5 Problems ‘The Flash’ Needs To Fix In Time For Season 3

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Season 2 of The Flash was uneven, at least in terms of quality. Just look at the final two episodes. The penultimate episode, Invincible,” was one of the best hours of the season, and certainly the best to come out of the second half. But then the show immediately followed it up with the noticeably weaker finale, “The Race of His Life,” one of the most damaging episodes of the series, if you ask me and plenty others.

In short, the finale was a lot like the season itself. Bloated, messy, and terrible at multitasking. Its biggest error, though, was upending every episode before it, as well as Barry’s very growth as a character, in order to make room for the next big event storyline. It wasn’t a convincing development of the overlong Zoom arc, but rather a blatant attempt to recapture the thrilling cliffhanger from “Fast Enough,” Season 1’s finale.

Just to be clear, The Flash is still one of my favorite superhero shows on the air right now, and it’s the easily the best of the DC bunch until Young Justice comes back around (someday). But let’s face it. The show has moved on from the quirky, lighthearted, science-friendly, and Silver Age-inspired set pieces of the first season to something that looks weirdly similar to Arrow.

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The characters certainly brood more, and the show has taken on a darker tone that probably sounded great in the writer’s room. To be fair, the show I fell in love with is still in there, somewhere. Even if lately it’s been overshadowed by clunky storytelling that wants DC comic book storyline inclusion to take precedence over a cohesive and beautifully simple narrative.

But that doesn’t mean the show can’t get back on track as year 3 begins. Here are just a few of the problems the show faces moving forward, and how they can potentially be solved over the course of Season 3.

Click “Next” below to start with #1.

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Jon Negroni

Jon Negroni

I write and I know things.

  • David Japhet-Mathias

    I agree with everything written here.

  • Addy Botstein

    I completely disagree with you about Barry/Iris and Wally. Your third paragraph in #5 is you forcing YOUR opinion on us. There is nothing to face except for maybe you. The writers are simply telling THEIR story and are “not forcing” anything. There is simply no good reason on God’s green earth why Barry/Iris should move on romantically. They were fine in the comics and other mediums and are fine on the TV series as well unless you have other reasons why they should deviate on the series

    • Jon Negroni

      I get that. My personal wish list is that they would pause for a while (for real this time) and let the characters rebuild their platonic relationship. That way, we can see a more believable progression of feelings that isn’t bogged down by other timelines, erased timelines, and E2 revelations. But I understand why some people think it’s fine as-is.

  • pammy

    Ringsi hollow to “EVERYONE”? Don’t know about that….I think the writers did a great job bringing their relationship to live on screen.

    • Jon Negroni

      Fair enough. I updated to remove the exaggeration. Barry/iris have their fans, but critically, their latest stuff has been hard to watch for a lot of people, myself included. Which is why I hope it gets a lot better next season.

      • pammy

        Well it’s great to watch for others…depends on our subjective view of characters and what a relationship looks like. Fans and objective critics are responding because their has been something sinister permeating comic commentary every since it was made clear Barry and Iris were “the couple” Greg Berlanti & co were supporting on screen like it is/was in the comic world for decades.

  • Kaz P

    I was with you until your remarks about Iris West and her relationship with Barry. I’ve enjoyed her growth over the two seasons. Especially her arcs involving her brother Wally, her development as a journalist from discovering Wells was suspect, jumping out of windows for stories and defending the Flash against the Trajectory copycat. Also being Barry Allen’s anchor; from her counsel when he was quitting Team Flash, to bringing his father back when he was disheartened and literally pulling him from the speedforce. Iris’ feelings for Barry have been progressing from the beginning; her confessing her feelings during Out of Time, Grodd Lives and various points through Season 1 and Season 2. So I completely disagree with you on that. Barry and Iris’ relationship (Westallen) has been well received by fans, the actors and showrunners.

    I can only conclude that you’re not watching the show well enough or truly engaging with the narrative if Barry and Iris’ connection and deeply moving friendship went over your head. Especially if you think Iris needs to be fixed, when out of the female characters on the show – she’s the only one with agency.

    My main issues with the show this season: pointless add-on characters (Patty and every character used to launch LoT), Caitlin Snow and her unlucky in love trope – outside of crying over the dead men in her life she doesn’t have much to do – spouting science dialogue doesn’t count, Zoom – terrible villain and Henry Allen disappearing after the first episode only to be killed in the season finale.

    • Jon Negroni

      I’ve actually updated this for some of the reasons you bring up. I, too, am a fan of Iris individually and have rooted for the couple up until S2. My main issue, though, has to do with that specific scene I mention in the article, which I maintain is incredibly odd. I would say that my only real issues with Iris were from S1, and S2 already solved them. If we’re criticizing a main female character, my top choice is Caitlin, honestly.

      • Kaz P

        Thanks for responding! :)

        You say: essentially why Iris starts to grow feelings for Barry. Not because of his personality or their chemistry (or lack thereof, in my opinion), but because it apparently works for completely different versions of themselves.

        That’s not the case though –
        1×15: Ever since the night you told me how you felt about me, I have not been able to stop thinking about you. At first I was really mad but then I realized the reason that I couldn’t stop thinking about you was because I didn’t want to.
        1×16: Barry was too late. I mean I love Eddie (Joe: Really because right now neither of them believe that)
        1×21: You knew how Barry felt about me for God knows how long and you didn’t tell me that either. If any of you had been honest with me, Eddie would still be here. He wouldn’t be involved with this if I hadn’t been dating him. (Joe: Are you saying if you had known how Barry felt…)
        1×21: I have been thinking about you, about us but I can’t do that anymore

        Those are just four different moments where Iris expresses her feelings for Barry in S1.

        The fact they are married on another universe gets her thinking about her relationship with Barry (as we know she’s been dealing with the grief of Eddie and her recently deceased mother). However, it’s all contingent on feelings which were already established. So that’s where I disagree with your analysis. The feelings were evident in S1, not only romantically, as shown through the quotes but conveyed through her devotion to Barry as his best friend and the observation of other characters.

        1) Seeking out The “Streak” solely to help Barry get his faith back
        2) Cisco commenting how Iris is Barry’s “something” who visits all the time
        3) Only dating Eddie because she “does dumb things when you’re (Barry’s) not around.” and she “needs him”
        4) Eddie feeling threatened by Barry and Iris’ relationship as evidenced 1×03, 1×09, 1×22 (“from the beginning there was always three people in this relationship. I knew. I just thought I could love you enough.)
        5) Joe being aware of her feelings “she’s got feelings for you Barry. I know here. They’re there always have been”
        6) Iris’ jealousy of Linda and as explained his past girlfriend Becky Cooper. “I don’t think she’s the right one for you”
        7) Wanting him to be appreciated for the AMAZING guy she keeps telling him, he is.

        After Barry’s selfish gesture of getting Eddie’s goodbye message. Iris makes the decision to move on with her life. She could have gone down the Scott Evans route, however, she is drawn to Barry. There’s the element of destiny to it, which is actually comic canon and present for romance purposes but it’s just ONE element. This is shown in yet another one of her declaration to him during Rupture:

        “It doesn’t matter to me, if you’re The Flash or not. You, Barry, that’s who I want to see if I have a future with.”

        It’s all about Barry Allen, what he is to her and what they have been to each other. Demonstrated perfectly as she pulls him from the speedforce and they have their discussion at the grave. It is in no way forced but two seasons of building this solid relationship with the foundation of friendship.

        I’m wholeheartedly with you on the Caitlin thing. Early season 1 they gave her character some depth with “fire and ice” but once they got rid of Firestorm it’s as though they weren’t sure what to do with her. Now she has been relegated to elevator music in Team Flash. When she was kidnapped the Team ran smoothly, it was actually upgraded with 5 majors on Earth-2 Jesse Quick.

        • grabetsi

          Your response is so on point!! Iris, to me, is one of the best characters of the show, and WestAllen is one of the best friendship and romantic relationship that I have ever had the pleasure to watch. So that analysis of their relationship really missed the mark for me, but people are entitled to their opinion.

        • Annabel Rose

          All of this! ^^^^
          You hit a freakin bulleye with this comment.

  • Jade

    Interesting points, but you missed the mark on the one about Iris and Weatallen. I think their relationship is quite well developed, and she is by far the best developed woman on the show. Her relationship with Barry was one of the highlights in an otherwise dreary season. She – and their relationship – has a huge fandom and is certainly very loved. I hope you see why that’s so in season 3.

  • MPaule77

    I think Iris West has the best character development of the show if you take time to pay attention to it since S1-1. A comic books geek lover like Kevin Smith calls her ‘The heart of the Flash’ and he is totally right. WestAllen was also established since eason 1. I love the way the writers took time to build it during 2 full seasons and in Season 3 the fans will appreciate it even more. Like Candice Patton said in an interview: ‘the problem is with certain fans. They have a hard time watching women grow on TV. They want to see the women be perfect from day 1. They can’t accept that they are complex individuals who make mistakes & struggle to grow up’. The good thing with Iris is that we saw her develop to become a stronger woman. Let’s hope that next season, the author of this article will see what the rest of us like Kevin Smith saw in Iris West :-)

    • Annabel Rose

      I absolutely agree with this!
      Everyone wanted Iris to be this perfect being from day 1, people don’t seem to understand character development and each person has to go on their own journey, I’m so sick of hearing that Iris didn’t have feelings for Barry until she thought they weren’t destined to be together. 1. That is NOT true she has had feelings for him for a long time. 2. Even if that was true, that actually happens a lot for people, they have someone in their life that they don’t have feelings for then one day they have an eye opening moment and realize they love that person. . . . People are allowed to grow and change and it happens quite often, so even though that is not the case for Iris and Barry even IF it was how is that a bad thing? Let the show and characters grow.

  • I hope season 3 allows Barry and Iris to be happy in a relationship together, because the show’s best episodes are when she’s in the forefront. Maybe you disagree, but from what I can tell most critics love episodes like 1.15, 2.13 and 2.21 which would not exist the way they do without Iris and Westallen.

    That way critics will no longer feel like the romance is confusing or stop/starting, because it’ll be stable, and fans will be happy that the story line they’ve been waiting for is finally happening. Everyone wins!

  • Maximillian Pegasus

    Barry and Patty had really great chemistry, i hope the character comes back this season.

  • Annabel Rose

    You made some good points, but completely missed the target with Iris & Barry.
    If you think the only reason Iris has fallen for Barry is because they are together in other timelines/universes you clearly weren’t watching season 1 very well. Multiple times it is mentioned and made known that Iris has feelings for Barry and even Joe says “She always has.” Their part of the relationship was put on hold the first half of season 2 the writers wanted Iris moving on to be believable and give enough mourning time to show respect for Eddie’s character.
    Iris is a huge part of Barry being the Flash and His love for her is the center of him being a hero and the writers know/understand that and that is why they are going with WestAllen. Also their chemistry is on point, in fact it’s literally the reason Candice Patton got the part as Iris West, because her strong chemistry with Grant, the producers said it was magical and I very much agree with them, I haven’t seen this good of chemistry/love story on a TV show in a long time.
    The writers know what they’re doing and I hope they continue with it and ignore ignorant opinions such as your own.

  • Karen Woulfe

    I’d have to agree with most of this, except that I quite like Wally West now. Contrary to many of the comments here, I too find the Iris& Barry romantic relationship weird. For me, a large part of this was because of the emphasis on Iris, Barry, Wally & Joe being family. However, the constant resetting of time, history & fate has negated their relationship development in my opinion. Iris & Barry being best friends, like brother & sister, works really well but, romance feels forced & a little too incestuous.
    Flashpoint will be massive but, I hope that there’s not too much more history changing if they want us to believe natural character development & progression.