TV REVIEW: The Flash S4E2 ‘Mixed Signals’ (Spoliers)

The Flash continued to deliver on its promise of a lighter, funnier season that harkens back to its early days with tonight’s episode, ‘Mixed Signals.’ Even the title itself was a clever double entendre, given that the metahuman of the week Kilg%re (guest star Dominic Burgess in an impressively creepy performance) had the power to literally cross wires while the shows’ couples were metaphorically crossing their own.

I mentioned last week that The Flash often forgets to showcase the world outside STAR Labs, and ‘Mixed Signals’ seemed determined to rectify that problem. Not only did the hour open with brand-new characters and situations that detail how citizens of Central City are being affected by the latest metahuman, but our protagonists themselves spent most of the episode in locations outside of their lab. Barry (Grant Gustin) went back to his job as CSI alongside Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Captain Singh (guest star Patrick Sabongui, whose dry exasperation was as hilarious as ever), and the writers even pulled Cisco (Carlos Valdes) in as a tech specialist for one memorable scene. It was almost too perfect that a tech meta was wreaking havoc at the same time that Cisco had overloaded Barry’s suit with extra tech, but the scenes were so funny and enjoyable that the narrative strings weren’t even noticeable.

Meanwhile, Iris (Candice Patton) continued to hold down the fort as the new team leader. Her quick thinking and decisive nature made it clear just how much time the group used to spend meandering, but she’s not just a drill sergeant the whole episode. ‘Mixed Signals’ also took the time to explore her vulnerable side, with her and Barry trying out couples’ therapy in order to get back on the same page. Patton and Gustin’s chemistry and comedic timing in those scenes were excellent, and they were helped along by a lively appearance from Donna Pescow as their therapist. And once again, Patton turns from humorous to heartfelt on a dime when she confesses what’s behind her insecurities. Their relationship troubles nicely dovetail with the villain of the week, and Barry trusting Iris to get him through a tight spot cemented the progress. Westallen may not be 100% back on track by the end of the episode, but Barry listening to Iris and letting her lead the way proves just why they’re the “gold standard.”

Cisco has his own romantic problems to deal with when he wasn’t blowing up Barry’s suit. His hot date with Gypsy (guest star Jessica Camacho) had to be put on hold while he and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) worked on a way to defeat Kilg%re, which made way for a lot of both comedic scenes and swoon-worthy ones. Thus far, Gypsy has been a no-nonsense woman focused solely on getting the job done and hardly sparing Cisco a kiss or two – but six months have changed both her and their relationship. It was a treat to see her open up to him, and an even bigger one to watch him make it up to her. Valdes has the chops to be a romantic leading man, and it’s about time The Flash writers gave him the opportunity to be one.

Of course, Barry and co. get their bad guy in the end and Kilg%re winds up in Iron Heights. But his story wasn’t just a flash in the pan, so to speak. Not only did he receive a detailed backstory that raised the stakes and enhanced the story, he also dropped the bombshell that there are new metahumans who weren’t created by the particle accelerator. And it looks like this won’t be the last we see of him, either. As The Thinker (Neil Sandilands) and his right hand woman The Mechanic (Kim Englebrecht) watched over Kilg%re from their evil lair, they revealed that his apparent defeat and imprisonment was all part of a larger plan. What’s the end goal? I have no idea, but I’m definitely intrigued.

It’s hard to overpraise ‘Mixed Signals,’ because it had so much of what makes The Flash work. If there’s one complaint to file, it’s how under-utilized Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) has been so far. One could argue that he feels like he no longer has a place on the team now that Barry’s back, but the narrative isn’t actually dissecting or acknowledging that. Instead he got knocked out for the majority of the climactic fight, leaving me to wonder if he’s going to have a more concrete story this season. Regardless, this was one of the best Flash episodes to date: a villain with a sympathetic backstory, a leader in Iris West who actually helps the flow of STAR Labs scenes, and the perfect dose of romance that intersects with the action instead of overpowering it. Not to mention that the more we get of places like CCPD, the more events feel like they have real consequences outside of just Barry.

Rating: 5/5

Reviewer: Tatiana Hullender (@myrcellasear)

The Flash airs Tuesdays on the CW at 8/7c in the US.

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  1. Ingrid /

    Great review as always! This episode was def worth the hype, although I agree with your only gripe, it’s criminal how underused Wally was this episode.

  2. Amanda /

    Great review! I agree with all your points. This was a strong second episode of what looks to be a very promising season. I was so happy to see them outside of Star Labs and the relationship stuff paired nicely with their meta problem of the week. I’m looking forward to reading your review for next weeks new episode!

  3. Robin T. /

    I love your insight, and you are a refreshing change in a fandom that is so hyper critical of the Flash’s female lead. You give license for her pov, and I love how this season is shaping up.

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