Ok, I know what you might be thinking. The Flash is on hiatus until April 25th and that musical episode was two weeks ago, so what gives? This is more about how this season is starting to run off the rails, and I worry that with failing ratings and inconsistent storylines it could happen faster than we might expect. First and foremost, I’m a big fan of the Flash; Grant Gustin is fantastic, his supporting cast is funny and effusive, especially Cisco, as they bring a steady dose of character and heart to each episode. Unfortunately as Flash has progressed each season they have grown increasingly plotty, repetitious, predictable and at times overly schmaltzy. I get that it’s the CW and they have to, for whatever reason, contain varying degrees of smolder and teen drama for that phantom teen audience that ritualistically watches all of their shows, but this season they have taken it to new heights. The episode before the highly anticipated MUSICAL EPISODE featured Barry having to go get Kid Flash (Wally West) from his prison in the Speed Force, which he accomplishes after varying degrees of tests and the convenient arrival of the Flash from Earth 3, Jay Garrick, who willingly sacrifices himself to stay in order to free Wally. All of this was fine, great episode until the end when Barry decides to put his relationship with Iris on hold because he has to focus on…defeating Savitar? What? That whole conversation seemed really contrived and the whole reason Iris was mad at him from a previous episode was she learned that Barry only proposed to her because he was trying to change the future in which Savitar kills her, but he clearly still wants to marry her. So what is this all about? I’ve been confused by the manufactured anger from Iris on that one. Then I realized that this was just a giant set-up for the next episode 17, "Duet", a team-up with Supergirl who is, no surprise also having relationship issues. In my mind this was already off to a bad start.
The show’s producer, Greg Berlanti, has been talking publicly about making this wonderful musical episode as far back as September of last year. Honestly though I had been hearing rumors about it even earlier than that. A good number of the cast have strong musical backgrounds especially Jesse L. Martin (Joe West), who has the most experience from his Broadway singing days on Rent and the Winter’s Tale (more recent), so I sort of get why this came up. But here’s the problem, I’ve heard more than one reference to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Once More With Feeling,” which is a tall order to live up to. That episode was written by Joss Whedon (Avengers, Buffy, Dr. Horrible) who not only wrote all of the songs which were then choreographed. The most important part of this accomplishment is that Whedon made a solid episode which addressed many of the over-arching plots of the season and put them out there for everyone to see but, you know, in song. He laid his cast’s hearts out on their sleeves and it worked. I will admit I don’t like musicals much but "Once More With Feeling" was a great episode that complimented the show by furthering the story and also brought a little light to a fairly dour and dark season 6. Flash’s episode "Duet" did none of those things.
For starters it is always a joy to watch Grant Gustin (Flash) and Melissa Benoit (Kara/Supergirl) ham it up on screen they clearly have a wonderful chemistry and I do want more of it, but I would prefer without song. So Music Meister (Darren Criss), a being from another universe, crashes the episode of Supergirl and traps her mind in a musical world forcing Kara’s boyfriend Mon-El and J’onn to bring her whammied body to Barry’s world for help. Music Meister follows and then he does the same thing to Barry. MM then proceeds to leech their respective powers and go tramping about Central City. Um, ok? So Barry and Kara are now forced to sing their way through this musical world in order to get out of it. This is where I started to check out, somewhere between a pretty cool rendition of Moon River by Benoist and a mind-numbingly obnoxious song called Super-Friend. In the end it felt like a trivial push to get the heroes’ significant others to figure out it was them all along that could save them and they do, happy endings all around. Yay! Oh, and one more terrible song at the end of the episode when Barry proposes to Iris for real, again? I don’t know. This kind of shit drives me crazy it’s derivative and pointless and it sucks out any joy you can derive from it because it was so sloppy in its execution. So please Mr. Berlanti if you are listening if you want to make musicals, make them, but keep them away from my superheroes, unless you get Joss Whedon to write it. Then we’ll talk.