaningful, and emotionally realized while still leaving in chances for Cavanagh to reprise some version of the character.

Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) has likewise been with Team Flash from the beginning adding in lots of pop-cultural references and humor into the series. The reasoning behind his leaving is not developed very well, and is frankly kind of lame, but his goodbye was well handled and emotionally felt.

Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man (Hartley Sawyer) didn’t appear until Season Four but he quickly became a favorite of mine. He added a lot of goofy humor into a show that often needs a bit of silliness to brighten its sometimes super-serious mood. In between Seasons Six and Seven some internet sleuth dug up some old tweets of Sawyer’s and he was quickly fired. I’ve got nothing more to say about that action, but his character will definitely be missed. The show dealt with the departure of his character as best they could under the circumstances.

Thus far, the new characters really aren’t doing it for me. After a guest spot, last season Chester P. Ronk (Brandon McKnight) has joined Team Flash as a permanent character. Honestly, I had to look him up because I had completely forgotten his existence and spent the first couple of episodes wondering who the heck he was and what he was doing at S.T.A.R. Labs. He’s fine. He’s keyed in as a replacement for Cisco with nerd credentials and a goofy sense of humor, but thus far he’s not really made an impression.

I did vaguely remember Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton) from last season but not enough to be excited to see her return. She joined up with Iris’ (Candice Patton) newspaper thingy (also not interesting) but she also has powers. It seems like everyone eventually gets powers on this show. Her powers are these generic laser lights (or “energy beams”) that flow from her hands and do basically whatever the plot calls for them to do. Personality-wise, she’s just as generic. The actress does the best she can with the material. Here’s hoping that they do something interesting with her next season.

Nine-hundred words in and I’ve spoken nary a word about this season’s plot. As always, there was a lot of stuff going on this season so we’ll only touch on part of it in broad strokes. Barry and Iris revive the Speed Force, giving it the form of Barry’s Mom (Michelle Harrison). This additionally creates Speed Elements – people with god-like powers. The Speed Force decides that the Elements are bad and she tries to recruit Barry into destroying them. When he refuses, the Speed Force goes on a rampage creating the bulk of the season’s first story arc.

Godspeed clones become the main villain of the second half. They are yet again speedsters bent on world domination or something. There is a lot of CG dashing about and lightning bolts shooting from hands. Its conclusion works pretty well, but that’s mainly do to some old cast members joining in the fun.

I’ve not touched on Barry and Iris trying to have a kid, or Frost going on trial, or whatever the heck Captain West’s little side adventure was, but I’ve written too much already. If you are a fan of The Flash, there is still plenty to enjoy in Season Seven. But it is definitely feeling like it is time for the show to come to an end. Certainly, the last two seasons have suffered from the disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic. Maybe next season things will pull together. But the problems seem to go farther than that. Still, like Barry Allen, one must always hold out hope.

Extras included in this Blu-ray set include deleted scenes, a gag reel, plus a few featurettes (including a nice farewell to Cavanagh and Valdes).

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Mat Brewster

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