Flash finally returned from another month long break with a brand new episode, “Null and Annoyed”. This episode featured Kevin Smith on directing duties and also featured a cameo of Smith’s own Jay and Silent Bob. Sadly though, this episode was probably the weakest out of the whole season four.
Null and Annoyed featured four story lines. The main plot had Barry and Ralph teaming up to track down a new meta, Null — who can alter the density of matter, allowing things to float for a short time before crashing back down due to gravity — while also bickering with each other on what it means to be a hero. Barry was in the no-nonsense, “we got to stop Devoe” mindset while Ralph was more carefree, scared practical joker with one-liners, puns and gags. The secondary plot, was Breacher seeking Cisco and Caitlin’s help in restoring his powers, but Cisco and Caitlin discover it’s actually Breacher’s old age causing him to lose his powers, but well for drama’s sake, Cisco has no idea how to tell Breacher the bad news. The third plot point was actually all about the DeVoes, where Marlize figures out that her husband, Clifford has been drugging her with the meta-human tears and spends the whole episode trying to figure out what to do. The last plot thread is actually a minor one about Harry, slowly becoming more obsessed with outthinking DeVoe that he becomes more agitated over every thought due to his own thinking cap. The ending with Harry’s fate being up to question as to weither he’s losing his mind or he’s actually Reverse-Flash/Thawne, was the best bit from the episode.
While the above paragraph may seem like a regular good episode of the Flash with twist and turns, it was anything but that. The characters, especially Ralph, felt like they all took a few steps back from where they were just a month ago. Ralph didn’t feel like a hero in his own right and instead an insecure person not ready to face the world again. Barry also felt extremely grouchy and stepping into an Oliver Queen like personality where else he should be the beacon of hope and spark of inspiration like he was weeks ago when freed from prison. The same can be said for the rest of the characters, besides Iris and Joe who had little to nothing to do in the episode and also Marlize who actually grew as a character due to Clifford’s dark actions. I blame this all on a bad script and maybe Kevin Smith’s directing chops.
As much as I am a Kevin Smith fan with his Askew-Universe of characters, he’s only good with his own self created characters and stories, like Mallrats or Jersey Girl. When you bring him into the Flash or something else that already has a solid mythos to it, it becomes extremely jarring. While season four of the Flash was more light hearted and comedic, Null and Annoyed pushed it to the extreme where it just felt force causing the more serious moments of the episode to feel even more jarring. Case in point having Jay and Silent Bob in for an extended amount of scenes with the forced comedy while a few seconds later you cut to Marlize realizing serious things. If you’re going to have a director known for comedy direct, give the whole episode a comedic tone; don’t mix and match tones within the same script. This is why “Enter Flashtime” a few weeks back was so great, it stuck to a singular tone and because of that, it felt like a tighter script.
Thankfully next week’s episode seems to get back on track and takes a turn for a bit darker, serious tone that seems to place Team Flash face to face with DeVoe again.