Spoilers ahead for "Duet," the latest episode of The CW's Flash!
The short version: Mon-El and Martian Manhunter bring Kara to Earth-1 after she's put into a coma by Music Meister. Flash joins her, and a pretty good musical kicks off. But, we do get an epic team-up between Kid Flash and Martian Manhunter. And Music Meister is basically a benevolent god? Or something?
The good: That Barry/Kara duet, Kid Flash and Martian Manhunter, the quirky cameos
For a musical episode, they actually kind of played this one a little safe. Which is a shame, because they have a boatload of musical talent on the payroll — and that final duet between Barry and Kara showed just how fun this could've been all along. This episode wasn't bad by any means, and parts of it were really good. The covers were fine and the performances were top-notch ... which was to be expected, because a whole lot of this cast can belt it. But, for something like this, originals really felt like the way to go. The "Super Friends" duet was adorable and loaded with little jokes. Oh, you know, and actually dancing (like, you know, you see in musicals). It was a legit gem and a highlight for the Arrow-verse.
Along with the musical mayhem, we also got some crossovers like we've never seen before: Mon-El and Martian Manhunter are kicking around Earth-1. Thankfully, the writers took full advantage of the mash-ups that should ensue. Kid Flash gets back on his feet and teams up with Martian Manhunter to take down the Music Meister in an epic one-two punch. Of course, it later turns out the Music Meister basically let them catch him to boost Wally's self esteem (apparently), but we'll talk about that more later.
Oh, and the cameos. By setting the episode in a wacky dream state, they were able to pull from across the Arrowverse with no real connection to reality or continuity. Which in this case was a good thing. You got Malcolm Merlyn, Dr. Stein and Joe (as a couple!), Winn, Cisco, Mon-El and Iris all cast into cliched roles from musicals ... with adorably snappy accents, to boot. It was an easy trick to get all these actors together in the same room, but well worth it. Now we just need a real life meeting between Winn and Cisco.
The bad: It could've been more … musical-y, the quick relationship resolutions, Barry's serenade, WTF is up with Music Meister?
Not to be that guy, but any time I think of a genre show trying to do a musical, it goes back to the granddaddy of them all: Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Once More, With Feeling." Joss Whedon's musical episode set the bar for in-jokes, catchy original sing-alongs and wild choreography for what a TV show can pull off. Not to judge The Flash by that standard, but you'd have to think something in that vein might've had a bit more pizazz. Dealing with these characters, and their histories, there's more than enough material to mine for original tunes instead of covers. Plus, aside from the two dance numbers, this was mostly just singing. Not so much a musical, really, just an episode where the talented cast could show off their voices. Which was great, no doubt. If you're doing a musical episode, especially one in a dream world of the 1920s, go all out. Go nuts with it. Get goofy. This show could've used more goofy.
Then there's how the events all tied back into Barry and Kara's relationship woes, which is what the Music Meister said inspired him to try to teach them a (positive?) lesson in the first place. It also explains why both Barry and Kara had such abrupt break-ups in their respective last episodes, to make room for this dream world resolution where they both work everything out with their significant others. It was on theme, but all a bit too tidy. On that same note: Barry's serenade and proposal to Iris was a sweet moment, but felt a bit out of place in the 'real' world. Yes, Grant Gustin can sing like a beautiful bird, but it still felt out of character for Barry Allen to just start singing his girlfriend a song. Why not have Iris and Mon-El get into the dream world a bit sooner and do the song in there, where it would've been a better tonal fit? Or something? It just seemed (again, very sweet!), but also out of place.
As for the episode's big bad: So, what the heck is the Music Meister? He breezes in, has nigh unlimited power, and is basically unstoppable. So, he's basically a god-like being who doesn't even bother explaining what he's up to? Well, good thing he's a relatively good guy, or he could be an unstoppable villain. For fans who know the character's history, this felt like a weird jump. From meta human with powers to compel those to sing to a literal god-like being? That's a bit of a leap.
Lines of the night:
"I, uhh, like musicals." - Barry
"No. I mean geologically." - Kara
So, everyone's relationship is good again! Man, you'd have to think Supergirl fans who didn't watch this episode will be mighty confused next week.
Wally had his confidence shaken during his Speed Force adventure, but he looked to get a bit of his groove back this week fighting the Music Meister. Maybe he's back on the path to recovery.
Next week: Kadabra comes to town. Here's hoping they do him up right, because he could be one heck of a good baddie.