Funny what can happen when a show embraces what it does best; what defines it. Like Barry Allen being the hero of his story rather the villain. Like finding the balance between heart and humor. Like doing justice by the characters that inhabit your universe. Like being honest and true.
The Flash has proven in every single episode of its fourth season that being the show that you’re meant to be is the best thing that can happen. Evolution isn’t the problem. I understand that things change. Characters change. Storylines change. But what shouldn’t change is the essence of the series; the very thing that makes the series worth caring about.
We’re just five episodes in with season 4, but already I’m going out on a limb and calling it — at least — the second best season of this series. Already this season has trumped seasons 2 and 3. Because I feel like I know these characters. But perhaps most importantly, I know my hero.
The thing that made the best two seasons so difficult for me to enjoy has been the villain-ization of Barry Allen, our hero. Over the course of time, Barry became someone I didn’t recognize. He wasn’t the hero that I fell in love with; he wasn’t the hero that I believed in; he wasn’t the selfless hero that put the weight of the world on his shoulders and didn’t even blink.
Along the way, The Flash lost Barry Allen. But in season 4, they’ve rediscovered him.
Barry Allen is Barry Allen again. I like Barry again. Long are the days when we were saying “F you, Barry” every week. Now, it’s more like, “Love you, Barry.”
Why? Well, the show has really gotten back to what makes Barry Allen a hero. He’s left the selfishness behind, he’s stepped into his role as hero, he’s accepted the changes around him, and he’s not someone that lost himself. He’s much more sure of himself. He’s the hero I fell in love with in season 1.
The Flash is at its best when it’s beautifully balancing storylines with heart and humor while also managing not to waste your time. There’s a difference between delivering laughs and feeling like you accomplished nothing. It’s something I felt like The Flash did more in the past. But this season — when it’s capitalizing on the humor — it’s making sure these storylines have substance. That there’s a purpose, whether that’s to further the story or to deliver important messages.
In “Girls Night Out,” The Flash delivered its best episode in quite some time. It was beautifully executed throughout and delivered some powerful messages, while also delivering moments that will keep me laughing for some time.
Certainly bringing Arrow’s Felicity Smoak into the fold to celebrate Iris’ Bachelorette Party was genius. And the execution — as the women of The Flash (and Arrow) basically saved the day like the badasses they are — was simply perfection. It was so gratifying to watch these strong women use their smarts and wit to defeat a vile villain. And they looked damn good while doing it, too. #Feminism
The Flash delivered on the humor as the ladies saved the day and the men went to a strip club — and got Barry trashed. It was the kind of humor that’s so effortless to the point where it makes it even funnier, if that makes sense. There’s a genuineness to it.
This was the kind of episode that you didn’t want to come to an end. And honestly, I don’t remember the last time I felt like that with The Flash. It’s a feeling that I haven’t felt in quite some time. It’s a good feeling. You know what, I could get used to this.
I love to love The Flash. Please keep reciprocating that love, Flash.
Let’s break this episode down:
Who Save The World? Girls.
Can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that it was the badass women on this show that saved the day? While the boys were playing at a strip club and jail, no doubt. Who save the world? Girls.
While Iris, Caitlin, Felicity, and Cecile set out for a night of booze, strippers, and possibility, they ended up being called into action as they faced off against an evil metahuman with a vendetta against Killer Frost. And it was with their intelligence, wit, and physicality that they were able to take the meta down — all without help from the boys.
I loved that “Girls Night Out” really turned the narrative on its head. And the thing is, it wasn’t surprising in the slightest. These are four incredibly strong and intelligent women that banded together to take out a nasty meta. And they managed to do it in style.
In this DCTV universe, it’s important to have episodes like this. To showcase the strength of women. And not just the physical strength. Intelligence. Courage. Everything that defines these DCTV ladies as badasses. And we got to see it on full display.
Let’s Talk About Female Friendships
If there’s one issue with the DC Television universe it’s the lack of — and importance of — female friendships. It’s one of those issues that, if you’re someone that doesn’t really read deep into the characters and their dynamics, might go unnoticed.
But in a world where females are mostly turned against each other, it’s important to highlight the importance and strength of female friendships. And while DCTV — a universe that touts heroism and strength and heart — should be a poster child for those relationships, it isn’t. And that’s a problem.
In a world where superheroes are presumed to be more a “male” thing, it’s important for female inclusion. That also includes strong female characters that have a relationship with other strong female characters. And it’s something that’s been terribly handled thus far.
And The Flash isn’t the only show to blame. I’m talking Arrow, as well. There are so many amazing female characters in this universe, and there are so many opportunities to focus on these amazing female friendships. These are women that work together; that should develop a friendship outside of work.
But since this was on The Flash, let’s focus on Iris and Caitlin’s friendship. Or lack thereof.
Perhaps one of the most infuriating things for me as a fan of Iris and Caitlin is how little they’ve interacted as just people. I’m not talking working with the team. I’m talking about confiding in each other, talking to each other, hanging out with each other. Becoming friends, which should be a natural progression. But that progression never really happened.
When The Flash presented an opportunity for Iris and Caitlin to talk things through, I was worried that they were once again going to ignore the lack of a real relationship between the two ladies. That it would paint them as besties when they’re clearly not. But The Flash actually admitted — through these characters — that they aren’t really friends.
But perhaps most important was the implied “not yet” that came with the sentiment.
Iris and Caitlin aren’t real friends. Yet. But there’s the potential for them to be. The Flash can rewrite the narrative here. They can fix it.
But here’s the thing, I don’t want The Flash to merely acknowledge that Iris and Caitlin aren’t real friends and stop there. There’s work that needs to be done. They need to show these two ladies starting to lean on each other for emotional support. They need to show these two ladies hanging out with each other outside of work circumstances. They need to make us believe that they’re friends. They need to fix this. I’ll be watching. And judging.
As Iris said, this is about new beginnings. This shouldn’t be a quick fix. I don’t want it to be. I want to see Iris and Caitlin develop that friendship. I want it to feel earned, like any relationship.
Finding Balance & Acceptance
“When did [Caitlin]’s superpowers make her a super villain?”
Felicity Smoak is Queen at dropping truth bombs like this one as I continued to wonder why being Killer Frost makes Caitlin “evil.” It’d be different if there was some backstory to it all. A reason that Caitlin would resort to that. But watching Caitlin become Killer Frost, she was just evil. No explanation. Just evil.
Is it because of the name? Is it because of the comic canon? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then at least show us in the storytelling. Because basically we were presented with Caitlin as a metahuman being “evil” when the other metahumans on Team Flash aren’t. It just never made sense.
So call it a novel concept for Caitlin’s story in this episode to be about finding balance between the two sides of herself and accepting herself for who she is. Call it relief that we’re — hopefully — soon to getting past this whole Killer Frost is evil storyline. I want to see a more balanced Caitlin, a confident Caitlin, who can use her abilities to Team Flash’s advantage.
Caitlin has been struggling to balance the two sides of herself. On the one hand, she’s been terrified to be Killer Frost. On the other side, Killer Frost has been terrified to be Caitlin Snow. It’s intriguing as Caitlin has been trying to find herself for months after she lost sight of who she was.
There was this balance struggle between the two sides as both sides refused to accept the person that they are; that they are one. But this episode — hopefully — was the beginning of that acceptance on Caitlin and Killer Frost’s front.
As people, we have many different sides. Some good, some bad. Some we’re proud of, some we’re not proud of. But just because we’re not a fan of a certain aspect of ourselves doesn’t mean it’s not a part of us. Sometimes the hardest thing in this world to do is to accept all sides of yourself. It’s easy to accept the good. But it’s more challenging to open yourself to accept the not-so good.
That was Caitlin/Killer Frost’s struggle. That was the balance they sought. That was the acceptance they took a step forward in achieving.
The Heart of Barry & Joe
While I ship Westallen to the ends of the Earth, I have to admit that my favorite relationship on The Flash has always been — and will always be — Barry and Joe. It was one of the aspects of The Flash that immediately drew me to this show. The father-son dynamic that is anything but ordinary. The father-son dynamic that could not be any stronger. The father-son dynamic that has been the beating heart of The Flash for four years.
Much like Kara and Alex are the heart of Supergirl, Barry and Joe are the heart of The Flash. So when we don’t get as many moments between the characters as we’d like, it’s something that’s noticeable. The Flash, while it has given us some Barry and Joe moments, could’ve given us more over the past couple of seasons. Basically, there is no thing as too much when it comes to the pair.
We got to see that beautiful relationship on full display in “Girls Night Out,” as Barry and Joe shared one of their signature “epic” father-son conversations. Throughout the episode, Joe has been caught up about fear for the future. He’s pushing 50, and he’s expecting a child with Cecile. It’s something that utterly terrifies him. He doesn’t know how he’s going to do this.
But Barry, being the resourceful and wise Barry of season 1’s past, knew exactly what to say to ease Joe’s unease. He reminded Joe that — when he raised Iris, and then brought Barry into the fold, and later Wally — that he did all of that alone. He was a single parent. He raised two amazing children and helped another grown one. He did all of that alone
But Joe isn’t alone this time. He has Cecile. But he also has Barry. And Iris. And Team Flash to help him in any way they can. He can do this. It’s natural for him to be terrified, as Cecile is scared, as well. But the beauty of family is that they’re always there. And Barry and Joe will always be the staple.
9 Things About “Girls Night Out”
1. This was honestly the best episode of The Flash is a very long time. And this season has been phenomenal. Let that sink in.
2. I loved that we got to see the inner struggle with Caitlin and Killer Frost. It was all about balance and acceptance — balancing the different sides of yourself and accepting yourself fully.
3. “I just love chicken wings so much,” Barry croons. I relate to Barry on a personal level with his love of chicken wings. I’d cry too.
4. No, seriously. Drunk Barry was the actual best. He was spouting some truth tea — and I’m not talking about his drunken rants about being The Flash.
5. I loved that The Flash addressed the issue that Iris and Caitlin aren’t legit friends. The “not yet” was implied. But The Flash better show me that Iris and Caitlin are becoming more than work friends. I’ll be watching and judging, Flash.
6. It’s really amazing anytime Felicity Smoak shows up on The Flash. She’s such a breath of fresh air on a Flash show that’s so phenomenal this season. Loved the girl power/girls night out theme.
7. That Baby Westallen wedding. Talk about hitting me right in the feels.
8. Barry and Joe’s relationship continues to be my absolute favorite thing about The Flash. Throughout the bad, it’s been the one constant good.
9. Gotta love how the girls were the ones that saved the world while the boys were getting drunk and imprisoned. #Feminism
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.