‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 3 Episode 17: ‘Duet’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show recappers Dylan Todd and Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, Barry and Kara learn that life is a cabaret, Kara stops defying gravity, Barry has to ease on down the road, and the Music Meister lets the sunshine in. "Duet" was directed by Dermott Downs, with a story by Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg, and a teleplay by Aaron Helbing & Todd Helbing.
Ziah: Well Dylan, based on your hatred of musicals, and also campy writing, I have a feeling we’re going to disagree on this episode. Because let me tell you, buddy, I enjoyed most of it, even if I thought the songs (with one glorious exception) were fairly forgettable.
But, considering the grab bag that is the television musical, I thought they had some really strong things going for them! A full cast of incredible singers, an understanding that the plot hinging on a musical/dream segment allowed the writers to paper over some of the weak spots in their writing… I’m going to call it a success. What’d you think?
Dylan: I just made a doctor’s appointment because obviously something is wrong with me. Ziah, I… didn’t hate it. The plot was thin-thin-thin, the songs, as you said, were mostly forgettable, but I liked the zag, and it was also a lot of dumb, dumb fun.
Ziah: Yes, Dylan. Give in to the fever dream we’re experiencing together. What tipped you over the edge? Was it John Barrowman’s ridiculous gangster accent? When Cisco and Winn both followed up with equally ridiculous accents?
Dylan: It was War of the Ridiculous Accents. I think maybe my favorite was Iris’ Rosie Perez-lite accent, complete with gum-smacking. I gotta admit, I thought it was going to stink when we got Barry’s cheesy mom waxing poetic about musicals and the only thing I hate more that musical episodes is Barry’s ding-dang parent and their “sluggers” and “precious baby boys.”
Ziah: I honestly loved that they opened with that, because that is such a ridiculously on-the-nose way to start a musical episode. Just get right out in front and announce a central theme, Geoff Johns-style. It’s nice, in small doses.
Dylan: Nope, but it somehow managed to not ruin the episode. Which, let me be clear: was not good, but was at least entertaining.
Ziah: Well, speaking of being disappointed in things…
I didn’t watch this week’s Supergirl, because I try to only watch shows that I get paid for or that are already on Netflix, but I’ve been following along through social media feeds, more or less. And man, when people complain about Mon-El, Space D-Bag, they are not kidding. He was on-screen for maybe five minutes, and I found him insufferable in every one of them. Supergirl can do better, Dylan.
Dylan: He is… not that great. I skipped the Supergirl episode mainly because, for the last crossover I watched, the Flash portion was literally 45 seconds before the end credits.
Ziah: Turns out they did it again this time! Some two-part crossover, eh bud?
Remember how we hated last week’s episode? Well, I apparently even forgot the events of last week’s episode, because when Wally was Kid Flashing around, I spent at least five minutes trying to rationalize that with Barry and Iris’ break-up, since I thought Wally was still in the Speedforce. I was actually impressed with the show for doing a pseudo out-of-continuity episode with Wally and Iris in the same episode, until I remembered. So I guess this little digression is just to remind our readers that last week’s episode was bad and we should all feel bad.
Dylan: Yeah, I really hope they gloss over it like they did this week and just go full-steam ahead into the end-of-season wrap-up. Cuz I can’t handle any more of Wally wringing his hands about his time in the Speed Force Hospital Room or whatever that was last week.
Ziah: Dylan, you and I are both huge fans of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CEG-heads), so I think we were both looking forward to Rachel Bloom’s original song for this episode, "Super Friend." And man, that was great. Really funny, really sweet, and I didn’t realize Gustin and Benoist could tap dance! Good for them.
I’m hoping that anyone who liked that bit checks out her show, because that’s how you do good musical television. That and Buffy, right Dylan?
Dylan: Don’t push your luck, friendo.
Ziah: I’m starting to think you need to put a little love in your heart (for musicals).
Dylan: I’m about to put a little foot in your butt. But yeah, I love Rachel Bloom and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and that song was easily the standout of the episode. It was real fun, moved the episode along, and did more for both of their characters than the rest of the episode combined.
Ziah: Very true. It also smoothed over the chemistry those two have into friendship, so they could get back together with their respective exes in their own show. Which lead to Barry crooning out a song to Iris and then proposing! That’s nice! I hope those two kids work things out. Do you think Iris was stoked that his song was about running, cause Barry loves two things, and messing with the time stream is harder to rhyme?
Dylan: He song-posed! It was beautiful. I cried. (Not really.) So yeah, turns out that this Music Meister alien guy was here to “teach them a lesson,” but the lesson was about the power of love, and not a lesson like when you crack your knuckles and make threats.
Ziah, let’s take a second to run through the things this episode gave us: a trio of Victor Garber, Jesse L. Martin and John Barrowman singing about how they love their kids. Also, Garber and Martin are married co-dads to gum-popping Iris!
Ziah: That was a real stand-out bit. Iris and her two dads, just gangstering it up. Boy, Jesse L. Martin gets the juiciest parts to play in the multiverse, huh? Jazz singer, washed-up alcoholic cop, constant father figure, and now singing gangster. What can’t this guy do, Dylan?
Dylan: Dude is having a good time on this show and I love that.
Ziah: And the episode gave us over-the-top accents for Jeremy Jordan and Carlos Valdes. I hear Jordan’s a stand-out on Supergirl, but it was just great to see those guys ham it up. This was a hammy episode, so maybe that might be a reason to see a doctor. You can still eat red meat, right?
Dylan: Man, I love pork. And yeah, this was some really hammy stuff. This is what happens when you stack your shows with people who also did tons of musical theater and musical TV. This is not necessarily a good thing.
Ziah: But back to the Music Meister fixing two broken-hearted superheroes. Kinda weird! You’d think they’d just make him Mr. Mxyzptlk, but apparently they just did that. Maybe he’s the real one, and the old one was Vyndktvx?
Dylan: Ziah, was the Music Meister from Planet Mary Poppins? Cuz he was like, “My work here is done” and booped off into the ether.
Ziah: Or Planet Glee. That’s what that show was all about, right? Solving problems with songs and photogenic couples? Substituting the letter “L” with hands?
Dylan: I will take your word for it, because bruh, there’s no way I’m watching that show. Or at least copping to it. I have a brand to uphold.
Dylan: Lemme ask you this, Z-Man: we have six episodes left in the season. Do you think it’s weird that we decided to halt all that for singing time? I mean, I’m not complaining, because I don’t wanna see that doofy Savitar costume again just yet, but it’s kind of odd that the producers decided that now was the time to let everybody under contract with the CW-verse shows have a turn to belt one out?
Ziah: Aw, now that you say that, I just realized there wasn’t any Wentworth Miller. Wouldn’t you love to hear his old-timey gangster talk?
Dylan: Oh man, imagine him singing some showtune in a mink coat.
Ziah: I changed my mind, this episode was garbage now that I know that wasn’t included.
But to your question, I dunno, man. They always seem to save the wilder stuff for Spring, right? Wasn’t that the last crossover? There’s more time to prep everyone’s schedules and line things up the further along they are, I think. Plus, any break we get from Savitar The Hedgehog is fine with me, T B H.
Dylan: Well, next week we are back on the superhero train with the debut of Abra Cadabra, played by character actor David Dastmalchian, most recently seen as the Joker’s acolyte, uh, Dwight in Gotham. He spent one episode wearing Joker’s face and pretending like he was him.
Ziah: Aw, Abra Cadabra!? I am pumped for that! Puppet-Flash! Here we go, right D?
Dylan: From your lips to Greg Berlanti’s ears, my man. Until then, keep Flashin’.