REVIEW: The Flash, S4 Ep17 – Null and Annoyed

After a month long hiatus The Flash is finally back with an all-new episode. “Null and Annoyed” marks the third time Kevin Smith (Clerks) has sat in the director’s chair, having directed his first episode in season 2 and second in season 3. “Null and Annoyed,” so called for introducing the latest bus meta named Null, sees Barry take issue with Ralph’s need to joke around in a time when they must remain completely focused on figuring out a way to take down DeVoe. Null, the second to last bus meta discovered thanks to Wells’ new thinking cap, puts a slight wrench into Team Flash’s plans, stealing artifacts in Central City. While the team is faced with this latest problem, Cisco faces a problem of his own as Gypsy’s father Breacher (Danny Trejo) pays Earth-1 a visit seeking help in getting his breaching abilities back.

Breacher pays Team Flash a visit

In addition to a Team Flash focused plot, “Null and Annoyed” also gives us a peek into the frustrating and tragic life of Marlize DeVoe. In recent episodes, it was revealed that Clifford DeVoe, The Thinker, was using the love inducing tears of another meta-human to keep Marlize devoted to him. In “Null and Annoyed,” Marlize finally comes to learn the truth. While Marlize hasn’t been a character we’ve come to side with seeing how much she’s already devoted herself to a mad man, even without the help of meta-human tears, this week’s episode begins to attempt to shift our sympathies towards her. The episode tragically concludes with Marlize sending a message to herself to remember what Clifford is doing to her and to attempt to escape, only to realize that she has sent the same exact message before and Clifford has been erasing her memories every time. While at this moment Marlize isn’t a character audiences can find themselves siding with fully, any sensible person can see that what Clifford is doing is just wrong, and “Null and Annoyed” makes us at least wish to see Marlize escape and maybe redeem herself by helping Team Flash take her husband down.

The episode’s other subplot, which dealt with Cisco and Breacher, may not have had any direct connection to the season’s main plot, but it certainly contained some entertaining moments and additions to the Arrowverse, including an Earth where vampires exist, as well as a potential new direction for Cisco. No matter in what capacity, Danny Trejo is usually fun to watch on screen and his moments with Carlos Valdes’ Cisco were a pleasure to witness. As this subplot concluded, Cisco gathers the courage to inform Breacher that he has lost his abilities due to his old age and nothing more. With Breacher accepting this fate and deciding to retire, Cisco is offered the chance to take his place and become the new Breacher to fight alongside his long distance girlfriend Gypsy. Whether or not this comes to fruition, it would be fun to see Cisco go in this direction, but Team Flash would never be the same without one of its founding members.

The majority of “Null and Annoyed” dealt with Barry becoming frustrated, or annoyed, with Ralph and his constant joking around while planning. While the episode concludes with Barry and Ralph coming to a compromise that Ralph’s goofy improvisation could lead to positive results, it unfortunately justifies Ralph’s inappropriate behavior throughout. Yes, maybe Barry could have been a little less mean and stubborn in the episode’s first act, but he wasn’t wrong to come to the decision of benching Ralph for seemingly not taking what they were doing seriously.

Jay and Silent Bob make a guest appearance

The episode’s meta-of-the-week definitely wasn’t the most developed, but her power-set was at least unique, having the ability to change the density of a person or object allowing them to float. This led to some problematic moments for Barry as he had to rescue a passenger from a falling car that floated up to the sky, and allowed Ralph to improvise and figure out a way to save Barry from falling to his death. In the end, Ralph turned into a giant Whoopie cushion, which was something teased early on, leading to a very lowbrow fart joke.

Overall, “Null and Annoyed” wasn’t great and was probably Kevin Smith’s most lackluster effort on an Arrowverse episode. Although, the episode was filled with some neat references and jokes that sometimes fell flat and sometimes didn’t. Null steals a Kahndaq crown, which is direct reference to Black Adam, arch nemesis of the DC hero, Shazam, Ralph comes up with the idea of becoming improv comedians and taking their show to Washington, dubbing themselves the DC Comics, and Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes even cameo as security guard versions of Jay and Silent Bob, a direct reference to Smith’s own View Askew universe of films.

“Null and Annoyed” was satisfying enough for a one-off episode, but after a month hiatus, The Flash should have returned with something a bit stronger. Despite its faults it did a fine job moving the plot forward and adding new elements to the season, including an odd stinger scene which saw Earth-2 Harrison Wells confront Gideon in Eobard Thawne’s secret room, in a way that makes us distrust who he truly is or who he is becoming.