Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Flash Season 6, Episode 8: The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen, Part 2

This week on The Flash we get the conclusion to the two part The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen storyline, as well as the wrap-up to the whole Bloodwork arc.

Overall it's a pretty decent episode, despite a few unfortunate misfires. Tthere's lots of action, plenty of angst, horror movie tropes and more blood zombies than you can shake a stick at. And to top it all off, we get a welcome and honestly surprising look at Ramsey Rosso in his monstrous Bloodwork final form— and he looks exactly like he does in the comic!

Best of all, for the first time since he was introduced, Bloodwork felt like an actual threat, and not just a guy who stood around constantly monologuing about saving the world by killing it or whatever the hell his plan was. Too bad we didn't get this Bloodwork in every episode. He's whisked away as quickly as possible in the third act, to clear the playing field for the upcoming Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover.

As I said last week, I've been extremely underwhelmed by Bloodwork. He turned out to be a huge dud. His origin could have been covered in one episode, but was dragged out into three. 
Hell, his story arc was only eight episodes long and it STILL felt padded! He even sat out a week!

This episode just highlighted the fact that Bloodwork should have been a one-off villain, appearing in one intense episode instead of six mediocre ones and a decent capper. There just wasn't enough to him to warrant an extended arc.

I was also disappointed by the so-called Dark Flash this week. The previous episode ended on a cliffhanger, as we saw Barry'd been possessed by Bloodwork's, er, blood. Wow, Bloodwork's now got an evil speedster on his payroll! Imagine all the mayhem Dark Flash will commit. Seems pretty ominous and exciting, right?

Wrong. Instead of infecting Central City at superspeed, Dark Flash does absolutely nothing. Wait, that's not quite true. Sadly he spends most of the episode posing for the camera, with a supposedly evil grin on his face, that just came off as goofy. Seriously, that's it. That's literally all he does! Talk about a missed opportunity!

Even with those misgivings, this episode's still better than any featuring either of the Cicadas. Bring on the Crisis!


The Plot:
Picking up where we left off last week, Barry— who's been possessed by Bloodwork— zooms out of STAR Labs, knocking out Team Flash. Frost wakes and checks on the others. She tells Cisco and Iris that Barry is now one of Bloodwork's "Blood Brothers," and under his control.

Cisco instantly springs into action and opens yet another secret panel. He pulls a lever and an impenetrable forcefield surrounds STAR Labs. He says nothing can get in or out, not even their comm signals. Where the frak has this thing been the past six seasons? Frost uses a police scanner she stole, and explains that because it's analog it can pick up signals outside the field. They hear screams of terror as Bloodwork and his Blood Brothers attack the citizens of Central City.

Cisco shows Iris a photon emitter that he believes will irradiate Bloodwork, eliminating the black blood inside him and curing anyone else he's infected. He says they should use it on Bloodwork first, then on Barry. Iris is reluctant, fearing the untested device could kill her husband before he's scheduled to die in the Crisis.

Meanwhile in the disposable C plot, Cecile's at The Citizen for some reason. She senses fear with her empathic powers and folds up into the fetal position. Kamilla enters and asks what's wrong, and Cecile says her senses are being overwhelmed by the building full of Blood Brothers. The two decide they have to get out of the building and make their way to STAR.

Outside, Blood Brothers roam the city, infecting the populace. Joe tells his men the blood zombies are innocent, and to use non-lethal force against them. Bloodwork appears and tells Joe that he's going to transform the entire city, and there's nothing he can do to stop them. Just then Frost breaches onto the scene, presumably to help Joe (I guess?).

Joe starts to fire on Bloodwork, but just then the possessed Dark Flash zooms up with an innocent woman. Bloodwork grabs her by the throat and possesses her as well. Joe tries to get through to Barry, but he croaks that humanity's broken and needs fixing. Bloodwork boasts that he's cured death, and he and Dark Flash speed away. The Blood Brothers turn and surround Joe & Frost.

Elsewhere, Nash Wells is STILL in the sewers, trying to open The Monitor's secret door. He monologues, saying he's tracked The Monitor across the Multiverse, and he's finally going to kill him or something. Just then the power goes out all over the city. Suddenly The Monitor's voice rings out, telling Nash if he bows before him all he desires will be his. Nash turns on a light and sees he's face to face with a Blood Brother.

Back at The Citizen, Kamilla tells Cecile that the Blood Brothers are all afraid. She says Cecile should be able to sense their fear so they can avoid them and escape. They sneak through the darkened building, narrowly avoiding the zombies, until they reach the stairwell. They then head for STAR Labs.

At STAR, Iris listens to the police radio. Dark Flash addresses her, telling her to meet him "where their life together began." Cisco warns her its a trap, but Iris grabs a breacher and goes anyway. She teleports to their apartment, where Dark Flash is waiting for her. Suddenly Bloodwork begins speaking through him, offering her immortality. Cisco somehow taps into the breacher so he can listen to their exchange. Iris tries to get through to the real Barry, but he raises his hand and prepares to vibrate it through her chest. He stops, saying it's "not her time" and speeds off. Convenient!

Iris breaches back to STAR and says she has to try to save Barry again. Cisco tells her Barry's gone and they have to accept that. He says this is the moment Barry prepared them for— when he's no longer around. He says he's finished the emitter and is ready to use it on Bloodwork & Dark Flash.

On the street, Joe & Frost battle the blood zombies. One of them slashes at Joe, severely injuring him. Frost finally remembers she has superpowers and releases a blast of cold, knocking out all the zombies. One gets up and Allegra appears from out of nowhere, knocking it out with a lead pipe.

Cisco breaches onto the scene and uses the emitter against Bloodwork. He weakens and falls to his knees, and for a while it looks like he may finally be defeated. Just then Dark Flash zips to the scene and throws Cisco to the ground, breaking the emitter. Bloodwork grabs Cisco by the throat and lifts him up, ready to kill him.

Suddenly Bloodwork stops and says he has a better idea. He says he'll use STAR Labs' Particle Accelerator to spread his blood over all of Central City. He lets Cisco go and tells him to warn the others (?).

Cisco returns to STAR, where he confirms that last week Barry hacked into the Particle Accelerator, readying it for Bloodwork's plan. Frost and Allegra arrive with the injured Joe. Caitlin emerges and examines Joe. She says his only hope is for Frost to freeze his wound. After a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, Frost manages to do so.

Cisco realizes that Bloodwork parroted Barry's earlier words. From this he deduces that the link between Bloodwork and Dark Flash works both ways, and Barry's attempting to communicate with them and tell them how to win. He realizes Barry wants them to allow Bloodwork to use the Accelerator (?).

Just then Bloodwork, Dark Flash and an army of zombies arrive at STAR. Cisco lowers the forcefield, and the group enter. Bloodwork and Dark Flash head for the Accelerator, while the zombies look for Team Flash. In the Cortex, Cisco tells the others his plan— they'll let Bloodwork release his blood into the Pipeline, and at the appropriate moment Allegra (lucky she came along!) will hit it with an intense blast of UV rays, which should somehow fix everything. Comic Book Science!

Bloodwork releases a dollop of his black blood into a chamber and Dark Flash sends it into the Accelerator, where it begins flying around and around the Pipeline. When it gathers enough speed, it'll become aerosolized and disperse over the city. Anyone who breathes the air will then become infected by Bloodwork.

Dark Flash then brings Iris & Cisco before Bloodwork. He orders Dark Flash to kill them, but Barry wavers, which infuriates Bloodwork. He tells Barry that resistance is futile, and forces him to kneel. Suddenly Iris shoots Bloodwork several times with a blaster she got from somewhere, which knocks him out.

Cisco opens the Pipeline door. Just then Frost and Allegra enter, having fought their way through a horde of blood zombies. Cisco tells Allegra to let 'er rip, and she fires an intense blast of UV energy into the Pipeline. It charges the blood, creating another Particle Accelerator explosion.

The shockwave sweeps over the city, somehow killing the black blood cells in all the zombies and causing them to collapse. A few seconds later the formerly infected citizens wake and are none the worse for wear.

In the sewers, Nash is fighting for his life against a group of blood zombies. He's overrun and about to be infected when the UV wave hits the tunnel and cures the zombies. Nash, unaware of what's happening up top, believes The Monitor saved him.

Back at STAR, Iris rushes to Barry, who assures her he's cured as well. They notice Bloodwork's gone. Barry speeds away after him and finds him in the street. He tells Bloodwork he won't let him harm anyone else ever again. A frustrated Bloodwork says he's trying to save people, not hurt them. Apparently he's so aggravated at constantly being misunderstood that he hulks out, turning into his massive, disgusting blood monster form from the comics.

We then get a brief and expensive CGI battle between Barry & Bloodwork. The monster slashes at Barry a few times, but he counters with superspeed and a couple of lightning punches. Bloodwork rallies and pins Barry to a car. He's about to deliver the killing blow when his late mother Rachel appears and scolds him. Bloodwork reverts to human form, as Rachel says she knows he means well, but he's gone a little too far and become an angel of destruction.

Bloodwork asks what the hell's going on. Barry says he used their (former) connection to bring the memory of Rachel out of Bloodwork's mind. He says he'd give anything for one more day with his own mother, and figured Bloodwork would do the same. Bloodwork hesitates, and Barry speeds him into the MAC chamber, which apparently switches functions depending on the needs of the plot. Ramsey vows he'll escape and complete his destiny, but they seal the chamber and silence him.

Sometime later, Iris says they shipped Bloodwork to ARGUS, where he'll be their problem from now on. Unfortunately his HLH is still a thing, and he'll likely die. Frost reverts to Caitlin, saying she should be with her friends when the Crisis arrives.

So the whole gang just sits in the Lounge, waiting for the Crisis to happen, which they somehow know will occur precisely at 12 midnight (?). Everyone then goes around the room saying how great Barry is, and how lucky they all are to have him in their lives. Iris tells Barry their story isn't ending here.

Suddenly midnight arrives and the skies over Central City turn an ominous red.

In the sewer, Nash now has a change of heart toward The Monitor and feels indebted to him for saving his life (???). 
The Monitor (or is it?) says Nash knows what to do next, as the seven runes on the door begin to glow. Nash somehow knows how to press them in the proper sequence. The door opens, revealing a blinding white light inside. Nash screams as he's pulled in and the door shuts.


• For the second week in a row, Cisco runs to part of the lab, yanks a secret panel open and reveals a secret storage space. How many more of these stashes does he have hidden in STAR Labs?

• Cisco activates the Babel Protocol, an impenetrable forcefield that prevents anyone or anything from leaving or entering STAR Labs. There's a lot to unpack in this short & simple little scene.

First of all, we've seen the Babel Protocol before, back in the Season 4's Mixed Signals. In that episode, Cisco made Barry a brand new Iron Man armor, er, I mean Flash suit, filled with dozens of hi-tech gadgets and functions. The Babel Protocol was a self-destruct mechanism, which would allow Cisco to kill the Flash if he ever "went dark."

I guess it makes sense, but it's kind of unnerving knowing Cisco could kill his "best friend" any time he wanted!

Secondly, this Babel Protocol 2.0 protects STAR Labs by surrounding it with a powerful forcefield. Where the hell has this thing been for the past six seasons? Just think of how many times it would have came in handy to protect Team Flash from various supervillains!

To be fair, based on Cisco's dialogue it sounds like something new he just added. Still... it would have been nice if he'd thought of it a long time ago. Now that STAR Labs has this function, let's see how often the writers remember it. I have a feeling this may be the one and only time it's ever featured on the show.

On the other hand... this forcefield made its debut right before the Crisis. Maybe it'll end up protecting STAR from the wave of anti-matter!

Lastly, when the forcefield goes up, Cisco tells Frost, "Nothing gets in, nothing goes out. Not even our comms." Of course we know a declarative statement like that's not gonna stand. Sure enough, a couple minutes later Frost uses a police band radio to communicate with the outside world. Whoops!

They try handwaving this away by saying the police walkie can get through the field because it's an analog device. Ehhhh, I guess I'll allow it, but it seems like a stretch. Somebody on the writing staff's been watching Pacific Rim!

Also, Iris, Cisco and Frost have no trouble breaching in and out of STAR Labs while the forcefield's up. I guess that makes a small amount of sense, since the breachers are interdimensional transporters. Still seems a bit sketchy though. 

OK, this horse is good & dead. Time to quit beatin' it!

• Cisco debuts his brand new photon emitter that he's cobbled together. Yeah, that's just a flashlight, dude.

Cisco and Iris then have the following conversation about the flashlight, er, I mean the emitter:

Cisco: "It's not a ray gun, it's a weapon that can deliver megadoses of photon radiation The same kind of radiation typically administered to cancer patients."
Iris: "What exactly does it do?"
CIsco: "My theory is that these photons could be strong enough to destroy Ramsey's sentient infection. If I get close enough to blast him, he should revert back to his human form. He'd still have HLH, but at least he wouldn't be a gooey zombie overlord anymore."
Iris: "What about everyone else that was infected? Would they be cured?"
Cisco: "Yes. They'd lose the goo, they'd go back to normal. But since Ramsey's the only one who can create more Blood Brothers, I say we hit at him first. Then Dark Flash."
Iris: "And you've tested this?"
Cisco: "Well, I haven't even finished building it, so no, no I haven't tested it."
Iris: "So let me get this straight. You wanna shoot radiation at my husband out of some crazy powerful device that you've never tested?"

Wow, a lot going on there! First of all, the photo radiation Cisco speaks of is a real thing. It's generally either x-rays or gamma rays, and is indeed used to treat cancer patients.

Secondly, I love that he's so confident about this device he's put together, without a second of real-world testing or the smallest thread of proof that it works.

Lastly, why the hell does Iris ask if he's tested it clearly isn't even finished yet? Derp!

• I'll be honest— I was expecting a lot more from Dark Flash. Sadly, all he did for the majority of the episode was stand next to Bloodwork with an evil, yet oddly goofy grin on his face.

• Although the Cecile/Kamilla subplot was completely superfluous and didn't further the story in any way, it was actually pretty intense! It was filmed as one long tracking shot, following the two women through a variety of hallways and offices as they tried to avoid the blood zombies. That couldn't have been easy, as it had to have taken a lot of effort and planning. Kudos!

• At one point Cecile and Kamilla hide under a desk from a pursuing blood zombie. Hilariously, there's a light underneath the desk so we're able to see them as they're crouching beneath it! HAW! Everyone's got a lap light under their desk, right? I know I do!

• I've been meaning to address this for a while now, and this is as good a time as any. Let's talk about Frost's eyes, shall we? In addition to her white hair and indigo lipstick, she's got what appears to be patches of glitter in the corner of her eyes.

I assume this is supposed to be ice or frost, right? I mean it's obviously makeup in the real world, but unless she can somehow conjure up glitter when she transforms, it's gotta be ice in the reality of the show.

Whatever the hell it's supposed to be, I hate it. Rather than coming off as edgy or alluring (as I assume it's supposed to), it ends up looking like she's sporting a pair of massive eye boogers.

• At one point Joe & Frost are out on the street, surrounded by a horde of blood zombies. Rather than throw up an ice shield to protect herself and Joe, Frost just starts punching the zombies. After a good half hour of street brawling, she finally remembers she's a meta and knocks the creatures on their collective asses with a might ice clap (?).

I'm assuming she held back on her powers because the show spent most of this week's FX budget on Bloodwork's true form.

• After Frost stuns the zombies, one somehow wakes and attacks again. Suddenly Allegra appears out of nowhere and clocks it in the head with a baseball bat, Negan-style.

OK, first of all, that zombie woman's definitely got a crushed skull now. Once Team Flash cures them all at the end, she won't be getting back up. What happened to using non-lethal force on the "innocent" zombies? I guess Allegra didn't get that memo.

Secondly, what an incredibly lucky break that Allegra just happened to wander onto the scene. If she didn't show up when she did, then she wouldn't have helped Frost take Joe to STAR Labs, and wouldn't have used her UV powers to irradiate Bloodwork's blood bomb and save Central City! 

In fact without her completely coincidental presence, everyone in Central City would now be one of Bloodwork's zombies. Talk about lucky breaks!

• Thanks, episode, for the ultra extreme closeup of Bloodwork's mouth as he speaks, complete with a persistent string of saliva connecting his black, gooey lips. Yuck.

• In the third act, Bloodwork tries using the Particle Accelerator to aerosolize his blood and infect the entire city. Suddenly Iris pulls a large blaster from somewhere and starts firing away at Bloodwork! 

I was gonna say she must have pulled it directly out of her ass, because that's the only place it could have come from in the otherwise empty room.

I watched the scene a couple more times though, and it appears she's actually holding the blaster when Dark Flash zooms her into the room. It's easy to miss though, as she's holding it at the bottom of the frame and drops it the instant she enters the room. Never mind!

• Ever since Allegra was inexplicably introduced, it's been a running gag on the show that she gets upset when she finds out the other characters aren't filling her in on all their deepest secrets— because she's entitled to know everything, goddammit! In this episode Frost breaches her directly into STAR Labs, where she becomes an unofficial member of Team Flash? Hopefully she's happy now and will quit whining about not being informed.

• When Barry's in his Dark Flash mode, it looks like his nails have grown into nasty, discolored talons for some reason, tearing through the fingers of his gloves.

Once he reverts to normal though, you can clearly see his gloves are once again intact! Whoops! C'mon, The Flash Costume Department! You're not even trying!

Maybe Cisco added a self-healing function into Barry's suit?

• Team Flash saves the day by causing yet another Particle Accelerator explosion that sweeps over Central City— but a beneficial one this time.

At this point I imagine most residents are so shell-shocked and traumatized they don't even look up anymore. "Owen, look! STAR Labs is exploding again!" "Eh? That's nice, dear."

• During the end battle, Bloodwork morphs into final form, and it's truly something to behold.

Kudos to The Flash's FX team for whipping up such a wonderfully disgusting creation. I love all the gross and disturbing textures, as it looks like he's made up of pulsating sacs of blood. The only downside is that effects like these are pricey, so they couldn't afford to give him much screentime.

Amazingly, Bloodwork's boss form looks VERY close to the comic book version. Well done, guys! I'm really impressed! I honestly didn't think they'd go there, and we'd have to settle for an Indian guy in casual wear.

• After the battle, Barry zooms Bloodwork into the MAC chamber for safe keeping. Which is something he probably should have done five or six episodes ago, but I digress. 

Anyway, apparently MAC stands for "Multiple Application Chamber, because its function seems to regularly change with the needs of the script. In Into The Void, it was described as a "Mental Augmentation Chamber," designed to help boost Barry's cognitive abilities and give him "speed-thinking."

Later in that same episode Team Flash places Chester Runk in the MAC, in order for it to stabilize his subatomic particles (?). 

And now it's being used as an alternate to the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail. Make up your mind, writers!

• Once Bloodwork's defeated, Team Flash retires to the STAR Labs Lounge. There they all nervously wait for midnight and the kickoff of the Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Wait, what? Was it ever established in any previous episode that Crisis would begin precisely at midnight on December 10, 2019? Yeah, I didn't think so either.

And yet once the clock strikes twelve, the skies over Central City start glowing red.

Hey, Barry & Iris! Quit staring at the sky and get busy making Baby Nora before it's too late!

• At the end of the episode, Nash experiences the quickest change of heart in history. According to him, he's been on a mission to destroy The Monitor for years. Maybe even decades. Why he wants to do this is apparently none of our concern, as it's never addressed.

Anyway, Nash is about to be infected by a dog pile of blood zombies. Suddenly a wave of UV energy sweeps through the sewer, transforming the zombies back into normal citizens. Nash mistakenly believes the wave was the work of The Monitor, and INSTANTLY changes his opinion about him and feels indebted to him. Seriously? That'd be like an obsessed Nazi hunter searching for Hitler for decades, only to finally find him and decide to befriend him when he sees the former Fuhrer playing with his dog!

• So what the heck's going on with Nash in the tag scene?


First things first, in addition to The Monitor, there's also a counterpart, called you guessed it The Anti-Monitor! The Anti-Monitor lived in an antimatter universe, and ultimately conquered it (that's quite a feat!). He then tried to invade the Multiverse, but The Monitor fought to stop him.

The two battled for millennia and eventually fought each other to a standstill. They then went into stasis for nine billion years (!).

Cut to nine billion years later. A scientist named Kell Mossa, who lived on an unknown Earth in the Multiverse, became obsessed with discovering the origin of the Universe. He built a chamber that would allow him to peer back in time. He looked back to the moment of creation, and saw what appeared to be a giant hand shaping the Universe from a lump of energy.

The Universe reacted violently to Mossa's spying, and the resulting disturbance woke both Monitors. The Anti-Monitor then created a wall of antimatter that enveloped countless worlds in the Multiverse.

Mossa was somehow transformed into a being called Pariah, who was impervious to the antimatter wave, and cursed to witness the destruction of every Earth.

Here in the Arrowverse, it's obvious that Nash Wells is destined to become Pariah. I know this because the producers and Tom Cavanagh himself confirmed it— and even released photos of him in costume. 

Obviously the TV version differs quite a bit from his comic counterpart. For one thing, Nash has some sort of unspecified beef against The Monitor. I'm assuming Nash' world was wiped out by antimatter, and he thinks it's The Monitor's fault? I dunno. Hopefully the Crisis crossover will fill us in.

Based on this episode, it's also very apparent that Nash isn't speaking to The Monitor here, but his evil counterpart. Just listen to "The Monitor's" dialogue: "Bow down to me and all you desire shall be yours." Everything he says is "bow down this" and "kneel that."

Who else do we know in DC movies who liked to say "Kneel before me" a lot? Zod of course! Zod, the evil Kryptonian. Supervillains just love telling people to bow down before them. So it's obvious here that that's actually The Anti-Monitor on the other side of that door. Heck, he's likely even imprisoned there. And Nash just let him loose! Meaning the entire Crisis is Nash' fault! Thanks a lot, Nash!

• Nash sees the seven symbols glowing on the door. The (Anti) Monitor tells him, "The knowledge is within you," and he touches the symbols in a particular order, which opens the door.

So how'd he know the combination? Why's the knowledge within him? Inquiring minds want to know.

• This Week's Best Lines:
Cisco: (as he tries to talk Iris out of confronting Dark Flash) "But if you go out there and that's not Barry, you could get infected or worse. Please."
Iris: "In sickness and in health."

Cisco: (as he blasts Bloodwork with his photon emitter) "Feel the burn, Bloodwork!"

Bloodwork: "Go, tell your team the great STAR Labs Particle Accelerator is ready to fulfill its true purpose. Salvation is nigh."

Cisco: "An ass-whipping is nigh, pal And you're gonna lose, Ramsey. You're gonna lose."
Bloodwork: "Plucky, right up until the end."

Cisco: "God, I remember the old days. No doppelgangers, no Flashpoint, no time travel. It was just us against the bad guys. I miss that."

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