The Flash Season 4 Review

  • Series: The Flash
  • Season: 4
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 5
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Hartley Sawyer
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

Season Four of The Flash opens with Barry having been trapped in the Speed Force for six months with Iris in charge of the new “Team Kid Flash”. But when Wally is challenged by a Samari who demands to see the Flash, Cisco quickly works out a way to get Barry out of the Speed Force without blowing up the city. However, he appears in Keystone not Central City and when he returns… a wave of dark matter hits a city bus full of people, creating new metahumans.

Wally leaves to find himself, and Barry returns to Iris, being the Flash, and working with Cisco (Vibe) and Caitlin (Killer Frost). At the beginning of the season, they are dealing with a sudden increase in new metahumans, who like always can be criminals, or heroes, or something in between. But before long, Barry realizes there is a new villain at work – someone who isn’t a Speedster. The Thinker is a Chessmaster – someone who plans everything and has been plotting events for three years. The Thinker gained powers during the particle accelerator accident but also was “cursed’ with an advanced and deadly form of ALS. Yet, as we discover – his planning predates the particle accelerator accident as does his sociopathic nature and utter hatred of humanity.

Clifford Devoe was a history professor at Oxford when he met and married a scientist Marlize, and the two relocated to Central City to take tenured positions. However, Devoe was angered by his students paying more attention to their phones that him and his lectures. He also insulted Marlize and her work when they met – and revealed his negative view of humanity. As the season progresses, Marlize changes from being completely complacent and even an aide to her husband’s work, to a manipulative and cold woman, to a victim – as she realizes her husband’s plans would hurt her too, and he doesn’t care. By the end of the season, it’s clear that Marlize is key to taking down The Thinker.

Wally leaves after Barry returns. Cecile discovers she’s pregnant and tells Joe West about this. She also gains temporary telepathic abilities during her pregnancy. One of the bus metas is Ralph Dibny, a private investigator who lost his position with the CCPD after Barry as a new CSI accused him of evidence tampering. After a certain amount of questioning from Barry and doubt from Ralph, he joins Team Flash as the Elongated Man – and adds a considerable amount of lightness to the team. Ralph is one of those characters who acts tough and even self-centered, but he has a good heart and cares considerably about stopping the bad guy. I liked Ralph and I hope he’s still on the show next season.

Many of the other bus metahumans are good people who have no idea what to do with their new abilities. Unfortunately, The Thinker’s plan includes killing each of the new metas in turn and absorbing their powers, as well as using their bodies. This leads Marlize to realize her husband isn’t a good person, though it takes her a while – and her discovery that he’s drugging her and manipulating her mind and memory before she starts to realize anything.

This set includes part 3 of the “Crisis on Earth X” crossover – which was pretty good but it’s without context since parts 1 and 4 are missing (they are on the Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow DVD sets presumably, which won’t be available until later in September). The first episode after the crossover has a “Did I miss something?” feel to it. And apparently, Iris and Barry are now married, finally. As I said in my review of Arrow Season 6, I really wish that Warner Brothers and the CW would do what the BBC does with the Doctor Who Christmas specials and put them out on DVD/Blu-ray immediately after the entire special airs. I would pay for a disc that includes the entire special – and still buy the season sets with that episode included in context on each series’ season set. It would be nice to have a movie version of the crossover special.

Despite all their setbacks, in the end, Team Flash, including Cecile, work together with secret weapon, Marlize, and defeat The Thinker, reversing his diabolical plan, as expected. However, this was a good season. Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, one of DC’s lesser-known heroes, provides a sense of humor and fun – and also someone for Barry to train as a new hero. The Thinker isn’t a speedster, which was a different approach to a season-long villain, though I must admit I liked the “new meta of the week” episodes almost better than the ones focusing on figuring out what the Thinker’s plans were and how to stop him. The Thinker is a chessmaster, a planner, someone who can easily pull Barry’s strings. He’s also a diabolical psychopath – something held in reserve until his evil plan is finally revealed. Parts of this worked, whereas other parts really seemed like our characters being dumb for plot purposes (especially when Barry is set-up, accused of murder, found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison in the same cell as his father had occupied).

Overall, I enjoyed the season and I’m looking forward to watching season 5.

Read my review of The Flash Season 1.

Read my review of The Flash Season 2.

Read my review of The Flash Season 3.

Book Review – The Time Machine (audio)

  • Title: The Time Machine
  • Series: Big Finish Classics
  • Discs: 2 CDs
  • Author: HG Wells (original novel); Marc Platt (adapted screenplay)
  • Director: Ken Bentley
  • Cast: Ben Miles, Nicholas Rowe, Anjella Mackintosh, Nicholas Asbury, James Joyce, Hywel Morgan, Christopher Naylor

I have read HG Wells famous novel, The Time Machine, so I was looking forward to this adaptation by Big Finish. However, although it is a full-cast audio, the majority of the play consists of the Time Traveller telling his story to his friend, “Bertie”, identified in the credits as HG Wells. The play begins with a boys’ club dinner, with the Time Traveller presenting his idea of a machine that can travel in time though not in space, as well as a model to his friends. When his friends mock his idea, his next appearance is a traveler much the worse for wear that tells his friend his tale.

The Time Traveler does just that and travels to the far future. On a warmer Earth, he meets the Eloi, small child-like creatures who eat only fruit, speak in a “baby talk” and seem joyful but unmotivated. They are also terrified of the dark, and murmur in fear of “Morlocks”. The Time Traveler moves from frustration at this overly simple life to gradual acceptance. One day he saves a young Eloi girl from drowning when she gets a cramp, and the two become close. Uweena follows her savior around, and the Time Traveler attempts to teach her his language. Eventually, he convinces her to journey with him to find out more about their world, though the Time Traveler also wants to find his missing time machine so he can go home. They journey to a far city, finding a green marble museum, where the Time Traveler picks up a few weapons and matches. But he and Uweena are also attacked by the Morlocks – pale, simian, animal-like creatures who hate the Eloi, and even take them as food. The Time Traveler beats them back and he and Uweena retreat into the forest. They make fires at night and plan to return to a Spinx statute which the Time Traveler thinks hides his machine. But one night they are attacked by a pack of Morlocks. The Morlocks overwhelm the Time Traveler and Uweena. The next day, the Time Traveler is all right, but Uweena is missing. He makes it back to his machine, and even finds the doors in the Spinx’ pedestal are open. He thinks it’s a trap but enters anyway. It is. Still, he escapes going forward in time.

The Time Traveler moves forward millions of years to when the sun is a red giant, and the air thin. The only life is crawling creatures that live by slurping up the lichen and moss on the rocks at the edge of the sea, and red crabs that eat said creatures. Continuing on to the future, the Time Traveler nearly reaches the end of Earth’s time before he finally heads back to his own time. Appearing a week after he left, he tells his tale to his friend, Bertie.

His friends from the men’s club arrive — and they express their displeasure at the Time Traveler’s trick, insisting that he couldn’t have invented a time machine. When they which the lab/study the Time Traveler has disappeared – and according to Bertie, he is never seen again.

This is a faithful adaption of the story, The Time Machine, and that is part of the issue. The Time Traveler and Bertie discuss the Eloi and Morlocks clinically – as the result of evolution. Both believe that industrial workers would spend so much time in dark mines and darker factories and dark houses in dark slums – they’d grow pale with big eyes, unable to tolerate sunlight. Whereas the Eloi are “sunkissed” but “dumb” and innocent – like children because they have no work to give them purpose. It’s a classic ethnocentric and patronizing Victorian/Edwardian attitude that “those people” must be given work to keep them out of trouble. It’s also an over-simplification of genetic evolution. No sense of pity or responsibility or even empathy is given towards either the Morlocks or the Eloi. The Time Traveler claims to care for Uweena – but he manipulates her for his own purposes, taking her from her people, and on his own dangerous quest that she cannot possibly understand.

On the other hand, the descriptions of Earth’s far future under a red sun are well-realized and the descriptions are awesome. It becomes moody, depressing, but accurate. The word-pictures were vivid and an excellent use of the radio format. I liked that.

To sum up: on the negative side, The Time Machine shows it’s Victorian roots with a rather long debate on the future of mankind, to wit: evolution creating two sub-species. But on the positive side, the use of language in this story is evocative and moving. Overall, recommended, but there is a certain amount of ethnocentricism, patronizing attitude, and sexism that comes from the time the novel was originally written.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com.

Click to Order The Time Machine on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!