- by Jeff Beck
The Flash: The Complete Third Season: A Grand Return to Form (Blu-ray)
The CW’s most popular superhero program, “The Flash,” was an incredible triumph upon its premiere, integrated fun, excitement, drama, humor, action, and romance into a thrilling show that proved that comic book adaptations on the small screen could easily compete with the big-budget fare being released into theaters, and even surpass it in many instances. The show’s second season, while ultimately a small step back due to a few narrative issues, still managed to deliver where it counts, leaving us with a rather intriguing setup for the show’s forthcoming adventure. Now we come to the show’s hotly-anticipated third season, where everything has literally changed. Will “The Flash” finally return to its pillar of greatness, blowing the audience away once more with its captivating storytelling, or will it merely be satisfied with another ok season that doesn’t really dare to go above and beyond?
At the end of the previous season, we witnessed Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) go back in time and prevent his mother from being murdered, thus significantly changing his present. However, it’s not long before he realizes that this new timeline is worse for the people he cares about, eventually going back in time again to change it back. The problem is, the timeline doesn’t completely change back to the way it was, causing a number of things to be different, including a rift between his adopted father, Joe (Jesse L. Martin), and his girlfriend Iris (Candice Patton), as well as the death of Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) brother in a car accident. Barry does his best to repair the damage, eventually confessing to his friends about what he did, but with no way to fix everything, the group has little choice but to live with the changes.
Meanwhile, several meta-humans, created by the mysterious “Alchemy,” have been attacking Central City. When they finally confront Alchemy, it is revealed that he is merely a servant to the real villain, a speedster known as Savitar, who believes himself to be a god. Just when the group believes that they’ve discovered a way to defeat Savitar, Barry accidentally finds himself in the future, where he learns that the evil speedster murders Iris in just a few months. With this devastating news in mind, Barry and his team work around the clock in an attempt to find a way to change the future to prevent the love of his life from being killed, but with Savitar’s incredible powers, our heroes will truly be put to the test like never before.
It seems like the third season of “The Flash” is best described as a good news, bad news type of situation. The good news: the storytelling is almost back to being as compelling as it was in the debut season. Flashpoint (i.e. the alternate timeline Barry creates by changing the past) was a great launching point for the arc being told this season, allowing for several intriguing twists that help shake things up. Subsequently, the substantial consequences of Barry’s rash decision allow this season to spread out in several different directions, providing the show with new allies, new meta-humans, and unexpected character developments that keep the show fresh and exciting.
The bad news, in this instance, is that the main villain is yet another evil speedster. Season one gave us The Reverse Flash, while season two gave us Zoom, and now the showrunners felt the need to give us a similar villain in the form of Savitar. Granted, his motives are a little different, but it would be nice to get a little more variety when it comes to the main baddie of the season, for having another villain that’s able to run around with The Flash just isn’t as exciting as it was back in the first season.
More good news: with the show continuing to do an epic 23 episodes per season, it’s rather impressive that they managed to make this arc fill up almost the entire thing. Granted, just like in previous seasons, some of the episodes are taken up with a “meta-human of the week,” but unlike the lack of variety in the main villain, these “sub-villains” still give the show a little something different week to week, including one who can move through reflective surfaces and another who’s a magician from the 64th century.
The bad news, in regards to the lengthy season, is that the showrunners made the mistake of wasting not just one, but two, episodes on Gorilla Grodd, a telepathic gorilla that is by far the silliest and least interesting character in the show’s repertoire. You also have to put up with a curiously misguided episode that features The Flash and Supergirl getting stuck in a musical. This sounds like it could have been a pretty intriguing idea, but the execution of it is completely off, and that’s not to mention that it ends up serving no purpose whatsoever. However, as mentioned, these guys have 23 episodes to fill, so just on sheer odds alone, there are bound to be a few that don’t hit the mark.
You could even lay it out the same way when it comes to some of the characters. It’s great to have some new characters thrown in the mix, including HR (the newest version of Wells, as played by Tom Cavanagh) and Julian (a meta-human expert who joins the team, as played by Tom Felton), whereas Joe’s son Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) continues to feel like a superfluous side character that just isn’t given much to do aside from randomly participating every now and again in stopping meta-humans.
However, looking at the season as a whole, the good has significantly outweighed the bad, especially when it comes to the narrative and the structure of the arc. In other words, this season has been a resounding success, lifting the show back up to great heights and once again proving how grand comic book adaptations can be on the small screen when done right. We can only hope that season four continues this exciting resurgence and is able to keep it up for what will hopefully be another strong arc. It’s got its footing back, now it just needs to stay the course.
“The Flash: The Complete Third Season” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of mostly outstanding quality. There’s a very slight fuzziness noticeable in the picture, but for the most part, it’s a very sharp and clear image that does a great job of showing off the show’s various effects. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is top-notch, giving you all of the dialogue, score, and sound effects in excellent quality. Overall, the show has been given very good treatment, which will undoubtedly please the fans
Villain School: The Flash Rogues (8 Minutes): A featurette that explores the new villains of season three.
Allied: The Invasion Complex (10 Minutes): A featurette that takes a look at the epic crossover event involving The Flash and his fellow superheroes.
Rise of Gorilla City (9 Minutes): A featurette that goes behind the scenes of the making of the Gorilla City with the VFX artists who created it.
The Flash: Hitting the Fast Note (4 Minutes): A behind the scenes look at the season three musical episode “Duet.”
The Flash: I’m Your Super Friend (3 Minutes): A quick look at the filming of the “Super Friend” number from “Duet.”
Harmony in a Flash (16 Minutes): A featurette that explores composer Blake Neeley’s work on “Duet.”
Synchronicity in a Flash (21 Minutes): Part two of the featurette exploring Neeley’s work on “Duet.”
The Flash: 2016 Comic-Con Panel (30 Minutes): An informative Q&A from last year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
A Flash in Time: Time Travel in the Flash Universe (22 Minutes): A featurette that discusses time travel and the “Flashpoint” story arc.
A Conversation with Andrew Kreisberg and Kevin Smith (4 Minutes): Director Kevin Smith discusses his experience directing episodes of “The Flash” and “Supergirl.”
Gag Reel (4 Minutes): A so-so collection of outtakes.
Deleted Scenes: A collection of deleted sequences spread across all four discs.
“The Flash: The Complete Third Season” is a return to greatness for one of the very best superhero shows on TV, taking what made this such a compelling program in the first place and utilizing it to deliver an exciting and engrossing arc that proves once again how powerful these small screen comic book iterations can be. If anything, it just proves that this show is hardly ready to slow down, a prospect that will hopefully carry on into what should be a rather intriguing fourth season this fall.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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