The Flash: Season 3 Episode 17 review – Duet
This review contains spoilers.
A musical episode featuring the DC/The CW shows has long been touted as a great idea, even before the writers envisioned it. The podcast Supergirl Radio, for example, has been championing the idea for a long time, even suggesting the Music Meister as the method of explanation for why the singing occurs.
On that podcast, they also pointed out the musical background of many of the cast. Both Melissa Benoist are Grant Gustin are from Glee, Jesse L. Martin played Tom Collins in the Broadway musical Rent, and more. Although characters like Joe West have sung on the show before, this week finally lifted the lid on that storm of vocal talent, bringing us the very first (and hopefully not the last) musical crossover episode of the DC/The CW shows.
Undertaking a musical episode in a television show is a high risk concept. It can go horribly wrong – ending in a hokey, cringe-inducing, bizarre episode. Or it can go incredibly well, resulting in a fan favourite episode that sticks in the mind forever. Thankfully, this episode falls into the latter category.
One of the best musical episodes within a genre show, in my opinion, was the Fringe episode ‘Brown Betty’. In this, the characters were represented in old-timey, 1920s-era clothing, as was the music and the accents adopted. This brought a real Casablanca-style class to the episode. This, combined with some great writing and nothing too hammy in the singing department created a truly memorable episode.
I think the fact that The Flash took a similar route to ‘Brown Betty’ is no coincidence. It’s possible that the writers took ‘Brown Betty’ as somewhat of a blueprint and sought to emulate the same sort of class and refinery that Fringe so elegantly achieved. This led to our characters – not only from The Flash this time, but characters from Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow too – donning stylish 1920s-style attire and presenting a similarly noir-inspired feel.
It isn’t only style that makes a great musical. What’s equally as important is the song choices and the vocal delivery of the cast. From an Audrey Hepburn-channeled ‘Moon River’ to the Music Meister himself opting for Jackie DeShannon’s ‘Put a Little Love in Your Heart’, the song choices were inspired and lovingly thought-through. The best of these was the original song ‘Super Friend’ (a nod to the animated TV show, no doubt), which highlighted Melissa and Grant’s talents beautifully (even if the overdubbing of Grant’s singing was far more apparent).
Also stealing some of the limelight was Winn as a pianist with a gangster-like drawl, who finally got to share some screen time with Cisco (even if not in real life), which is the precise wish that Winn expressed in the previous Supergirl episode. Professor Stein, Joe West (no stranger to singing on this show), and even Malcolm Merlin stepped up to the challenge boldly too, embracing their musical sides whole-heartedly.
Alongside all of this audible merriment, the narrative itself was constructed with wit and clever satire. A couple of examples of this included our core duo expressing how things really are that much easier in musicals, and Barry commenting (during the ‘Super Friends’ song) that he never cared much for Kara’s more famous cousin (Superman).
Even the Music Meister himself proved to be a suave and enjoyable character, and one who very much reminded me of Mr Mxyzptlk, even right from his appearance at the end of the Supergirl episode alone. He is yet another trickster-like individual and yet another all-powerful being from an incomprehensibly strange dimension – and one who can “see everything” (which explains how he knew about Kara’s cross-dimensional device).
The final reveal that the Music Meister did what he did in order to teach our core couples a lesson was actually really touching and a welcome reprieve from heinous antagonists with ill-intent. As his song choice showed, he simply intended to put a little love into their hearts. This worked wonderfully, spurring Barry to undertake a proposal by song, in the real world, which won Iris back. Mon El and character also seem to be much closer to having their relationship repaired now too.
This was a wonderful and heart-warming musical, full of stylish and gleeful fanfare. As mentioned above, executing a musical is a very delicate and fine tight rope to walk, but both the writers and cast managed it beautifully here, with wit and charm and grace. This episode will stick in the mind as not only one of the most cherished The Flash episodes, but also one of the most cherished Supergirl episodes, and that’s no small feat.
Image credits: The CW