Even though it obviously wasn’t the first show birthed by what we now refer to as the “Arrowverse,” many of you out there could probably make a solid argument for The Flash being the pinnacle of DC TV. Personally, I dig Arrow above all others, but I’d have to be pretty dense not to see what’s great about the Scarlet Speedster’s latest run on the small screen.
While the hit CW series is in no way a carbon copy of the comic books that have inspired it, one of its greatest strengths is that it fully embraces its source material, unabashedly tackling the fantastical with each episode. And, from the beginning, that becomes apparent with the season 3 premiere, “Flashpoint.”
It’s important to note that if you were expecting a straight up adaptation of Geoff Johns’ modern classic of the same name, you’re not going to get that because not only does a TV show not have the budget to do so, but also because many of the concepts seen in the comic simply haven’t been introduced here. Still, the basic idea is there, with Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) traveling back in time to save his mother from the Reverse-Flash’s deathblow.
Long story short, our hero eventually realizes he screwed up, thereby allowing his nemesis to kill his mom in order to set the timeline straight – and therein lies the catch. As it turns out, things are back to normal for the most part, but some big changes have occurred due to Barry’s meddling: Cisco Ramon’s (Carlos Valdes) brother is dead and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) now has “cold powers,” and is well on her way to becoming Killer Frost.
Dealing with this sort of fallout largely makes up the first half of the season, but it’s the latter portion where this year really shines. Basically, in the midseason finale, Barry gets a glimpse of the future where the love of his life, Iris West (Candice Patton), is fatally impaled by the big bad, Savitar. Thus, he and the rest of Team Flash must work diligently to avert this catastrophe.
Once that box is checked, you’ll see what makes this series phenomenal. What I’ve always admired about it is that it works as not only a superhero show, but also as a drama and a fine science fiction experience. Sure, the first few episodes are a little rocky (I did say that second half is better), but it’s damn near impossible not to become deeply emotionally invested – even if it’s your second run-through.
That being said, I can’t ignore that this is the third time an evil speedster has served as the overarching villain. Yes, it’s gotten old and the big reveal doesn’t come until very late in the game. What’s kind of funny is that while the major players are shocked to learn the news, odds are that you won’t be. Believe me, pretty much everybody figured out who Savitar really was when following the series in real time. Still, he proved to be a great foil for the Flash himself, although Zoom probably remains my favorite.
Something that’ll also prompt devoted fans to lay down some cash for this set is the crossover with the other Arrowverse shows, of which there are two on here. The first is “Invasion!,” one of my favorite offerings of this particular season. Just know that only The Flash’s portion is included, so you’ll also have to buy Legends of Tomorrow season 2 and Arrow season 5 in order to get the whole experience. But hey, at least there’s a nifty little featurette about this episode to sweeten the deal.
The other crossover, however, is easily my least favorite episode of the entire series. Sure, many actors occupying the Arrowverse may come from musical theater backgrounds and/or are Glee alums, but “Duet” wasn’t really necessary. It lacked the cleverness that the Music Meister’s appearance on Batman: The Brave and the Bold boasted and, quite frankly, really just felt like an episode of Glee with Arrowverse characters. Furthermore, there were four featurettes devoted to this. Really, does somebody think the majority of DC fans love showtunes that much?
When it comes to overall presentation, I really can’t say enough because The Flash was simply made for HD. As such, Blu-ray is the way to go when choosing a home video format. The sound offered is of theater quality and the picture is so crisp, allowing the visual effects to be beautifully vibrant and look just as good, if not better, than what’s offered by Legends of Tomorrow.
Aside from the aforementioned bonus features, the ones that I favored most were the 2016 Comic-Con panel and “A Flash in Time: Time Travel in the Flash Universe,” which obviously touches on the concept of Flashpoint and discusses time travel as an enduring theme in science fiction storytelling. Also, this set easily lays claim to having the most depth when it comes to supplemental content on a DC TV collection thus far released this year.
Even though it didn’t quite achieve the greatness of the previous two years, The Flash: The Complete Third Season is still one of the best superhero shows for you to binge-watch this fall. Admittedly, there are some pitfalls, but it’s still one hell of a ride.
There's a reason why The Flash has accrued so many followers. Sure, this may not be its strongest outing to date, but it's still head and shoulders above most superhero shows today.