The aptly-titled second episode of The Flash season four is a bit of a mixed bag…
After the promising but disjointed season opener last week, this second episode needed to stabilize the series and set out just what it is season four is aiming to be. Apparently, it’s going to be a full-on knock-about comedy with little in the way of drama. That sounds overly harsh for an episode that genuinely entertained me but it’s kind of true.
‘Mixed Signals’ begins as it means to go on with a fun scene in which Barry pulls a Tom Cruise for Risky Business and rocks out in his underwear while home alone. There are some great moments here, proving how much faster Barry is now, but it felt weird to have him so perky after just having escaped from the Speed Force.
Likewise, the main plot about Barry and Iris having to go to relationship counselling was likeable enough, but it mostly felt weirdly inconsequential after what they have gone through recently. Thankfully, it did turn out that Iris is still reeling from the six months she thought Barry dead, though this moment should have been mined for more sincerity.
Still, whenever The Flash is funny that means Cisco is in his element and Carlos Valdes stole many of the most hilarious moments here. It helps that he had a sub-plot about him and Gypsy failing to schedule a date, moving the pair’s romance forward. Even if it was a bit jarring to see the usually tough-as-nails Gypsy go all “smoopy”.
One character in the STAR Labs ensemble who hardly got anything to do this week, though, was Wally. The fact that he was knocked out with one hit for the big final fight perfectly encapsulates how The Flash routinely underuses him. I’ve heard some fans calling for him to move over to Legends of Tomorrow, which I think would make a lot of sense.
All in all, I have to make clear again that ‘Mixed Signals’ should be commended for being so good-natured, but the lighter tone of the series is still feeling disingenuous to the show itself and more like a consequence of the writers’ hurriedly reacting to criticisms of season three. If things can equal out and remain entertaining yet dramatic in future, then we’re onto a winner. At present, though, I can’t help thinking we should have been careful what we wished for.
- The villain-of-the-week was called “Killgore.” I kept thinking of Jessica Jones’ jab at Killgrave over in the Marvel universe: “Talk about obvious. Was Murdercorpse taken?”
- The “Babel Protocol” in the Flash’s suit is a cool easter egg to the Tower of Babel comics storyline in which Batman prepares ways to defeat the Justice League in case they ever go rogue. Just like Cisco put a self-destruct mechanism in Barry’s costume in case he ever goes evil again.
- The weirdest bit of the episode for me was the joke about how much death Barry and Iris have faced. I just found it weirdly sociopathic. But then I suppose it is in keeping with the couple that laughed after attending H.R.’s funeral last season.