Does The Flash Season 4's Comedy Work?

The Flash Season 4 spoilers ahead.
The Flash Season 4 spoilers ahead. CW / Player.One

Arrow went back to basics in Season 5, and The Flash has the same plan in Season 4. Between watching Iris die at the beginning of every episode, Savitar as a scarred version of Barry from the future, Wally’s speed force prison stint and H.R.’s sacrificial death, Season 3 was just plain sad.

The Season 4 premiere episode, “The Flash Reborn,” finished what last season started with Barry returning from the speed force. But it’s in episode 2, “Mixed Signals,” where the series really starts to embrace a new tone. What better a place to start than Barry dancing in his boxers?


First of all, Iris… get Barry some boxer briefs, for the love of god. He can’t save the city in those baggy plaids. Second of all, the humorous tone is a breath of fresh air, but not without flaws. The lightheartedness with the villain-of-the-week format certainly brings back all the feels of Season 1. But will this humor still work week after week?

There were some awkward moments, mostly between scenes and cuts that felt forced. At the show’s core, what lightens the tone isn't necessarily the jokes. It’s the fact Barry is completely oblivious to his responsibilities or previous pressures as The Flash. He is truly reborn -- he’s not taking himself too seriously, he’s having fun with his powers, he’s stronger and more optimistic than he’s ever been. We see him simply enjoying life, whether he’s using his superspeed or not. Grant Gustin’s performance this time around has a finesse that’s new to the series.

For example, Cisco made him sped-up versions of his favorite shows so he can catch up on all the pop culture references.

“Jon Snow died. Oh, he’s alive!”

The Flash writers use couples therapy as an instrument to help the jokes feel more natural and less out of place. Barry’s sarcasm in therapy is perfect… Hey, at least he’s trying.

Iris: “I was engaged to someone else.”

Barry: “Now that’s worth a write-down. He’s actually dead too.”

Not to mention, they are trying to hide their secret identities in the process. A whole show about a superhero therapist could probably do very well.

Iris: “I think we could work on listening a little more, or else someone could get hurt. You know like if they crash their car into a brick wall going 100 miles per hour.”

Barry: “She means emotionally.”

Two awkward moments stick out. The first is when Cisco storms out of STAR Labs because he can’t figure out Kilg%re’s tech. Iris and Barry are still reeling over an awkward therapy moment, and leave in opposite directions. Joe is the only person left standing in the room and goes, “Has everybody lost their minds?” Ending the scene there felt very abrupt and exaggerated.

Another out of place moment comes when Barry is using his new suit, which is filled with all sorts of unnecessary new tech courtesy of Cisco. Kilg%re’s powers take control of the suit. All of the tech is offline, so Barry uses a nearby payphone to call the team, who have to accept the charges of the collect call. This is an emergency and you are going to use a payphone? It was funny, but it came off as a bit “trying too hard.” Blame Spider-Man:Homecoming, but other suit mishaps -- like the inflation protocol-- did not feel original. However, there’s no denying this scene was entertaining and more memorable than last season’s recycled, “How do we prevent Iris’ death?” 15-episode story arc.

Cisco is the most obvious solution to humor. He led the way in Season 1, but after Flashpoint killed his brother, he and Barry haven’t been on the best of terms. Everything is back to normal now, though. He’s now working for the Central City Police department, and he and Barry’s unprofessionalism will be a point of comedy moving forward.


Finding a balance between over-the-top (which does bring comic book feel to the series) and subtlety (such as the couples therapy moments) is key to making the comedy feel effortless and natural. Considering the heaviness of last season, it could take the actors and writers a few episodes to warm up to this new color.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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