Time between seasons crawls, even for the fastest man alive, but a certain scarlet speedster will sprint his way back onto the screen next Tuesday. That's right, season four of The Flash — aka the best superhero television show — is almost here.
The fourth season finds Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) still trapped inside the "speed force" after sacrificing himself to save his fiancé Iris West (Candice Patton) from a time remnant version of himself. If that sounds confusing, don't worry: The show's use of time travel can often be confusing to follow, but at the very least, it appears to follow its own rules.
Iris, a reporter, struggles to move on with her life, while Barry's old friends and teammates do their best to protect the city from metahumans. When an evil samurai threatens the city with swords that create forcefields unless the Flash is turned over to him, the team tries to find a way to pull Barry out of the speed force in order to save Central City.
OK, if an evil samurai wanting to pull the fastest man alive out of a different dimension doesn't excite you, then frankly, The Flash isn't for you.
But, for people who find camp and all-around insane concepts enjoyable, this show may be worth the try. The Flash sets itself apart from its other cable-hero counterparts in that it gives a consistent incentive to watch. The season-long villains are truly evil. Though they've all been opposing speedsters thus far, they've posed a real threat, and even impact filler episodes.
The show's cast is diverse and evolving. Unlike other DC shows on the CW, The Flash's reason for the inevitable trope of every side character earning a super power and becoming a hero actually makes sense within the context of the story and isn't forced. In fact, it actually adds to the story, and often provides a foil to Barry's power. In a world where a man can break the sound barrier on foot, and even travel through time to other dimensions, certain aspects still need to be grounded in order to work. The Flash accomplishes just that.
The show is not perfect. There are a few pitfalls, such as its penchant for overlong seasons, overuse of comic book villains in small appearances, ex machinas and sci-fi technobabble. However, The Flash finds a way to entertain. The occasional breaking of a rule is allowable because it pushes the show forward. An unconvincingly bad CGI Gorilla Grodd is forgivable because Barry's running is captured so effectively.
And the show is improving. For the first time, it appears that Barry will start the season with struggles he must overcome, instead of being assigned them halfway through. Furthermore, the villain does not appear to be another super-fast opponent for once, indicating the show's growth.
If you're still not convinced of The Flash's dominance over other cable hero shows, look to the fact that the CW's crossover episodes hinge on Barry's universe. And why shouldn't they? He can bend time and space after all.