The Flash season 4 premiere showed Iris West, Wally West, Joe West and Cisco Ramon fighting crime and dealing with the loss of Barry Allen, after he entered the Speed Force last year. The episode positioned Iris as the protagonist. The result was one of the strongest episodes of The Flash ever.
I loved seeing Wally step up as Central City’s primary speedster. But, it was Iris who carried the episode. Both the writing and Candice Patton’s performance portrayed Iris’ determination to stay strong through her grief perfectly. As usual, Iris managed to be both a strong role model and a fleshed out, emotionally resonant character.
In the premiere, a speedster named Samurai demanded a race. Half-hearted villain Samurai served his purpose for this story. This motivated Cisco to pull the trigger on a method of bringing Barry back that he’d been developing. It worked. But, Barry returned severely traumatized from his time in the Speed Force. Iris was unsure if Barry would ever regain his mental stability, but she still sacrificed herself to Samurai, the meta-of-the-week, to inspire Barry to save her. Once he saw Iris in danger, Barry regained his sense of self through the power of love. It’s the kind of cheesy plotline that The Flash is uniquely able to pull off.
The end of the episode revealed that another villain created Samurai. This person will presumably be the season long nemesis. According to the Internet, the villain appears to be someone named Metron. I haven’t heard of that particular villain. But, I’ll be happy as long as he doesn’t fit the predictable rival speedster formula from every previous season of The Flash.
The episode also showed Caitlin Snow’s return to the group. It’s always great seeing her fantastic relationship with Cisco. The end of the episode revealed that Caitlin isn’t entirely herself and may be in danger. The setup for Caitlin’s storyline moving forward was strong.