Katie Yu/The CW
October 10, 2017 at 09:00 PM EDT

And we back *insert Chance the Rapper bark*…

The Flash returns for its fourth season with a premiere that does a pretty good job of wiping the slate clean and reminding us what we loved about the series in the first place (which was necessary after a disappointing and depressing third season). In many ways, “The Flash Reborn” reminded me of DC Comics’ massive one-shot Rebirth, which was concerned with restoring hope to the DC Universe. This episode seems mainly concerned with bringing hope and faith back into Team Flash’s lives. As we all know, most Flash episodes are built on three things: heart, humor, and spectacle. Thankfully, this hour wasn’t lacking in any of those.

“The Flash Reborn” gets off to a strong and reassuring start: Kid Flash, Cisco, and Joe are running, vibing, and driving, respectively, around the city in pursuit of escaped metahuman Peek-a-Boo (last seen in season 1’s “Rogue Air”), while Iris coordinates their efforts from back in S.T.A.R. Labs. Iris, who has taken on an Overwatch-esque role on Team Flash, figures out the pattern in the elusive meta’s teleporting, which is the key to stopping her.

Sure, the hour does feature some thrilling visual effects, but Iris becoming the team’s leader in the wake of Barry leaving is the most exciting development in the premiere. Removing Barry from the table has allowed Iris to finally step up and play an important and necessary role on the team. Does her technological know-how make that much sense? No, but who cares? It’s nice to see her being a hard-ass with Team Name-to-Be-Determined (it’s definitely not Team Kid Flash, which everyone, except for Wally, agrees has too many syllables). She reminds them of their bad track record over the past six months (one out of three metas they fight escapes) and assigns Wally four hours of training in lieu of joining her and Joe for dinner with Cecile, who is moving in with Joe.

It’s clear that everyone misses Barry — especially Iris, who is sleeping on the couch these days because she can’t be in that bed alone and is throwing herself into her new role in order to avoid thinking about Barry — but writers Todd Helbing and Eric Wallace don’t let that pain overload the episode. For every moment of sadness, there’s another punchline coming around the corner. For example, Cecile teasing Joe about his enormous record collection is a nice counterbalance to Joe having a serious talk with Iris about how she’s not dealing with Barry’s departure. Iris doesn’t want to talk about it, so she leaves rather abruptly.

Iris doesn’t have much time to brood because an explosion ripples through Central City. As she heads to S.T.A.R. Labs, Kid Flash, Cisco, and Joe head out to the scene and come face to face with a futuristic samurai who wants one thing: the Flash. Basically, Central City has 24 hours to deliver the real Flash or he’ll destroy the city with his earthquake-causing sword. (ASIDE: Why is Cisco surprised by the damage this samurai can do with a sword? He’s seen how vicious the Green Arrow is with a bow and arrow. END ASIDE)

Luckily, Cisco has spent the last six months working on a way to free Barry from the Speed Force without unleashing another storm, and he thinks he can solve that problem in the next 24 hours. This is news to Iris and the rest of the team, and Iris flips out because he’s been working on a secret project (fair!) and orders him to focus his attention on defeating the samurai because they aren’t sure this will even work. That’s the reasoning she gives him, but really, it’s obvious that she doesn’t want to let herself hope there’s a chance they can get him back because it’ll hurt too much if they fail. (Recap continues on next page)

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After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.
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