At some point, all shows get stuck in a rut that features repetitive themes and unoriginal stories. The mid-season finale of The Flash showed just how true this is for the superhero show. I’m not saying it is unwatchable, but Barry and the rest of Team Flash continue to be plagued by the pitfalls of Flashpoint, and it’s this repetitive and unoriginality that is getting tiresome. It was a fun change of pace at the beginning of the season but it doesn’t have the substance to control an entire season.
This week starts with a weird flashback that features Julian during an expedition he took to India in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, something he apparently obsessed over for many years. Unknowingly, it’s the stone that turned Julian into Alchemy and released Savitar into the world. After Team Flash captured Alchemy/Julian and put Savitar back in his box, they launched it into the Speed Force which allegedly got rid of it for good. In the process, though, Barry is launched five months into the future where he saw Savitar stabbing Iris through the heart. All of this was foreseen by Savitar himself, and it’s Barry’s future self that is to blame.
All this time travel, whether it’s changing the past or preventing the future has become overdone. It’s a story that has been told over and over again and isn’t unique to The Flash. It’s predictable. Going back in time creates a disaster and the future is uncertain. Watching Barry try and prevent an outcome we already know will happen doesn’t make for a very compelling story and I’m afraid it will be the focus of season 3’s second half. The Flash tends to prolong conflicts, whether it’s Wally becoming Kid Flash, Barry’s constant missteps, or his relationship with Iris. Another half-season of this stuff will surely keep the show in a rut, not settled in a groove.
This week’s episode, or the season in general, isn’t completely lost, though. The show knows its characters and their relationships with one another are its strong suit and this week didn’t disappoint in that regard. This week’s Christmas episode featured a friendly eggnog competition, thoughtful presents, and even Caitlin making it snow. I particularly enjoyed HR being “that guy” every Christmas party has, stumbling around drunk having a good time. It’s strange that a Superhero show is better when it’s not focused on saving the world, but that’s where The Flash stands right now. Obviously, the story can change and things can improve, but for now we can be happy with its small victories.
Yes, the show’s story has been uninspiring the first half of the season, but that doesn’t mean it is bad. The Flash has done a great job of tying itself to the DC world and its source material while also creating its own identity. Seeing Mark Hamill come back as The Trickster was a pleasant surprise (even if it was only a brief appearance) and I always enjoy episodes featuring Jay Garrick. Lucky for The Flash, it will have a fresh start in the second, and even if nothing changes, Superheroes will always be cool and worth watching.