The Flash: Duet

"Explain to me why I just pulled an Audrey Hepburn and sang in a nightclub."

When the Supergirl team beams in looking for help, the Flash gets sucked in by the power of the Music Meister — and Barry and his friends begin making a little music of their own.

I love musicals. There's something about the way a good musical can take a few threads of plot and then weave them into a stunning moment of song which connects to and enlarges the characters until they are figures of human emotional myth. This show and its brothers and sisters in the Berlantiverse have a nice range of accomplished singers. Jeremy Jordan, Victor Garber, Grant Gustin, and Melissa Benoist all got a chance to shine tonight, with some very happy results.

When the episode opens Barry is in a very confused emotional coma, and rightly so; this is an episode that's all about heart. When Kara arrives on his Earth with the DEO team, she's in a less metaphorical coma, having succumbed to the odd mental powers of the Music Meister. It turns out the Meister is after both of them for reasons of his own, and catapults them into a world of noir and music which is also a psychological working-out of their current problems, both romantic in nature, as Barry and Kara see Iris and Mon-El reveling in the relationship they'll never have. I think I'll review by the songs:


"Moon River" really gave both Melissa and Kara a true solo. Not only were we treated by (is she a soprano? I'm not up on the music terms) her voice, we were also treated to an insight into the character. When she sings "There's such a lot of world to see," and gives us that look with her eyes, I melt. I truly do. And the whole thing's Kara to a tee: because despite her whole Super nature, and all the things she's seen, she's still in many ways new to the world and basking in the newness — or Mon-El's deception, maybe, wouldn't be the horrific surprise it was.

"Put a Little Love In Your Heart" was the kind of ensemble piece that always gets me smiling and out of my seat. It felt like everyone except Kara and Barry had a moment here; Wynn was present and Carlos Valdes walked through. Barry was the cutest: his feet kept tapping along, you could see that he wanted to sing. It seemed entirely off in the beginning, but felt more and more relevant by the end of the episode.

"More I Cannot Wish You" came with glorious energy from the mouths of Joe West, Victor Garber and John Barrowman. I think this maybe was my personal favorite of the night; it was just so sentimental and strong and direct. Paul McCartney would be proud. I was also flashing back to Joe being shocked Barry didn't ask him for his hand in marriage, way back when, and here Barry is asking Joe to give Iris to another man.

"Super Friend" was just cute and charming, wasn't it? I was smiling throughout. It's funny how Barry and Kara have become truly close so quickly; the banter and singing in this episode were just perfectly done. I am glad they have each other; even just knowing there's someone else out there who's doing the leather and goodness gig has to help lighten the load now and then.

"Running Home To You" was my second favorite of the night, for several reasons. It crystallized Barry's journey, I think, so far this season. Grant Gustin is just a damned good singer. That moment at the end when Barry proposes, again, and Iris says Yes with more force and conviction than I've ever seen her have so far in the series — tears. These two have almost lost each other, and now they're rushing back. We moved past some severe emotional blockage. It would be nice to think that all the moping and depression of the last few weeks are now over, and we can move back to the more confident and powerful Iris and Barry I saw in "Borrowing Problems from the Future."

Interesting-thats

So much to love about this episode but I'm leading with the dynamic trio of Vibe, Martian Manhunter and Kid Flash, out against the Music Meister. Wasn't this a fantastic group? One possible downside is that it highlights how Carlos Valdes has sort of outgrown his current role. He was a kickass leader and instantly took charge even of the Manhunter.

The noir hotel and background were mostly setting for the singing, of course, but I loved how the show referenced so many plays and musicals without truly emulating any of them. Romeo and Juliet was the most obvious, maybe, especially with the names Cutter and Moran standing in for Capulet and Montague. What others did you notice?

Iris having two dads! WOOOHA!

It was clever having Barry and Kara sort of have to come to terms with their feelings by encountering their partners in love, in the dream world.

Kid Flash didn't come out very well tonight; the win at the end probably will help, but I think we'll be looking at a harder-training Flash come next week.

Who or what is the Music Meister? He kept acting like Q, just exactly like Q from Star Trek.

Quotables

Kara: "I miss being bulletproof." (Ironic, considering what happens at the end of the episode!)

Kara: "He's my nothing."

Barry: "This is just like West Side Story."
Kara: "I was thinking more like The Fantasticks, but..."

Overall

I enjoyed this a ton tonight, but I wonder how rewatchable this episode is. I think The Flash traded plot and story for music tonight — and that they arguably got the best of the deal, especially with Barry's solo and "More I Cannot Wish You."

Four out of five stolen super-powers.

12 comments:

Heather1 said...

I enjoyed the episode but it felt like a wasted opportunity and excuse to me. While I was watching it I kept thinking about "Once More With Feeling" from Buffy and "Fan Fiction" from Supernatural -- both completely different takes on a musical episode, but ones that had a depth that this episode of The Flash just didn't have.

Of course, there were many things to like anyway: the banter between The Flash and Supergirl; Vibe, Kid Flash and Martian Manhunter; Victor Garber (who is the Michael Caine of TV -- add him to any mix and everything is instantly better); and more.

But "Once More With Feeling" and "Fan Fiction" carried more weight. The structure of each of those episodes was deeper and sharper. The beats were more resonant (IMO). By contrast, "Duet" felt lazy. Perhaps I shouldn't compare. Perhaps "Duet" was simply meant as a transition episode and a wink to the audience because everyone knows about the singing talents of many of its stars. I mean, of course, Music Meister had to be Darren Criss. It was one giant acknowledgement that this was a lark. The only other actor who could have played and sung this role is, of course, Chris Colfer. The Flash is also a show that is just in its 3rd season, where "Once More With Feeling" and "Fan Fiction" were, perhaps, able to tap into more... stuff. But even so... come on... the over arching theme was ... Kara and Barry were having boyfriend/fiancée troubles and a being as powerful as the Music Meister has come to show these silly kids that all they need is love? Way too lightweight.

So I was left with the sense of: well, that was fun... but I'll forget it next week.

Billie Doux said...

I so agree with everything you said, JRS. They had so many professional singers in the Berlanti-verse, how could they not get around to a musical episode? And all of them were terrific. I think the Buffy musical is too high a bar for any show to vault, and story-wise, not a lot happened, but this episode was very enjoyable. I enjoyed every minute.

Like you, I loved the Dads song the most. Maybe it was the wonderful Jesse L. Martin "you got a problem with that?" bit about him being married to Victor Garber, or the fact that John Barrowman got in there, too, but all three of them gave beautiful performances and conveyed the most emotion. Except maybe for Grant Gustin's solo at the end. I had been thinking that it was Barry's show and he was the lead and hadn't gotten much time yet, but he got a lovely song to sing to Iris.

Oddly, I really enjoyed Winn, too. And MMH transforming. The "I'm your super friend" song was very cute. And even though I didn't watch Glee after season three, I love Darren Criss and I thought he did a terrific job as the Music Meister.

Heather1, and JRS, I agree that it wasn't an earthshaking episode plot-wise, but I think I'm okay with that. I'd enjoy watching this one again.

Billie Doux said...

And I think I got a little repetitious in that comment, but I knew what I meant. :)

JRS said...

Several times while watching this and writing this I *wanted* to compare the ep to Buffy's Once More with Feeling. I do think the shows and musicals are both very different animals. The Flash has always been lighter of heart. Both shows start with the fantastic, they have a mythology, but for the Flash the mythology is an excuse for a fun show while for Buffy the show was almost the excuse for the mythology. Look at last episode's conversation about tracking people into the Speed Force - it was the ultimate in yeah I can just invent something because something.

To me I actually felt this musical was more akin to Brown Betty from Fringe, giving us fun insight into characters. And I'm great with that! Things should be considered in their own context. The singing was far better here than in Buffy - poor Alyson Hannigan! - but there's no doubt every song in Feeling was written for the show and cast whilst Duet had actors 'play out roles till the end'.

Heather1 said...

Billie Doux and JRS... yes, it could be I'm comparing apples to oranges. That is a fair assessment. One must enjoy the shows in the Berlantiverse for what they are. And that isn't damning with faint praise. It is often more than enough.

Patryk said...

Yeah definately it was more of a Brown Betty then a Once More With Feeling, but that's not a bad thing. I also doubt anything can top the Buffy musical or even Dr. Horribles Sing-Along Blog so it's better to not try and do it your own way.

There were also some nice Glee nods like instant original songs, backup dancersd out of nowhere, a girl with two fathers (immediately thought about Rachel).

Of course Merlyn got a son named Tommy again so also Arrow references.

It was fun to see cast memebers of all 4 shows in the same place. I really hope the early extensions of all 4 Berlanti-verse shows will enable tons more crossovers next season. Maybe all of the 4 casts could sign 4-way contracts.

Mallena said...

Melissa and Grant were very cute dancing and singing together. Is it wrong of me to wish that they were together and that Iris would just be Barry's sister? I liked this episode, but wasn't happy about B and I getting engaged again. Candice Patton is pretty and that is about all I can think of to describe her, I just can't connect with her and Barry, somehow.

Anyways, Supernatural's Fan Fiction left me a sobbing mess, Buffy's Once will always be a classic, Xena's Bitter Suite is amazing and wow, can Lucy Lawless sing...but this Flash musical was a lot of fun and a toe tapping good time, so I liked it a lot. Rachel Bloom of Crazy Ex Girlfriend wrote Super Friends in just a day and her style of song writing is more stream of consciousness, than polished prose, but I love Crazy Ex. The first season was amazing, and the second is a little less so, but I do love musicals, even if Rachel gets very raunchy sometimes.

JRS, you are deaf and love musicals? I would really like to know how that works for you. I have a brother who is mostly deaf from a childhood accident and he wears hearing aids and was taught to lip read. My mother wanted him to be treated like he was before his accident and I'm not sure that was a good thing. He's had a lot of problems in life.

sunbunny said...

UGH. Okay have to be the Debbie Downer here. "I'm your Superfriend" was adorable but other than that I'm a big NO for this episode. I guess a BIG part of it is that I'm bitter the true musical talents of the episode - Jesse L. Martin, Victor Garber, and John Barrowman - didn't have more to do. Particularly Jesse L. Martin because it's his show while the other two were borrowed from Legends of Tomorrow for the occasion. I just wanted MORE. I didn't care about anything that was happening in the real world and I really hate Mon-El so the idea that his Love™ would save Kara and then she would forgive him immediately is just annoying. I haven't been keeping up on the Flash, some major drama has apparently gone down on the Westallen front. I've never liked them as a couple because it gives me major incest vibes but I did love the way Iris screamed "Barry" as she saw him bleeding out on the ground and that they had a happy ending. How very musical.

Serena + Pumpkin said...

I think it's great that 2 of CW's superhero leads are from Glee. So happy to see Darren Criss again.

Patrick said...

Yes, the singing was fun. But honestly the highlights of the episode for me were the reactions to J'onn shifting to his Martian form. Both Cisco's "green skin and a sick-ass cape" and Caitlin's little "hello" were pitch-perfect(pardon the pun).

Deborah Gallegos said...

Late to watching this ep, but SO glad somebody brought up the Bitter Suite! One of the best musical episodes ever and pretty sure it started the trend.

Josie Kafka said...

I loved this so much!

My favorite part: The superfriends song. The tap-dancing. The singing. The chemistry between Barry and Kara. I liked it so much I think I might try Supergirl again. (For the third time. Maybe I should start with Season Two?)

My other favorite part: Cisco's musical doppelganger singing and talking about how soon he'd make his mark. That fits with one of the themes of this season: that Cisco can play a much bigger part than just "tech support" as Savitar said. Or, as JRS points out here "[this episode] highlights how Carlos Valdes has sort of outgrown his current role. He was a kickass leader and instantly took charge even of the Manhunter."

My other favorite part: The two dads.

My other favorite part: Darren Chriss, who was so charming on Glee and is just as charming here. I also liked the way that the Music Meister's true purpose was left ambiguous: is he just an itinerant force for good? That sounds awesome!

The saddest part: Cutter Moran/Malcolm Merlyn's son was named Tommy. Ouch.

Bonus part: the clothes, the song, the whole thing. I don't like musicals qua musicals, but I love it when my favorite TV shows do musicals.