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Recap / The Flash (2014) S3E17 "Duet"

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J'onn J'onzz and Mon-El come to Central City to get help for a comatose Supergirl. But when the Music Meister also attacks Barry, he and Kara find themselves in a wild musical world.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • An in-universe example where Barry and Kara enlists a reluctant Pablo's aid to find Millie. Pablo's "real world" counterpart, Cisco, can do the same thing.
    • The last time Jesse L. Martin was in a musical, he also played an openly gay man in a stable relationship.
    • One poster for the episode had the title "Dynamic Duet", one letter away from the title of the Glee episode where Melissa Benoist dressed up as a superhero.
    • Darren Criss just wanting people to have a song and dance.
    • And to Glee—the only musical numbers featuring Melissa Benoist (Kara), Grant Gustin (Barry), and Criss (the Music Meister) were "Help!" and "All You Need is Love," similar to the group number ("Put a Little Love in Your Heart") in this episode.
    • Tom Cavanagh doesn't get to flex his Broadway background in this episode, but it is given a nod when Barry says someone else on the team besides him has a great singing voice. HR assumes he's talking about him, but he's talking about Kara.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • While Music Meister is explaining his scheme in his little world, he breaks into song, and the crowd start joining in as chorus. Barry eventually can't contain himself at the situation.
    • After Joe finds out what happened he finds the whole thing hysterical, despite someone having screwed with Barry's mind.
    • Just as Kara is singing the line, "My Huckleberry Friend," her eyes pop open as she sees Barry (friend) in the crowd.
  • Adaptational Badass: In his original incarnation, Music Meister had the ability to force people to go into song-and-dance routines and he used this power to facilitate his crimes. In this incarnation, the Music Meister is Power Copying Barry and Kara's super speed, flight, and heat vision, and besides that seems to alter reality however he wants, easily escaping the Pipeline and proving he is not a metahuman but something else.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In his original incarnation, Music Meister had the ability to force people to go into song-and-dance routines and he used this power to facilitate his crimes. In this incarnation, the Music Meister puts people into a dream state where they create their own musical numbers and could potentially be killed and he does this to...convince Barry to allow himself to have a relationship with Iris and to convince Kara to forgive and take back Mon-El, while simultaneously helping Wally regain his confidence after his time trapped in the Speed Force. At worst, he is an Anti-Villain; at best, he is a hero with extremely unorthodox methods.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: In-Universe. Joe and Prof. Stein's musical world doppelgangers are a male gay couple.note 
  • Adaptation Name Change: In-Universe. All the characters who appear in the musical universe except for Barry and Kara have different names.
  • Aesop Enforcer: The Music Meister wants Barry and Kara learn that love is about needing someone.
  • Affably Evil: Music Meister is perfectly friendly and cheery, and doesn't even have any real evil ambitions.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Justified since the whole thing is a Dream Land created from Barry's and Kara's memories of watching musicals, but present nonetheless.
    • Although the musical is supposedly set in the 1940s or 1950s, two of the songs actually date from the 1960s: "Moon River" and "Put a Little Love in Your Heart."
    • One of the dream world characters uses an iPad.
  • And You Were There: Cisco, Joe, Iris, Mon-El, Winn Schott, Malcolm Merlyn, and Martin Stein portray the other characters in the musical. Kara lampshades it, and Music Meister implies that the only reason it happened at all is because Kara watched The Wizard of Oz so much, and is what she expected from a dream world.
  • Bad Boss: Cutter Moran is Barry's equivalent of Malcolm Merlyn, one of the Arrow's Anti-Villains. Unfortunately, Kara doesn't know who he is. Despite lacking all his martial arts, he's still a mob boss and easily meaner than Merlyn usually is.
    Off-screen Voice: There you are!
    Barry: Merlyn!!!
    Kara/Moran: Who?
    Barry: [sotto voce] Malcolm Merlyn, former head of the League of Assassins.
    Kara: What of the what?
  • Bait the Dog: Both Digsby and Cutter pretend to be so moved by their child's love that they will allow the relationship to continue, even giving them a fitting song...only to then order their men to go to war with the opposing party.
  • Batman Gambit: Music Meister gives the impression in the end that everything went according to a carefully-orchestrated plan where, aside from putting Kara and Barry in the musical, he played the role of a simple (if very powerful) villain simply to get people in a position to get the outcome he wanted.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Cisco vibes Iris and Mon-El into the musical world to save Barry and Kara as they lay dying.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Music Meister traps Barry and Kara in a dream world where they could potentially be killed and steals their powers so he can rob a bank. The reason he put everyone through this is to teach Barry and Kara the importance of love, and as a side benefit help Wally get his confidence back, by allowing Wally, Cisco, and J'onn to kick his ass. Once they learn the lesson and wake up, he's satisfied that his work is done and leaves to teach someone else a lesson.
  • Breather Episode: This episode is a lot more lighthearted than the rest of the season, focusing on Barry and Kara's relationship issues while taking a break from the Save Iris arc.
  • But Now I Must Go: After Kara and Barry wake up and the Music Meister explains why he did what he did, he cheerfully vanishes.
  • Call-Back:
  • Can't Believe I Said That: At one point, Kara tries to convince Tommy and Milly that "there's no place like home," then realizes what she just said.
  • Casting Gag:
    • The main reason for casting Darren Criss as the Music Meister was for a Glee reunion with Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist. His role is just Singing Ex Machina, the same as Blaine.
    • Darren Criss joins his fellow Glee alums Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist for this episode as the Music Meister. Victor Garber also played the father of the show's Big Good.
    • Victor Garber's real life homosexuality gets another nod, as the character modeled after Stein is gay.
    • The choreography was done by ex-Glee choreographer Zach Woodlee.
    • "I'm Your Super Friend" was co-written by the star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend—another popular CW series.
  • Continuity Snarl: Barry knows who Superman is, but Kara never mentioned her cousin to him even once on-screen (though there are numerous occasions in both preceding crossovers in which this may have happened off-screen).
  • Crack Ship: Iris/Mon-El and Joe/Stein are couples in the musical world but otherwise have no chance of becoming canon.
  • Crossover: The second annual for The Flash (2014) and Supergirl (2015) (not counting the four-series crossover from earlier in the season).
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Barry breaks song when Kara mentions going back in time, telling her he can't do that anymore.
  • Distant Duet: "More I Cannot Wish You" is sung by the lovers' fathers (all three of them) at the same time in different locations.
  • Downer Ending: Not the episode itself, but the musical, which ends with both fathers going to war with one another, not allowing their children to love each other.
  • Dramatic Irony: While not directly pointed out, Kara complains to Barry about how Mon-El lied to her about his whole identity for nine months, not knowing that's also exactly what Barry did to Iris.
  • Excuse Plot: Let's face it, the only reason the Music Meister does what he does is so that a musical episode can happen.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Caitlin's reaction to seeing J'onn's Martian form is to simply say hello, albeit with a pause.
  • Feuding Families: Joe and Stein's doppelgangers are rival mob bosses of Malcolm's. This is the main dilemma of the Star-Crossed Lovers mentioned below.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • At no point is the fact Mon-El has superpowers himself addressed, nor does he take part in the mission to capture the one man capable of saving Kara.
    • Barry and Kara are trapped in a fictional construct of their own minds. Boy, too bad there isn't a convenient telepath who has demonstrated the ability to go into the heads of other people readily available who might mention he could at least try to help. This can be explained away by the fact that no one knows what is exactly going on with Barry and Kara. All they know is that both have slipped into a coma and their vitals are all over the place. That could be caused by a lot of things besides being lost in a mental world. J'onn has also stated that Kryptonian minds No-Sell his mental powers, so he wouldn't be able to enter Kara's mind anyway.
  • For the Evulz: Basically, Music Meister is only putting these two heroes through this because he wants to have some fun, or at least appears to initially. His motives eventually prove to be somewhat more complicated, and even benevolent.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Inverted to the foreground. During "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," Barry starts to get into the choreography, while Kara is just standing there, confused by what the dancers (and Barry) are doing.
    • A straighter example is Barry before and during the Distant Duet. At the start of the number his eyes start darting around when he hears the strings, and when Digsby breaks into song Barry is in awe as he sits down like a member of the audience. At the end, he breaks into a bit of applause.
  • Gayngster: Joe's counterpart in the musical world, Digsby, is a mob boss. Martin Stein's counterpart appears to be his lieutenant and enforcer...until the Iris counterpart, Millie, calls them both Dad.
    Barry: "Dads"?
    Digsby and "Stein": [simultaneously] You got a problem with that?
    Barry: No! I love musicals, so...
  • Genre Savvy: Being fans of musical theater, Barry and Kara discuss what would progress the plot of the musical they're trapped in, reference other musicals along the way, and are capable of taking advantage of the conventions of the genre.
    Kara: Do you happen to have anything original?
    Musical!Winn: As a matter of fact, I've been working on something all day.
    Barry: Wow. Things really are easier in musicals.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: As part of the musical's Retro Universe, everyone is poshed up to the nines in 30's and 40's styles.
  • Good All Along: Ultimately, the Music Meister does everything he does as a way to help the heroes deal with their personal problems.
  • Got Me Doing It: As the first show-stopping song plays ("Put a Little Love in Your Heart"), Barry starts to join in with the choreography.
  • Great Gazoo: The true nature of the Music Meister.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Said by Kara in regards to Mon-El.
  • He's Back!: After being mind raped by Savitar and then put through Hell by the Speed Force, Wally gets back into the hero game when he delivers a supersonic punch to the Music Meister. (This is the Meister's plan all along.)
  • Imagination-Based Superpower: The Music Meister's powers are this, as he can do anything he wants and is capable of creating entire universes in the mind. For Barry and Kara he created a musical reality, but it's implied he could have created a world of any genre if he wanted to, with him mentioning a war epic or space opera as possibilities.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Team Flash learns that J'onn is actually a Martian with superpowers.
    • Averted with Mon-El as there is no indication anyone on Team Flash, including Barry, are made aware that he has superpowers too.
  • I Own This Town: Said word for word by Digsby.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: A rather strange example, since Barry and Kara have to help their lovers' doppelgangers to become a couple.
  • Jerkass Realization: While telling Cutter that he should look at things from his son's point of view to understand why Tommy (Mon-El) didn't tell his father the truth, Kara realizes she's been avoiding doing that herself to understand why Mon-El didn't tell her his real identity.
  • Jukebox Musical: With the exception of "Super Friend" and "Runnin' Home to You," all of the songs are just covers.
  • Justified Trope: The Music Meister putting Barry and Kara into a dream world is the best excuse for why they (and several other characters) are engaging in song-and-dance numbers.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: During their duet, Barry says that "If you ever need a hand/I'll be there in a flash." Kara immediately calls him out on it, but the speedster is totally unrepentant.
    Kara: Barry!
    Barry: That was funny!
  • Literal Metaphor: Kara makes it perfectly clear what she will do to Mon-El if he ever lies to her again.
    Kara: Although, if you lie to me again, I will drop a mountain on you.
    Mon-El: Wow. (ahem) You mean figuratively.
    Kara: No, I mean geologically.
    Mon-El: O-kay.
  • Mafia Princess: Both Millie and Tommy.
  • Meaningful Echo: When Cutter (who looks like Malcolm Merlin) tells the pair that they work for him, they both say, "We what now?" just as in the first time they met on Supergirl (2015).
  • Mood Whiplash: After a touching number of Tommy and Millie's parents having a Distant Duet, both sides whisper to their henchmen to gather their boys for war. The gunfire during the confrontation between the two gangs later snaps Barry and Kara, themselves having finished a duet, out of the fantasy, and very nearly leads to a conclusion where everybody dies.
  • Musical Episode: Obviously.
  • Musical World Hypothesis: Zig-zagged. The episode largely follows the Alternate Universe Hypothesis, with (almost) all of the musical numbers occurring in the shared dream world. Within the dream world, there are a couple of Diegetic numbers ("Moon River" and "Super Friends"). At the very end, Barry sings "Runnin' Home to You" to Iris in a very Diegetic setting.
  • Not Hyperbole: After making up with him, Kara warns Mon-El that if he lies to her again, she'll drop a mountain on him, and considering how strong she is, she's not being metaphorical.
  • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: Barry insists that he doesn't think it's weird that Joe and Stein are gay married mob bosses, and says he likes musicals.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Music Meister comes completely out of left field for Team Flash, since all they really knew about him was that he would eventually sign a six figure book deal at some point in the future. They (and the viewer) never find out where he's from, what exactly he is, or how he knew who Supergirl and the Flash (not to mention everyone else) even were.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: Music Meister can leave his cell in the Pipeline whenever he wants. He only stays in so he can have a conversation with Iris and Mon-El to give them a hint how they can save Barry and Kara.
  • Power Parasite: Music Meister takes on the superpowers of those he has whammied, while those from whom he has taken them seem to be drained (though as they are comatose, this does not really affect them much).
  • Psycho Knife Nut: Cutter Moran, who got his nickname for his fondness of killing people with knives, including his own cousin. Since his counterpart is Malcolm Merlyn, it kinda fits.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The only way Kara and Barry can get back to the real world is by engaging in the movie musical plot.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Twice, In-Universe.
    • Joe and Prof. Stein's musical world doppelgangers are a Happily Married couple, making the latter the stepfather to Iris' doppelganger.
    • Mon-El is Malcolm Merlyn's son in the same world.
  • Retro Universe: The musical world is mainly set in The '40s, but Malcolm's doppelganger is seen using an iPad.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Upon stumbling on the forbidden romance, Barry comments to Kara that it's very West Side Story. She replies that she was thinking along the lines of The Fantasticks.
    • Kara's opening number is "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's.
    • Tommy and Millie's parents sing "More I Cannot Wish You" from Guys and Dolls.
    • The Music Meister claims that the dream world is a movie musical because of Kara and Barry's shared fondness for them; both of them have strong childhood memories associated with The Wizard of Oz and Singin' in the Rain, respectively. A scene of Gene Kelly singing the theme song to the latter is shown on screen at one point.
    • "I'm Your Super Friend" includes a reference to Superman, and the title itself is a shoutout to the old 1970s cartoon series Superfriends (a series occasionally given a shout out in Supergirl).
    • One 'Glee' episode focused on the Musical world dreams that Will has, set in a Musical because he watched Singin' in the Rain before he fell asleep, which is the same reason that Barry's 'dream' is in a Musical in this episode.note 
    • After meeting Merlyn's, Winn's, and Cisco's doppelgangers, Barry quotes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ("Curiouser and curiouser...") and Kara makes another reference to The Wizard of Oz ("And you were there, and you were there...").
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Millie and Tommy (Iris and Mon-El's doppelgangers, to Kara and Barry's mutual disgust) are this, with their respective fathers being warring crime lords. Even discussed, as Kara and Barry reference West Side Story and The Fantasticks; both theater stories that utilize this trope.
  • Superpower Lottery: Music Meister can not only trap people in dream realities, he can also drain people's powers, displays signs of omniscience as he knows things about people in two universes that would be at best very difficult to find out, can't be held prisoner by the Pipeline, and may well be an outright Reality Warper.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Music Meister for Mr. Mxyzptlk, even lampshaded by Kara indirectly, who says she has had enough of magical creeps.
  • Take That!: Minor in-universe example; in the "Super Friend" number, Barry mentions that he likes Kara better than her "more famous cousin." Kara replies, "Thank you!"
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Kara feeling grateful about how there's no counterpart to Mon-El in the dreamscape—right before she and Barry meet Tommy Moran.
    • After convincing Millie and Tommy to open up about their relationship, Barry and Kara are relieved that things seem to be going easy for them to follow the script. Tommy and Millie are sincere; their fathers, on the other hand, are not.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Despite knowing that they will die in the real world if something bad happens to them in the musical world, both Barry and Kara intervene in a gunfight by literally running in between the quarreling parties.
  • Trapped in Another World: The main premise of the episode is Kara and Barry being trapped in a musical realm. It's more-or-less mental, as their comatose bodies are still in the real world, but it is possible for Cisco to vibe people there.
    • A Shout-Out to the Lois & Clark episode "Virtually Destroyed," where Clark was trapped in a computer simulation but without his powers, in his case, because the world's creator didn't know he was Superman.
  • Trickster Mentor: Music Meister pulls Kara and Barry into the musical in order to help them overcome the problems they have with their respective loved ones. He also uses Barry and Kara's powers to pull a robbery in order to help Wally get over the trauma he experienced whilst in the Speed Force.
  • True Love's Kiss: Iris and Mon-El kissing Barry and Kara pulls them out of the musical world.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Barry serenades Iris before properly popping the question. He still forgets to ask Joe first, though.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Tommy and Millie are all but gone when the two rival gangs confront each other.
    • A very easy-to-miss in-universe example, similar to the Trope Namer: When Music Meister takes off his jacket in preparation for his first song, a bewildered Barry notes that the tossed-to-the side jacket apparently vanishes, asking "Where'd it go?"
  • White Shirt of Death: Barry's white dress shirt in the musical sure shows off that gunshot wound nicely.
  • Win to Exit: Variation. Kara and Barry have to finish the musical's story in order to escape from it.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Music Meister claims that if Barry and Kara die in their musical dream, they die in reality. Given his later statements, it is unclear whether this would actually have happened.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: After Millie and Tommy confess to their fathers that they are in love, their fathers seem to be accepting of it. However, when the children are out of earshot, they each announce that they are going to war with one another.


Video Example(s):


Mob Boss Trio

In this episode's rendition of "More I Cannot Wish You" from 'Guys and Dolls', Jesse L. Martin and Victor Garber's characters sing separately from John Barrowman's character.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DistantDuet

Media sources: