The #DCTV series have never been traditionally brilliant superhero series (well, Arrow Season 1 verged on brilliance at times, but it’s been far from consistent). But that's OK. While the DC Extended Universe gets bogged down in all the grit that it's throwing around, it's often nice to escape to a sillier, lighter and a more fun take on the universe.
At the end of the day, The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl tend to have a hell of a lot more heart than the movies do. But now it's starting to feel like the heart has been ripped out of Team Flash. Yes, Season 3, I’m looking at you.
The Flash has suffered from inconsistent and downright silly writing, but from a series that features more than one episode centered around a giant, intelligent gorilla with mind controlling powers, we kind of expect that. But the pull of the character dynamics was a big reason for the continued fan support of the show, from the rapport between the various members of #TeamFlash to the constant identity mysteries that get thrown around.
But those character dynamics are starting to shift. Because while Season 3 has definitely been the weakest in terms of story, it's also been the most ridiculous in terms of how the characters have been written — especially the female characters.
- 'The Flash' Might Have Just Revealed The Big Bad Of Season 4 — But Fans Will Have To Think It Over
- 'The Flash' Season 3: The Evidence Mounts That Savitar Is Future Flash
- It's Electric! Get Your First Look At The CW's Black Lighting Costume
There have been two big overarching narratives this season — one being Barry Allen's (Grant Gustin) attempts to defeat Savitar and in doing so save the life of his one true love, Iris West (Candice Patton). The other being Dr. Caitlin Snow's (Danielle Panabaker) attempts to suppress the rising "evil" Killer Frost personality that comes along with her new powers, which she received as a result of Barry changing the timeline in #Flashpoint.
The Killer Frost problem is a real sticking point, and it's an inherently sexist one. From X-Men to Frozen, the trope of the young woman who has an inability to control her powers due to the fact that she is too emotional is a very tired and very irritating one. We sometimes see this happening with young men too, but it comes to female characters far more often, and in such cases it's always an emotional problem.
Case in point: Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) is also a metahuman, though unlike Caitlin his vibing powers existed pre-Flashpoint. His Earth-2 doppelgänger, Reverb, is also a villain character in the universe where the team first encountered #KillerFrost, indeed they work together as partners in crime.
However, when Cisco first discovers his meta powers, never even for a second is there the implication that he will turn evil or villainous. Never does he struggle with a moral implication over it. He just gets on with it, 'cause apparently having male genitalia makes you exempt from such metaphysical questionings.
Off the back of this, another big problem is that there is never a reason given for Caitlin's ongoing transformation into Killer Frost. Indeed it seems that the only reason Caitlin begins to transform is because she believes that she will, as she knew herself to be Killer Frost on Earth-2. But even though Killer Frost was a #villain there, she wasn't even inherently evil, ending up helping Team Flash rescue Jesse Quick (Violett Beane).
And then there's Julian Albert (Tom Felton). As much as he's an enjoyable addition to the show, having Caitlin shoehorned into yet another romance just seems so forced. It's like it's a rule that she needs to have a new boyfriend each season, and given how her last ones went, we assume that Julian is going to either die horribly or end up being secretly evil all along.
The last episode — "Abra Kadabra" — saw Caitlin critically injured, flatlining and dying. She was saved by Julian against her own will, who saved her life by unleashing her Killer Frost powers. The promo for the next episode, "The Once and Future Flash," reveals Caitlin to be Killer Frost in the future, so presumably now we'll be seeing Caitlin — a sweet, kind-hearted, altruistic and highly intelligent member of the team — reduced to a villain because she can't deal with her emotions and, by extension, her powers.
Then we have Iris, and the issue of her death. Killing off or threatening non-superhero female characters to progress the narrative of the male superhero is so cliché it's both boring and predictable at this point. And the occasions upon which the gender roles have been reversed in this scenario are incredibly rare.
It's one of those things that will almost always come up in #superhero media though, because at the end of the day, it makes sense for villains to target the loved ones of their enemies. But with Iris it has been so drawn out and we've watched it so many times that it's basically become torture porn at this point, especially when Abra Kadabra (David Dastmalchian) tells Barry with evident glee, "But now, it's like I get to kill her too."
Additionally, their engagement was handled very badly, especially when Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris get angry at Barry because he didn't ask her father's permission before proposing to her (what year is it?). And Barry has messed Iris around to the point where her characterization no longer makes sense — Season 1 Iris wouldn't stand for this nonsense.
Finally, there's Jesse. Jesse is shipped off to Earth-3 a mere two episodes after she decides to stay on Earth-1 with Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), because clearly the writers couldn’t decide what the heck to do with her, as evidenced by her awkward relationship with Wally. By effectively writing her out of the main story the writers have also removed the only active female meta from the team, after giving her hardly anything to do prior to this point.
On this note, female characters don't seem to hang around for long on The Flash. Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) was short lived and oh God her origin was so terribly awful. Gypsy (Jessica Camacho) comes in and out of this season, and Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten) was shipped off after only 10 episodes, despite her becoming quickly embroiled with the team.
By fracturing the characters by randomly having them flitting in and out and turning evil, the team dynamics suffer. The Flash Season 3 has shown this more than ever. There are other problems here too, of course, such as the lack of Earth-2 Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and the not-so-great writing this time around.
But from a show that used to put a lot of time and effort into crafting its characters, this feels lazy, and it's a big disappointment. Hopefully things will turn around by the end of the season, but if not, the upcoming episodes are going to become sapped of that feel-good joy that made The Flash so good to begin with. This isn't the DCEU after all.
The Flash returns with "The Once and Future Flash" on April 25, 2017. What do you think will happen when Barry runs to the future? Have your say in the comments below!