Enough of the same old song and dance.
Flash has always been the heart and soul of the JLA. He’s there with a smile and a joke when people are down, with encouraging words when people are in doubt, and with optimism when all looks bleak. Fittingly, then, his show was a stark but much needed contrast to the grim darkness of Arrow’s Star City.
Flash had speedsters, talking apes, people who turn into mist and a coffee named after the eponymous hero of the show. Even during its darkest moments, the series seemed to have a brighter, more jovial setting. A little more child friendly.
But despite keeping the same problem solving techniques, Flash has run itself into the ground with plot point after plot point that has done nothing but deepen the darkness in fair Central City.
First, there was Thawne’s death at the end of the first season, followed closely by Ronnie Raymond’s apparent death. Both of which seemed to be all but ignored on an emotional level, but added undertones of guilt, shame and angst nonetheless.
Then season two started to really darken the mood. Zoom immediately felt more menacing and less camp than the Reverse-Flash, and the roll call of villains seemed that much more of a menace. Atom Smasher, Tar Pit, King Shark, and Killer Frost actually felt like they might pose a threat – although the action sequences still lack a certain physicality.
The real villain sapping all the fun out of Flash, however, is the melodrama. From Patty’s departure, to the deaths of Francine West and Jay Garrick, not to mention Jessie Chambers running away, it seems like the Flash writers are taking every opportunity to make the characters brood, mourn, doubt and regret. These aren’t storylines that add anything to the drama, or the narrative going forward. They just seem like excuses to reduce the cast momentarily in an overcrowded show.
Flash is at his best when he’s bright and optimistic. In fact, Flash has so far been at his best when paired with Arrow. Only then do the writers seem to remember that Barry isn’t the brooding sort and allow him to be a source of quips and positivity. But in his own show, he bears the weight of the world on his shoulders, just like Oliver Queen. Even Diggle has noticed it.
The Flash writers need to find a way to balance high stakes with levity and positivity. Something to contrast the grittier nature of Arrow. As of yet, we haven’t seen much of the carefree side of Barry, or the hero revelling in public attention.
In the first season, he was all puppy dog eyes over Iris, and in season two he’s constantly beating himself up. Maybe for the third season we can see the real Barry Allen in his own show? And I know just where to start: at the extreme.
If you haven’t seen season 1 episode 25 of the animated show, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, it’s time you did. The Music Meister is the perfect mix of Batman Rogues, Riddler and Mad Hatter, with overt overtones of musicality. He is a villain who can control others with the sound of his voice – not dissimilar to Flash’s own Pied Piper, now an ally of the STARlets.
Of course, the Brave and the Bold version is a little too camp, but I’m sure the showrunners can find a way to use mind control through songs to present a very real threat, without all the doom and gloom and angst. I think it would help Gustin shine through as all the things that made him such a good choice for Barry Allen in the first place.
I’m not the first to ask for this, and I won’t be the last. The Flash’s cast in particular is calling out for this episode, and apparently Supergirl’s cast is pretty strong vocally, too. Maybe a crossover episode, maybe a dream sequence if they really have to. But if it was good enough for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s good enough for Flash.
Just check out the cast members singing their little hearts out.
Stephen Amell has put paid to any hopes of a four-way musical crossover episode with Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow included, but that doesn’t rule it out for Flash alone. Honestly, it wouldn’t fit the tone of Arrow or Legends anyway, but Flash is longing for exactly this kind of wacky fun. And with the separate movie universe sure to deliver their versions of the biggest and baddest Flash villains, the best thing Flash can do it opt for the kind of villain we’ll never have the chance to see anywhere else.
A musical episode would be the perfect way to get through an episode without constant negativity and heavy hearts. It would also be a great step toward seeing the city beyond those few locations we usually get, and towards seeing Flash as a hero of the people, not just the hero of the show.