Friday, December 10, 2021

The Flash Season 8, Episode 2: Armageddon, Part 2

This week on The Flash it's Part 2 of the big Armageddon crossover.

The writers definitely seem to have "leveled up" with this event, as so far these first two episodes have been leaps and bounds above anything they crapped out in the disastrous Season 7.

That said, this crossover seems a bit... muddled so far. An alien with psychic powers shows up and says he's going to kill Barry if he senses any sign of mental distress in him. But then ANOTHER psychic meta suddenly appears and begins zapping Barry's mind. Why the hell would the writers toss two metas with identical powers into the same episode?

Once Despero shows up, Barry begins suffering a series of devastating setbacks and disasters. Someone's very obviously orchestrating these events, but who? Is it Despero? The smart money would definitely be on him, since Barry's life went south the moment he appeared. Is it Xotar? She definitely has the power to make Barry crazy. Or is there a previously unseen third party pulling the strings?

See what I mean? They took what should have been a simple plot— Alien Supervillain Comes To Earth To Kill Barry— and made it unnecessarily confusing. Less is more, guys!

Clearly the writers want us to believe Despero's responsible for wrecking Barry's life, but he appears to be just an observer. So if he's not the one responsible, who is? Sigh... I hate to even put this out there, but I have a feeling it'll turn out to be Eobard Thawne. Showrunner Eric Wallace confirmed that Thawne would be returning in Season 8, and this is as good a time as any for him to pop up.

There's no doubt that Thawne makes a great villain, and it'd always great to see actor Tom Cavanagh on the show. But at this point Thawne's been WAYYYY overused and is in serious danger of wearing out his welcome. Every other Big Bad they've ever tried has paled in comparison, but they can't keep going back to the Thawne well every time they need a villain. 

I'm telling you right now, if it turns out that Thawne is the one behind Barry's destruction, I'm going to vomit with rage.

It occurred to me this week that so far EVERY character who's popped up in this so-called crossover event is from a show that's no longer on the air (kind of). Last week we got an appearance from Atom, formerly of Legends Of Tomorrow. OK, so that show's still on, but he was senselessly written off of it a couple years ago. Then this week we get Alex Danvers from Supergirl, which just wrapped up its sixth and final season. And to top it off, in the closing scene we see Black Lightning, whose eponymous series ended in May 2021.

What the hell? Could they not round up anyone from any current series? Or did they call up all the out of work actors they could find, figuring they'd appear for peanuts?

This week's "Despero Destroys Barry's Life" plot felt very familiar to me for some reason. Eventually I figured out why— it's VERY close to the "Eclipso Destroys Courtney's Life" arc in the recent second season of Stargirl. In that series, the evil villain Eclipso systematically targeted Courtney's friends and family members in a dispicable effort to demoralize and defeat her.

I realize it's probably not really Despero who's behind this plot, but the story arcs are still a little too close to be a coincidence.

Despite the similarity, I did enjoy the deconstruction of Barry's life in this episode. First he loses his job, then STAR Labs and finally his adoptive father. It was all shocking and unexpected, and the perfect way to shake up the show, which has admittedly gotten a little stale after eight years.

Frankly it'd be awesome if these changes stuck. Team Flash would have to find a new HQ somewhere (most likely the Hall of Justice), and since Barry would no longer be the owner of STAR Labs or work for CCPD, he'd have to find a new job. That'd all be the perfect way to rejuvenate the series, so of course the writers won't do it. Expect the Big Red Reset Button to be pressed by the end of the crossover.

Lastly, I was right (sort of) last week when I kind of predicted the death of Joe West. Amazingly this plot development caused quite a bit of anxiety among fans who've apparently never seen or read a comic book before! For frak's sake, he's not dead!


The Plot:
Literally seconds after Despero gave Barry seven days to prove he's not a world-destroying monster, he grabs him and slams him to the floor of STAR Labs and says he's going to kill him (???). Again, Barry tries to convince him that he's not a threat and would never harm the planet he's sworn to protect.

Despero ominously says that very soon Barry's orderly little world will come crashing down around him, the trauma will cause his mind to snap and he'll destroy the world the very next day. Despero says he'll be watching closely, and the second he senses him going nutty he'll murder him.

Once he's gone, Team Flash decides they might discover a weakness in Despero if they knew where he was from. They contact Alex Danvers (of Supergirl fame), who says she'll search the Tower's alien database.

Allegra wonders why an alien's so concerned about Earth. Caitlin says she secretly scanned him and reports he has the strength of a Kryptonian. Barry says all he has to do is make it through the next twenty four hours without going crazy, and he'll prove Despero wrong.

After Barry leaves, Frost takes Chester aside and asks him to build a super weapon to use against Despero. Chester balks, claiming he's never built something to hurt anyone before. She tells him to stop being such a pussy and think of it as saving Barry's life.

The next morning things begin going south for Barry. He gets an alert of a bank robbery, and speeds to the scene in his CSI capacity. Officer Korber informs him that a guard went crazy and began firing his gun in the air, and during the hubbub someone cleaned out the vault.

Just then everyone's favorite character Kristen Kramer arrives and demands Barry turn in his badge. When he asks why, she says he's suspended while under investigation for federal crimes. When he asks what she thinks he's done, she replies there's evidence that he was working with Joseph Carver (husband of Eva McCulloch, aka Mirror Master/Mistress/Monarch). Barry reluctantly hands over his badge, and sees Despero leering at him from across the street.

Cecile hears about Barry's suspension and threatens to sue CCPD, becoming more and more angry (Hmm...). Suddenly she senses another presence in the room, and Despero appears— but only to Barry. He says he's there to see if Barry's gone crazy yet, but the speedster says he's fine. Barry then wonders if Despero had something to do with the bank guard's breakdown.

Barry sneaks into the guard's hospital room, and hears him mumbling the word "Xotar."Just then Caitlin calls Barry and tells him the city's threatening to shut down STAR Labs.

Barry zooms to STAR, where Director Hackshaw says the power core is leaking harmful amounts of radiation. He says they're all lucky they're not in the ICU, and orders the building to be evacuated, surrounded by a concrete wall and then ultimately demolished.

Team Flash then seals off any areas of the building that could give away Barry's secret identity. Barry opens the Time Vault and wipes the servers, erasing Gideon as well. He and the others then leave STAR Labs for the last time.

The Team meets up in Barry's apartment, where everyone worries that Despero's prediction is coming true. Barry assures them that he's fine, and they'll eventually prevail over this massive setback.

Barry then meets with Iris, and tells her he's worried that Despero's right. One of Iris' reporters finds out that Xotar is a psychic meta from National City who can drive people insane.

Barry searches Central City at superspeed, and finds Xotar in the process of robbing a jewelry store. He confronts her and she smiles at him. The next thing he knows he's back in Caitlin's apartment, as Team Flash are all poised to fight him.

He asks what's happening, and Caitlin says he zipped in and nearly destroyed the place. Barry has no memory of doing so, but the others are all adamant. He asks Caitlin to scan him, and she confirms his brainwaves are normal. Barry tells them Xotar must have whammied his mind. He then goes back out to look for Xotar again.

Barry pauses during his search to catch his breath. Despero appears and tells him Xotar isn't the one who made him crack. Barry asks him why he's so intent on killing him to save someone else's planet. Despero then infodumps his origin story, saying his homeworld of Kalanor was overrun by an evil overlord. Despero led a group of rebels and eventually overthrew the oppressor. Instead of killing him though he saved his life, and the overlord rose to power again. He then banished Despero to Earth— which is why he wants so badly to save it.

Flash insists he can handle anything, and Despero says he'll see and disappears again.

Meanwhile, Chester sets up a makeshift STAR Labs Lite in his Granny's garage. Allegra sees a device lying around and asks what it is. Chester admits that Frost talked him into building a weapon to destroy Despero. He's not happy about it though, as he claims he's a pacifist (even though he's never mentioned this before on the show). He tells Allegra a ridiculous story about making a raygun as a child and accidentally burning down his best friend's house, and vowing to never again make another weapon. Allegra gives him a Partial The CW Pep Talk© and tells him he needs to be true to himself.

Chester detects Xotar's location and relays it to Barry. He arrives at an intersection, where Xotar (who's having a really busy day) is stealing priceless art from a convoy. She causes the guards to go crazy and attack him, but he's able to easily zoom them away. She telekinetically immobilizes Barry, then lifts him into the sky and begins crushing his body.

Fortunately Barry's able to vibrate his molecules at superspeed and generate a massive lightning charge within his body. The energy erupts from him, knocking out Xotar. Barry falls to the ground and slaps a pair of meta-cuffs on her.

Back at the garage, Caitlin says the bank guard recovered the second Xotar was knocked out. Barry suggests they meet at Joe's and talk him into cooking dinner. The others look stricken, and tell him that Joe died six months ago (GASP!).

Barry doesn't believe it, and zooms to the West home where he frantically searches for Joe. Iris is there for some reason, and shows him a plaque on the wall commemorating Joe's death. Barry says it can't be true, and Cecile asks why he's acting this way and hurting her.

Just then Iris gets a news alert and turns on the TV. The three of them see a report that the Flash went on a rampage and attacked the city with Speed Force lightning, causing millions in damage. Barry tells the others he didn't do it.

Despero appears and tells Barry he's seen enough, and his rampage ends now. He fires at Barry with a blast from his third eye. Suddenly Chester & Allegra teleport to the scene. Chester's apparently gotten over the whole pacifist thing, and shoots Despero with the blaster he designed. He tells Barry to run.

Despero somehow recovers and reverts to his true alien form. He tells Chester and Allegra he'll kill them if they interfere again, and teleports away.

Sometime later Alex contacts Team Flash and tells them about the Flames Of Py'Tar, the sentient heart of Despero's homeworld of Kalanor. Apparently it's the source of his power.

Cut to the Hall Of Justice, which we haven't seen since the Crisis On Infinite Earths. Barry's hiding out there when Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lightning, arrives. Jefferson asks what's going on, and Barry ominously replies, "INJUSTICE."

• Did we skip a reel or something? The previous episode ended with Barry desperately trying to convince Despero that he had no intention of destroying the world. Despero then agreed to give Barry seven days to prove to him that he wasn't a threat.

Annnnd then this episode picks up literally a second later, where we see Despero suddenly pinning Barry to the ground and threatening to kill him again. What the hell? I honestly thought maybe I'd missed an episode somehow.

The writers make a weak attempt to explain Despero's heel turn by claiming his sudden attack was a way to test Barry's strength. He even says, "Thanks to this experiment, I now know the force required to kill you when the time comes."

Eh, nice try, guys, but you can't have a character state his position at the end of one episode and make a 180ยบ turn at the beginning of the next. It's needlessly confusing and just plain poor writing.

• Apparently this is what constitutes a guest appearance in the big Armageddon crossover. In order to dig up intel on Despero, Team Flash contacts Alex Danvers of Supergirl fame. She appears solely on a STAR Labs screen, in a scene that looks like actress Chyler Leigh shot in on her phone at her home.

I can't fault the producers too awfully much here, as I'm sure this was yet another result of the never-ending Covid filming restrictions. 

• Frost orders Chester to make a weapon that'll take out Despero, saying, "We need to level up our offense."

Again with the leveled up! Various characters said it a whopping five times in the previous episode, and this week it's uttered again. Why are the writers suddenly so in love with that phrase? 

• At one point Iris tells Barry, "Cecile's working on a big case, so after some work I'm gonna stop by and help her with Jenna. They both have been having a pretty hard time lately."

Hey, whaddya know, a Baby Jenna shoutout! The writers finally remembered she's a thing on the show. Although by now she's probably no longer BABY Jenna, as she's likely a toddler.

At this point Jenna's officially become an "Unseen Character"— a character on a show who's constantly talked about and even has an effect on the plot, despite never actually appearing on camera. Think Norm's wife Vera on Cheers, or Maris on Frasier.

Also, Iris' comment that Cecile & Jenna have been having a "pretty hard time lately" is a not-so-subtle clue as to Joe's fate.

• Everyone's favorite character Kristen Kramer arrives at the bank, tells Barry he's suspended and orders him to hand over his badge. Lots to unpack here.

First of all, what the hell's Kristen doing there, and why is she still Chief Of Police? If you'll recall, last season she blew into town and insisted on illegally forcing the meta-cure onto all superpowered criminals. Joe quit his job as CCPD Chief in protest, and she temporarily took his place. 

Then in the Season 7 finale Heart Of The Matter, Kristen found out that SHE was a meta, and instantly changed her mind about forcing the cure onto anyone. She then said she was taking an "indefinite leave" from CCPD, but noticeably didn't give Joe his old job back.

In this episode we find out that Joe's been dead for six months. Clearly far more time than that has passed between Seasons 7 and 8. Also, Joe's commemorative plaque reads, "RETIRED Captain Joseph West." Wha...?

So based on this evidence, at some point after Season 7 ended, Kristen must have reinstated Joe as Chief Of Police, and may or may not have returned to the force herself. Joe then died or was killed six months before this episode takes place, and Kristen replaced him as Chief. Confusing!

• After Barry's suspended from the force, he spots Despero standing in the crowd watching him. 

Did Despero use his mental powers to make himself invisible to everyone but Barry, or can the people in the crowd see him as well? If they can see him, then why aren't they reacting to the guy with the bright red fauxhawk who's dressed in a full length leather Maude vest?

• When Cecile finds out Barry's been suspended and is under investigation, she loses her sh*t and starts plotting revenge against CCPD. Her reaction's so uncharacteristically violent that Barry actually asks if she's OK. She calms down a bit and says she's been under a lot of stress the past few months, due to "you know what." She's clearly referring to Joe's untimely death here, but we're not supposed to know that yet at this point in the episode.

I wonder... WAS her outburst just due to stress, or is there something else going on here? Is she being manipulated by Despero? Is this a setup for another Dark Cecile storyline?

• Caitlin calls Barry and informs him that STAR Labs is being shut down. Several things here:

The city official in charge of the STAR Labs shutdown is Director Hackshaw (!). Jesus, did Charles Dickens name this character? I'm surprised they didn't name him Hardass McMeanface.

Secondly, when Hackshaw barges in, Caitlin tells him he can't just waltz in and close down the place. He then whips out a court order or something and hands it to Caitlin without even glancing at her. I did a pretty impressive spit-take when I saw this scene!

This is a prime example of the "No Look Look," a trope coined by Mike Stoklasa of Red Letter Media. It's when someone objects to the actions of an official, and they dispassionately produce a document which gives them full permission— without a second look at the recipient.

Thirdly, Hackshaw tells his team, "Post teams at every entrance. No one gets in without clearance." HAW! That's pretty funny, since apparently ANYONE can just waltz into STAR anytime they please.

Lastly, Hackshaw tells Barry that his team's going to construct a concrete and steel wall around STAR Labs & then demolish the place. Seriously? Look at the freakin' size of the building. How long do you think it'd take to put up a suitable wall around such a structure? Six months? A year? Longer?

One more thing— Hackshaw and his crew wear jackets emblazoned with the acronym CCDBS. I'm still struggling to figure out what that might stand for. Central City Department Of... Something Safety?

• After Frost orders Chester to create an anti-Despero weapon (is she his boss now?), we see him reluctantly working on it. Nothing much to say here, except some of his scribblings are worth a closer look, and someone on the staff obviously had fun writing them. Among the ones I can make out:

— Homework: Re-check Gideon's files for future metas that fit description. Even possible "cousins" (The Monitor??).

— Invulnerability?? To what extent?

— RADIATION GUN. Combine electromagnetic vector tech piggy-backed on Palmer nanites to fire undetectable beam? THIS COULD WORK... but it'd hurt him pretty bad... or worse??

— Super intelligent? Getting help? Just future knowledge? Maybe not so smart. Maybe he's just Biff w/the Sports Almanac?

— Human form weaker than giant, red dude?

—Telepath (9th). Uh-oh. How to keep... (unreadable)

— Time Traveler- (unreadable) need tech in belt to time travel?

• To prevent Hawkshaw and his team from discovering his secret identity, Barry erases STAR Labs servers, as well as deleting Gideon, his helpful self-aware artificial intelligence.

Say, remember when we were told that Barry would invent Gideon at some point in the future? The writers clearly don't! It's evident at this point that they wrote themselves into a corner with this subplot and have no earthly idea how to explain how a CSI like Barry was able to create a helpful, highly advanced self aware artificial intelligence. They've clearly given up ever dealing with the problem and are praying the audience forgets about it.

Also, it's obvious that Gideon's "death" here is supposed to be a highly emotional, tear-jerking moment. But we've only seen The Flash's version of Gideon a handful of times on the show over the years, as opposed to the Legends Of Tomorrow version who's in every episode. As such we have no real emotional connection to this Gideon, so her demise left the audience cold.

• After being evicted from STAR Labs, Team Flash meets up at Barry & Iris' spacious penthouse apartment.

I can't remember if I've ever mentioned this before, but the part of their building is played by the Brockman Lofts. Unlike most locations on The Flash though, this one isn't located in Vancouver— it's in sunny LA!

• Barry searches the city at superspeed and finds the evil meta Xotar robbing a jewelry store. My, oh my, how Xotar's changed!

Xotar's actually from the comics, and first appeared way back in 1960's The Brave And The Bold #29. At that time Xotar was a middle aged white man from the year 11,960. He didn't have any super powers, psychic or otherwise. Instead he time traveled to the past to pester the Justice League with an array of hi-tech weapons.

He got quite a makeover in this episode, as he now looks like a black Vegas showgirl.

Xotar's played in this episode by actress Kandyse McClure. You may remember her from such roles as Anastasia Dualla on the revamped BattleStar Galactica.

• Xotar uses her psychic powers to cause Barry to black out, tear up his apartment and threaten what's left of Team Flash. When he comes to, Caitlin's pointing an impressive-looking blaster at him.

So where'd THIS gun come from then? Is this another weapon that ultra-pacifist Chester whipped up before they were evicted from STAR? Or is this from Cisco's inventory, and they hurriedly took it with them as they were being escorted out of the building?

• Last week I said I was confused by Despero's motivation, and didn't understand why he was so concerned about the fate of the Earth. 
This week Allegra brings up the same point, saying, "Doesn't anyone else think it's weird that an alien cares so much about Earth? He's not even from here!"

The writers then make a valiant attempt to explain Despero's actions, as he infodumps his back story to Barry. His planet was taken over by a dictator, Despero overthrew him but spared his life, the dictator rose to power again and banished him here to Earth. Which explains why he's so worried about the place— it's now his current address!

Eh, it's a nice try I guess, but it still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. He's an alien from the future who can freakin' time travel and teleport. Surely he could use those two powers to get a do-over and save his OWN world from the dictator?

By the way, Despero's TV origin is the exact opposite of the one in the comics. There HE was the despotic ruler of Kalanor, and two rebels sought help from the Justice League in order to overthrow him. With the League's help, Despero was eventually defeated and Kalanor freed from his tyrannical rule.

• Frost orders Chester to whip up a weapon to kill Despero. This gives Chester icky bad feelings, as we find out— totally out of the blue— that he's a militant pacifist and has never invented anything that could hurt someone.

OK, I don't have a problem with this as a character trait per se— lord knows Chester could use a few. What I do object to is the fact that it comes completely out of nowhere. In all his appearances he's never uttered so much as a peep about this personal philosophy of his. It's less a character trait than it is a plot convenience, cooked up to artificially create conflict in the episode.

Hey writers, there's this thing called setup, where you spend time dropping little hints about plot points BEFORE they come to pass. Try it sometime, you won't regret it!

Then after Team Flash is evicted from STAR and sets up shop in the garage, Allegra roots through a box and finds a half-finished blaster. She asks what it is, and Chester tells her about his pacifism. But... despite his allegedly strong feelings on the matter, I guess he went ahead and built the blaster anyway? Apparently he got over his pacifism pretty quickly!

• As regular readers of my Flash reviews (both of you!) know by now, I like to try and figure out where the various scenes were filmed. Even though I've never been anywhere near Vancouver in my life, it's usually surprisingly easy.

For example, at one point Xotar uses her powers to rob an armored car, near a distinctive building with terraced greenery in front.

In real life you can find that building at the intersection of Jarvis & W. Hastings in downtown Vancouver. 

Man, I bet Vancouverites just LOVVVVVE this show, and how it's no doubt constantly shutting down traffic in the middle of the city at all hours of the day and night.

• Barry confronts Xotar again, and this time she surprises him by telekinetically lifting him off the ground, where he hangs helplessly above the street.

OK, there's no way in hell that was Grant Gustin suspended up there, but it was still an impressive stunt. I'm 95% sure it's practical too, and not CGI. Well done!

• Those sneaky, sneaky producers! When Xotar's levitating Barry in the air, you can clearly see a traffic sign in the background that reads "Amelia Street."

Turns out there's no such street in Vancouver! Here's the exact spot where they shot the scene, and in reality it's on Jarvis Street. 

So why would they go to all the trouble and expense of digitally changing the street sign? Did they not want anyone to recognize the area and say, "Hey, that's across the street from where I work?"

But it's not like they shot in some obscure backwater location. Those buildings in the background are the Harborside Park Condos— some of the most famous and recognizable architecture in all of Vancouver.

• When Barry starts vibrating his body to generate Speed Force Lightning to throw at Xotar, Chester utters another of his Black History Month exclamations, saying, "Holy Granville T. Woods!"

For the record, Woods (1856 - 1910) was known as the "Black Edison" and filed forty nine different patents, He was a pioneer in power distribution and telegraph communication.

• Barry goes full SUPER SAIYAN!!!

 Superhero Landing! We don't often get those from Barry, as he tends to stay on the ground most of the time.

• At one point Chester & Allegra teleport in to save Barry from Despero. Presumably Allegra's using the teleporting "smoke bombs" created by Nash Wells. Again, I gotta ask-- how many of those things did he leave her? Or did Chester figure out a way to replicate Nash's other-Earthly tech?

• Alex contacts Team Flash and says she found out that Despero's strength comes from the Flame Of Py'tar. Looks like someone on the writing staff did their homework!

Last week I briefly covered Despero's comic book origin, and how he was pretty goofy looking when he first appeared, but later got a brand new superpowered body, courtesy of something called the Flame Of Py'tar.

• After Despero gets blasted, he reverts to his true alien form for no absolutely good reason, other than that the producers wanted to remind us of what he really looks like.

• At the end of the episode, Barry discovers that Joe's ben dead for six months— and is terrified when he realizes he has no memory of his death.

I totally called this! Well, sort of.

Last week there was an odd scene in which Chester nonchalantly said he was "dead" to Ray Palmer. The camera then cut to Cecile, who looked stricken at the very mention of the word. Chester then fell all over himself apologizing to her.

At the time I wondered what the hell that was all about, as we got no explanation for Cecile's odd reaction. I said it felt like there'd been a time jump between seasons and Joe had been killed offscreen.

Welp, it turns out that's exactly what happened. Although we don't know the circumstances, Joe was either killed or up and died six months before this episode takes place. 

I assume Joe's death was cooked up by whoever's trying to destroy Barry's life and drive him crazy. Or is it? Cecile reacted to the word "dead" last week, before Barry's troubles really began— six months ago in fact. And Barry didn't even know about it till he was told! So is Joe's death part of the plan or just a coincidence?

• As I mentioned in the intro, Joe's alleged "death" caused quite a bit of tsuris for Flash fans. Immediately after the episode aired, online forums were filled with people who were shocked and outraged that the show killed off such a major character as Joe. They were particularly upset that he died offscreen, so we didn't get to see a proper death scene. A few even vowed they'd never watch the show again due to this egregious offront.

Jesus wept.

It's a comic book show, people! Comic characters die and get better as often as most of us change socks. It's unbelievable to me that even the dimmest member of the audience could believe they really killed off Joe. And off camera yet! For frak's sake!

Trust me, he's not really dead and he'll be back by Part 5.

• Hey, look! It's the Hall Of Justice! Remember it from the end of Crisis On Infinite Earths, and how at the time it seemed like a big deal? Cut to two years later, and to my knowledge this is the first time we've seen the joint since Crisis!

Did the producers originally have big plans for this concept, but our old friend Covid put the kibosh on it? Who knows.

• We then see Barry's hiding out from Despero inside the Hall Of Justice. Several things here:

Wow, welcome to Dutch Angles: The Series. Whoever directed this episode surrrrre loved to tilt the camera at bizarre angles!

And I pointed it out back when the Hall first appeared in Crisis, but why are the floors all wet? I know the real world reason— wet concrete reflects light and looks more interesting on camera. But I can't think of one good in-universe reason for it. Feels like Barry needs to re-shingle the place at superspeed!

We also see the eternal flame honoring the late Oliver Queen, still burning merrily away. So who keeps that thing going? Does Barry zoom in once a week to refuel it?

• The camera pans around the Justice League's conference table, giving us a look at the various member's chairs that are emblazoned with their logos. Among them we see one for Batwoman. Hey, wait a minute...

OK, I don't hate myself enough to watch that show, but I'm aware of it and all the backstage drama surrounding the production— specifically how series star Ruby Rose either quit or was fired (depending on which story you believe). 

There's now a new Batwoman named Ryan Wilder. So... is this the old Batwoman's chair, and she just hasn't used it in two years? Or did the League hear about her disappearance, track down the NEW Batwoman and invite her to join the team?

Plus what about the whole Paragon thing? Back in Crisis, The Monitor identified seven Paragons of various virtues, and together they were able to restart the universe. Barry was the Paragon Of Love, Kara Danvers the Paragon Of Hope, etc. Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, was the Paragon Of Courage.

So did the Paragon mantle get passed down to this new Batwoman? Or is she just a cheap, non-Paragon replacement?

• Barry summons Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lightning, to the Hall. When Jefferson asks what's up, barely solemnly and pointedly says, "Injustice."

I never watched Black Lightning (nothing against it, there's only so many hours in a day) but I did like what I saw of the character when he popped up in Crisis. So it was fun to see him show up again here.

Secondly, it's clear from the way Barry says "injustice" and the way that Jefferson reacts that he's not simply talking about a lack of fairness. It's obviously some sort of codeword. 

I'm betting this is a nod to DC's 2013 comic series Injustice: Gods Among Us. It was a prequel to a videogame, and took place on an Earth in which Superman turns evil after his family was killed by the Joker. Superman's actions split the Justice League, with one half forming a totalitarian regime, while the other half (led by Batman) fights against them.

It's unlikely anything like that's gonna happen in this crossover, especially on the perpetually cash-strapped The CW. They're clearly drawing a parallel between Superman being driven mad by the Joker, and Barry going bonkers due to... someone.

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