I’m going to be pretty honest, here. After last season of The Flash, I considered telling the editors of Fangirlish that I was dropping the show. The last two seasons have been a bit of a hot mess in several ways that ultimately served as a disservice to the characters of The Flash.
Plots that should have been character-driven were picked up and dropped at random and lacked any kind of internal consistency or cohesion. (The entire plotline regarding the cure last season is a dumpster fire from start to finish.) In the last two years, the show’s writing has focused more on the newly-introduced characters of Ralph and Nora, their plots have eclipsed even the titular hero’s, at times.
The Flash has seemingly lost its way. It’s also lost its heart. Last season should have had the most emotional weight of any to date, as Barry and Iris got to know and love their daughter from the future, only to lose her in the end. The revelation that she had been working with the Reverse Flash all this time should have been an emotional gut punch for the audience. Instead, inconsistent writing undermined their story. Fans may regret Barry and Iris’s pain at losing Nora in the end, but few regret losing Nora herself.
The Flash was once a great show. I genuinely believe it can be so again. Here’s what we at Fangirlish want to see in season six.
“I Am the Flash”
In this next season of the show, we want to see The Flash become about the Flash again. No more of Barry being knocked out from C-level bad guys to give other heroes the chance to shine. No more contriving reasons to let the bad guy go 152 times in a row, just to drag out a lackluster threat for an entire season.
Now, I’m firmly convinced that a show like The Flash can focus its attention on its titular hero while also giving supporting characters meaty, character-driven story arcs that allow for character development. However, toeing the line between exploring Barry’s story while giving other characters such development has, sadly, never been something the series has done well. So if I have to choose, I choose Barry. I want him to be the hero of his own show again.
Let Barry be the smart, capable hero we know he can and should be.
After that, it would be great if we could have a plot that remain internally consistent for at least three episodes in a row. Is that too much to ask?
What’s in a Day Job?
Am I the only one who thinks there is some fun to be had in watching how a hero navigates the balance of his real and leather-clad lives? That the show misses out on a goldmine of potential every time it forgets that Barry is more than the Flash; he’s also a CSI? Missing out on the small touches of comedy that come from him trying to formulate lame excuses to leave his day job or to explain why he’s late to work – like he did in the Pilot when we found out he once told Singh he’d experienced car trouble, even though he didn’t own a car? No? I didn’t think so.
I’ve written before about the ways that the series has failed to fully incorporate the city and its citizens into the story. Showing Barry as a CSI not only gives us a bit more of that, but it also expands the ways in which the Episode Big Bad is introduced to the story. Watching Barry and Company stand around S.T.A.R. Labs for the eighth scene in a row while they draw science circles on the board got boring four seasons ago. Watching Barry out in the field, showing the intelligence that helps him be such an amazing hero in the comics? That never gets old.
But, of course, it’s not just Barry. We want to see Iris explore her role as a journalist – a plot staple that has helped carry comic books for decades for a reason. Exploring Iris’s role as journalist helps give the citizens of Central City a voice, making them a part of the story. Being told that the city will mourn Flash if he dies in Crisis is one thing; actually getting a chance to see how much they love him makes us realize that his death will affect more than just six people in a lab. His death will breath the hearts of millions of people.
Exploring Iris’s journalism arc allows us to connect with the faceless people of Central City – to see not just what the Flash means to his wife and to the team, but what he means to the entire world. It is an important part of the story that has been ignored for far too long.
Also, it would be great if characters like Caitlin and Cisco could have day jobs. Hanging around a lab all day getting paid by Barry and Iris and only seeing the sun for fifteen minutes a year can’t be healthy. Let the characters have lives outside of S.T.A.R. Labs. Please. For that matter, let Cisco and Caitlin have lives at all. They’re long past due.
Villains Worthy of the Name
The villains of The Flash have more often than not been…well…they’ve certainly been there, haven’t they?
I don’t even know what to say about them at this point. The insistence upon dragging out one villain’s story for an entire season has led to some illogical plot points, painful filler episodes, and periods of our favorite characters getting distracted looking at their navel lint to justify why the villain gets away for the 400th time in a row. (It’s because there are still four episodes left to the season and the writers need to drag out the story.)
New show runner Eric Wallace has revealed that the season will have a new format. It will be divided into two “graphic novels,” divided by Crisis on Infinite Earths. Supposedly, the villains will be different in both halves (although the first will somehow be connected to the second). This could be an excellent way to avoid the problem of dragging out the villain’s arc for too long. Still, we would love to see truly solid villain arcs, with Big Bads worthy of the name.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Crisis on Infinite Earths is probably one of the most important stories in the DC universe. It was almost certainly a keystone in making the DC universe what it is today. How and why it came about in the comics is too long a story to get into here. Boiling it down, however: the multiverse and decades of stories had caused a bit of a mess and contradictory continuity. DC decided to do an event that would wipe the slate clean, so to speak. Crisis on Infinite Earths did away with the continuity issues, “merging” five worlds into one shared universe.
Rather critically for The Flash, not every hero survived the story in the comics. In fact, as foreshadowed previously on the show, Barry Allen himself died trying to save the world. Well, worlds.
It’s such a pivotal story in Barry’s legacy – one that fans have been waiting to see pay off since the beginning of the show. It should be a no-brainer to say that Barry should remain pivotal in this, a story that has been so important in his mythos. However, it wouldn’t be the first time that a story that should have been (and was sold to be) about Barry actually becomes about someone else. And with the crossover apparently being the end of Arrow, it’s almost hard to believe it wouldn’t happen again.
Still, this is and has been an important part of Barry Allen’s mythos. It is and has been an important part of the story The Flash has been promising fans since the very beginning.
Please, writers. Don’t mess this up. Barry doesn’t have to be the only hero of this story, but he should damn well be a hero in this one. Please give him the respect that hasn’t always been afforded him, by letting a story about him be about him. Please. I’m begging you.
Heart and Soul
It’s baffling that a season that was ostensibly about Barry and Iris’s daughter felt like it had lost its heart. For a show that has always been at its best when it’s embraced emotion and the importance of family to so widely miss the mark last season is just mind-boggling. But it did.
Let’s get one things straight: The Flash should be (and…at least often has been) the story of Barry Allen. That means that the heart of the story is and should be his heart. Barry hasn’t always been a perfect man or a perfect superhero. However, the show has consistently established that he is a man who puts family above everything. After what happened to his parents, can you blame him?
Which isn’t to say that other character shouldn’t have stories. Of course they should. But no episode should lose sight of the core of the series. Or the heart that made so many of us fans in the first place.
And if there is one thing that is unquestionable, it is that Barry Allen’s heart lies with Iris West. From the very first season, the show has established that the two of them are strongest when they stand together. She is his lightning rod, and in the world of The Flash, that means something. They’re also young and in love. That may not have meant much in the last season, but it darn well should. (Once again, I’ll point out to the writers that romance shouldn’t die just because people become parents. Even parents of a grown ass adult (whether or not she acts her age).
As long as Barry remembers Iris, he’ll be all right. And as long as the show remembers that the show is never better than when it embraces the importance of Westallen to Barry’s heart and the story being told, season 6 will be, too.
The Flash season 6 premieres Tuesday, October 8 at 8/7c on The CW.