Reborn and recharged, The Flash is back with its season four premiere. Our hero has returned from the Speed Force for a season with lots of surprises and shocks, including new characters and villains like Blacksmith, Hazard, Breacher, the Elongated Man(!), and our new big bad, Clifford DeVoe, the Thinker! In the meantime, how has Team Flash (or is it Team Vibe, or Team Kid Flash?) fared without Barry? And what brings our hero back? Find out after the Speed Force jump in my review of “The Flash Reborn!”
Rather than Barry, who’s in the Speed Force, we get Iris doing the voiceover narrative in the opening, her tagline: “I was supposed to marry the fastest man alive.” At least she has something to do as opposed to most of last season where she simply seemed to just be waiting to die more often than not. She is also busy running the dashboard at S.T.A.R. Labs, which is a pleasant surprise, and does make her useful – especially in a team now missing Barry, Harry, Caitlin, and Julian. The team, be it Team Vibe or Team Kid Flash (Kid Flash, Vibe, and Joe with a high-tech gun) is out in the field chasing down the teleporter Peek-a-boo. There’s a nice shout out to Barry Allen co-creator in the comics, John Broome in Broome Tower, and they eventually get her.
Bringing in the soap opera side of the show, we catch up with everyone else as well. Joe’s erstwhile love interest, District Attorney Cecile Horton, is moving in with him, and there’s just not enough room for all her stuff. Julian has been written out, I sure will miss him. On the darker side, there’s no Wells around, one dead, and one returned to his respective Earth – was no replacement (when they need him most) sought out? And then there’s Captain Singh who wants to replace Barry, and he thinks is ‘on sabbatical in Czech Republic.’ Really, who thought that excuse up, and what boss would buy it?
The Flying Samurai
My first thought when this flying Samurai showed up was that this was one of the Samuroids (oh yeah, bad name, I was shocked when at the end of the episode Cisco went with it) from Flash #180-181 round about 1968. These robots were servants of the evil Baron Katana, who as far as I can recall, never showed up again after that two-parter. The villain was a horrid throwback to a time before political correctness, one that belongs in a box of hopefully forgotten characters of the same ilk like Egg Fu, Chop-Chop, and the Mandarin. Perhaps they can be resurrected as less offensive, but unfortunately the memory still remains.
Here in the live-action series, the Samurai is rather cool villain outfitted like a real Samurai but with jet wings and a sword that causes concussive blasts. He issues a challenge before thrashing Kid Flash and Vibe (and Joe) – bring him the Flash or he’ll destroy Central City. No one but the Flash will do. He wants the best, and there goes Wally and Cisco’s egos. At first, he appears to be just a Samurai, as opposed to a Samuroid. Oof, what a name.
Cisco has an idea of how to pull Barry out of the Speed Force prison, and everyone on Team Flash and viewers alike wonder at the same time, why wait six months to bring this up? Right? Cisco claims to have consulted with several Arrowverse big heads, like Felicity, Harry, Tina, Tracy, and Curtis. This naming is a bad idea, especially with a smart big bad this season. Like the use of Constantine over on Arrow, it sets a precedent. Now whenever the supernatural pops there’s the inclination to just call him in, like here, we have a list of geniuses to call when stuff gets hard.
Iris is against this plan, but Cisco never listens, showing just how much the rest of the team respects Iris’ input. I disliked this quite a bit. Cisco finds Caitlin tending bar on the bad side of town and recruits her help. She’s Caitlin, not Killer Frost, and she agrees to help and slides back into the team pretty seamlessly, good to have her back. However, the plan fails and Iris is not happy. Well, she might be unhappy, but did it work?
Bye Bye Barry
But it did work, Barry finally shows up miles away in Ivy City (any relation to Ivytown from the Atom comics and even a few references in the Arrowverse?) naked, Cecile calls in the team and she tells them to brace themselves … Yeah, it’s Barry, with a beard, a new haircut, and drawing weird symbols on walls (almost looks a bit like Kree in some places) while spouting gibberish like he just stepped out of A Beautiful Mind.
Some of it might seem coherent to comic fans as it fits different events in his comics life – “We’re gonna need more diapers” could reference he and Iris having twins in the future (far future if you want to get technical). Cisco tries to translate some of Barry’s gibberish and comes up only with “This house is bitchin'” – and as silly as it might sound, I think it may actually mean something later…
While all that is going on, the clock is ticking on the villain’s ultimatum. The Samurai effortlessly beats Wally dressed as Flash, stabbing his leg, and putting him out of commission for a few hours while he recuperates. Even at super speed, healing takes too long, oh, the irony! The deadline comes and Iris surrenders herself to the Samurai, promising that the Flash will come for her. The villain believes her and flies off with her. The Samurai, obviously a tool of the Thinker, processes that information silently. We know that tidbit will come back to bite our hero later on. If the Thinker doesn’t already know the Flash’s secret identity, he does now.
Iris is no fool, and neither is Joe. He tells Barry that Iris is in danger, and that wakes him up and snaps him together. He takes the new Flash costume with the gold highlights (rather than yellow, this is the same one we saw in “The Once and Future Flash,” right?) that had been teased throughout the episode under a sheet. He’s faster, smarter, and more determined. The showdown with the windmill traps in Danville was well done and unusual, nice effects. And as a bonus, we got the Danville name drop, which was the suburb outside Central City where Barry and Iris lived in domestic wedded bliss in the comics.
Epilogues and Prologues
In the end the Samurai/Samuroid is indeed a robot, and it says, “Welcome home, Flash…” As we find in a sinister epilogue, he is a machination of the Thinker, sitting in a chair similar to that of one of the Turtles in the comics, and he’s also got his Thinking Cap. He’s played by Neil Sandilands, one of South Africa’s most versatile actors, and who one might recognize from another CW series, The 100. We meet him at last after first being mentioned by Abra Kadabra, as well as his assistant the Mechanic. This will not be the last we see of them.
We also get an epilogue with Killer Frost, ahem, I mean Caitlin, as she tries to quit her job at the bar. There’s mention of a big bad there who goes by the name of Amunet, and how she won’t like it. In the comics, Amunet Black is the real name of the metahuman arms dealer called Blacksmith who eventually created her own Rogues Gallery team. Besides the great scene where Caitlin frosts up and channels the 1970s David Banner TV Hulk, there also seems to be some hold Amunet still has over her. Time will tell…
Next: We get a peek at some of the new costume’s built-in features in “Mixed Signals!”