The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season: The Scarlet Speedster Delivers Once Again (Blu-ray)
For the last three years, “The Flash” has proven itself to be one of the very best (if not THE best) superhero shows on television. With its incredible mix of compelling characters, intricate storytelling, and tense thrills, it has continued to deliver a wonderful blend of drama, comedy, action, and even a little romance. Heading into season four, the show has shown no signs of slowing down, and coming off of a particularly excellent season, expectations remain quite high. Now, at last, it’s time to see if “The Flash” continues its “streak” of greatness, or if the show has at last run its course.
At the end of season three, Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) found himself with no other choice but to go into the speed force itself to save Central City. This left the rest of Team Flash, including Iris (Candice Patton), Cisco (Carlos Valdes), and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale), to pick up the slack in regards to fighting crime in the city. However, they find that not only do they miss Barry, but that their team just isn’t the same without him, which eventually leads Cisco to devise a way to free him from the speed force.
Their happiness at being reunited is short-lived however, as they quickly discover that the rift they opened to free Barry also unleashed a massive amount of dark matter that changed a dozen civilians into meta-humans with extraordinary powers. Meanwhile, a new brilliant foe by the name of Clifford DeVoe, aka “The Thinker” (Neil Sandilands) has emerged with a mysterious plan that involves collecting the powers of these recently-created meta-humans. It’s up to Team Flash (including new team member Ralph Dibney/”The Elongated Man” (Hartley Sawyer)) to discover how all of it is connected, and what DeVoe’s ultimate goal is before he can carry it out, all while trying to protect the people of Central City from the continuous onslaught of criminals.
One of the most impressive things about “The Flash,” aside from everything mentioned so far, has been the remarkable ability of the writing staff to fill its lengthy 23-episode season. In an age where TV shows are moving away from the older model of having epic-sized seasons of 20+ episodes and moving towards more streamlined lengths of about 10-13 episodes, it’s quite something to see a show continue to utilize so many AND be able to actually fill it with quality material. Sure, some episodes aren’t an actual part of the season’s main arc, but even when they don’t further the main plot, the writers usually still manage to deliver consistently fun and exciting episodes.
It’s rather satisfying to say that season four is no exception. Once again, we have a compelling storyline that sees the entire city put in danger, forcing our group of heroes to use every means at their disposal to take down “The Thinker.” That actually brings us right to the main reason this season stands out as being particularly special: for once, the villain is not an evil speedster, but rather a man with an insanely-advanced intellect. In the first three seasons, we saw our heroes go up again The Reverse Flash, Zoom, and Savitar, but now, in a refreshing change of pace, we have a villain who uses sheer brainpower (and eventually several neat powers) to challenge Flash and co., literally forcing them to have to try and out-think their foe.
In the same vein, the showrunners have also made the wise decision to get rid of certain characters that hadn’t been working particularly well. Most notably, Wally West leaves early on, and actually joins the Legends on “Legends of Tomorrow.” His character never really found a satisfying place on “The Flash,” so it made perfect sense to put him with other b-characters on one of the weaker superhero shows on the network. He still pops in every now and again for important events, but for the most part, he’s been removed. It’s also worth noting that this season doesn’t feature an appearance from the silliest villain in the show’s repertoire, Gorilla Grodd. Perhaps after the misguided arc in the previous season, they’ve finally learned that the character was just a bad idea.
As far as complaints about this latest season, I suppose the somewhat simple ending was a little bit of a drawback. After all of the buildup, it seemed a little too easy to get to the end result, but still, it worked well enough for the show’s purposes. That being said, it hardly seems worth mentioning with everything that went so well this season. Once again, we had 23 episodes that flew by at top speed, delivering everything that fans have come to expect from this fast-paced and remarkably entertaining show. As usual, we’re left with another cliffhanger that shows that yet another wild season will probably be in store for Team Flash. What kind of villain will we get this time? Another speedster? Another brainiac of sorts? Or will it be something entirely new and surprising? Just like everyone else, I can’t wait to find out.
“The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. As usual, every frame of every episode looks amazingly sharp and vibrant, which does a great job of highlighting the show’s extensive visual effects. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally impressive, giving you all of the dialogue, music, and sound effects in excellent quality. Overall, fans will once again be quite impressed at the marvelous treatment that the show has received.
Gag Reel (9 Minutes) (Disc 1): A great (and lengthy) collection of outtakes.
Inside the Crossover: Crisis on Earth-X (42 Minutes) (Disc 2): An intriguing discussion between the executive producers for “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” and “Legends of Tomorrow,” focusing on the epic crossover episodes.
The Elongated Man (10 Minutes) (Disc 3): A featurette that explores Ralph Dibney (aka “The Elongated Man”) and his comic origins.
Flash Time on Amunet Black with Katee, Eric, and Sterling (13 Minutes) (Disc 3): A visual commentary with actress Katee Sackoff and writers Eric Wallace and Sterling Gates in which they discuss the villainous Amunet Black.
The Fastest Mind Alive: The Thinker (16 Minutes) (Disc 4): A featurette that delves into season four’s chief villain, Clifford DeVoe (aka “The Thinker”).
The Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2017 (58 Minutes) (Disc 4): A fun selection of snippets from various panels, including “Supergirl,” “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” and “Gotham.”
Deleted Scenes: A selection of deleted material from eight episodes, spread out across all four discs.
“The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season” delivers another thrilling, amusing, and action-packed season of what is perhaps the best superhero show on television. Enriched with its compelling characters and intricate storytelling, the show remains a shining example of how superheroes on the small screen can easily compete with, and in many cases surpass, their big screen counterparts in terms of quality, making this an easy recommendation to add to your Blu-ray shelf.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.