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The Flash #1.11 “The Sound and the Fury” Recap & Review

A great villain and significant development on the Dr. Wells mystery furthers this season’s surprising success.

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FLA111A_0036bSummary: A great villain and significant development on the Dr. Wells mystery furthers this season’s surprising success.

Recap

Dr. Wells’ former protégée, Hartley Rathaway/Pied Piper, returns to seek revenge on his mentor after being affected by the particle accelerator explosion. In the past, Hartley discovered that the particle accelerator would explode, but Wells fired and silenced him, and turned on the accelerator anyway. Now able to manipulate sound waves, the brilliant Rathaway is a dangerous threat to both Wells and The Flash. Meanwhile, Iris is thrilled when she’s hired by the Central City Picture News as their newest cub reporter. Unfortunately, her editor  pairs her with a veteran reporter, Mason Bridge, who wants nothing to do with her. Iris realizes the editor only hired her because they think she still has a connection with The Flash, and decides she’ll need to have some gumption to prove herself. The Flash captures Hartley, but that turns out to be his plan all along — get into STAR Labs to steal their information on The Flash, and force Wells to reveal his secret about the accelerator. Wells holds a press conference revealing the information — giving the quote to Iris — but Hartley says that’s not enough. He threatens civilians, and when The Flash intervenes, Hartley uses the information obtained from STAR Labs to incapacitate him, using the radio frequency against him. Wells is able to turn satellite radio against Hartley, however, causing his sonic gloves to backfire. Hartley returns to the STAR Labs prison, and Caitlin and Cisco forgive Wells for lying. However, Wells is revealed to have superspeed, and needs the Tachyon device to recharge it by absorbing energy from the Speed Force, only a temporary fix. Joe, having grown steadily more suspicious of Wells, asks Eddie to investigate him in secret.

Review

Early on in “The Sound and the Fury,” the STAR Labs team — Barry, Caitlin, Cisco, and Dr. Wells — celebrate their latest victory in apprehending the Royal Flush gang (who may or may not be related to the version of the gang that appeared on Arrow) by taking a photo. When we see it at the end, alongside Barry’s voiceover talking about the important people in his life, it’s an obvious representation of the STAR Labs team as a family. I’m not trying to posit that as me reading between the lines — the episode (and the show has a whole) unabashadly hammers in the importance of family from all angles, with the thesis that it takes a village to raise a young superhero like The Flash.

FLA111B_0491bWhere that photo becomes muddy is what it will inevitably represent by season’s end. Like Dr. Wells’ newspaper from the future, the reveal of his dark secret(s) is a forgone conclusion. What began as an intriguing-but-grating series of teases early on has progressed into something much more daring, especially since the Reverse-Flash reveal. Wells, and his position at the center of the STAR Labs family and Barry’s second father figure, has ingrained him so deeply at the very core of the show that it’s nearly impossible to picture it without him. And yet, how long can he keep up the charade? When the mystery behind Wells is revealed, so much of the entire structure will be uprooted. Everything we’ve seen up until now can and probably will take on a new meaning once his motives are laid out. So much of this season has pre-emptively invited a second rewatch after the season ends, because everything Wells says and does is soaked with potential ulterior motives or double meanings.

It’s a careful line to tread before the show gets too weighed down by the anvils, which it has on a couple of occasions. But for the most part, the Wells mystery has been adeptly spaced out, offering enough tidbits and clues with every episode and smartly underplaying many of the reveals. Tonight is a perfect example, with the confirmation that Wells has superspeed, it’s limited, and he uses the stolen Tachyon device to draw from the Speed Force to recharge. This is all huge, and the implications are even bigger. There was always the question of whether or not Wells really was in the yellow suit, or if he was was working with him, etc. But we know for sure that Wells has superspeed, which not only means he’s keeping a big secret from his friends and collegues, but there are points when he could have helped Flash or saved people with his speed but chose not to. Whatever his intentions are, it’s going to take an extreme amount of time and work to achieve forgiveness if he asks for it, especially given how hard he fell with Hartley’s secret this week.

And yet, the reveal just kind of…happens. It’s not terribly surprising, but there’s been enough air of mystery that even the confirmation at the end of “The Man in the Yellow Suit” wasn’t much of a confirmation. So the reveal this week reflects that, with Wells doing it instinctively without much fanfare, some exposition about it at the end, and that’s about it. We’re smart enough to know what’s going on, and most people had already figured it out. So, it’s refreshing that it wasn’t played with big swelling music and slow-mo. The way this will eventually affect virtually everyone in the show is much more important than the statement of the facts.

The same can be said for the dark secret that is revealed: that Wells knew the particle accelerator had a high risk of exploding, and turned it on anyway. There aren’t really any repercussions to Wells coming out and saying the truth to the world, considering, as Hartley says, everyone already hates him anyway. It matters where his STAR Labs family stands, though, as it permanently and retroactively damages their relationship. Everyone is forgiven by the end, because The Flash is an optimistic show, but this is very much a preview of the more devastating reveals that lie ahead.

FLA111A_0192bWells’ ambiguous place lets Hartley Rathaway/Pied Piper sit firmly in the anti-villain seat, with very legitimate reasons behind his hatred of STAR Labs. Well, he scooches a bit closer to full-on villain because of his ruthleness dealing with Caitlin and Cisco; there’s a very clear dark side to Hartley, evidenced by his pompous and generally mean attitude in the flashbacks anyway, so the escalation to not caring about collateral damage as he goes a bit more off the deep end makes some sense. Even then, if the episode makes any mistake, it’s perhaps having Hartley attack civilians in the final battle to get Flash’s attention. Maybe he was being careful to not totally throw them off the bridge and merely scare them, but he was still effective as a scary villain for the heroes, personally, without ever doing much damage to anyone else.

Regardless of any of that, though, Hartley is a perfect villain to pit against Wells. In any other context, Hartley would have been the heroic wunderkind pit against a duplicitous mad scientist — and Tom Cavanaugh really does up the deviousness in the flashback. Hell, there is definitely enough subtext in that opening “You’re my guy” flashback to indicate an even more intimate betrayal between the two, if the show wanted to go in that direction. As straightforward as Hartley’s backstory is, there’s plenty still to be explored. That’s good, because Andy Mientus is on par with most of The Flash‘s bigger villains, in that he’s vibrantly played and very over-the-top, but purposefully so. Mientus is tasked with playing a villain that revels in being vengeful, but isn’t outright evil; he isn’t that sympathetic in his actions, but the more we learn, the more it infers his actions to make him sympathetic. Mientus seems to work with this by playing up Hartley’s theatricallity and letting that be part of his broken personality, which lets the lack of nuance slide. This type of villain wouldn’t work in a big screen superhero film or  as a Big Bad, but he works wonders in this position, both as a foil for the current STAR Labs team and a cipher for Wells’ backstory.

Also, while it ended up being mostly irrelevant to the episode, everyone else is talking about: Pied Piper is noteworthy in being an openly gay live-action anti-villain. Surely not the first ever, but probably the first to be totally upfront about it (and not in a sensationalized and unspoken kind of way, a la Tina Greer.) Like a lot of The Flash, this episode strikes a careful balance between making it an important part of the character and not making a big deal about it. The all-too-common story of being estranged after coming out to his parents surely attributed to Hartley’s issues, but that’s really all that’s said or done about it (other than a spectacular amount of chemistry, intentional or not, between Mientus and Cavanaugh.) The one joke that does slip in — “Being scooped up by a guy clad head to toe in leather is a long time fantasy of mine, so thanks” — is delightfully funny and totally worth it.

FLA111B_0406bWith all the Wells and Hartley talk, it’s easy to forget that plenty of others get some solid moments. We see Cisco’s first day at STAR Labs and the beginning of his parade of geeky t-shirts, the first of which is so on-the-nose (it’s both an obnoxious meme and Star Wars reference!) that it’s perfect as the trend-setter. And Iris starts down a new path as a journalist, getting the job in the most laughably easy way possible: the editor of a major newspaper “likes her blog!” What works about Iris’s story, though, is that it purposefully subverts and even parodies some typical TV journalist stuff. For one, Mason Bridge hilariously lays out all the meaningless journalism buzzwords like “spunk” and “gumption” in full Lou Grant fashion to Iris. And while Iris got the job way too easily for a 20something with only blogging experience, it has less to do with her ability  (“my mom has a blog,” as Mason says) and more with her presumed connections to The Flash. And unlike the Superman/Lois Lane relationship, Iris only has that to go on, and it’s a connection she’s already severed. It puts her in a far more precarious and interesting situation, and means she’ll still have to work her way up from the bottom, in a way. The “cub reporter getting the respect of fellow reporters” trope pretty much fits into what the episode starts off subverting — not to mention Iris throwing out “gumption” as a big one-liner, even though in context that word didn’t really make much sense — but hey, it gives Iris something to do.

The Flash hasn’t sank at any point in its run thus far, and even then, “The Sound and the Fury” is another step up. Like we’ve all said many times here, this show is profoundly fun no matter what story it’s telling, and the characters have been so well set-up that it can ride on the dynamics even when the stakes aren’t the utmost dire. Pied Piper is a good villain for the show, but he’s hardly the most formidable. What makes him work is the drama he brings, forcing out secrets and shifting around relationships. The more we see of Wells’ true nature, the more it engages. That’s exactly the right direction in which it should be moving.

Odds & Ends

  • So, Wells’ apartment? Yeah. Let’s see more of that gorgeous piece of architecture.
  • Wells utters “I failed this city,” and a chill goes up the spine of season 1 Arrow fans. It’s a cute reference, though.
  • Joe officially investigating Wells has been expected for a while, but thankfully he’ll have Eddie involved, which means every character now has a significant storyline to follow.
  • “Does that count as a selfie?”
  • “He was mostly a jerk. But every once in a while, he could be a dick.”
  • “God, I wish I’d taken a language in high school.”
  • “Hey Chief! Is that what people call you?”
    “No, not really.”

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season

Review of The Flash Season 6 Blu-ray set from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

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The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and we have been provided with a copy of the set to review on the site!

The set features all 19 episodes of The Flash Season 6 plus extras — the Blu-ray includes all of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover!

Here’s what’s up:

Packaging & Design: Starting with this because it’s probably the first thing you’ll notice. The box art for this set has changed since the original press release — the fired Hartley Sawyer’s Ralph Dibny is no longer on the packaging. While I understand the show distancing themselves — Ralph was indeed an important part of Season 6, with his Sue Dearbon story, and I’m not 100% sure how I think they should have handled it. As it is, it looks odd with just the other four members of Team Flash on it. Though, to be fair, Nash Wells isn’t on the cover either.

With that said, The Flash sets usually have some of the best designed packaging and menu art and this set is no exception.

The Episodes: Also seems I am repeating myself but the Blu-ray presentation on The Flash is loads better than what we see on TV and is pretty cinematic. All 19 episodes of Season 6 are here, and — spoiler warning — because of COVID-19, they were cut off at 19 episodes, so that means some storylines aren’t completely wrapped. With that said, this season saw Eric Wallace taking over as showrunner, and with him came a new tactic that he referred to as “graphic novels.” The first “graphic novel” included the character Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as characters are facing death, and the second, after Crisis, dealt with a new “Mirror Master.”

I will say that The Flash under Eric Wallace has a great vision and I love his enthusiasm, which you can actually hear on the “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” commentary. He’s as big of a geek as we are, and I mean that in the absolute best way. The only thing I’d have to say negative about Season 6 is that the mirror storyline has gone on way too long — and I wonder, if they had known all along that we’d end with 19 episodes (an impossibility, because who would?), it might have been a bit shorter.

This “graphic novel” set-up, however, does offer the chance to binge the season in parts, which is pretty cool, and the Blu-ray bonus disc of all of Crisis on Infinite Earths is a good thing to throw in the middle to tee up Graphic Novel #2.

The other thing I will say about Season 6 is that I really liked some of the new characters that are set up. Chester P. Runk, Sue Dearbon, Kamilla, and Allegra — all fun characters that add to rather than detract from the series.

The Extras: The set includes a bonus black and white noir version of “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” with commentary by Eric Wallace. Commentaries don’t happen too often these days, so I’m so glad they put something on this set. There is also a gag reel and deleted scenes. And, of course, all of Crisis which has a lot of great Flash content!

Is It Worth It? If you’re a Flash completist or want to see the most recent season in high definition, sure. You might want to start at the very beginning, though. Still, I think The Flash is on its way back to its former glory and Season 6 is the start of that journey. Can’t wait for Season 7, and for now, this set will be revisited often.

Get your copy of the Blu-ray from Amazon.com at a discounted price and support FlashTVNews!

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season

Review of the Flash Season 5 Blu-ray set.

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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided FlashTVNews with a free copy of this set for review in this post. The opinions shared are my own.

The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, containing all 22 episodes of Season 5 plus bonus episodes from the Elseworlds crossover. In addition to the entire season, there are few extra features for all to enjoy, though some are duplicated from other sets that were made available this year. Here’s the review.

The Episodes: As mentioned, all 22 episodes plus extras are on this set. And as I tend to write every year, the show isn’t quite at the high level it was in its first season, but there are definitely standouts in Season 5. A big theme for the season is family, and the conflicts between parents and their children. Caitlin and her parents are a part of that. The season’s villain is a part of that. And the biggest part of that is Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), the daughter of Barry and Iris brought back from the future. Kennedy is fantastic in the role, though it is at times disappointing to see so much attention on a new character when we are here for the ones we’ve seen for 100+ episodes.

The Flash Season 5 contains the series’ 100th episode which is a great journey through the five years of the show. Sadly absent from Episode 100, though, is Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) who was recovering from an injury for a good part of the season. Martin’s presence was certainly missed though it is nice that the show upgraded Danielle Nicolet (Cecile) to series regular this year.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t very invested in the Cicada story, at least not as much as I probably should have been. And I was even less into the latest Wells, “Sherloque,” which was a joke that stopped being funny within about 2 minutes, with no offense meant to the writers or Tom Cavanagh. It was nice to see the talented Cavanagh in another role, though part of me still is wondering why it was not Matt Letscher, though I’m forgiving that because, again, Tom Cavanagh.

I’m also not sure what to make of Vibe’s eventual fate, unless it is a way to make things less easy for next year’s crossover. In any event, watching these episodes still has me excited for Season 6, and The Flash is certainly a series that is worth the Blu-Ray upgrade.

The Extras: There’s a fantastic featurette about the origins of Killer Frost which is really well put together. I was, however, surprised that such attention wasn’t paid to XS/Nora as she was also a major arc for Season 5. Was there only room to cover one story? I’m also surprised there wasn’t some kind of 100th episode spotlight, especially since Warner Bros. did have press kit people on the line interviewing the cast.

There are Elseworlds, villains, and Comic-Con featurettes that you can find on the other DC TV shows this year, which I can only imagine is a cost-cutting measure to include them everywhere.

The set also has deleted scenes, with the most notable being Superman running with Oliver Queen from “Elseworlds Part 1.” It’s a shame that was cut. There was also a “My Name Is Barry Allen” from “Elseworlds” with Stephen Amell replacing Grant Gustin as Grant replaced him in the aired Part 2 — this was surely cut and unfinished so as to not blow the reveal that Oliver was Barry in Part 1. It’s still really cute and fun.

Finally, there’s a gag reel. While they are introduced with credits like The Office, they’re still a bit… meh.

Packaging and Design: Seeing Barry and Nora running side by side is the perfect way to sell this. Very nice looking.

Is It Worth It? I’ll always recommend picking up Flash Blu-Rays from the beginning, but this is certainly worthwhile, especially to prepare for Season 6 to premiere on October 8. You can purchase this set (and support this site!) here.

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

Review of the Blu-ray set for The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

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The Complete Fourth Season of The Flash hits Blu-ray and DVD this week (Tuesday, August 28), and we’ve got our hands on a review copy!

Before we get to the review, here’s how the season is described:

In Season Four, the mission of Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin), is once more to protect Central City from metahuman threats. First, he’ll have to escape the Speed Force. With Barry trapped, the job of protecting Central City falls to his family – Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin); his fiancée, Iris West (Candice Patton); and Wally West/Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) – and the team at S.T.A.R. Labs – Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) and brilliant scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). When a powerful villain threatens to level the city if The Flash doesn’t appear, Cisco risks everything to break Barry out of the Speed Force. But this is only the first move of a life-or-death chess game with Clifford DeVoe aka The Thinker (Neil Sandilands), a mastermind who’s always ten steps ahead of Barry, no matter how fast he’s running. Shocking surprises come fast and furious in all 23 action-packed adventures featuring The Fastest Man Alive.

So, how’s the set?

The Episodes: It’s going to be very hard to ever replicate the greatness that was the first season of The Flash. Unfortunately, one thing that The Flash Season 1 did so well that still didn’t connect for Season 4 is a strong villain. While I have more appreciation for The Thinker after rewatching some episodes and checking out the extra interview features on this set, I still don’t really feel that empathy and care for him that I had for, say, Eobard/Wells.

Season 4 also tried to course correct with more humor to varied success. Sometimes it worked; others the show was far too amused with itself. (I don’t need to see any more Wellses no matter how much I love Tom Cavanagh, for example, and “psychic pregnancy” will never not be too campy for me.)

There’s some good stuff, though. The best version of Barry’s suit so far premieres in Season 4, and Barry and Iris finally get married this year, even if every time they got married, they ended up interrupted. There are some episodes that worked to innovate, and there are also things like Barry in jail which seem to go on for too long. But at least with a DVD or Blu-ray you can fast forward, right?

Season 4 is also where we meet Ralph Dibny. He grows on you until you finally stretch your appreciation levels. By season’s end, you love Ralph as much as everyone else might.

The Extras: Of all the DC TV shows, The Flash usually gets the best treatment as far as extras go. We’ve got deleted scenes (including some WestAllen!), bloopers, and the all-encompassing Comic-Con video… and some other great extras, including Sterling Gates and Eric Wallace with Katee Sackhoff offering commentary on Amunet (who I do enjoy more after seeing Sackhoff speaking about her, but I still don’t understand why the silly accent was a thing). There’s also a really nice feature about the Elongated Man, and all four episodes of this year’s DC TV crossover are represented.

There’s also talk about The Thinker, and as I said, I appreciate the storyline more but I still didn’t have that emotional connection with the character that I feel I needed. The other bodies thing at midseason made that all even worse.

Packaging & Art: This is one of the best looking Flash Blu-ray sets so far. Dynamic design on the box art and on the discs. I like it.

Is It Worth It? As I said, nothing will be Season 1 again, but if you’re a fan of The Flash there are a lot of extras to make this worth it. Order yours from Amazon.com at a discounted rate and support this website!

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