Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Flash (CW): It’s My Party

Barry Allen, a.k.a. The Flash, is literally much more mature and experienced than his age would suggest. In addition to getting trapped in the time loop that started the ninth and final season, he is also in the process of literally reliving several years of his life. It is therefore not a vain euphemism when he says he is celebrating his 30th birthday again. However, it is the first time for “Team Flash,” so they throw him a birthday party. Of course, a supervillain is bound to crash the bash in “It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want to,” which airs Wednesday on the CW.

Allen is still somewhat shaken by events of past seasons, so he really doesn’t feel like partying, but he tries to get into the spirit anyway, for his friends’ sake. He will have to quickly revert to designated driver-mode when Dr. Ramsey Rosso, the supervillain and aspiring collective hive mind, spikes the champagne and cider with his mind-consuming spores. Only Allen and his wife Iris West-Allen retain their free will, thanks to his speed healing ability, which is also partly present in their unborn baby.

Before things get better, they will get a whole lot worse—and also way more cosmic. When Rosso starts to threaten the stability of the multiverse, it frees the hand of the mysterious guardian now known as the Spectre to get involved. In doing so, he reminds viewers how the Flash is connected to the so-called “Arrowverse.”

Like the season nine premiere, “Wednesday Ever After,” “Its My Party” stands alone to some extent, while simultaneously addressing some big sf concepts. On the other hand, it is not as easy pick up all the references to intercharacter relationships and backstories on-the-fly, if, hypothetically speaking, you only watch
The Flash when select episodes are offered to the media for review.

Be that as it may, there is some nice chemistry between Grant Gustin (as Allen/the Flash) and the embargoed guest star playing the Spectre. The episode also explores some of the past human trauma of Wally West, a.k.a. Kid Flash, with a fair degree of sensitivity. However, West’s Tibetan spiritual training should have played a greater role in the episode.

The Flash
and the other Arrowverse series are always critically compared to big superhero tentpole movies, but they did a nice job balancing a large cast of characters, while maintaining continuity over multiple shows. I’d rather rewatch “Its My Party” two times in a row than sit through The Marvels (judging from the deservedly maligned trailer). There is a lot of character-driven fan service in this episode that even casual viewers can pick up on. Recommended for DC fans, particularly those with an investment in the Arrowverse, “It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want to” (S9E9) premieres this Wednesday (4/26) on the CW.