The Flash Season 2 Review
FULL SPOILERS FOR THE FLASH SEASON 2
Well, we finally made it. After 23 episodes, multiple weeks long breaks, and more doppelgangers than you can shake a stick at, The Flash season 2 has come to an end. While this season proved the series is still one of the better superhero shows on network television, it never reaches the dizzying heights of the first season.
There was never a doubt that it would be difficult to follow up The Flash‘s spectacular first season. It had a well-written villain, excellent action and a refreshing lack of that CW feel that has dragged down shows like Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. However, season 2 eschews the originality that made the first season so great and attempts to tell essentially the same story with a few new wrinkles. Both seasons can essentially be boiled down to this: there is a big bad speedster in town and Barry needs to be faster to beat him. This formula is fine for the first season. It’s familiar to readers of the comics and it is the perfect first story to tell for the character. However, giving us a very similar story in back to back seasons was a huge misstep.
It doesn’t help that Zoom/Hunter Zolomon was never going to be as effective a villain as Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne. Zolomon was evil for the sake of being evil. At a certain point, that motivation becomes quite boring, especially when Zoom continues to make a point to tell everyone how much he loves being evil. The writers try to tell us (repeatedly) that Barry is one tragedy away from becoming just like Zoom, but after all we have seen Barry go through as The Flash it’s just not believable.
Because of this issue, this season struggled to maintain the emotional resonance of the first. The death of Barry’s mother was tragic and the fact that his powers led to him being forced to relive it over and over again was an incredible piece of writing. You get the sense that perhaps the writers feel the need to shoehorn more tragedy in for Barry, and in doing so they gave us one of the most disappointing parts of the season in Henry’s death. Henry was mostly mishandled since his character became a larger part of the show. He disappeared for a long stretch of time and when he was around they made sure to really up the bond between him and Barry. They spent so much time with Henry rebuilding relationships that it became very apparent that they were only setting him up to have a more tragic death. Instead, the death felt cheap. A tragic death has to be earned and The Flash never earned that for what could have been an excellent character. But this is that “CW Effect” I spoke of before, and it leads to some of the weakest parts of The Flash. There always seems to be time, no matter the circumstances, for everyone to stop and have a heartfelt conversation/pep talk. And don’t even get me started on the constant in your face dating drama. The relationship/ dating drama is groan-worthy and is one of the reasons why 23 episodes really feels excessive. There are so many hours to fill that the writers are often forced to insert tension and romance where it isn’t necessary.
And with the resolution of Zoom’s arc, I was left feeling empty. Barry stealing Zoom’s time remnant sacrifice trick to defeat him was a nice touch, but it all wrapped up so quickly and easily that it makes me wonder why it needed to be dragged on this long. Sure, the time wraiths/dementors are cool and all, but couldn’t he have just spoken to the Speedforce about Zoom while he was there? I’m sure they would have loved a hot tip to bring him down. But alas, Zoom came and went in a flash (pun intended). His storyline was like empty calories. Sure, it got us by for a season, but we really got nothing out of it.
But hey, this season wasn’t all bad. Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin and Tom Cavanaugh all continue their very strong performances and it’s a shame that it appears we won’t be seeing Cavanaugh returning as a regular for season 3. His goodbye with the team was a little hokey, but emotional at the same time. And for the rest of the cast, well… I’ve never really been much of a fan, but if you enjoyed Cisco, Kaitlyn and Iris in season 1, they essentially continue right on doing what they do. I will say, I think Candice Patton is singlehandedly responsible for most of the unnecessary drama, a true trademark of a CW actress, but that’s just my opinion.
Because I really want to take a little extra time to talk about the final moments of the finale and the future of the show, I want to list a few of my favorite and least favorite things about this season:
- The costumes were excellent this season
- King Shark actually looked really cool
- The episodes on Earth 2
- More time travel
- The setup for season 3 (more on that in a second)
- Jay Garrick/ Hunter Zolomon/ Zoom confusion
- The CGI for the slow mo running scenes looks straight of a mid-2000’s video games cutscene
- Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost
- The West family drama
- The powerless Barry episodes
- Patty. Remember her?
Okay, so let’s talk about that last scene of the finale. It was so good, that I momentarily forgot how disappointed I was in this season. At the very least, I’m hopeful that season 3 will be a return to form. It was nice to hear Barry admit that he never really had come to peace with his mother’s death. However, I was shocked when he traveled back in time and did the big no-no of totally changing the past. It was exciting to see even just a moment of Reverse Flash, but to see Barry bring him down and save his mother was even more thrilling. Of course, this means very, very bad things for his world as evidenced by the Barry from the past fading away. It appears that season 3 will likely be an adaptation of the Flashpoint story line from the comics in which Barry does exactly what he did in the show and royally screws up the future. In the comics version of Flashpoint, Batman is Thomas Wayne, Barry has no powers and Superman doesn’t exist, so you can see how wild the story can get. It will be interesting to see what The Flash does with this story with their obviously more limited scope. Will Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow get pulled in by Barry’s poor decision? I have no idea and that’s why I can’t wait.
I am confident that The Flash will recover from this sophomore slump, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing. A lackluster villain, a cheap death and overwrought drama brought this great show down a notch, but it is still far ahead of a lot of what’s on TV these days. Let’s hope season 3 makes for a full recovery.
The Flash Season 2 Review Score