This article contains light spoilers
Let’s get this straight: “The Flash” is a fun show. Its first season burst with excitement and confidence — a special kind of confidence that’s hard to come by in a show’s premiere season. It brought forth just the right mix of comedy, heartfelt drama and action coupled with an engaging cast, especially the enthralling antagonist in Tom Cavanagh’s Reverse Flash. For the most part, season two was good, though its latter half was hindered by a surplus of episodes, which severely impacted the show’s pacing and storyline.
So, going into season three, there was a small shimmer of hope that “The Flash” could gain the traction that made its first season one of the best debuts of a TV show in recent memory. But instead, the result is a mixed bag, with the writers opting for some baffling story and uncharacteristic character decisions, easily making it the worst season of “The Flash” by far. But again, I can’t stress it enough that it’s still a fun show. Seeing Grant Gustin as Barry Allen racing down the streets of Central City fighting against another one of his rogues will always be exciting to watch unfold. But it was clear that, by the conclusion, the show’s overall quality had been diminished.
Each season of “The Flash” ended with some sort of cliffhanger and season two ended with Allen going back in time to save his mother from being murdered at the hands of the menacing Reverse Flash. In doing so, Allen changed the course of history and rewrote time, making way for an alternate timeline dubbed “Flashpoint,” where everything he was familiar with was eradicated and changed drastically. The course of the new season finds him adapting with the consequences of the change and going head-to-head with a new antagonist — the speed god known as Savitar.
By changing the timeline, Allen changed the lives of many people in his life — some for the worst. How could he redeem himself after such a fatal mistake? A mistake that makes everyone so dear in his life view him as a villain whose own selfish desire caused him bring his parents back from the dead, without a care in the world of how it could possibly affect everyone else.
It was a good change seeing the usually charismatic Allen as the bad guy this season, but for 23 episodes, the shtick gets old pretty fast. By the middle of the season we’re reminded for the millionth time that yes, Allen is pretty dumb. He changed the timeline, caused bad stuff to happen and blah, blah, blah. There’s no need to remind the audience what his character has done, because if anything, the recurring reminders just served as a way to let the audience know how uncharacteristic Allen was this season. He was broody, sappy and not-so-bright at times. Sure, it’s just Allen responding to the trajectory that the story is taking, but the writers could have handled it a lot better. By the end of the season, I was looking at a vastly different Barry Allen — an Allen I’m doubtful I like as much as I did in the past two seasons.
There’s both good and bad concerning the trajectory the storyline took. For one, the change in the timeline gave way for another Flash to roam the streets of Central City. Seeing Wally West (Keynan Lonsdale) take up the mantle of Kid Flash was a welcome sight to see, considering the character is so prominent in the comics the show is derived from. Though it’s thrilling watching the comic book pages come alive on screen, there is one fatal flaw: The way this new Flash was handled. The character took a prominent role in the beginning of the season, but during the middle he was instead tossed into the backburner to lay in the background for a good majority of the season, only having a few lines that don’t really add much to his character. It’s safe to say Kid Flash wasn’t used as well as he could have been, and that ties into another problem with a show that’s so big.
Unfortunately, “The Flash” is victim to its great ensemble cast. There are just too many characters to keep track of, and in the process, some characters are underutilized. Another character that fell victim to this was, ironically, the newest addition to the cast, Julian Albert (Tom Felton). It’s great seeing Felton play someone other than the conniving Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, and while seeing him appear on “The Flash” had potential, he didn’t leave that big of an impression at the conclusion of the season. Albert mainly serves as a rival for Allen and a romantic interest for Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), one of Allen’s close friends and assistant to Team Flash, making his inclusion less than essential.
But where “The Flash” season three shines through is in how it treats its villains this time around. I was on the fence about having yet another evil speedster facing off against the Flash. But overall, Savitar proved to be a great unstoppable force for Team Flash, even moreso by the season’s last episodes where the pace and the stakes grew considerably. Caitlin also drives home the villain spotlight, as she was forced to choose between light and dark all season long, thanks to her omnipresent ice powers that threatened to take over her and turn her into Killer Frost. Fortunately, Panabaker makes the best of the two different characters. Whereas her arc drowns the sweet, innocent Caitlin with sorrow, her role as Killer Frost was ice cold and vengeful, making her character one of the standouts of the season.
Verdict: While “The Flash” remains exciting to watch unfold every week thanks to its spectacular sequences and effects, its third season paled in comparison with the first two due to unusual character and story decisions that underutilized characters in its ensemble cast.