NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
It’s taken five whole episodes to finally conclude The Flash’s latest crossover event, Armageddon, but alas, we’ve made it. “Armageddon, Part 5” concludes both the crossover and The Flash’s 2021 run of episodes, beginning a lengthy gap that will eventually see the series move to Wednesday nights in 2022, following it staying off the air until early March. Ideally, DC fans and fans of this show would get a solid final tease before next year’s run of episodes too, though if I’m being honest, “Armageddon, Part 5” feels like a somewhat shaky end to a fairly uneven crossover.
Despite that, this climactic episode for Armageddon is built around a compelling hook, even after its eponymous future event has already been averted by Barry; Thawne is beginning to fade from the timeline, and needs Barry’s help to be restored. This charges Team Flash with a very interesting dilemma; Do they allow their archenemy to die, particularly after he’s promised to keep finding ways to kill Barry after he’s cosmically mended? This situation gains additional depth once Mia Queen comes to 2021 from the future as well, seemingly having been restored in the timeline after Barry averts Armageddon. Just like her late father, Oliver Queen, Mia has no sympathy for Thawne to boot, instead quickly stressing to Team Flash’s long-running members that they shouldn’t feel bad about Thawne being left to get what he deserves.
Considering that Mia’s planned Arrow spin-off series, Green Arrow & The Canaries wasn’t ultimately picked up, it’s satisfying to see her finally return to the Arrowverse, allowing us to get a bit of closure after Green Arrow & The Canaries’ failed backdoor pilot teased a 2040’s-era mystery for Mia, her brother, William, and Team Arrow veterans, Laurel Lance and Dinah Drake. After the events of that failed pilot, William has apparently been missing for two years in the 2040’s, with Mia subsequently picking up a time trail that leads her back to 2021, only to learn that the trail was left by Thawne, not William. This puts Mia back to square one, and leaves her extra suggestible to psychic intervention by Despero, once Despero learns that Thawne may be preserved in the end.
Admittedly, Barry, Iris and Caitlin originally deciding to let Thawne die, while Allegra and Chester insist that Team Flash should try to save him, is a smart, chilling way to spotlight the depth of scars that Thawne has left on Team Flash’s longest-serving members, scars that have yet to be inflicted on Allegra and Chester. This conflict even gets a pretty strong resolution once Joe gets involved, with Jesse L. Martin delivering an especially passionate performance in this episode, after an angered Joe insists that Barry and Iris shouldn’t even be considering abandoning Thawne to his fate. As much as this episode’s narrative can feel a bit rushed, Barry modifying the plan to instead sap Thawne of his speed, just as Black Lightning did to Barry after Barry believed himself to be unstable and destructive a couple of episodes back, is a worthwhile result, creating both an interesting way to keep Thawne intact in the Arrowverse, while also allowing Team Flash to nonetheless neutralize the threat of the Reverse Flash, at least for now.
Where, “Armageddon, Part 5” tends to whiff however is its true threat, Despero. Despero’s apparent turn as an anti-hero for the Arrowverse was initially intriguing, but, rather infuriatingly, The Flash ultimately wimps out of this idea. Instead, Barry explains in a throwaway line that he figured out Despero is a despot and a dictator on his home planet, and that he’s no different than Thawne. If that’s true though, why does Despero care so much about the fate of Earth? Why would Despero be so concerned about the threat of Thawne? Despero’s motivations are ultimately cloudy and ill-defined, and that makes Barry’s final battle with him, exciting as it looks (by CW standards), ring a bit hollow. The final blow being dealt by Barry running really high and jumping on Despero, which somehow creates a ‘vacuum’ that severs Despero’s connection from the Flame of Py’tar, also feels idiotic, reeking once again of blatant CW budget constraints.
Even Mia being temporarily possessed by Despero’s psychic influence quickly amounts to nothing. In fact, it feels like the rest of this episode doesn’t know what to do with Mia once Team Flash decides to save Thawne, in turn eventually de-powering him, and handing him off to A.R.G.U.S. custody. In the end, Mia being led to 2021 simply feels like an excuse to place her in the present day, now that her spin-off series isn’t happening, so that she can be more readily available for future Arrowverse crossovers. That’s fair, I suppose. Plus, I will admit that Mia was used more effectively than most of this crossover’s previous guest personalities were, most of whom were sadly wasted in storylines that didn’t truly need them.
Speaking of wasted personalities, Damien Darhk also inexplicably lingers in 2021, following Barry averting Armageddon in Thawne’s altered future. Darhk remains marked for death, but since his daughter still hasn’t been restored in the timeline yet, Darhk feels that he has unfinished business in the true present. This is completely pointless, and once again plays out a dramatic farewell sequence for Darhk after Nora Darhk is later restored in the timeline. Seriously, this is becoming self-parody at this point! Darhk has already ‘died’ on Arrow once, and Legends of Tomorrow, twice! The Arrowverse went through this redemptive farewell sequence for Darhk already, twice! Why won’t the Arrowverse just allow Darhk to rest in peace?! Again, I did love the fact that Darhk came back for Thawne’s ‘Reverse-Flashpoint’, which was clever, especially when it allowed Darhk to excel as the surprise hero of this crossover event. That said however, Darhk came back within a false timeline, and he should have stayed there. There’s absolutely no reason to bring Darhk back to life a third time in the true Arrowverse continuity, just so he can have a third emotional death moment, with the only difference this time being that said moment happens on The Flash, rather than Legends of Tomorrow.
I must say as well that Armageddon’s final tease is really underwhelming. Despero makes a threat to Earth that so far feels empty, and a subsequent post-credits stinger reveals that the timeline has remained altered after Thawne’s ‘Reverse-Flashpoint’ was eliminated, now placing Nora West-Allen and Bart West-Allen in 2014, during the time of The Flash’s Arrowverse origins. This will no doubt be explored when The Flash is back on the air in March, but for now, it’s not much of an exciting tease, continuing to leave The Flash’s current mysteries with a feeling of being tired and played out by the show’s eighth season. “Armageddon, Part 5” sadly fails to dispel this feeling in general, even if it does give Mia Queen a worthwhile excuse to stay in 2021 for now.
We don’t even have a clear idea of what kind of enemy or obstacle is set to face Team Flash next either. Even so, The Flash doesn’t currently have enough momentum to properly leave fans on the edge of their seats anyway. I still wouldn’t say that Armageddon was a bad crossover event overall, but it is probably the weakest Arrowverse crossover since Heroes Join Forces from all the way back in 2015, ultimately failing to make totally effective use of an exciting DC villain debut, or even most of its featured Arrowverse guests.
- Team Flash being forced to debate whether Thawne is worth saving
- Some welcome resolution for Mia after the failed Green Arrow & The Canaries pilot
- Thawne being de-powered and incarcerated at A.R.G.U.S.
- Despero's ultimate motivations are too ill-defined
- Damien Darhk briefly enduring in the timeline is pointless and stupid