The Flash is back!
The show returned for its fourth season on Tuesday after its summer hiatus, and with it came a back to basics approach. We saw how this worked for Arrow last year, and there's definitely a feeling - or a Vibe - that the writers are trying to get back to the fun, fast show of Season 1.
In order to do that, however, they need their hero back too. Season 3 ended with Barry Allen walking into the Speed Force with his mother, filling the vacancy in the prison and saving Central City in the process - but sacrificing himself in doing so.
The show picks up around six months later, and briefly delves into how the rest of Team Flash (or Team Vibe/Team Kid Flash) are coping in his absence. The short answer? Not great, Bob!
It was always going to be the case that Barry returned, and with the premiere titled The Flash Reborn this was obviously the episode to do it in. But even with that, the show wastes little time in getting its hero back. A samurai android - Samuroid - arrives in Central City, demands a showdown with The Flash, and suddenly Cisco's got a plan in place to bring him back.
Bringing Caitlin (who the episode reveals is still struggling with her dual nature) back to the team, he makes some upgrades to the Speed Force Bazooka - adding in a quark sphere - and attempts to lock onto Barry to bring him home. Ostensibly it doesn't work, but any fans of Buffy will know how this plays out.
The team go home, disappointed at their failure. Meanwhile, a confused, naked Barry arrives back on Earth, with little idea of who he is, and runs straight into a car before being taken in by the police.
While that's how Barry returns from the Speed Force, it does still take a lot more to have him actually become himself again. He spends most of his time in the episode spouting lines from previous episodes and nonsensical rhymes, or scrawling indecipherable symbols on the walls.
In the end, it all comes down - as is so often the case - to Iris West. With time running out before Samuroid destroys the city, she intentionally puts herself in harm's way; by allowing herself to be taken by the villain, she's confident that it'll snap Barry back into consciousness and really bring back the Flash. And what do you know, it works!
It's not ideal that it takes Iris being the damsel in distress to bring Barry back, since that was pretty much her sole role last season too, but it was perhaps the most expedient route to this destination (and the focus is definitely on getting those over with as quickly as possible). Barry's returned a lighter hero of the ilk viewers loved in Season 1, with the darkness of the past year or so shed, and now the show can really get to its former self - and with a villain who isn't a speedster, for once.
We're back, baby!
What did you think of Barry's return? Share your thoughts down in the comments.