Welcome to the official start of The Flash's third season.
If you've been along for the ride with me for this season, you know my disappointment in the failure to launch is pretty palpable. We've been setting the stage and setting the stage again for something interesting to happen. And nothing ever comes. This week, we don't necessarily get the payoff of all the building up, but we do get a crazy arrangement of events.
Welcome back, good show
An actual honest-to-Zod gigantic monster is running rampant in the streets of the city, leaving Barry and Team Flash to stop the Cloverfield-looking menace in its tracks. It's a big tentpole nightmare that brings a mix of fun and scale that almost compensates for the awful set-up arc we've endured this season. Also, a Godzilla that keeps disappearing with no explanation is exactly the kind of monster-of-the-week bad guy that this show has the scope and voice to tackle.
Finally, we're back.
While hunting the gigantic maybe-magic monster, Caitlin slips away to confront her mother, Dr. Carla Tannhauser, about what's going on in her superhero department. We get a pretty heavy-handed explanation on why Caitlin, and her mom, have both been emotionally cold for so long, but it builds into a first step in Caitlin controlling the powers she's acquired —even if our explanation for why feels lacking.
The highlight of the season thus far remains our newest incarnation of Dr. Wells, now in the form of H.R., the hipster from another world who answered the riddle. Our big reveal this episode is that he's not exactly a genius; more of a thinkpiece writer who has a good partner. Honestly, this is the best thing we could do for the show right now. Cisco is established as the only REAL genius in the room and Wells becomes more of an idea man. Perfect dynamic for a fun season and, oh god, why didn't we get here sooner?
Alchemy takes another back seat this week as the gigantic rampaging colossus — a hologram crafted by a misguided teenager — distracts the city from its much larger issues.
We also finally move Tom Felton into position as an actual character, wherein he extrapolates on how ethically pointless it is to carry on as law enforcement in a city overrun by meta-humans and policed by Flash. This is such an excellent note to hit, as we can now delve into some of the same ideas that made comics like Gotham Central so goddamned great, even if the idea got wasted by the actual Batman show we have now. What do cops do in a world where procedural efforts are both a joke to criminals and crimefighters alike? What a bleak existence. And Felton decidedly has some cards hidden up his sleeve for solving it.
This was the first episode of the season that felt like an actual episode of The Flash again. Big wacky monster, some genuine terror, great interpersonal dynamics, and everyone grows a little bit at the end of the day.
Welcome back, good show. You've been missed.