Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Flash Season 6, Episode 4: There Will Be Blood

This week on The Flash we get another so-so episode, filled with lots and lots of dialogue and little or no action.

I'm a bit torn over this episode. On the one hand, the producers are clearly padding things here as they kill time waiting for the Crisis On Infinite Earths to begin in December. On the other hand, there were some excellent character moments interspersed as well especially between Barry & Joe, the show's two MVPs.

I counted no less than FIVE of the series' infamous Patented The CW Pep Talks® this week. Jesus Christ! That's gotta be an all-time record! The writers must have been exhausted after writing all those lectures!

For the fourth week in a row, the writers feel compelled to extend and complicate Ramsey Russo's origin, which should have been straightforward and simple. I'm assuming they dragging it out to give us a chance to get to know him first, so his eventual evil turn will be all the more tragic. That's fine, but we didn't need four tedious weeks of it.

Lastly, it's time for another of my hilariously inaccurate theories. In the season opener, The Monitor appeared before Barry and said, "In order for billions to survive this coming Crisis, the Flash must die."

OK, we all know Barry's not really going to die here. He's the star of the show and the actor's all still have a year to go on their contracts. There's no way The CW's gonna end the series here. There's obviously gonna be a twist here somewhere.

Since Barry's the Flash, he and everyone else on the show naturally assume The Monitor's talking about him. But note that he very deliberately says "the Flash." Not "Barry Allen."

So here's my theory: What if someone besides Barry took over the mantle of the Flash and sacrificed themselves to save the universe?

In last year's Elseworlds crossover, Barry and Supergirl came up with a preposterous plan to save the world by sacrificing themselves. Oliver Queen decided the two of them deserved a better fate, and appealed to The Monitor to save them. The Monitor told him that in order to save one person he has to take another. So Oliver offers his own life in exchange for Barry's (I'm assuming Supergirl doesn't factor into the equation, since she's from a different Earth).

Even though we don't actually see it, The Monitor obviously agreed, but for some reason deferred payment until a later date. 

That later date is obviously the Crisis. I'm betting in order to restore the cosmic balance and save the universe, Oliver will don one of Barry's spare suits, become the Flash and sacrifice himself. 

How would that be possible though, since Ollie's not a speedster? Welp, the show's established the existence of Velocity 9, a dangerous drug that transforms ordinary humans (like Oliver) into speedsters. I think Ollie will gulp down a glass of Velocity 9, gain speedster powers and become the Flash in order to fulfill The Monitor's prophecy.

It makes sense. Arrow's currently in its final season, so Oilver's expendable. Plus, killing off a major character like Oliver Queen would give the crossover a real sense of weight. We'll have to wait till next year to see if I'm right, or once again way off the mark.


The Plot:
A desperate Ramsey Rosso sneaks into Central City Hospital, where he breaks into a supply room and steals several bags of blood for his research.

At STAR Labs, Team Flash can't accept the fact that Barry's destined to die during the upcoming Crisis On Infinite Earths. Cisco in particular is having trouble dealing with the news, and says they need to find a way to save him. Frost says eh, whaddya gonna do, causing Cisco to storm out.

Barry's called to the hospital to investigate the break-in. Joe's there as well, and asks if Barry's OK. He says he's worried about Cisco. Joe tells Barry to give Cisco a break, as they both want the same thing— to save lives. Somehow this gives Barry an idea.

Back at his lab, Ramsey attempts to cure his HLH by adding Mitch Romero's tar-like cells to the blood he stole. As he does so, he flashes back to his mother, who died of the same disease. Ramsey injects himself with the serum, and black blood spreads across his body, engulfing him. He falls to the floor, moaning in fear and agony.

Meanwhile at STAR, Barry tells Cisco he wants his help to save a life— Ramsey's. Cisco says that's impossible, as even he can't invent a cure for cancer. He says they'd need an act of God to do that. Right on cue, Nash Wells climbs in the window (?) and corrects Cisco, saying it'll take an act of science, not religion.

Nash explains he bugged Cisco last week and has been monitoring their conversation. He says he knows about a substance that'll cure HLH
, and will give it to them in exchange for a crypto-circuit to aid his work in thermic excavation. Technobabble!

Iris goes to Ralph's office, where she gives him a surprise— a file on Sue Dearbon. Sue's the subject of the missing person case Ralph's been unsuccessfully working on for months. He's less than thrilled with the info and halfheartedly thanks Iris, which puzzles her.

Nash, Barry & Cisco arrive at McCullogh Technologies. Nash explains there's an extra-dimensional bio-regenerative serum inside that can cure Ramsey. Barry zips off and disables the security cameras. Once he's gone, Cisco asks Nash if the serum could protect someone from anti-matter. Nash says duh, of course, and Cisco gets an idea.

They break into the building, which is riddled with meta-dampeners that prevent Barry from using his powers (convenient). They're stopped by two security guards, but Nash uses a high tech gadget to help them escape. They enter the lab where the serum's kept in a -15º storage container, and Cisco distracts the others while he pockets it. When Barry returns, Cisco says the serum's gone. Just then more guards show up, and Nash gives Barry and Cisco teleportational smoke bombs, which magically transport them all back to STAR. No, really, that happens!

Iris asks Ralph what's wrong with him. He says he gave up on the Dearbon case, as it's a lost cause. And even more so now that the Crisis is looming. He snarkily suggests Iris spend as much time with her husband as possible and walks off.

Nash tells Cisco it's too bad the serum was gone, but that he still owes him a crypto-circuit. Cisco grudgingly makes him one. Barry wonders what happened to the serum, and then sees Cisco has his own -15º containment unit. He opens it and sees the serum chilling (literally!) inside. He asks Cisco what the hell. Cisco explains he can't live without his best friend, and pocketed the serum to save Barry. This creates a rift between the two, as Barry only wanted Cisco's help to save another life. Barry gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, and Cisco hands him the serum and walks out in a huff.

Barry visits Ramsey's lab and offers him the serum. Ramsey's touched, wondering why he's doing this. Barry gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, saying he's offering him a lifeline so he can cure others of HLH. Barry then conveniently leaves, so Ramsey can test the serum by himself.

Joe visits Ralph, who says why bother trying saving Sue if he can't help Barry. Joe gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, saying his old partner Fred Chyre taught him that you can't save everybody, but you can save someone.

Cisco give the crypto-circuit to Nash, who then leaves. Frost asks if Cisco's OK, and he says he's not ready for a Flashless world. She gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling him he can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved.

Meanwhile, Ramsey tests the STAR Labs serum on his blood, but it doesn't work. He thinks back to when he accidentally killed Mitch Romero, and realizes the thug was afraid for his life and his blood was filled with adrenaline. 
Ramsey reasons that in order to make a serum that'll cure him, he needs to use blood from subjects who are terrified. And of course the only possible way to properly scare someone is to kill them! Makes perfect sense, right? There's no other way.

To that end, Ramsey returns to the hospital, his eyes an ominous shade of black.

Team Flash gets a meta-alert, and Barry and Frost zoom to the hospital. There they find a trail of dead bodies from Ramsey's kill-spree. Barry spots Ramsey draining the blood from a patient, and asks why he's doing this. Ramsey says he'll do whatever it takes to stay alive, and he can live forever as long as he feeds.

Suddenly the corpses begin to animate, somehow controlled by Ramsey. They attack Frost, but she hits them with an ice blast, knocking them on their undead asses. Ramsey grabs Dr. Rodrigo and threatens to kill him, as Barry looks on. Ramsey says the Flash may be fast, but he's faster (yeah, no). The blood zombies attack again, and this time Frost seals them behind a wall of ice.

Ramsey, who's gone completely off the rails at this point, says he's found a way to defeat death itself. He then kills Rodrigo just for kicks, and leaps out the window. Barry watches helplessly as Rodrigo dies and then reanimates. The blood zombies try to follow Ramsey, but once he gets out of range (I guess?) they all collapse into puddles of black goo.

Back at STAR, Cisco posits that Ramsey's using victims as incubators for the substance he needs to stay alive, and he'll keep on killing. Barry says their strategy's now changed— instead of saving Ramsey, they now have to stop him. Cisco apologizes to Barry and they make up.

Ralph tells Iris he's sorry he acted like a jerk, and says he's gonna use her info to find Sue after all. He tells her he might as well, as it's not like he's gonna marry her. WINK WINK!

Barry tells Joe how he tried and failed to save Ramsey, and wonders if it's worth being the Flash. Joe gives him a 
Patented The CW Pep Talk®, saying of course it's worth it, as he's done plenty of good. He then tells Barry he deserves better than to die in the Crisis, and says he's not ready to lose him. Joe breaks down as Barry comforts him.

Nash enters the sewer and plugs his new crypto-circuit into his high tech gauntlet. As it activates, it somehow shows him images from the recent past. He sees a blurry vision of The Monitor walk by and pass through a large door. Nash grabs an axe and begins breaking down the door to get inside.


• The episode's title is most likely a reference to the 2007 film of the same name, starring Daniel Day Lewis. It's also a line from the Bible.

• This week we get a cool new overhead shot of STAR Labs that I don't think we've seen before. The most surprising thing about this shot is the roof— a HUGE chunk of it is clearly still missing. Jesus, Team Flash! It's been six years since the Particle Accelerator explosion! It's about time you patched up your damn roof!

I have to imagine a third of the concourse is constantly wet due to the massive hole above. There's gotta be mold everywhere as well, along with weeds growing up through the floor tiles. C'mon, Barry! Sell off some more STAR Labs stock and patch up that roof at superspeed!

• Just to prove I'm not always a cynical bastard who delights in picking apart every episode, I offer up this scene. As Dr. Rodrigo goes about his rounds on Halloween, he sees a pumpkin full of candy, takes a piece and smiles as he gazes at it. It's such a pure little moment, it made me happy. Who doesn't love a piece of free candy?

Ramsey Rosso's played by actor Sendhil Ramamurthy.

Genre fans will recognize him as Mohinder from the TV series Heroes. I didn't recognize him, as I never watched the show back in the day. To me it looked like a superhero show for people who didn't like superheroes.

From what I've read about it though, Ramsey Rosso is VERY similar to the Mohinder character on Heroes. Mohinder continued the research started by his late father, and eventually discovered a serum that gave normal people metahuman powers. He injected himself with the serum, developing powers much like those of Spider-Man.

By, the way it's been almost ten years since Heroes ended, and Ramamurthy looks amazingly unchanged! You know what they say— desi don't crack!

• I love the way Joe ditches Barry when they're investigating the hospital break-in. Joe couldn't possibly care less about the incident or anything Barry's talking about, as he has to get back to his precious ball game on TV:

Joe: "Well, since I am captain, I'm gonna go watch the second half of the game. I'm gonna leave this to you, all right?"
Barry: "Mm-hmm."
Joe: "You okay?"
Barry: "Yeah. You know, just this Crisis that's coming. Cisco's not taking it so great."
Joe: "Let me guess which part. Cisco is a whole lot like you. It is in his nature to want to save lives. Especially under these circumstances. I'll see you later."

See? He cuts short their heartfelt talk and literally says, "BYEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" as he runs off the screen! I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I saw it.

• Wow, Team Flash went all out with the Halloween decorations at STAR Labs this year. I'll be they must have spent at least two, maybe three dollars.

Amazingly, this is the first ever Halloween episode of The Flash. Oddly enough, they do absolutely nothing with it either!

• At one point Ramsey has a flashback featuring his late mother Rachel Rosso.

They chat pleasantly for a while, then she turns and discreetly coughs into a handkerchief. We then see an ominous splotch of blood on the cloth. Gasp!

In virtually every movie and TV show ever made, blood on a hankie is the universal sign for cancer or some other dreadful incurable disease. It's become such a cliche that it's actually laughable.

• Great confusion seems to surround the issue of the elusive Sue's last name. The Flash insists it's "DearBON" instead of the more common (and human-sounding) "DearBORN." I've never heard of the name Dearbon before, ever. Was it a typo in the script, and the actors went ahead and pronounced it that way?

I googled the character to see what her name is in the comics, but the results were inconclusive. Half the sites I read said Dearborn, while the other half insisted it's Dearbon. So who knows which is really right? I guess we'll have to go with Dearbon, since that's what's been established here onscreen.

By the way, according to her file, Sue's from Midway City— another of the DC Universe's generically-named fictional towns. In the comics, Midway's the home of Hawkman. Given how poorly that character and his gal pal were received on Legends Of Tomorrow, I can't imagine we'll ever see them again.

• Barry, Cisco and Nash arrive at McCulloch Technologies, to steal a rare inter-dimensional serum that can cure Ramsey. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen! 

Anyway, Barry speeds off to disable the facility's security cameras (our hero, ladies and gentlemen!), and returns a second later. Barry then informs Nash that he can't search for the serum at superspeed, because the place is lousy with meta-dampeners.

Wait, what? So... apparently the security cameras were all on the outside, and none were near any of the dampeners. That... that doesn't make any sense.

• Nash tells Barry and Cisco of a magic all purpose disease-curing serum that's stored at McCulloch Technologies. He says McCulloch actually stole the serum from Swan Moon.

If you'll recall, Swan Moon is the home planet of The Dominators, the Big Bads from the Invasion! crossover from a few years back.

• I liked Nash's faintly-impressed, "He goes right through the door. Huh. That's cool" when Barry phases through the side of the STAR Labs van.

• After a few hiccups, the three infiltrate a McCulloch Tech labs. Nash tells them to search for it in every refrigeration unit, as the serum has to be chilled to -15º F.

Cisco finds the serum in a freezer, and actually reaches inside and picks up the high tech vial with his bare hand! Yikes! Wouldn't that be painful? At the very least you'd think the subzero metal would instantly stick to his skin.

A bit later back in STAR Labs, he yanks the vial out of another fridge and hands it to Barry, who also doesn't flinch when he grabs it.

I know what you're thinking the metal's probably insulated somehow. But if that's true then the cold couldn't get through to the serum and chill it. Whoops!

• Sigh... another week, another layer of complication heaped onto Ramsey's origin. In this episode, he tries once again to come up with a way to save his life, only to fail.

Ramsey: Death. There is one key difference between the blood I stole, and the blood from Mitch Romero's body. Romero was afraid for his life. His blood cells were flooded with epinephrine. Adrenaline released during the attack, it's the bonding agent. Which means in order to create the substance I need to live, I have to kill. But first they have to be afraid."

So the key to his life-saving serum is epinephrine. And according to Ramsey, the ONLY way to saturate the blood with that substance is to terrify a victim. And the ONLY way to do that is by killing them!

Yep. Killing's the only possible way to get epinephrine into the bloodstream. There couldn't possibly be any other method of delivery, or way to introduce it into the body. Killing's the definitive answer!

I was generally pleased when Ramsey was introduced a few weeks back as this season's Big Bad, mostly because he wasn't another speedster villain. But with every subsequent episode my enjoyment of him diminishes, as they continue to muddle his motivation and powers.

This week's "Killing Is The Only Way To Survive" nonsense took the cake though. There had to be a less STUPID way to justify his killing.

• I know it's supposed to be scary, but I had to laugh when I saw the blood zombies doing their best Three Stooges impression here.

• The weakest part of the episode had to be Ramsey out-speeding the Flash. As Barry and Frost arrive at the hospital, Ramsey grabs Dr. Rodrigo and uses him as a human shield. He tells Barry, "I know what you're thinking. You're fast, Flash. But as a doctor, I know exactly where this man's carotid artery is. Even if I can't feed, you will never save him in time."


Once again, Barry's speed varies wildly to fit the needs of the script. Don't forget that back in Enter Flashtime, Barry moved so fast he literally froze time for himself. 

And a couple weeks ago in A Flash Of The Lightning, Gideon stated that Barry's top speed is 1/80th the speed of light, which works out to 2,325 mph. You and your finger may be fast, Ramsey, but there's no way in hell you're THAT fast!

• Ramsey infects Dr. Rodrigo, and a few seconds later he dissolves into a puddle of black goo. We all know what "Code Brown" means in hospital jargon, but what would this be? Code Black? Code Ewwwww?

• When Joe gives Ralph his Patented The CW Pep Talk®, he invokes the name of his old partner Fred Chyre. Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time. Fred appeared wayyyyyyyyy back in the pilot, where he was killed by the brother of the Weather Wizard. I don't think he's been mentioned since.

• Ralph finally decides to re-open the Dearbon case and find Sue. He tells Iris, "Give me a break, it's just a missing persons case. Not like I'm lookin' to get married." Wa-wahhhh! I'm honestly surprised he didn't turn to the camera here and give the audience an exaggerated wink!

Of course Ralph marrying Sue is exactly what's going to happen, as all good fans of DC Comics know. Ralph Dibny was one of the few married superheroes out there, as he and his wife Sue often had adventures together.

• By far, the two best actors on the show are Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin. When the two of them get together, they're unstoppable. That was particularly evident this week, when Joe told Barry he didn't want to see him die so soon. If Joe's emotional breakdown didn't make you tear up at least a little bit, then you're already dead.

• In the tag scene, Nash enters the sewers and uses his newly acquired crypto-circuit to peer into the recent past. He sees an afterimage of The Monitor walking through a large door into a chamber beyond.

Wait, what? Why does The Monitor need a secret hideout under the city? He's a cosmic entity, for corn's sake!

Just last year in Elseworlds, Part 3 we saw him have a chat with Barry & Oliver in a pocket dimension he created. So why's he skulking in the sewers now?

• Many fans believe that Nash will end up becoming Pariah, an important character in the Crisis On Infinite Earths comic miniseries. In that story, Pariah was from another Earth, and invented a way to look back and see the creation of the Multiverse. As he did so, he inadvertently released The Anti-Monitor, who then began destroying the Multiverse with a wave of anti-matter. 

Eh, sure, why not. I haven't really thought much about it, but we know Tom Cavanagh's playing Pariah in the upcoming Crisis crossover, so the Nash connection very well could be right.

This Week's Best Lines:
Meh. Nothing jumped out at me this week.

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