Fans’ prayers were answered when the latest season of the CW’s “The Flash” premiered Tuesday night with a lighter tone in its aptly titled episode, “The Flash Reborn.”
“The Flash” follows comic book star, crime scene investigator and superhero Barry Allen as he fights genetically enhanced “meta-humans” in the fictional Central City with his super speed capabilities as “the fastest man alive.”
In previous seasons Barry (The Flash) fought villains with similar super speed abilities varying from alternate world speedsters to time traveling versions of himself. In the fourth season, The Flash is facing off against a new type of villain, The Thinker. Fans of The Flash comic books might recognize him as the genius inventor who created a “thinking cap” that gave him mental abilities that challenged Barry Allen’s intellect, not just The Flash’s speed.
For the past two seasons, “The Flash” has been plagued with a dark “weight-of-the-world-on-my-shoulders” tone as Barry Allen grappled with the fallout from the death of his parents and the poor decisions he made.
In the season three finale, Barry sacrificed himself to the Speed Force, the source of every speedster’s powers, in an effort to save his home of Central City. The rest of Team Flash – Joe, Wally, Iris, Cisco, and even Caitlin – spend the next six months defending Central City without The Flash. After spending the first half of the season four moping about missing Barry, Cisco and Caitlin save the day and figure out a way to get Barry out of the Speed Force without destroying the city.
After rescuing Barry, the gang worked together to defeat an evil robot samurai that The Thinker sent after The Flash just like old times.
But Barry wasn’t the same as he was at the end of season three. Not only is he now faster and stronger than ever before, his “angst” days are gone. In a scene with his fiancé Iris, Barry explained that after six months in the Speed Force, “[I feel] like everything that was wrong in my life, the pain of my past, my mistakes, it’s all just washed away.”
And just like that, fans were reminded of why they fell in love with the show in the first place. By giving the audience uplifting dialogue, sidekick Cisco Ramon’s hilarious quips and the gang back together fighting super villains, producers brought fans back to the essentials of “The Flash.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, a journalist and comic book writer, has often said that, “superhero comics are largely a response to trauma.” After natural disasters, political discourse and mass shootings, perhaps the lightened tone of the new season of The Flash is exactly what our heavy hearts need.
The first three seasons of “The Flash” are available on Netflix or the CW website, and new episodes of “The Flash” air every Tuesday night.