NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash”, including multiple major character deaths, are present in this review
It’s been a surprisingly long wait for the first post-pandemic season of The Flash this year, but finally, Season 7 of the fan-favourite DC superhero drama has arrived! While Batwoman, Black Lightning and the newly-launched Superman & Lois all had a head start within The CW’s Arrowverse series catalogue, The Flash is primed to make the biggest splash among superhero TV enthusiasts, considering that it managed to end its abruptly-shortened sixth season on a surprisingly strong note. The series did so by setting up Eva McCulloch/Mirror Master II as arguably the best arch-villain it’s featured in a long time, simultaneously leaving Barry with his powers nearly permanently drained, while Iris remains trapped in Eva’s ‘MirrorVerse’. This may have been a surprisingly gloomy ending for The Flash’s sixth season, but it did at least come with the promise that Season 7 would be packed with exciting drama, and no shortage of stakes.
I assume that will eventually be the case, but it’s nonetheless also true that, “All’s Wells That Ends Wells” doesn’t quite deliver on that outstanding promise as Season 7’s big kick-off. This season premiere was clearly meant to be just another episode in Season 6, rendering it a bit of an awkward premiere for The Flash’s seventh season, one that carries itself on several astonishing retcons, along with a legitimately impactful exit for a veteran member of Team Flash. These big changes to several key characters often work to mixed effect, opening up a few plot holes, while jarring fans in several respects, especially where the heroes are concerned. Some of these twists are great, mind you, but a few of them feel unnecessary, especially with Team Flash currently feeling like it’s already in flux with the start of Season 7.
I will say however that Eva continues to dominate the series as its latest arch-villain! We see even more impressive displays of her powers right from the jump here, including leaping through glass buildings, and deftly outrunning an ever-weakening Barry. Eva makes a huge power grab against Black Hole in this episode as well, declaring it her mission to destroy anything related to her late husband’s crooked organization. Among these power moves is cornering original Mirror Master, Sam Scudder, and shattering him to pieces with her Mirror Gun! The fact that The Flash so suddenly killed off its original Mirror Master is shocking enough, but even more shocking is the surprisingly casual reveal by Eva that Scudder was never a real person, and was a creation of hers the entire time! Damn! This means that Eva is, and always has been, the one true Mirror Master of the Arrowverse, with Sam Scudder merely being an inferior copy made from a fraction of her abilities. It’s almost a little meta when you think about it, considering that The Flash has never really allowed Scudder to explore most of his powers’ potential, something that Eva has already achieved with aplomb.
The twists with the villains don’t stop there either! After Cecile tries to get Rosa Dillon/Top to give up the location of some Black Hole tech that Eva is apparently trying to blow up, thus threatening a big chunk of Central City with debris from a cargo plane, Rosa instead reveals something else to Cecile; She knows about Cecile’s empath abilities! Not only that, but Rosa started out as an empath too, and has apparently been holding back with her powers the whole time, as she displays when she makes Cecile become lost in intense insecurity and emptiness. By the sounds of things, it looks like The Flash wants to make its gender-swapped Top a more dangerous, imposing enemy, rather than a poor person’s Count Vertigo. I guess that’s a good thing, but Rosa hiding most of her powers this whole time, apparently just to make Sam Scudder look superior, feels like total bullshit! If Rosa had these incredible psychic abilities the whole time, well beyond her vertigo powers, it really begs the question of how Team Flash was ever able to defeat and capture her during their recent encounters. Hell, why did Rosa even stay in Iron Heights, if she could so easily entrance the guards into letting her out?! Sure, she had some sort of racket going on in there, but she could have easily run things from outside prison!
In fact, the entire conflict behind this Season 7 premiere for The Flash feels a tad wonky. I get that blowing up a plane over Central City will cause a good chunk of damage, but the characters making it sound like Eva is going to detonate a nuke in the middle of town feels like a pretty big exaggeration! Moreover, establishing Cecile as a much more powerful psychic than indicated does have some promise for future episodes, but why would Rosa expose the fact that she’s had one hand tied behind her back to a member of Team Flash? This is only done so that Cecile can force the location of Black Hole’s plane out of Rosa, just in time for Barry to inevitably regain his speed. How does he manage this, you ask? By having Nash Wells sacrifice his life, in order to be an, “Organic Receptor” that will permanently trap the multiversal particles of the dead pre-Crisis Wells incarnations into the power source of the Artificial Speed Force.
Okay, if that made your head hurt a bit, you’re not the only one! It definitely seems like The Flash somewhat wrote itself into a corner with Barry’s diminishing speed, and the subsequent solution is pretty bonkers, even by the standards of the Arrowverse! Essentially, all of the former pre-Crisis doppelgangers of Harrison Wells have lingered in Nash Wells’ mind, possibly because of his time as Pariah during The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event. This gives Nash the unique ability to use those doppelgangers’ displaced energy to permanently power a new Speed Force for Barry, but this can also only be completed by Nash sacrificing his life. Essentially, it’s yet another contrived way for the writers to once again shuffle Tom Cavanagh’s role on The Flash, seemingly permanently setting Cavanagh up to play Eobard Thawne, since any other Wells incarnation now appears to be dead. Either way, Nash’s sacrifice, while a little hurried and head-scratching, is a legitimately emotional moment for the show, as he makes the last-second decision to sacrifice himself and restore Barry’s speed, allowing Barry to rush up and toss away Eva’s bomb on the Black Hole jet, thus saving… Well, I guess a few lives?
In any case, now that Barry is finally fully restored as The Flash, giving him a fighting chance against Eva and her increasingly aggressive agenda against Black Hole, the most pressing problem now facing Team Flash is the fact that Iris, Kamilla and Singh remain trapped in the MirrorVerse. Disappointingly, there wasn’t much of an update offered on this end either. Iris struggles with hallucinations of Barry, as her mind continues to unravel, before confronting the fact that Eva can watch her wherever she goes, and appears to be manipulating Iris with her own self-doubt. Iris then tells Kamilla to meet her in the Speed Lab, and that’s about it for this week.
More interesting on this end is the fact that Eva discovers a mysterious file on her husband’s computer between tormenting Iris, which reveals security footage towards the end of this episode that carries a shocking truth; Eva McCulloch actually did die on the night of the Particle Accelerator explosion! It turns out that Carver was speaking literally when he claimed that Eva died six years ago, not metaphorically! Thus, the ‘Eva’ that’s currently menacing Black Hole and Central City is actually a fake mirror duplicate, which explains her faulty memory, and why she doesn’t seem to be as drastically affected by the MirrorVerse as Iris or Kamilla.
Eva being revealed as a mirror copy, after the real Eva died six years previous, is arguably the best of The Flash’s several retcons throughout its Season 7 premiere. Beyond that, there were a few other great moments too, including Nash’s ultimate sacrifice to restore Barry’s speed (even if it made very little sense in the storytelling), and Barry being temporarily possessed by the various Wells doppelgangers, which gave Grant Gustin a hilarious opportunity to perform several highly amusing Tom Cavanagh impersonations! Despite that however, “All’s Wells That Ends Wells” isn’t quite as successful in its efforts to reinvent Rosa Dillon or Cecile, especially when Rosa logically should have been a far more dangerous foe during past battles. Likewise, Iris’ confrontation with her other selves largely goes nowhere for now, and simply takes up space in the runtime.
That being said, there’s plenty of time for The Flash to restore itself to top speed in the weeks ahead. Now that Barry’s powers are back in top form most notably, and Eva continues to be a pressing danger, all while Team Flash remains without answers regarding the ongoing Godspeed conspiracy (oh yeah, I haven’t forgotten about that!), there’s plenty of exciting conflicts to look forward to during The Flash’s 2021 run, even while the series has currently been cut off from both DC’s live-action multiverse, and a new crossover to anchor.
The Flash finally kicks off its seventh season this week, delivering some uneven retcons, and a bittersweet solution for restoring Barry's speed.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Gustin's amusing Wells impersonations
Eva learning that she was never a real person
Nash's bittersweet sacrifice
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
The circumstances behind Nash's sacrifice feel a bit forced
Rosa's retcon begs the question of how Team Flash could logically capture her