You can point to a number of reasons why The Flash is no longer quite the show it once was, but it really boils down to the fact that Barry Allen’s world has become too mired in darkness. The old, happy-go-lucky Barry is gone, replaced by a brooding shell of a man who too often winds up making life more miserable for everyone around him. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but this is the season where Barry’s actions have led to the death of Cisco’s brother, the corruption of Caitlin, the psychological dismantling of Wally and the birth of Savitar. Not the best track record.
That’s why episodes like “Duet” and now “Cause and Effect” are such a breath of fresh air. They make a concerted effort to push back the darkness and focus on the fun, whimsical adventurous side of Barry’s life. “Cause and Effect” stands out especially in that regard. This episode very directly acknowledged the problems this season has faced and offered viewers a taste of a happier, less burdened Barry. And even though that transformation didn’t (and couldn’t) last, this episode offers hope that maybe the show will be able to strike a better balance between lighthearted superhero adventure and darker character drama going forward.