Ever since the Fastest Man Alive came face to face with his twisted future self in season three of The Flash, the show has been struggling to find a big bad as effective as the evil speedsters who took centre stage during its first few years. The Thinker took us to some dark places but was ultimately a disappointment, while Cicada was a chore to spend time with. If this premiere is anything to go by, The Flash still has a villain problem (neither the “freak of the week” nor Bloodwork feel like a step in the right direction for The CW series) but there are definitely some promising signs that this show can regain its footing moving forward.
It’s definitely business as usual for Team Flash but with an episode that effectively deals with the fallout from Nora’s death while also setting the stage for the upcoming “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover, there’s clearly still some gas left in the Scarlet Speedster’s tank.
It would have been nice if the premiere had shaken things up in a slightly more noteworthy way but many of the characters are moved to interesting new places, while the tone is thankfully much closer to what it used to be. The Flash has gotten a little too dark in recent years, so it’s a relief that this opener makes for easy watching and embraces that lighter, funnier side of Barry Allen’s world. Tom Cavanagh is definitely missed but we know that another new version of Harrison Wells is coming, so that’s no doubt going to be beneficial to the series as well (providing he’s not as grating as Sherloque was).
Something which helps lift this episode to new heights, however, is a standout sequence with the Flash in his new costume racing through Central City to the tune of Queen’s “Flash Gordon” theme. This feels like watching the comics come to life and is a type of magic the show hasn’t really been able to capture for quite some time. It’s wonderfully silly, works perfectly, and hopefully a sign of what’s to come in season six.
Throw in the aforementioned “Crisis” tease and this is a solid but somewhat safe start to season six of the Scarlet Speedster’s ongoing adventures. Hopefully, that event shakes things up in a significant way and the second big bad of the year (whose identity remains a mystery but may still be teased here) shows more promise than what we see from Bloodwork. It’s still too early to judge him, of course, but had The Flash not wasted so many noteworthy villains as weekly foes, The CW would have had better options than C-List bad guys who are no more interesting on screen than they were in the comics. On the plus side, Team Flash remain as likeable as ever and if nothing else, watching them come up with ways to take down this latest rogue should make for enjoyable viewing.
There’s still room for improvement and the show would undoubtedly benefit from changing things up a little but The Flash is as fun as ever and seemingly back on the right track as the hero races into his sixth year on the air.