Synopsis of 3×16 and 3×17: Wally enters the Speedforce to try to rescue Wally while Jesse goes after Savitar. With Supergirl comatose, Barry is attacked by Music Meister and forced to enact a musical to escape.

In Season 3, The Flash has been a show of extremes. At its worst, it’s a show that happily revels in empty-headed whiz-bang spectacle while the show’s best hours have examined the selfish, casually cruel actions of its central character, taking a deep look at how heroes can inflict pain while pursuing the greater good.

Two recent episodes try to split the difference as best they can and each come up short in their own unique ways. “Into the Speedforce” is one of the show’s most introspective hours, a reinforcement of what “The Wrath of Savitar” did best, focusing the show on Barry’s mistakes while remembering how powerful of an inspirational force he is at his best.

It’s an episode that has the memory of Leonard Snart reminding Barry that he can be a force of good even in the hearts of his worst enemies, as well as showing that Barry’s occasional reckless self-confidence can infect those around him, namely Jesse, who rushes off to battle Savitar as Wally’s stuck in an extra-planar prison.

It’s a solid hour, but it’s also a bore, despite the many attempts to interject a little action into the proceedings. Jesse’s battle with Savitar is exciting but far too brief and Barry’s encounter with Captain Cold feels like it should be much more action packed. It’s a slow, somber episode, which would probably work better as a two hour episode with the previous one, but it doesn’t stand on its own particularly well.

Duet” is a whole different animal. It’s carrying the brunt of the drama of a two-part story with Supergirl but trying to keep a host of character beats going forward in the midst of an hour of song and dance numbers. It’s an unusual hour by any estimation and one the show keeps acknowledging with a host of winks and nods.

“Duet” sees Music Meister linking a comatose Barry and Kara’s minds to play in a musical that’s mostly an excuse for a host of goofy songs and charming performances more than anything else. There are some smart moments meant to reference Barry’s frayed relationship with Iris and Kara’s difficult one with Mon-El but it’s primarily a lark, one that would feel more at home in the goofier times of the show’s first season. The most enjoyable things are some of smaller performances. Jeremy Jordan seems to be having the most fun turning Winn from a likable goof to a scenery-chewing ragtime man.

It’s probably best to view “Duet” as a palette cleanser. We’re late in the season and the Savitar storyline is racing closer and closer to having to deal with its conclusion. This is probably as close as we’re going to get until things get really serious in the final few episodes so it’s probably worth enjoying for what it is. Still, it’s probably the most fun this show has had in a dozen episodes or so and that more than makes up for a few flat songs, a general lack of action, and a few performances that miss.

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