The Flash S07 "Central City Strong" Review: Big Heart, Too Much Setup

The last few episodes of The CW's The Flash have had a lot relying on them to tie up loose story threads from an abrupt completion of last season due to COVID shutdowns. But with those plot threads tied up, it's time to start a fresh, brand-new story arc, and this one was maybe a little too earnest and a little too much of a tease for future plots for its own good.

the flash
Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

The good? David Dastmalchian as Abra Kadabra is incredibly engaging. Last seen in Season 3 of The Flash, it's an interesting choice to bring this specific villain back here and now. This character on face value is pretty silly, even for Flash villains. But dealing with some of the fallout from Crisis brings an interesting new wrinkle, and Damastalchian really nails the depression and anger the character is feeling. It's also great seeing him again, especially since appearing in Season 3 he's shown up in a memorable role in Ant-Man and we'll soon see him in The Suicide Squad, making him one of the few to cross over between DC and Marvel, and from DC television to DC films.

The episode also finally does some right by Iris (Candice Patton), centering a subplot on her attempts to deal with her trauma of being trapped in the mirrorverse. She also gets her rightful place back as the captain of Team Flash, but her personal growth as a character in this episode feels timely: over the past year, so many of us have been through heavy societal trauma. Iris is a great audience surrogate here, and I'm glad to see the writers acknowledge the hell they put this character through, while showing positive ways to deal with grief, trauma, and mental health challenges.

The Flash -- "Central City Strong"
Photo: The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

There is a little bit of overearnestness in the episode and a specific moment near the finale where a line or two are just too on the nose. It's like they decided to give Chester (Brandon McKnight) the line to clue in the audience who maybe fell asleep during part of the episode and hadn't picked up on the meeting yet. And yet, some of it works. The Flash has always been a show that wears its heart on its sleeve, and Grant Gustin is in great form balancing the big hero heart and big scientist brain of Barry Allen in this episode. We can sort of make an exception here, but just don't make a habit of it.

The Flash -- "Central City Strong" Grant Gustin as Barry Allen
Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

The episode also sets up several major dilemmas for the rest of the season. One is a new villain who certainly seems unbeatable (as all the Big Bads are). And there are going to be some fun times going forward for Danielle Panabaker in her dual role as Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost. Hopefully, the recent announcement of her directing upcoming episodes lets her highlight some of this, or bring it to a satisfying resolution?

Brace yourself for next week's episode, "Fear Me" which looks super creepy.

When a powerful new villain, Psych (guest star Ennis Esmer), channels and amplifies everyone's fears in order to wreak havoc on Central City, Barry (Grant Gustin) realizes, with Cecile's (Danielle Nicolet) help, that he must face his own worst fear in order to beat this new threat. Meanwhile, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) is surprised when Kristen Kramer (guest star Carmen Moore) from the Governor's Municipal Logistics Commission drops into CCPD for a visit. Iris (Candice Patton) warns her father to dig deeper on why Kristen is actually there. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Frost argue about how to live their lives. David McWhirter directed the episode with story by Thomas Pound and teleplay by Lauren Barnett & Christina M. Walker.

About Andy Wilson

A mild mannered digital strategist working for an environmental nonprofit in Austin, TX roaming the interwebs fighting his nemeses by day, and by night consuming all manner of media. You can find him either on his couch or at the nearest Alamo Drafthouse catching the latest. Don't follow him on Twitter @CitizenAndy.