The Flash and Supergirl Are Utterly Charming In “Duet”

The Flash and Supergirl are two things that need to come together more often. And if “Duet” proves anything, it’s that when you have a cast made up of musically talented actors, you bend reality itself to give them an opportunity to sing. Fortunately, doing so provided us with one of the most delightful episodes of the series, as theA Flash and Supergirl are forced to sing their way out of a magical coma.

(Spoilers for “Duet” of The Flash to follow)

One of my major gripes with The Flash recently is the gloomier tone that the show has taken on, much closer to Arrow than in previous years. The Flash used to be the fun one of the DCTV group, but sometime during last year’s Zoom arc things got pretty dark and then never quite cheered up again, especially with Flashpoint having such a dour effect on the story.

Barry as an actual character has become so glum, consumed first by his Flashpoint guilt and then by the vision of Iris’ future death, leading to relationship drama that was so forced that it was simply frustrating rather than compelling. Barry and Iris’ relationship has always been a little tricky to sell, and these past few episodes didn’t help. However, “Duet” did, with a final song that did more for me regarding their relationship than all of Season 3 so far.

Even if musicals aren’t your thing, “Duet” is like a tonic to the show and to the hero himself. Watching Grant Gustin grin and laugh his way through the show, this is the charming Barry Allen I’ve been missing. It’s great to see that The Flash hasn’t forgotten how to be fun, because this is a show that is so damn likeable when it leans into the cheesy absurdity.

This was also a fun episode for Supergirl, not only giving Melissa Benoist a chance to prove her incredible singing skills but also to repair her own relationship with Mon-El. Supergirl is a much less interesting character when her story revolves around a love interest and like with Barry and Iris, Kara’s break-up with Mon-El felt like manufactured drama there for the sake of having drama. It’s a relief to see that resolved so soon and in a way that was legimately entertaining.

With that in mind, it’s interesting how hard both shows apparently worked to set-up this crossover, breaking up two core couples just so they could have a musical episode about love and it’s frankly amazing this works as well as it does, because the plot is insanely simple and on the nose. Music Meister only puts Barry and Kara through this in order to mend their broken hearts, which seems too cheesy even for a superhero show.

The whole premise should feel absurd, but it’s just so much fun. The musical, set in the world of 40’s-style gangsters, is delightfully corny, proving that Legends of Tomorrow isn’t the only show that gets to wear some great, over-the-top costumes. The whole cast look like they’re having a great time, enthusiastically jumping into these absurd gangster caricatures and hamming it up as much as possible, accents included.

It also helps that super-friends Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist are so much fun on-screen together. Unlike most CW relationships, Barry and Kara have literally no drama or friction of any kind and the pair are allowed to be pure platonic charm. When they get together, it’s the kind of guilt-free, superhero corniness that we frankly could all use more of. It’s really so rare on these shows to have two characters get along this well or easily and it’s a shame the two can’t just share a show.

There are only five numbers in total, so if you really don’t do musicals then they don’t overcrowd the episode. But the songs themselves are pretty outstanding, covering a range of styles and reminding us just how incredibly musically talented some of these shows’ stars are. It’s actually a shame there weren’t more songs, to get more of the cast involved, but it was probably smarter not to smother the episode.

Mainly I love that The Flash and Supergirl are willing to do this kind of crazy episode at all. In the years since Arrow kicked off this shared adventure, their universe has gotten bigger and wilder every year, adding superpowers, aliens, time travel. Episodes like “Attack on Gorilla City” or “Duet” prove that it’s worth getting into the really weird shit. Seriously, why not be weird? It’s fun.

Littler Thoughts:

  • Along with the musical action, we get Wally and Cisco teaming up with Martian Manhunter to go fight Music Meister in the real world. The Flash cast’s reaction to J’onn’s real form was great. Wally also gets a small arc this episode about getting over his Speed Force PTSD that’s kinda glossed over.

  • Legends of Tomorrow has given Victor Garber a couple of opportunities to showcase his superb vocals this season, but his performance alongside Jesse L. Martin and John Barrowman was incredible.

  • Barrowman has never been on Supergirl and only in one very minor appearance on The Flash, but that doesn’t matter. If you’re having a musical episode, you get him in here. Also, nice detail that his musical son is also named Tommy, like the late Arrow character.

  • Jeremy Jordan performing with Carlos Valdes is a nice follow-up to Supergirl having Winn think he and Cisco would be best friends if they lived in the same universe.

  • “You can go back in time and give it another shot!” “I’m actually not supposed to do that anymore.” So much to love about the “Super Friends” number, but that line was particularly great.

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Ross Topham

Contributor
If there was an award for procrastinating, Ross Topham would probably be late to the ceremony. Hopefully he's writing something worthwhile instead and we'll see that awesome, upcoming space opera novel sometime soon...

Ross Topham

If there was an award for procrastinating, Ross Topham would probably be late to the ceremony. Hopefully he’s writing something worthwhile instead and we’ll see that awesome, upcoming space opera novel sometime soon…

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