Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 28, 2017)
Right on the verge of the character’s big-screen presence in late 2017’s Justice League, we get the home video release for Season Three of The Flash. This four-disc package includes all 23 episodes from the show’s third year. The synopses come from IMDB.
Flashpoint: “The Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher) taunts The Flash (Grant Gustin) and warns of repercussions if Barry continues to forget his old life. When disaster strikes, Barry must decide whether to live as Barry Allen or return to his universe as The Flash.”
After a good first year, Season Two left me a little cold. Still, I hoped S3 would rebound – and if “Flashpoint” offers a harbinger, it should. The episode packs a lot of drama and action into its running time, all of which launches S3 on a lively and provocative note.
Paradox: “Barry discovers that the effects from Flashpoint are greater than he thought. In the meantime, he meets a new co-worker (Tom Felton) who has an immediate disdain for him.”
I figured that “Flashpoint” would give us a neat ‘n’ tidy wrap-up to the “alternate world” theme, which would’ve seemed trite. As such, I’m happy to see that ramifications persist in “Paradox”. It pushes those themes and hints at future developments to become another satisfying episode.
Magenta: “Just as Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and Jesse Wells (Violett Beane) return from Earth-2, Central City is attacked by a new meta (Joey King) with the power to control metal.”
After the great drama of the prior two episodes, “Magenta” feels a little lackluster. Still, it’s a fairly good show that does more right than wrong – it just comes across as a minor step down after two very strong programs.
The New Rogues: “Mirror Master (Grey Damon) joins his old partner Top (Ashley Rickards) and looks to even the score with Snart (Wentworth Miller). Jesse joins the chase, but her decision to defy one of Barry's orders results in terrible consequences.”
Flash always boasted a good collection of enemies, and “Rogues” benefits from that pool of talent. It brings in two new baddies and gives us a fun exploration of their powers as well as other character elements.
Monster: “Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) visits her mother (Susan Walters) to help her understand her growing meta-human powers. Barry tries to convince Julian to let him help investigate a new meta-human attacking Central City.”
“Rogues” introduced an alternate Earth hipster Barnes – he should annoy me, but instead, he’s a hoot, and his presence enlivens this show. I’m less wild about “meta-Caitlin”, but that’s more because I never cared for the character. The titular monster falls somewhere between those two poles – he adds action but doesn’t create great intrigue.
Shade: “Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) starts to have visions of him being Kid Flash so Barry tells him the truth about his powers in Flashpoint. Meanwhile, the rest of the group find out about Caitlin's Killer Frost powers.”
In terms of overall impact, “Shade” resembles “Monster”. That means the same ups, downs and mediocres. While not a great show, though, it still musters reasonable entertainment.
Killer Frost: “The team is in for a shock as Caitlin is forced to reveal her Killer Frost powers - but she is not the only one with a secret.”
A couple of shows back, I claimed I wasn’t wild about Caitlin the character. I think that’s wrong – I think I’m just not fond of Panabaker the actor, as the lacks the nuance she needs for the part. Since the Killer Frost role demands a broader emphasis, this makes her better as the baddie, but she’s still not great, and her presence turns the episode into a spotty one.
Invasion!: “Barry asks Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) for help when aliens attack Central City, but when they realize that won't be enough, they bring the Legends and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) in on the battle.”
Because of the way WB releases their superhero series on Blu-ray, I already saw the finale of the “Invasion!” crossovers via Season Two of Legends of Tomorrow. I wish WB would either put out the series in order – which would’ve meant Flash first – or include all the crossovers on each set.
But they don’t, so I’m back to the beginning of “Invasion!” when I already know the conclusion. Oh well – even with that backwards approach, this episode offers good action that also advances some Flash characters/situations.
The Present: “Barry heads to Earth Three to get advice from Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) on how to stop Savitar. Wally tells Barry that he has been training with HR. Old wounds reopen as Cisco (Carlos Valdes) faces Christmas without Dante (Nicholas Gonzalez).”
Would this episode include a reference to a “Philosopher’s Stone” if the cast didn’t include Harry Potter alum Tom Felton? My gut says no – that smells like an Easter egg – but I could be wrong.
“Present” acts as a Christmas episode of sorts, and it mixes action with character developments. The former work better than the latter, though it frustrates that Mark Hamill appears only in a cameo – I’d like to see more of his Trickster role.
Borrowing Problems from the Future: “Barry and Team Flash try to figure out a way to change the future to save Iris (Candice Patton) from her inevitable death. The only way for them to do that is to go back to the future.”
“Future” deals more with the continuing challenges Barry faces about his manipulation of the past and his temptation to continue to alter events. It mixes action and drama pretty well to turn into a satisfying show.
Dead or Alive: “Barry Allen and Cisco Ramon must work together to save HR from an inter-dimensional bounty hunter who seeks to kill him, as it is a crime on Earth-19 to transport yourself to another Earth.”
Despite my early skepticism, HR blossomed into a consistently fun character, and “Alive” continues that trend. It adds a little more comedy than usual and turns into a delightful show.
Untouchable: “A criminal meta-human is causing people to decompose at an accelerated rate.”
It’s good to get a new villain, and “Untouchable” creates an interesting plot line. It’s another dramatic show that furthers the season’s overall arc well.
Attack on Gorilla City: “Barry and the team travel to Earth-2 to rescue Harry from Gorilla City, where they're captured and brought to Grodd (David Sobolov), who claims he needs their help to stop Solovar (Keith David).”
Season One’s Grodd episode worked well, while S2’s sputtered. Where does S3’s gorilla episode fall? Between those two poles, I think, as it offers a decent Planet of the Apes vibe on the way to some good action/intrigue.
Attack on Central City: “Grodd and his army bring their battle to Earth-1, which the team must find a way to stop.”
Two Grodd episodes in the same season? That’s a surprise. “Central” manages to expand the situations well, as it brings the fight to Central City in an involving manner. The show expands on “Gorilla” without just rehashing it.
The Wrath of Savitar: “While training with Barry, Wally starts to have visions of Savitar, which he hides from the team. A dangerous secret threatens Barry and Iris' happiness.”
After two episodes of simian action, “Wrath” focuses more heavily on character and story elements. These mean the show lacks the visceral punch of its predecessors, but it still manages to advance the arc well. I’d like Savitar more if he didn’t look so much like a Lord of the Rings villain, though.
Into the Speed Force: “Desperate to stop Savitar and save his friends, Barry turns to the speed force for answers. HR gives Jesse some advice.”
“Force” offers an episode that focuses on a form of fantasy due to Barry’s exploits, and that element leaves me cold. While “Force” does advance some plot elements, it doesn’t do a lot to engage me.
Duet: “The Music Meister (Darren Criss) sends Supergirl and the Flash to a world where life is a musical and the only way to escape is to sing and dance.”
Back in S2 of Supergirl, we got a hint of this episode, so I’m glad to see the actual show here – that little teaser annoyed me. I just wish I liked the actual program more than I do.
It’s a “season detour” that seems to exist just to allow the characters to perform in a musical. It’s a cute idea, I guess, but it doesn’t work, so “Duet” becomes a weak episode.
Abra Kadabra: “The Flash fights a villain from the 64th Century named Abra Kadabra (David Dastmalchian), who offers to reveal Savitar's identity in exchange for his release.”
Obviously Flash exists in the same universe as Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, but what about the fifth DC TV series, Gotham? I guess it occupies a different realm – at least I hope so, since Dastmalchian plays a totally different character in Gotham.
Abra isn’t as interesting as Gotham’s nutty Dwight, but he adds spark to a good episode. I’m glad to be “back on track” after the forgettable “Duet”, as “Kadabra” boasts good action and intrigue.
The Once and Future Flash: “Barry travels forward in time to 2024 to find out Savitar's identity and save Iris' life.”
“Once” falls into the category of a semi-fantasy show, as ala It’s a Wonderful Life, it depicts a dystopian future the protagonist will work to alter. That makes it an interesting tease but not especially impactful, as we know the dark events depicted won’t actually occur – it’s not like there’s a real chance the series will embrace the “emo Flash” and his glum pals in the long term.
I Know Who You Are: “Team Flash meets a scientist (Anne Dudek) who may be the key to stopping Savitar but is forced into a battle with Killer Frost.”
Events heat up here, partly because “Are” finally reveals Savitar’s real identity. This isn’t the biggest surprise, but it’s good to get out in the open. Other narrative elements develop well and turn this into a quality show.
Cause and Effect: “Barry takes desperate measures to stop Savitar, while HR keeps pressuring Tracy Brand to set a trap for Savitar and Killer Frost has an interesting proposal.”
After serious dramatics, “Effect” musters a more comedic tone, mainly via the goofiness of “memory loss Barry”. Those bits work well – along with additional character/narrative development, “Effect” pushes along the season in a positive manner.
Infantino Street: “Barry chooses to use any means necessary to save the woman he loves. The Flash turns to Captain Cold for help.”
As we build toward the season finale, “Street” ramps up matters well. I like the return of Snart, and the episode delivers a good mix of story and action to point us toward the finale in a satisfying manner.
The Finish Line: “With nothing left to lose, Barry takes on Savitar in a final showdown.”
After a dramatic, emotional conclusion to “Street”, “Line” immediately undercuts much of its impact. Look, we knew the series wouldn’t kill Iris, but the manner in which it resolves that arc disappoints.
Along with some other semi-questionable choices, that means “Line” finishes S3 on a less than rousing note. Still, it wraps up plot lines in a decent manner and pushes us toward Season Four, so it’s an acceptable end to a good year. S3 of Flash doesn’t quite match up to S1, but it rebounds after S2 and gets me excited to see where else the series will go.