Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Flash Season 6, Episode 15: The Exorcism Of Nash Wells

This week on the last The Flash for the foreseeable future, we get a very busy episode that juggles at least half a dozen storylines. I didn't realize it till I watched it a second time, but this is basically just another elaborate filler episode. 

Of the half dozen subplots, only one of them— The Secret Origin Of Nash Wells— actually goes anywhere and gives us information we didn't already know. Technically I guess it should be The Secret Origin Of Nash's Assistant Maya, but I'm not gonna split hairs.

That's not to say The Exorcism Of Nash Wells is all bad. In fact for a filler episode, most of it was pretty good. I enjoyed seeing Cisco finally cement his relationship with Nash, and the interaction between Joe and Chief Singh was good as well. 

The worst of the subplots involved Eva and her Mirror Clones. As I've said numerous times, I was intrigued by this storyline when it first started, but it's gone on wayyyyyyy too long now. It's acutely obvious that they had about two episodes worth of plot, and are stretching them out into eight or nine. It's almost to the point where I just zone out whenever Eva McCulloch or Mirror Iris appears onscreen. Enough with the Mirror Universe already!

Oddly enough this is another of The Flash's ubiquitous "All In The Mind" episodes, in which the characters spend a good portion of the runtime inside someone else's head. We just got one of these two weeks ago in Grodd Friended Me, and now we're doing it again already. The writers really seem to love this plot, and use it at least once per episode. 

Last week I said that even though Eobard Thawne is the show's most compelling and interesting villain, they can't keep bringing him back every time they need a threat to Team Flash. I said we're very near the point where the audience becomes bored with Thawne.

Welp, that time is now! As usual, Tom Cavanagh is amazing as Thawne in this episode, but even he couldn't do much with what he was given to work with in this episode. I believe part of the problem is that even though Thawne's an awesome Big Bad, he never changes or grows, going through the same old motions every time he appears. He shows up, he threatens to stick his hand into Cisco's chest, he tells Barry he's gonna kill him and Team Flash chases him off. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

Compare this to Damien Darhk in last week's Legends Of Tomorrow. In Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac, Darhk is freed from Hell and ordered to cause mayhem and strife. Instead he decides to pay a visit to his daughter Nora Darhk. He eventually finds out she's planning on marrying Atom, and after an adjustment period give the couple his blessing. 

He then attends the wedding, gives away the bride and accepts his new son-in-law. The wedding forces Darhk to realize the pain and suffering he's caused over the years, and he kills himself to partially atone for it. 

See? Now THAT'S a compelling villain! One who's actually capable of change and redemption. I Legends writers actually made me feel for Damien by the end of the episode, which is quite an achievement.

In contrast, I felt absolutely nothing when Thawne seemingly died yet again at the end of this episode. If the show insists on continuing to bring him back, then they're going to have to do something different with him, ala Damien Darhk.


The Plot:
At the end of last week's episode, Mirror Iris shot Kamilla with the Mirror Gun, seemingly disintegrating her. As we open this week, we see the Gun apparently created a Mirror Kamilla clone. Mirror Iris asks Mirror Kamilla how she feels, and she says she's a little dizzy. 

Suddenly Eva McCulloch appears in a nearby mirror, and tells her two clones she needs them to steal a Prismatic Refractor that she invented. She says her husband Joseph Carver sold it to Mercury Labs, and they can find it there.

At STAR Labs, Team Flash tries to figure out how to build their own Speed Force, now that the real one is dead. Caitlin tells Barry he needs to conserve the residual Speed Force energy in his body, because once it's gone that's it. To that end, she gives him a watch that monitors his speed and displays a warning if he uses too much.

Meanwhile, Joe meets with Chief Of Police Singh, telling him he believes there's a mole operating inside CCPD. Singh dismisses his concerns, but Joe asks him to take a look at his paperwork and see for himself.

Back at STAR, Team Flash visits Nash in his cell. Nash has been possessed by the disembodied brainwaves of Eobard Thawne last week, but is seemingly fine now. Caitlin disagrees, as she detects multiple brainwaves in his head. They figure that when the Universe was remade in the Crisis, all the Wellses from throughout the Multiverse collected in Nash's mind. 

Nash suggests they use a neuro-splicer from his bag to separate the other Wells' brainwaves from his own. Cisco removes the device and tinkers with it. Suddenly Caitlin says it's a trick, and the splicer causes a massive explosion. As Team Flash picks themselves up, they see Thawne's escaped.

Fortunately Thawne has no powers inside Nash's body, so Barry's easily able to recapture him. Thawne says once Barry's powers are completely gone, he'll kill him. Barry's watch glows yellow (meaning he's using too much power) as he vibrates his hand and actually looks like he's ready to plunge it into Nash/Thawne's chest. Fortunately Caitlin stops him, and Cisco stuns Thawne before he can do any more damage.

Caitlin asks Barry if he was really going to kill Thawne, and he says he doesn't know. She tells him his anger toward Thawne is using up too much of his power and he needs to go. Barry reluctantly leaves the lab.

Cisco says Thawne's consciousness is made of negative tachyons, so he plans to use positive ones to drive him from Nash's mind. Comic Book Science! He enlists Cecile to use her telepathic powers to monitor the process.

Inside Nash's mind, he flashes back to eight years ago on Earth-719. There he returns to his tent and finds a young orphan girl named Maya rifling through his things. She pulls an artifact from his pack and breaks it open, revealing a secret treasure inside. Nash is impressed with her moxie and invites her to join him on his adventures throughout the Multiverse.

Back in the present, Nash finds himself in a tunnel with a bright light at the end. He senses death and sorrow in the light, and is reluctant to move toward it. Thawne appears and welcomes him to Hell. In the real world, Cecile tells Cisco she senses Thawne is feasting on Nash's emotional pain.

Elsewhere, Mirror Iris & Mirror Kamilla go to Mercury Labs, intent on recovering the Refractor. While there, a meta named Sunshine appears and the two of them hide. Mirror Iris calls Barry to help. At STAR, Caitlin tells Barry she'll handle it, and transforms into Frost.

Somehow Frost makes it to Mercury in seconds and attacks Sunshine. Unfortunately Sunshine has the power to disappear and fade in somewhere else, easily bamboozling Frost. 

Back at STAR, Barry can't stand sitting around, so he injects himself with Velocity-X and speeds to help. He arrives at Mercury, but his speed begins glitching again. Sunshine knocks him out, then attacks Frost by reopening the wound she got from Dr. Light. Just as Sunshine's about to kill Frost, Joe and a team of officers arrive. Sunshine vanishes and gets away.

Back at STAR, a recovered Barry tells Joe it's his fault that Frost was hurt and Sunshine got away. Joe agrees. Mirror Iris enters and says she identified Sunshine as Millie Rawlings, and ex-special forces soldier who has the power to bend light. Joe shows her the Refractor he got from Mercury Labs, and says he thinks Sunshine was after it. Iris suggest keeping the device at STAR to prevent it from being stolen (and make it easier for her to steal). Joe refuses, saying he's sending it to ARGUS for safe keeping, much to Mirror Iris' dismay.

Mirror Iris finds Barry moping in the Time Sphere. He tells he he worries he won't be able to stop Thawne & save Nash. She says he's stuck on his limitations, and needs to figure out how to overcome them. Barry gets that "What Did You Say?" look and we realize Mirror Iris has somehow given him an idea to stop Sunshine.

In the lab, Cisco wonders why Thawne's negative tachyons haven't dissipated. Suddenly Nash's body wakes and Thawne vibrates out of the restraints. Cisco slaps a pair of meta-cuffs on him, and Thawne says they won't hold him for long. Cecile clocks him in the head with a Ouija board (?) and knocks him out again. Cisco says they have to evict Thawne before he reconnects to his Negative Speed Force, or Nash will be gone forever.

At CCPD, Singh arrives and says he's overseeing the transfer of the Refractor to ARGUS. He then meets with Joe in his office and says he thinks he's right about a mole in the department, and they need to investigate it themselves. Joe gives the Refractor to Singh, and they proceed to the loading dock. There they find ARGUS waiting for them.

Before they can make the transfer, Sunshine appears. She easily takes out the ARGUS guards, and knocks out Singh as well. Barry enters, and Joe tosses the Refractor to him. Barry runs (at normal speed) to his lab, as Sunshine follows closely behind. He runs to his old lab, where Sunshine confronts him. Barry activates the shutters, blocking out the sunlight. Without a light source, Sunshine is powerless (!). She's then surrounded by dozens of CCPD cops, as Joe orders her to surrender.

Back at STAR, Cisco says Thawne's negative tachyons are multiplying faster than he can destroy them. Cisco goes through Nash's backpack, and finds the photo of him and Maya, who's Allegra's doppelganger. Cecile realizes that Nash had a parental bond with Maya, and that she must have died. Thawne's using that pain to take over Nash's mind.

Just then Barry enters with the MAD 2.0 and says he wants to use it to enter Nash's brain and kick out Thawne. With Cecile's help, Barry & Cisco enter the tunnel in Nash's mind. There they see Thawne confronting Nash. Barry tells Thawne it's time to go, while Cisco goes to help Nash. 

Nash is amazed that Cisco cared enough to help him. Cisco asks what Nash is afraid of, and he gestures toward the bright light at the end of the tunnel. He says he can't make himself go it. Cisco says whatever's in there, he has to do it or he'll die.

Thawne turns his attention to Barry, taunting him by mentioning Nora. Barry begins getting angry, using up his residual speed. Eventually he gets control of himself and calms down, telling Thawne he's not going to give him any power over him.

Eventually Cisco convinces Nash to go into the light. As Nash steps into it, he finds himself on Earth-13 a year ago. He sees an image of himself, lowering an older Maya (who now looks exactly like Allegra) over a cliff to steal an ancient artifact. She grabs hold of the artifact, but a quake rocks the cliff face. Nash yells for her to let go of the object, but she refuses. She loses her grip and falls to her death.

Nash returns to the tunnel and tells Cisco it was his fault that Maya died. Thawne begins to weaken, as Barry tells him he can no longer feed off of Nash. Thawne disappears, and everyone wakes up in the real world. Thawne's energy shoots out of Nash and into the sky, where it dissipates.

Sometime later Cisco scans the planet (?) with the STAR Labs satellite, and confirms there's no trace of Thawne's energy. He figures Thawne isn't really dead, but just formless (so he can return yet again later this season or next).

Cisco says the other Wellses' brainwaves are still inside Nash's head, so he'll likely keep seeing and hearing them. He encourages Nash to reconcile with Allegra. Harry Wells appears and tells Nash that Cisco's right.

Barry tells Cisco & Caitlin he has an idea how to create his own Speed Force. He says Thawne taught Nora to do it, and the answer may lie in her journal, which shouldn't exist but does.

Elsewhere, Mirror Iris and Mirror Kamilla have somehow stolen the Refractor from CCPD while we weren't looking. Mirror Iris hands it to Eva through a mirror. Eva says if they stick to her plan, she'll soon be freed from the Mirror Universe.

• Sucks to be a Ralph Dibny fan these days. He sits out yet another episode this week.

• At the end of last week's episode, Mirror Iris shot Kamilla with her Mirror Gun, seemingly disintegrating her. I said there was no cause for panic, as the gun likely made a clone of Kamilla that Eva McCulloch could control, while the real thing would end up in the Mirror Universe.

Well, I was right about the gun making a mirror clone of Kamilla. But what about the real thing? At one point Mirror Kamilla asks where the original is, and Eva says, "She's no longer a problem." 

Obviously they're being coy here for maximum drama. If I had to guess, I'd say she's somewhere in the Mirror Universe along with Iris.

• Eva tells Mirror Iris and Mirror Kamilla, "Six years ago, I created a device capable of converting light into energy. I called it the Prismatic Refractor."

A device that converts light into energy, eh? So... she invented the solar panel? Wow. What a startlingly original concept. 

Eva then shows them a non-functioning replica of the Refractor, and says she wants them to go and steal the real thing. At first I wondered why the hell she'd bother making an ersatz version of the thing instead of just constructing another real one.

It looks like the writers thought of that. Eva holds up the dummy Refractor and says, "I made it here in the Mirrorverse, but my R-CEM rejected it, I believe it needs the original in order to function."

So I guess she tried to make a real one, but couldn't get it to work. 

Wondering what the heck "R-CEM" means? Me too. Mirror Kamilla actually asks her what it is, and Eva replies, "A thing that will ensure the success of my long term plans." So apparently the writers aren't ready to tell us about it yet. Why give us all the info we need when you can drag it out another three or four episodes?

• One last thing about the Mirror Universe: A couple episodes back, Iris wondered why Eva didn't just try to escape from the realm. Eva demonstrated the reason by sticking her arms through the mirror and into the real world. As she did so, the skin on her arms began frying. 

But this week Mirror Iris reaches into the mirror to take the Refractor from Eva and suffers no ill effects. So I guess movement through through the Mirror Universe is one way? People can go into it, but not back out?

• OK, I lied— I've got one more question about Eva and the Mirror Universe. Why Eva just create a duplicate of herself and go ask Team Flash to help free her from the realm? Why all the secrecy, subterfuge and intricate plans?

• One of the people in this scene is visibly pregnant. Can you guess which one?

This entire episode is a goldmine of monitors, tablets and pillows placed in front of Caitlin's torso, in a desperate attempt to hide the fact that she's expecting. After a while it became like a game to try and figure out how they'd hide her belly next.

At least they've finally started attempting to obscure her pregnancy though. The past few weeks they've done nothing to camouflage her rapidly expanding girth besides sticking her in oversized billowing shirts.

• For the past few episodes, Nash has been seeing visions of various versions of Harrison Wells, including Harry, Sherloque and of course Eobard Thawne.

Back in Grodd Friended Me I theorized that when the Multiverse was merged in the Crisis, the "souls" of all the Wellseses were being channeled into Thawne, and he needs Nash's body to manifest himself on Earth-Prime.

Oooooh, so close! I got it half right. Instead of the various Wells taking up residence inside Thawne's mind though, they've been absorbed by Nash. I was also right about Thawne needed Nash's body in order to survive. Do I get half a point for all that?

• Because it's a comic book show, The Flash has never concerned itself much with scientific accuracy. That's never been more true than in this episode. At one point Caitlin monitors Nash's brainwaves on a tablet. She sees nothing amiss while she's looking at a 2D side view of his cerebral activity.

However, when she makes the graph 3D and rotates it 45ยบ, suddenly she can see the brainwaves from numerous Wells doppelgangers hiding behind Nash's. Comic Book Science!

• Nash suggests using the neuro-splicer in his bag to separate the various Wells' brainwaves from his own. He says he once used the device to "stop an invasion of psychic starfish on Earth-26."

He must be talking about Starro The Conqueror here, a giant alien starfish with psychic powers who first appeared in DC Comics in 1960. In fact Starro was the first villain the Justice League ever faced!

• Nice Attention To Detail: In order to conserve his residual Speed Force energy, Barry restrains Thawne/Nash without using his powers. If you look closely (you'll probably have to zoom in), you can see Barry's forehead is actually sweating! He generally doesn't perspire when he uses his superspeed. Kudos to whoever thought to include that little detail!

• In a nice little bit of role-reversal, Barry borrows Thawne's shtick and threatens to kill the evil speedster by vibrating his hand into his chest. 

• Not that it matters in this post-Crisis world, but Nash was apparently from Earth-719.

Mirror Iris and Mirror Kamilla go to Mercury Labs, to try and steal the working Refractor. My, how Mercury's changed! Here's how it looks in this episode...

And this is what it looked like back in its first few appearances!

As we all know, most Central City locations are filmed in Vancouver. This original version of Mercury Labs is the exception though, as it's actually the Intercontinental Hotel in Warsaw, Poland!

If you look closely at this new and improved version, it appears to be the same building with some modifications. They added some VERY obvious CGI pillars under the overhand, as well as a thick, bulky frame around the upper floors. Why they felt the need to radically change the building (especially since they already had establishing shots of it) is anyone's guess.

• Superhero Landing!

• According to Mirror Iris, Sunshine's real name is Millie Rawlins. She's an ex-special ops soldier, who was transferred to the "covert division" after the Particle Accelerator explosion gave her the ability to bend sunlight. Coincidentally, her military call sign was also Sunshine (wow, what are the odds).

Sunshine has no equivalent in the comics, and according to The CW is the very first meta to be created specifically for The Flash

I gotta say, I'm not very impressed with Sunshine. Barry manages to defeat her without once using his superspeed, by locking her inside a dark room, which renders her completely powerless! Are you freakin' kidding me? What good is a villain who can only operate in the daytime?

• At Mercury Labs, Sunshine uses her powers to burn her way into a safe and steal the Refractor. At STAR, Caitlin gets a meta-alert concerning the robbery and tells Barry she and Frost will handle it. 

Literally three seconds later, Frost shows up at Mercury Labs and tells Sunshine to drop the Refractor! 

How in the name of sanity does Frost get there so fast? She doesn't have superspeed, and according to Cisco the Crisis made their extrapolaters useless. So what the hell? Does Frost know a reeeeeeally good shortcut? Or is Mercury Labs across the street from STAR?

• Frost and Sunshine tangle for a bit inside Mercury Labs. Eventually Sunshine gets the upper hand, and is about to deliver the killing blow to Frost. Luckily Joe and his team burst in and Sunshine retreats.

Joe rushes over to Frost to check and see if she's OK. I wonder if any of his offices wonder why he's not arresting this known criminal? Before she joined Team Flash she was guilty of kidnapping, numerous attempted murders and dozens of other crimes. And that was before she started working for Amunet Black! Who knows what all she did on her payroll!

As we've seen time and again in the Arrowverse, an individual's past crimes become irrelevant once they decide to turn good and join Team Flash.

• One of the many subplots this week involves Joe telling Chief Singh he suspects there's a mole in the CCPD who's supplying info to Black Hole. Singh's skeptical at first, but changes his mind after reading Joe's report.

So who's the mole? Obviously the writers desperately want us to think it's Singh! Especially after he visited Joe in his office and began closing the blinds for no reason. He was definitely acting overly suspicious and squirrelly. For a second I honestly thought he might attack Joe!

I dunno... Singh turning out to be the mole seems a little too obvious. I'm thinking it's actually Corber, the lady cop who first popped up in A Girl Named Sue and has since become a semi-regular character. 

Why do I think it's her? Because she came out of nowhere and there's literally no reason for her character to exist, other than to be the one who ultimately betrays CCPD.

• Cecile acknowledges BOTH her daughters this week! She mentions the little-seen Baby Jenna of course, but also her teen daughter Joannie! I'd completely forgotten about her.

• Last week Wally told Joe to keep an eye on Mirror Iris, because there was something "off" about her. It appears Joe took his advice to heart, and is finally starting to notice something's different about his daughter. He gives her the side-eye several times in this episode, especially after she seems completely unconcerned about the fact that Barry was attacked by Sunshine.

Hopefully he'll confront her soon and discover she's nothing more than a cheap copy of his daughter, and he and Team Flash will finally rescue the real Iris from the Mirror Universe.

• Speaking of Mirror Iris and her relationship with Barry— she acts almost formal around him in this episode, going so far as to turn her head and offer her cheek when he tries to kiss her.

This raises an interesting question: Have Barry and Mirror Iris had sex yet? In the previous episode the real Iris mentioned that she'd been stuck in the Mirror Universe "for weeks." Which of course means Mirror Iris has been taking her place for an equal amount of time. 

It seems really unlikely that a young couple like Barry & Iris would go weeks without a roll between the sheets. Does Mirror Iris feign a headache whenever Barry initiates sex? Or have they been going at it like jackrabbits?

If they have had sex, that would have a MAJOR impact on the real Iris' relationship with Barry. One that could potentially tear them apart for good.

I think it's obvious that the writers desperately don't want to deal such repercussions, so the show has completely glossed over the issue. Don't think about it, just watch!

• Mirror Iris gives Barry a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling him it's OK that his power's fading because he has no limits. During her speech she says, "Where would the Ringmaster be without his rings?"

There was a Ringmaster in The Flash comic (there's one over at Marvel as well). He debute in 1978, and was an ally of Golden Glider.

As near as I can recall there's never been a Ringmaster on the show though. I'm assuming he's another meta that popped up as a result of the Crisis.

• Ever since Nash first met Allegra in License To Elongate, he's been giving her the side-eye and acting strange around her. I assumed she was likely a doppelganger of his daughter, who must have died on whatever Earth he's from. A few weeks ago he told Frost that his Allegra doppelganger was "an employee," which seemed like an odd thing to say.

This week we find out that he was telling the truth! Well, sort of. Maya who's Nash's Earth-719 version of Allegra actually did start out working for Nash as he explored the Multiverse. She eventually became his partner, as well as a surrogate daughter to him.

• Late in the episode, Nash has a flashback to a year ago on Earth-13, when his assistant Maya (who looks exactly like Allegra) tries to grab an artifact from the side of a sheer cliff face. The artifact's behind an electronic door, which contains a series of symbols that light up when touched. When Maya presses the symbols in a certain order, the door opens and she pulls out the artifact.

The whole "Unlocking A Door By Pressing The Right Symbols" thing is VERY reminiscent of a scene in The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen, Part 2. In that episode, Nash snoops around in the sewers under Central City, and finds a door covered with alien symbols. For reasons, he believes The Monitor is on the other side of the door, and is determined to kill him.

A mysterious voice tells Nash to press the symbols in order to open the door. When Nash says he doesn't know the combination, the voice says, "The knowledge is within you." He then presses the symbols in a particular sequence, the door opens and he inadverdently releases The Anti-Monitor, not The Monitor.

At the time I wondered how and why Nash could possibly know which symbols to push when. Is it possible that this episode explains it? Was the door on Earth-13 somehow related to the one in Central City? Did they both have the same combination, which Nash knew?

Until I hear otherwise, that's what I'm going with!

• After Maya gets the artifact, a convenient earthquake strikes, causing her to lose her grip and fall to the rocks far below.

When I saw her death scene, I couldn't help but be reminded of this...

• Nash manages to kick Thawne out of his brain. As Thawne is evicted, he manifests himself as a massive explosion of Negative Speed Force energy (or something) that shoots into the sky above STAR Labs.

At this point, I'm betting the citizens of Central City don't even look up anymore when something like this happens. "Abner, look! That STAR Labs is exploding again!" "That's nice, dear."

• At the end of the episode, Barry believes he'll find the knowledge needed to make his own Speed Force inside his daughter Nora's journal.

I say it every time this thing pops up, but it's worth repeating— how the hell can her journal exist? Nora was erased from the timeline when Team Flash destroyed Cicada's dagger. In essence she was wiped out before she was even born. And yet somehow her journal remains intact in the past.

You can't hand-wave this one away by shouting "Flashpoint" or "Crisis" either, writers!

This Week's Best Lines:
Not very many this week.

Barry: "When the Multiverse collapsed in Crisis all of the Wellses must have channeled into the only surviving doppelganger."
Cisco: "Multiple psyches camped out in Nash's brain. It's like Tyler Durden times a thousand."
Nash: "Tyler Durden. Great reference. 'First rule of Fight Club is..." 
Cisco: "Kay, can we not talk about Fight Club?"

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