NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
Central City faced an unprecedented threat during last week’s episode of The Flash, after a behemoth that was immune to all manner of attacks walloped Barry, and killed Abra Kadabra. Naturally, Team Flash is quite shaken by this turn of events, with Barry re-tasking all of the resources at S.T.A.R. Labs to hunting the isotropic signature left by the mysterious attacker. As it turns out, I was correct in assuming that the behemoth was Fuerza as well, the main avatar for the Strength Force in DC Comics lore, which more or less confirms that the alternative elemental forces to the Speed Force are indeed being introduced into the Arrowverse this season!
Fuerza didn’t reappear on The Flash this week, but even so, the series directed another Speed Force sibling at Central City in its latest episode, as an all-powerful psychic attacker begins to menace people with waves of fear. “Fear Me” begins with a seemingly mundane new metahuman encounter, but said encounter spirals into a major wave of chaos for Central City and Team Flash, as the fear-wielding metahuman quickly reveals himself as far more than he initially appears! Avid DC Comics fans may even recognize this mysterious masked character as Psych, an identity soon confirmed by Cisco. Psych just so happens to be the main conduit of the Sage Force in DC Comics lore!
For those unaware, the Sage Force is the embodiment of all intelligence and sentient reasoning in the DC Universe. Think of it like the Marvel Universe’s Mind Stone, if it literally encompassed every sentient thing in existence. With power like that at his disposal, it’s small wonder that all of Team Flash’s defensive technology, from meta cuffs to mental dampeners, all proves useless against Psych, who instead overwhelms Barry and his friends with nightmarish visions that even cause severe psychosomatic reactions; Barry sees his friends dying after an attack by Fuerza, Reverse-Flash and Savitar, Frost sees Caitlin turning her in to the police, and Cisco claims to see Kamilla in danger, but it seems fairly apparent that he’s lying. Did Cisco foresee a greater disaster to come for Team Flash, one so horrible that he doesn’t even want to bring it up?
This is what elevates Psych from being a boilerplate villain-of-the-week to a truly imposing Sage Force conduit; Psych isn’t just amplifying and tapping into people’s fears, but even seems to be showing them active threats that are in their futures! This is exemplified after Kristen Kramer, the government logistics inspector that Joe was warned about, stops by the CCPD building. Iris is suspicious of Kramer, but Joe waves off her concerns, until he does decide to confront Kramer about her shady military background, at which point Kramer reveals that she’s been hired to arrest Frost. Seeing that Frost had just recently witnessed Caitlin turning her in to the CCPD via Psych’s visions beforehand, this would seemingly indicate that Psych has foreseen future dangers to come, and is layering them into his fear-based attacks on Central City!
The solution that Team Flash eventually employs to deal with Psych is pretty cool though, calling back to Cecile recently discovering new depths to her empathic abilities at the start of this season. After Psych prepares to overwhelm all of Central City with a wave of fear and chaos, Cecile is put in the Thinker’s chair, at which point she, with some help from Barry, reverses Psych’s mental energy, which seemingly leads to Psych being unable to maintain his presence in the city. Yes, it would appear that Psych was never physically present, and was seemingly using the Sage Force to mentally manifest in Central City from some other location. Could this be a hint that The Flash may be introducing Psych’s villain-run home country, Zandia to the Arrowverse? That would be pretty cool!
In any case, after the recent attacks by Psych and Fuerza, one can imagine that the resurrected Speed Force is a bit worse for wear. In case it wasn’t apparent, the sentient Speed Force has come back from the dead in full, thanks to Barry and Iris, resulting in Barry’s late mother’s form once again materializing in S.T.A.R. Labs. Fittingly referred to as ‘Nora’ at this point, the Speed Force does spend most of this episode comatose, but she does end things off by warning that Fuerza and Psych are just like her. This is our confirmation that the Strength Force and the Sage Force at least have been awakened in the Arrowverse, perhaps with the Still Force in tow. Considering that the Still Force’s main conduit, Turtle was killed in the Arrowverse several seasons ago however, one has to wonder if another of the myriad changes to The Flash’s new post-Crisis home universe, Earth-Prime is restoring Turtle to life.
All in all, The Flash seems to have fully hit its stride again, and that positive momentum continued with another exciting episode this week! The only weak point in the storytelling here is the fact that the show quickly threw up its hands at Caitlin wanting to merge back with Frost, which is solved by a quick pep talk. Take a shot. It’s too bad that the series couldn’t mine anything more interesting from this short-lived conflict, but at least the appearance of Kristen Kramer at the CCPD precinct nicely foreshadows big trouble for Frost in the near future. Even more interesting is the probability that Psych’s dangerous visions are legitimate premonitions as well, which could indicate that Frost will indeed eventually be betrayed by her, “Sister.” I’d definitely be interested to see the intense circumstances under which Caitlin would have Frost sent to Iron Heights, that’s for sure!
“Fear Me” delivers another strong debut for an opposing Force, one that employs creative thinking and intriguing storytelling to quickly help Psych stand out among the ocean of C-list DC villains that The Flash has burned through by its current seventh season. Psych may have been driven away for now, but his lingering impacts on Team Flash are felt even more than those of Fuerza, especially for Frost, who is now being actively targeted by some sort of government authority. The biggest emotional turn in this episode however is Barry admitting to Cecile that, for the first time in years, he’s legitimately scared of what Team Flash is up against. Exploring that fear both in and out of Psych’s hallucinations is a nice way to hammer home just how unstable the dimensional fabric of the Arrowverse is becoming even Post-Crisis, at least around Central City.
I don’t think Barry’s going to be able to solve this problem with a pep talk.
- Psych is a creative, imposing villain
- The Speed Force re-manifesting at S.T.A.R. Labs
- Kramer revealing her troubling agenda to Joe
- Caitlin/Frost conflict is barely developed