NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash”, including a major character death, are present in this review
I have to hand it to the writers for The Flash. This show was in a very unfortunate position going into this week’s premature season finale, having lost three episodes to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and leaving a big climactic showdown with Eva McCulloch/Mirror Master II considerably compromised. Despite that hefty disadvantage however, “Success is Assured” ends up being a surprisingly good, fitting way to end The Flash’s abruptly shortened sixth season, even when it entails stretching out the conflict against Eva even further, and leaving us with no payoff to that battle until at least January.
A big advantage to suddenly having to re-purpose, “Success is Assured” into the Season Six finale is the fact that it chronicles Eva finally taking her chance to strike at her husband. Now that Eva has found a way to function in the normal world again, thanks to a reflective costume (a neat justification for Eva completing her ‘Mirror Master’ identity from her male counterpart, Evan McCulloch of DC Comics lore), she takes the opportunity to turn all three of Black Hole’s light-based metahuman fixers, leaving Carver with no means of defending himself, and no means of reliably escaping Eva. This forces Carver to demand witness protection from the CCPD, which Barry eventually agrees to.
Like the rest of Team Flash, Barry has found himself reeling from the heavy losses that the team has sustained from Eva’s plot, particularly his separation from Iris. After the Singh duplicate offers Barry his wife back, in exchange for allowing Eva to kill Carver, this is something that Barry honestly considers as well, despite every past Wells doppelganger in Nash’s brain telling him that the Barry they knew would never do this. I wish that this episode had more time to really dive into Barry’s moral compass going askew from Iris’ absence, but Nash ultimately intervenes, using some of his tech to warp everyone back to S.T.A.R. Labs, before Carver proposes hiding out at the McCulloch Technologies building.
This ends up serving as a surprisingly great story turn for The Flash’s premature season finale. Despite Carver putting up an ionic force field and hiding in a panic room with Barry, to try and repel Eva’s advance, Eva and her trio of metahumans easily infiltrate the building anyway. This leads to a very stylish, surprisingly intense battle in the lobby of McCulloch Technologies, reduced to emergency lighting as Sunshine, Ultraviolet and Doctor Light all battle against McCulloch Technologies’ guards, Ralph, Allegra and Nash. Barry is unfortunately unable to participate in this extended fight sequence, due to his waning speed, but he is at least present to try and protect Carver when Eva inevitably infiltrates the panic room… Only to fail miserably. The result is Carver being killed by Eva, who calls off her metahuman enforcers, and agrees to leave Team Flash in peace. Barry, naturally, isn’t quite so keen to let Eva’s crimes go unanswered though.
Even with this episode not being originally meant to serve as The Flash’s sixth season finale, the fallout from Carver’s murder, and Eva’s success, nonetheless leads to a bit of a darker, downbeat end to the season, one that ends up working pretty effectively. With Carver now dead, the Singh duplicate sacrificing himself to get Eva inside McCulloch Technologies beforehand, and Team Flash defeated (for now), Eva returns to the public eye, spinning a story about being held hostage by Black Hole, and her husband sacrificing his life for her. Eva then re-assumes her role as CEO of McCulloch Technologies, with Sunshine, Doctor Light and Ultraviolet now on her payroll, and Black Hole’s remaining assets no doubt under her command as well. In a way, this works even better than Team Flash somehow finding a way to defeat Eva and Black Hole by the end of Season Six, creating a more realistic and protracted struggle to unseat Eva’s huge new power position in the months ahead, which can be nicely illustrated during the Season Seven premiere for The Flash, when it airs in January.
If there is a compromise to having to re-tool this episode into a season finale that it wasn’t originally planned to be, it’s the fact that a few subplots end up being lost in the shuffle of creating a worthy climax for Carver’s last stand at McCulloch Technologies. I already mentioned that Barry’s emotional compromise over Iris being lost in the Mirrorverse is a little hurried through, and similarly, Iris and Kamilla trying to locate the real Singh more or less feels like an afterthought here. Iris being able to interpret the Mirrorverse monitors does make her teleport away from Kamilla somehow, which is an interesting epilogue tease, but it would have been ideal if Iris and Kamilla didn’t feel tacked on to an episode that does plenty well without them. Likewise, Frost finally meeting Carla, and Caitlin going to the Arctic for her recovery procedure, makes for some sweet, heartwarming material, but it doesn’t end up doing much for this climactic storyline. Finally, Ralph and Sue also end up reunited once again, with Sue taking her parents’ place in Black Hole, only to be framed by Eva for Carver’s murder in the end. This is a very cool turn, but it would have been ideal if Sue was given a little more time in Black Hole, before she’s forced to become a fugitive, for real this time.
Even with some of these hurried, undercooked subplots however, The Flash pulls off a miracle in the end, managing to create a premature season finale that doesn’t feel heavily compromised, and still provides a worthy, satisfying end to Season Six. “Success is Assured” cements Eva as one of the best arch-villains that The Flash has featured in recent years, with Team Flash fighting valiantly to save her doomed husband, only to fail, and see Eva’s entire revenge plan succeed with flying colours. What remains of Team Flash nonetheless tries to find renewed hope when it comes to rescuing Iris, Kamilla and Singh from the Mirrorverse though, with Joe even re-joining them, now that Carver is dead. This, paired with Sue being framed for Carver’s murder, and Caitlin/Frost going to spend quality time with Carla in the Arctic, makes for an ideal finale position for The Flash’s characters at least, as the show settles into a long eight or so months off the air, at best. The CW has had to make some tough compromises for the Arrowverse shows that weren’t lucky enough to complete production before the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shut down almost the entire television industry, but, “Success is Assured” mercifully proves that the compromised seasons can adapt, while still creating plenty of reasons to look forward to the Arrowverse’s return in 2021.
- Barry's principles wavering from Iris' absence
- Awesome climactic battle at McCulloch Technologies
- Surprisingly great resolution for the heroes and villains alike
- The subplots often feel rushed