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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Flash S4E3: Luck Be A Lady

The Flash
Series 4, Episode 3
Luck Be A Lady.

Okay, I'm just going to come out and say it: Wally was robbed. This series has always struggled with incorporating more superheroes, staying almost slavishly devoted to the idea of being a one hero show even as Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow dealt with teams much more effectively, and so there was never really much of a place for Wally to fit into the show -- the writers seemed reluctant to give him any relevance outside of specific focus episodes, lest he interfere with their formula of 'Barry encounters a metahuman related problem, Cisco and Caitlin figure out a solution, Barry puts that solution into action' formula.

Ideally, I'd love to see Wally get his own show, but that's definitely not happening, so I'm left to grumble instead at how the writers mishandled him and, realising their error, eventually clumsily wrote him out of the show altogether with some guff about finding himself.

At the same time, they've clumsily written Harry Wells back in, and I'm not as excited about that as I could be, if only because I feel like Harry's storyline was over and done with a while ago. I want more Tom Cavanaugh, certainly, but I think I'd prefer to see him as a new Wells variant.

In this week's episode, the second of the Thinker's new metahumans appears: A woman, Hazard, who creates a luck field around herself, increasing her own luck while causing everyone in her vicinity to suffer from bad luck. As disasters pile up and the team starts to believe that they're jinxed, they scramble to try to find Hazard -- only for catastrophe to hit when Hazard starts winning big at a casino, creating a bad luck field that threatens to engulf the entire city. Meanwhile, Cecile and Joe discuss whether they should move into a new home.

Iris would make a great Jedi.

This episode is definitely (and oddly, given its far more prototypically comedic subject matter) less funny than the previous one, perhaps largely because its comedy hinges less on the team's interactions with each other and more on -- well, on Tom Cavanaugh. It's odd, in a way: Cavanaugh is an excellent comic actor who made his name primarily on comedies, yet I vastly prefer his work on The Flash when he's playing it straight, with his best work still being the relatively underplayed and subtle Eobard Thawne. Seeing him play up the comedy (especially with Harry, who we were introduced to as being quite a grim, humourless character) is actually a little bit jarring, and I spent all of his comedic scenes wishing that they'd stop.

Much better comedy comes from Candice Patton's few, brief comedic scenes, including one where she tries to convince a vicar to marry Barry and her quickly, only for bad luck to undo her plans. Iris remains one of the best characters in the show, and Patton has superb comedic timing that make her comedic moments really work.

Oddly enough, though, possibly the best comedic beat comes in the episode's cold open, a short piece of backstory for Hazard, narrated by the Thinker. It's filled with tiny little funny moments (Hazard insistently telling a barista how to spell her name -- Becky -- despite it being the common spelling, and moments later walking away with a cup with, if you squint, the name 'Becca' written on it), and the whole thing is narrated in the Thinker's deadpan, grave tones.

Own your newfound villainy, Becky!

The rest of the episode is mostly devoted to the same kind of hijinks, however: Hazard's power causing absurd chain reactions of bad luck that lead to terrible and hilarious results. It's an old, rather overplayed joke, and it only really hits the point of being noteworthy when the show flirts with something really terrible happening (like the brief moment where, in the middle of a bad luck chain reaction, we see a construction worker briefly, absent-mindedly point a nail gun at a baby), and the joke momentarily slips into some very black comedy (although nothing ever comes of it, which is probably for the best).

Yep, still looks like a Farscape villain.

The episode's conclusion, where Harry bad-lucks in just the right way to create a particle accelerator explosion that negates Hazard's powers (but nobody elses), feels a little rushed and contrived, but in fairness to the writers, they had set themselves up with a villain for whom there was no really good way to beat. Meanwhile, the subplot with Joe and Cecile becomes a vehicle for revealing that Cecile is pregnant, so one assumes that will be an ongoing subplot, with a baby eventually being added to the cast -- and given that having characters look after a baby always provides an excellent opportunity for character development and hijinks, I'm pretty okay with that.

Next week, it looks like we're getting the introduction of the Elongated Man, who might be staying on as a member of Team Flash? Maybe? I don't know. We'll also be seeing the arrival of Breacher, the Earth-traveling father of Gypsy, and honestly I kind of wish the show would just make Gypsy a main cast member already.

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