NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review

 

 

The Flash is kicking off its fashionably late start to Season 8 with a minor, but no less noteworthy crossover event; Armageddon. Adapting the moniker of a DC Comics event of the same name, albeit nothing else from it at this point, “Armageddon, Part 1” picks up several months after the conclusion of Team Flash’s battle against Godspeed. Since then, the team has been focused on, “Leveling up”, while Barry himself is doing better than ever as a superhero, freshly emboldened by regular visits from his future children, as well as Iris flourishing just the same at the expanding Central City Citizen. After a sequence of events that begins with old friend, Ray Palmer coming to Central City however, a major alien threat descends upon the city, with a dire warning that The Flash will destroy the world in ten years.

As far as crossover events go, Armageddon remains smaller in scope than many of the Arrowverse’s previous crossover events, particularly since it’s entirely contained to The Flash, rather than being spread across several Arrowverse shows, as per usual. This event also gets off to a disappointingly sluggish start in, “Armageddon, Part 1”, which doesn’t truly pick up until its final ten minutes or so. As nice as it is to see Ray Palmer again as well, it feels like Ray’s role in the storyline is disappointingly superfluous here. This is because Ray is relegated to a fairly trite subplot with Chester, while Barry is instead left to hunt the show’s latest metahuman-of-the-week threat by himself, the Royal Flush Gang.

Yes, apparently, Central City has its own version of the Royal Flush Gang, despite the fact that these iconic DC criminals were previously portrayed as a different group of regular human thieves on Arrow many years ago. Perhaps Central City having a metahuman Royal Flush Gang is another Post-Crisis revision on Earth-Prime? In any case, after the Royal Flush Gang are revealed as an OG metahuman threat, apparently first becoming active while Barry was in a coma following his lightning strike in 2013 (this is a potentially cool story angle that The Flash has yet to truly explore with its minor metahuman criminals), they steal a hi-tech computer chip, possibly suggesting that they’ve changed their MO from being casino thieves to becoming tech thieves.

In an ordinary episode of The Flash, this new Royal Flush Gang would have made for interesting villains-of-the-week. It’s just too bad that they have to be crammed into a crossover event that seems like it’s intentionally dragging its feet with its first episode, in order to maximize its five-episode span. The twist of the Royal Flush Gang hiding their MO using cryptocurrency thefts is at least decent, especially when it ties into Chester organizing a tech conference, which Ray also attends as a guest speaker. Unfortunately, because this tech conference must also serve as the backdrop through which to introduce Armageddon’s main antagonist, Despero, a major DC villain that’s a surprisingly big get for the Arrowverse, none of this episode’s story arcs manage to come together in a satisfying way, at least not before Ray suits up as the Atom again, in order to assist Barry in repelling Despero during his initial attack.

Before that decent, if short-lived climax against Despero, Ray is simply left to mope about no longer being a Legend, or that he doesn’t want to start up another tech company. This isn’t exactly an uplifting peek at post-Legend life for one of the OG Legends of Tomorrow characters, frankly. Chester’s efforts to surprise Ray with an opportunity to fund young scientists also ends up scaring Ray off pretty fast, leading to the latest unfortunate example of the heroes inadvertently picking on Chester. Somehow, Ray is inspired to, “Find a middle ground” after fighting Despero however, and he agrees to start a non-profit in the name of Chester’s father, though none of this feels like it matters, because Ray immediately leaves Central City at the end of this episode anyway. This is frustrating, and it feels like a waste to bring Brandon Routh back to the Arrowverse for this crossover event, only to give him practically nothing to do.

The remaining subplot in this episode also feels like a bust, sadly. Iris decides to promote Allegra to the position of being a managing editor at the Central City Citizen, despite Allegra protesting that she doesn’t have enough experience, and doesn’t know what she’s doing. Iris giving Allegra an esteemed staff position and trusting her on a whim is supposed to be sweet, but it doesn’t work at all, because Allegra is correct– She hasn’t actually earned this new editor position, and the more qualified reporters under her are right not to trust Allegra or follow her lead. In fact, Iris probably should have gotten even more blowback for this move, because Allegra’s promotion is blatant nepotism! This is the show’s latest forced effort to try and make us like Allegra as it struggles to find her place in the narrative following Nash’s and Ultraviolet’s deaths, and in the process, it only makes Iris look more incompetent, and less realistic as a credible news leader.

Armageddon has barely started however, so there is time to right the ship. Like I said as well, the last ten minutes of, “Armageddon, Part 1” are pretty great for the most part, even if they mesh poorly with the thirty minutes of filler material that precede them. There’s a fairly strong hook behind the five-episode event itself, but I’m not sure why The Flash couldn’t just dive into it, rather than trying to drag things out with more everyday Team Flash conflicts for the first episode, which only go to waste Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow alum, Ray Palmer’s brief return to the Arrowverse. At least the Arrowverse’s take on Despero proves to be interesting so far, making the character more of a potentially misguided anti-hero than a full-on villain. We’ll have to see how that plays out over the remaining four episodes of Armageddon, now that Barry only has seven days to prove that he won’t in fact be the instrument of Earth-Prime’s destruction.

The Flash Season 8 Premiere Part 1: "Armageddon, Part 1" Crossover Review
The Flash kicks off its five-episode Armageddon crossover event on a disappointingly shaky note with, "Armageddon, Part 1", too often wasting the brief return of former Legend, Ray Palmer.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Some fun moments with the Royal Flush Gang
  • Interesting Arrowverse take on Despero
  • Last ten minutes are pretty thrilling
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Ray's brief return is mostly wasted
  • Iris/Allegra subplot is tedious and head-scratching
  • Royal Flush Gang plot meshes poorly with the crossover
68%Overall Score
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