NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
The Flash is really struggling to recapture the momentum of its especially superb first two seasons by this point. The show is coming off of a particularly rough fifth season to boot, one that felt shaky from the ground up, due to its lacklustre arch-villain, and repeated efforts to downgrade Barry’s common sense as much as it could, in order to move the storyline along. Fortunately, The Flash at least managed to cap off its otherwise problematic fifth season with a pretty great season finale though, and this nicely leads into a sixth season premiere that actually manages to keep up most of that improved quality.
A big part of this is how effectively the show picks up in the wake of the big tragedy that Barry and Iris suffer during the Season Five finale. With Nora now being erased from the timeline, at least the future-era Nora that Barry and Iris once knew, the two must try and pick up in the wake of their daughter’s erasure, which isn’t even a true death, since they both know that they’ll eventually see Nora again at some point in the future. The two having distinct, but complementary reactions to the loss of Nora is also great, as Barry starts pushing Team Flash especially hard to save lives, while Iris becomes unwilling to part with any of Nora’s old possessions, particularly her XS jacket, which Joe accidentally throws out after Cecile forces him to go through his things.
This also has the benefit of introducing Central City’s latest metahuman threat to boot, at least, beyond a cool, but ultimately unresolved intro with Godspeed. Yes, Godspeed has apparently returned, somehow, but not the main August Heart version of him. Instead, various Godspeed clones have started to menace Central City, which Team Flash has been sending to Iron Heights as they appear. Another interesting wrinkle is that the Godspeed clones can’t speak, and only make modem-esque noise when someone talks to them. It’s an intriguing mystery that the show just pushes aside almost as soon as it’s brought up, which is an odd choice, but whatever. At least Central City’s latest metahuman-of-the-week, Chester B. Runk, makes for a compelling obstacle, becoming catatonic after he accidentally opens a small black hole and touches it, which results in more black holes opening up at key points in Central City.
Chester B. Runk becomes a morbidly obese anti-hero of sorts in DC Comics lore, going under the identity of, “Chunk”, but that doesn’t appear to happen in the case of the Arrowverse. Instead, Chester is merely a science-themed influencer that accidentally ends up a victim of his own scrap-fueled creation, which leads to Barry and Cisco formulating a way to destroy the black holes, even if Cisco eventually confesses that destroying the black holes will kill Chester. Barry and Cisco debating the ethics of whether or not to kill Chester, especially since Barry doesn’t want to see any more losses, makes for another episode highlight, one that built well off of Barry’s grief, and Cisco giving up his powers as Vibe. Despite Cisco now being a regular person however, Kamilla has since joined Team Flash in a manner of speaking to compensate, providing support, at least for Cisco.
Caitlin also gets an interesting subplot in this episode, even if she’s pulling double duty, namely by having to introduce a new major villain, while also spearheading a subplot with Killer Frost. After reuniting with an old med school colleague at his mother’s funeral, Caitlin goes to Jitters to meet said colleague, Ramsey Rosso (played by Heroes alum, Sendhil Ramamurthy), and learns that he has a revolutionary cure for a rare and aggressive form of leukemia. Since Ramsey wants to get access to S.T.A.R. Labs’ dark matter in order to complete his research however, Caitlin ends up refusing him, and this leads to Ramsey going to illicit means to finish his experiment. Inevitably, Ramsey ends up accidentally mutating himself in the process, and while we don’t see the results yet, avid DC Comics fans will know that the character is now becoming Bloodwork, a newer foe of The Flash from DC’s current Rebirth era, who has the power to control blood, and create super dangerous and super powerful blood constructs. Yikes!
Like the Godspeed material though, the Bloodwork establishment doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the episode’s events, and feels like it’s primarily there because it simply has to be, in order to set up the requisite new threat to Team Flash for Season Six. Fortunately, the rest of Caitlin’s storytelling fares better, which involves Ralph returning from the missing persons case that he had begun to investigate during the Season Five finale, only to realize that Killer Frost is no longer coming out on demand for Caitlin. It turns out that Killer Frost is becoming dispassionate about constantly bailing Caitlin out of a fight and little else, so Ralph talks Caitlin into letting Killer Frost take control and live her own life every so often. This feels like a blatant rip-off of the Hulk storyline from Avengers: Infinity War, which will no doubt be distracting to superhero enthusiasts, but at least the alternating style between Caitlin and Killer Frost is a switch from the ‘Professor Hulk’ solution from Avengers: Endgame.
The Flash is still shaking off a few issues from last season, but it’s also continuing to benefit from the satisfying resolutions that Season Five’s finale at least managed to present. “Into the Void” may result in Barry saving the day in the end, as usual, but the use of Team Flash’s smarts, and Barry’s latest moral epiphany, to prevail against a threat that was more than just the latest metahuman thug, made for a great change of pace. The shaky villain material with Godspeed and Bloodwork may not have served this episode’s storyline very well, but at least it presents a clear and determined effort to efficiently move on from The Flash’s failed Cicada storyline from last season. Speaking of moving on, the Monitor finally paying a visit to Barry and Iris at the end of the episode, to warn Barry that the events of his coming disappearance have moved up to 2019, and that Barry can’t stop his inevitable demise, also presented a great tease for the events of this December’s and January’s crossover episodes. This is especially true after the Monitor was disappointingly absent from The Flash’s Season Five finale, despite appearing in the previous season finales for Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. There’s a lot to unpack and look forward to for The Flash’s sixth season it seems, both regarding the upcoming crossover and beyond, and hopefully this means that the show is finally getting back on track after years off its A-game.
- Barry's and Iris' difficult grieving over the loss of Nora
- Creative black hole obstacle through Chester
- Killer Frost getting a chance to lead her own independent existence
- Godspeed intro is too quickly pushed aside
- Bloodwork's introduction is cliched and doesn't mesh well with the rest of events