Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Flash Season 8, Episode 3: Armageddon, Part 3

This week on The Flash, it's Part 3 of the big Armageddon sort-of crossover event.

This new season started out on a hopeful note, as the first two episodes were leaps and bounds better than anything the writers regurgitated last year. Especially Part 2 of this crossover, which radically changed the status quo of the show. I was hopeful that this was an omen of better days (and episodes) ahead, and a return to the show's early glory days.

Alas, the writers just couldn't keep up their winning streak,.

Armageddon Part 3 drops the ball a bit, as it's filled with endless scenes of characters either arguing about nothing or worse, discussing their feelings. Just what everyone wants to see on a superhero show. And if all that wasn't bad enough, they even trot out the tired old Power Of Love trope, which was the bane of Season 7. I don't know about this show anymore, guys.

Last week I mentioned that the writers had taken a simple storyline— Alien Warlord Wants To Kill Barry To Prevent Him From Destroying Earth— and needlessly muddied it with unnecessary plot complications. In addition to Despero, they brought in Xotar, a psychic meta who may or may not have been messing with Barry's mind. There was just way too much going on, in my opinion.

They doubled down on the complications this week, as we find out that Despero and Xotar had nothing to do with Barry's downfall, as a mysterious THIRD party is responsible. Annnnnd to absolutely no one's surprise, it turns out to be his archenemy Thawne. Which isn't even a spoiler at this point. We'll talk more about this below, but for now I'll just say the writers gotta stop playing the tired old Thawne card every time they're stuck for an idea.


The Plot:
At the Hall Of Justice, Barry meets with Jefferson Piece, aka Black Lightning. He invokes the Injustice Protocols, which stuns Jefferson. He asks Barry if he's sure, as once the Protocols are activated they can't be revoked. Barry confirms his request, and says he wants Jefferson to take his speed away.

Jefferson suggest calling in the other Justice League members, but Barry says there's no time. He claims his mind's getting worse as he even forgot about Joe's death. He reminds Jefferson that the League took an oath to stop any member who ever went rogue. Jefferson says he'll honor his promise, but reminds Barry that once he neutralizes his powers, they'll be gone forever.

At STAR Labs Lite (aka Chester's garage), Team Flash discusses whether Barry will really destroy the world as Despero claims. Cecile says what Barry might do ten years from now doesn't matter, as he's clearly hurting here and now. The others agree to help him.

Iris says it's fishy that all these horrible things began happening to Barry right after Despero first appeared. She thinks someone's framing him somehow, and even believes that Joe might not actually be dead. She shows them security footage of Joe's death, in which he was allegedly killed by a train. The video shows someone shove him onto the tracks, but he seemingly disappears a split second before the train actually hit him.

Based on this, Iris thinks Joe could still be alive somewhere. Cecile then freaks the hell out, saying she watched them bury Joe's body, and accuses her of being unable to get over his death. Quite rightly, Iris points out that Joe was her father, and she won't give up on him as long as there's even a remote chance. Cecile refuses to listen, so Iris leaves with Allegra.

Caitlin & Chester ask Cecile what she wants to do. She says their top priority is finding Barry before Despero does. Cecile asks Chester if he can amplify her psychic powers, and he says they'll need more brain power than she has (heh). Cecile says she knows exactly who to call.

Iris & Allegra arrive at the train station. Iris inspects the spot where Joe allegedly died, and sees a mass of strange particles bubbling in the area. Allegra uses her powers but can't detect anything. They question the security guard, who says the train that hit Joe was uncharacteristically early that day. He also says their video stream often gets interrupted and drops frames— which could explain why Joe seems to disappear in the tape. He plays a backup tape that clearly shows Joe getting hit. Iris realizes Cecile was right, and she was grasping at straws.

Cecile shows up at a dive bar where she finds Rosa Dillon, aka the Top, hustling pool. Cecile says she needs psychic help to find the Flash, and of course Dillon balks. She changes her tune though when Cecile offers to lift her parole restrictions.

At the Hall, Barry tinkers with Jefferson's suit while they chat. He finishes and says Jefferson will now have enough power to zap him. The two get into position, and Jefferson blasts Barry with electricity. Barry screams in pain.

Elsewhere, Iris sits in her office and broods. Allegra enters and says she investigated the train that hit Joe. It was never ever on time, yet ran early the day it hit him.  Its hydraulics also failed, despite the fact that it had a routine maintenance check two days earlier. She says someone definitely pulled the strings regarding Joe's death. Iris doesn't believe her, till she looks at the file and notices it's covered with the strange particles as well.

At STAR Labs Lite, Chester whips up a Neural Conjoiner and attaches it to Cecile and Dillon. The two begin telepathically searching for Barry, but can't find him. Dillon badgers Cecile, saying her grief over Joe is holding her back and she needs to overcome her feelings. They try again, and sense Barry talking to Jefferson. Before they can pinpoint his location though, the Conjoiner shorts out. Chester says it'll take an hour to fix.

Elsewhere, Despero monitors their activity, determined to reach the Flash first.

Iris returns to the train station, where everyone around her freezes in mid-step. Deon, aka the Still Force, appears and is miffed that she skipped one of her her "time sickness treatments." She tells him she suspects someone's altering the timeline and leaving telltale particles behind.

Deon can't sense anything, so she asks him to undo all the treatments he's given her. He reluctantly does so, and suddenly they can both see temporal isotopes all over the station. Deon says someone must have rewritten the timeline by tapping into the Negative Still Force. Oy.

Back at STAR Labs Lite, Caitlin tells Cecile she disagrees with Dillon, and she shouldn't suppress her feelings about Joe. She says their strength comes from their feelings or some such hooey. Does anyone ever enjoy these kinds of touchy-feeling scenes?

At the now condemned STAR Labs, Director Hackshaw's team reports that the Particle Accelerator has suddenly been reactivated. He tells them to shut it down, but Despero appears and takes over their minds. They knock out Hackshaw, and Despero sticks his hand into a panel and absorbs the power of the Accelerator. He says with this added boost, no mind will be able to resist his will.

Over at STAR Lite, Chester repairs the Conjoiner and Cecile and Dillon try again. This time they're successful and manage to locate Barry. Just then Despero appears to Cecile & Dillon, and orders them to open their minds to him. Dillon uses her vertigo powers to knock out Caitlin & Chester, and tells Despero she'll show him where Flash is if he'll let her help kill him.

Despero says he's not there to bargain, and forcefully rips the info out of Dillon's mind, which knocks her out and nearly kills her. He says Dillon only had half the location though (?), so he'll have to get the other half from Cecile. 

Despero begins invading Cecile's mind as she screams in pain. She then recovers as she says she's not alone and unleashes a psychic assault on Despero. He vanishes, and Caitlin & Chester wake. Caitlin checks Dillon and says she's barely alive. She asks what happened, and Cecile says Caitlin was right— she used her love for Joe to defeat Despero. Jaysis.

Chester locates Barry at the Hall Of Justice. Cecile says Despero knows where he is as well and is on his way there.

At the Hall, Jefferson continues blasting away at Barry (has he really been doing that all this time?). He takes a break and asks Barry why he's doing this. Barry says that according to Despero he'll destroy the world in ten years unless he gets rid of his powers. Jefferson says he doesn't believe Barry would ever do such a thing, but Barry's adamant. He gets angry when Jefferson won't continue the procedure, and throws a blast of Speed Force Lightning at him.

Apparently Barry forgot that Jefferson calls himself Black Lightning, as he effortlessly grabs the blast and tosses it back at him. The two then battle one another for a few minutes, until Barry finally throws Jefferson across the Hall. He smashes into the glass display case containing Oliver Queen's Arrow costume.

Jefferson recovers and asks Barry if this is what Oliver would have wanted. He reminds him that Oliver went to the Monitor and traded his life for Barry's, so he shouldn't give up on himself. Barry's horrified by what he's done and apologizes. He says Jefferson's right, and he's taking back control of his life.

Just then Despero appears. He knocks out Jefferson and grabs Barry by the throat, ready to kill him. Suddenly Iris & Deon materialize. She tells Despero she has proof that someone manipulated the timeline to drive Barry insane. Despero says he believes her but it doesn't change anything.

Jefferson recovers and blasts Despero off of Barry. He tells them to go while he holds him off. Barry says he needs to go to the future to see who's changing the timeline and setting him up, but he doesn't have enough speed. Deon helps by loading him up with Still Force energy.

Barry opens a portal to Central City in 2031. He looks around and sees a nearby hotel sign that reads "West Party." He somehow changes into street clothes and sneaks in.

Barry looks around the party, which is attended by Team Flash along with Alex Danvers, Ryan Wilder (aka the new Batwoman) and Ryan Choi (who we first saw back in Crisis). He looks up at the stage and sees someone toasting Iris and saying she's the love of his life. He moves in closer and see it's Eobard Thawne, and he and Iris are apparently engaged. Iris sees Barry, and asks what the hell he's doing there. Everyone turns and glares at him, while Thawne smiles.

• I already covered these items in the previous review, but they're worth a repeat here. Barry meets Jefferson in the Hall Of Justice, where he invokes the Injustice Protocol. A couple things here:

First of all, Barry expositions to Jefferson (who already knows this stuff) that the Protocols were put into place to protect the world if one of the Justice League members ever went rogue. This is similar to the Injustice: Gods Among Us comic miniseries, in which Superman went insane after his family was killed by the Joker and the other members had to stop him.

Secondly, the writers finally remembered the Hall Of Justice was a thing on the show. It debuted back in Crisis On Infinite Earths: Part Five, and at the time it seemed like it was gonna be a huge deal. Fans eagerly looked forward to the Arrowverse's own version of the Justice League regularly meeting inside the Hall.

Cut to two years later, and as far as I know this is the first time we've seen the place since. So what happened? Was it too difficult to coordinate crossovers with the other shows? Or did our old friend Covid put the kibosh on the writers' team up plans?

• Barry continues needlessly explaining the Injustice Protocols to Jefferson, saying, "We all designed this plan together after Faust."

Barry's clearly talking about Felix Faust here, a character from the comics. I could write 50,000 words on his origin alone, but suffice it to say he was an evil sorcerer who first appeared in 1962's Justice League Of America #10, and often clashed with that team. 

Faust actually appeared in the Constantine TV series, meaning he's technically part of the Arrowverse.

Based on the Faust namedrop, it appears the TV Justice League has had numerous unseen adventures together since they formed.

I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, these untold tales add a certain richness to the lore of the Arrowverse. On the other, it's not a good sign when their offscreen antics sound more interesting than the ones we actually get.

• Barry reminds Jefferson, "We all made the same promise. If anyone ever lost control, a designated teammate would step in. For me, that's you."

So the Justice League's on the "buddy system," and each member gets assigned a partner who'll stop them from destroying the world if they go bad. Sounds kind of like an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor!

• Although they're an unlikely duo, I like the dynamic between Barry & Jefferson. In fact their relationship seems to closely mirror the one father/son one between Joe & Barry.

• Once again I gotta ask— why are the Hall Of Justice's floors always sopping wet?

I know the real world reason for it— wet cement reflects light and looks more interesting on camera. But I can't for the life of me think of a logical in-universe reason for it. Someone patch that roof, stat!

• Oh god... Jon Cor's name is in the opening credits. He's the goomer who plays Chillblaine— possibly the worst character in 21st Century pop culture.

Oddly enough, despite Cor's credit here, I didn't spot him anywhere in the episode. Not that I'm complaining, mind you! Maybe he was originally in it but his scenes were cut for time. Bullet dodged!

• Last week I said it felt like the writers had taken a simple concept and muddied it all up.

First Despero arrived and proclaimed that Barry would go crazy and annihilate the planet in 2031. Immediately afterward Barry's life took a massive turn for the worse as he lost his job, his place of work and even his father— all of which caused him to begin losing his mind. It seemed like a given that Despero was responsible.

This week Iris tells Team Flash, "Look, I know how this is gonna sound, but when Despero showed up, he said that Barry would suffer tragedy, and then on cue, he lost his job, he lost STAR Labs, and now he's lost his mind. Doesn't that seem like a big coincidence? A little too big?"

YES! That's EXACTLY what I was saying! 
Looks like Iris has been readin' my blog!

Of course it turned out that it wasn't really Despero who was destroying Barry's life, as there's (Thawne) an unknown party (Thawne) who's secretly pulling the strings (Thawne) from behind the scenes (Thawne). Just another example of how the show took a straightforward concept and made it overly complicated.

• Iris shows Team Flash surveillance footage of Joe's death, in which he seemingly vanishes a split second before he's allegedly hit by a train. Based on this evidence, she thinks there's a slim chance he might still be alive. The others straight up treat her like she's insane for even suggesting such an outlandish thing.

Seriously? In the universe of this show? A world populated with talking shark men, intelligent gorillas and 
multiversal doppelgängers? A world where people can fly, shoot ice from their hands and time travel by running fast? What the hell? Joe potential disappearing act is the least preposterous thing that's ever happened in Central City.

• When Iris floats her theory that Joe may still be alive, Cecile flies into an uncharacteristic rage and demands to know why she's doing this to her. She then goes into a lengthy diatribe about how hard it's been for her since "the father of her child" died. Iris takes it for a minute before finally slamming her down and basically saying, "Bitch, he was MY Dad and I knew him thirty years longer than you!" Good for her!

!'m starting to wonder about Cecile, as this is the second week in a row in which she's lost her sh*t and gone off on a rage-fueled tangent. Is she just overly stressed after Joe's death? Is Despero messing with her mind? Or is she somehow secretly the mole in CCPD that Kristen Kramer mentioned in Part 1?

By the way, many fans accused Danielle Nicolet (who plays Cecile) of overacting in this scene, but I thought she did an awesome job. In fact everyone on the show seems to have "leveled up" their acting this week. New director, maybe?

• At STAR Labs Lite, Team Flash goes over this helpful graphic outlining everything they know about Despero. There's a lot to unpack on this chart and it goes by pretty fast, so for the record it reads:

— Dorsal Fin
— Psychic Antenna?
— Super Durable Skin
— Not Affected By Radiation In STAR Labs
— Three Eyes— Psychic Powers
— Astral Projection— Mental Detection
— A drawing of Despero's third eye with the caption "Vulnerable?"
    (I guess they're thinking about poking it out?)
— Home Planet = Kalanor
— Flame Of Pytar— Power Source? 
    (this was confirmed last week by Alex Danvers)
— A Drawing Of His Belt Buckle Device, with the caption "Kalanorian In Origin?"

— Where To Get More Info? 
     Alex Danvers @ The Tower 
    (they've already contacted her at this point)
     Chip Cooper
    (Director Of Technology at ARGUS, who aggressively recruited Cisco to come work there)
     Legends (unresponsive?)
    (They're unresponsive because they're currently stuck in the 1920s over on their show)
— Time Travel— Needs Massive Power
— Armageddon

— Barry's Vision:
    Flash Causes Destruction
    Destroys World By Running?
    Elseworlds Connection?
    (I have no idea what this means. Do they think parallel worlds may be involved somehow?)
    Kara & Barry Run— Stop Time
    Opposite A Possibility?
    (Again, no idea. I guess they think evil doppelgänger of Barry causes Armageddon?)

— Kalanor— Overrun By Despot
— Despero Arrives On Earth As Refugee

These last two items are interesting. They're both correct, as Despero's planet really was overrun by a Despot, and he was banished from his planet and came to Earth as a refugee. There's just one little problem— at this point in the crossover, Despero hasn't yet revealed this information to anyone! He infodumps his origin story to Barry in Part 4— meaning there's no way that Caitlin (or whoever made this chart) could possibly know any of this yet! WHOOPS!

• Cecile believes she can find Barry before Despero does if she boosts her psychic powers, and asks Chester to whip up an amplification device.

First off, Chester says, "You want me to build Cerebro out of the trash in my garage?" Apparently the X-Men comics (and possibly even the movies) are a thing on Earth-Prime.

Secondly, remember back when Cecile first got her powers and could only sense what others were thinking or feeling? At some point in the past couple seasons the writers forgot what "empath" means and she's gone full Professor X on us.

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. As Team Flash discusses their latest enemy, Caitlin says, "Kalanorians like Despero have four hemispheres to their brain. The human brain only has two." NOPE!

By definition a hemisphere is HALF a sphere. You can't have four halves. I think the writers probably meant to say four lobes here.

• The second I saw this establishing shot of the dive bar, I fully expected we'd see Chillblaine inside. Thankfully he wasn't. Bullet dodged again!

• Cecile enters the dive bar looking for fellow psychic meta Rosa Dillon. Note the outfit she's wearing here, which is totally different from the one she was wearing when she tore Iris a new butthole at STAR Labs Lite.

Apparently she went home and changed into her best "Bar Slumming Clothes" before meeting with Dillon.

• Scratching your head trying to remember who Dillon is? Several seasons back she and her boyfriend Sam Scudder were caught in the Particle Accelerator blast, which turned them into metas. Dillon, aka the Top, is an empath like Cecile and can also affect people's sense of balance. Scudder became the original Mirror Master. 

In Season 7 Dillon became a member of Black Hole, before joining Eva McCullogh's (aka the second Mirror Master/Mirror Monarch/Mirror Mistress) team. 

I like Dillon quite a bit in this episode. She's fun and snarky and a breath of fresh air on the show. In fact she reminds me a lot of Frost before her character was neutered. She'd make an excellent addition to the cast, which is exactly why she'll disappear after this episode.

• Nice Attention To Detail: Barry plays Thelonious Monk while working, causing Jefferson to think he's trying to curry his favor. Barry explains it's nothing of the sort, as he grew up in a black household and as such was exposed to such music his entire life. Makes perfect sense! Well done, writers!

• Barry decides the only way he can prevent himself from causing Armageddon 2031 is by eliminating his powers forever. To that end, he has Jefferson fry him with electricity to sever his link to the Speed Force.

Looks pretty painful. As well as deadly! Is there any reason why being electrocuted like this doesn't just straight up kill Barry?

Wouldn't it have been a lot easier and made much more sense to put the meta-dampening cuffs on himself to cancel out his powers? For that matter, if he was REALLY serious about getting rid of his powers, why not just take the meta-cure? I'm sure Kristen Kramer still has a whole trunk full of it in her garage.

• At STAR Labs Lite, Chester whips up a "Neural Conjoiner" that'll combine Cecile and Dillon's powers so they can locate Barry. Chester begins explaining how it works, pointing out that Barry's location will appear on an old school portable TV. In the middle of his spiel, Dillon interrupts him and says, "I'm sorry, but does that TV have rabbit ears on it?" 

HA! I love it. Dillon's my new favorite character. Too bad she's not sticking around, as she's WAY more fun than Cecile.

Anyway, Chester confirms that the TV does indeed have rabbit ears, saying, "It's cause it's my Grandma's, which means we'll have to be done by seven cause she doesn't want to miss her stories." OK, that was mildly amusing, but what soaps come on at 7pm? Don't the few that are left air in the morning & afternoon? I suppose we could cut the writers some slack here and say she could be watching them on the Soap Opera Network.

• As Chester activates the Neural Conjoiner, we're treated to this odd closeup of a device labeled "Malis Bipolar Coagulator." 

With a preposterous name like that, I figured this was something whipped up by The Flash's Prop Department. Amazingly, it's actually a real machine! It's used to control blood flow during neurosurgery, and as such doesn't seem like it'd be much use here.

But why the big closeup though? The way the camera lovingly lingers on it, it almost feels like product placement! Maybe someone on the crew owns the Malis company and wanted a free plug?

• Chester activates the machine, which links Cecile & Dillon's mind. Instantly, Dillon begins writhing in her chair and moaning with pleasure. 

Someone on set reeeeally needed to tell actress Ashley Nicole Rickards that she was supposed to be using her mental powers here, and not having an orgasm.

• Just in case we didn't notice Cecile's ample cleavage, her necklace forms a large arrow that helpfully points it out for us.

• This is probably some more over the top nitpicking, but whatever. When Iris walks into the train station, time comes to a stop and freezes everyone in their tracks but her.

Check out the guy at the right of the screen, who's reaching out to throw his coffee cup in the trash. Note how the cup is clearly still attached to his hand here.

We then get a "bullet time" shot as the camera pans around the frozen commuters— including Mr. Coffee, whose cup is now suspended in midair after he's tossed it away. WHOOPS!

• Iris meets Deon in the time-frozen Central City Train Station. A couple things here:

First off, the part of the station is played by the Pacific Central Station in— where else— Vancouver. Such places are generally pretty busy, so they must have either filmed the scene late at night or possibly during the Lockdown.

Secondly, why's Deon wearing black gloves? Has he always worn them? I'd have to rewatch Season 7 to check for sure, and THAT ain't happening!

UPDATE: OK, I just called up one of my previous reviews, and it seems the black gloves are indeed a part of Deon's ensemble. I guess I flushed most of Season 7 from my brain.

• Iris orders her "son" Deon to absorb all the time treatments he's given her over the past several months, so she can detect any temporal shenanigans that might reveal if Joe's still alive. Deon's reluctant, saying, "Look, if I absorb ALL of that temporal matter out of you and that sickness you got starts spreading too fast, you're gonna start moving in and out of timelines again... or worse."

Iris is adamant though, so Deon drains the temporal energy from her body. The way it's built up it seems like it's gonna be a lengthy and complicated process. After all, he's been filling her full of time energy or whatever for well over six months.

Instead he just snaps his fingers (while wearing gloves yet!), and there's a tiny little green poof. THAT'S IT? Just a couple little sparkles? No waves of green energy pouring out of her body and back into Deon? Methinks the budget must have run out during this scene.

• So Deon— who's one of the Four Forces and virtually a god— can't detect any timeline anomalies until he undoes Iris' treatments. Then suddenly he can see temporal isotopes everywhere. Does that make any sense?

The writers valiantly attempt to explain this by having Deon say, "Someone tapped into the Negative Still Force to rewrite the timeline. Your dad wasn't supposed to die!"

So it's not enough that there's Negative Speed Force, there's a Negative STILL Force as well (even though Deon pronounces it "STEEL Force). Jesus wept. Do ALL four Forces have a negative counterpart? How the hell did that happen? And why? Did Thawne create it like he did his Negative Speed Force?

• Cecile and Dillon's first attempt to psychically find Barry fails. Afterward Caitlin takes Cecile aside and says she shouldn't bury her feelings for Joe like Dillon suggested. 

Did you enjoy watching these two talk about their emotions for fifteen minutes of screen time during this "action packed" crossover event? Yeah, me neither. 

As frustrating and uninteresting as this hooey is, there's a reason for it— and as usual it all comes down to budget. It's infinitely cheaper to shooting two people quietly talking in a room than it is to film fifteen minutes of exciting superhero action.

• Despero reactivates the STAR Labs Particle Accelerator in order to absorb its energy and boost his power, or something. A LOT to unpack in this brief scene:

First off, when Chester detects the Accelerator booting up he utters another of his Black History Month exclamations, saying, "Sweet Joseph Winters!"

If you're like me and have no earthly idea who that is, Joseph Winters (1816 - 1916) was a black inventor who patented a wagon-mounted fire escape ladder. OK then.

We then cut to Director Hackshaw and his team, who are still occupying the now-defunct STAR Labs. Oddly enough Hackshaw's still in his stylish windbreaker, while his people are puttering around in standard work jumpsuits.

Wait, hold up here... Didn't Hackshaw kick out Team Flash last week because the building's nuclear reactor (which is different from the Particle Accelerator) was flooding the place with a deadly amount of radiation? In fact the levels were allegedly so high he told them they were lucky to still be alive. He even said his crew was going to build a concrete & steel wall around the place and then demolish it!

So why are Hackshaw and the others just lounging around in regular clothing? Shouldn't they all be in radiation suits? I guess it's possible they might have gotten the reactor under control, but if so there's no mention of it. And if they DID fix the place, why wouldn't they let Team Flash move back in?

Even more astonishing, when we first see Hackshaw he inexplicably appears to be playing a game of chess— with himself yet! Eh, no cause for alarm! There's just a giant stadium-sized radioactive building in the middle of downtown Central City that could explode at any second, so why not enjoy a stimulating game of chess?

As bizarre as the whole chessboard thing is, there's a reason for its ham-fisted inclusion here. It's so we could get this scene of quietly Despero posing in front of it!

His appearance here is very obviously an homage to the cover of 1960's Justice League Of America #1, which featured Despero playing a deadly game of chess against the Flash. Fun, for sure, but I just wish the writers had figured out a more logical and organic way to incorporate the scene.

* Ceclie & Dillon try the Neural Conjoiner a second time, and manage to locate Barry. Amazingly, the device works by somehow projecting Barry's image on Chester's Granny's old TV. Caitlin then sees the image and says, "I can see Flash! He's with Jefferson Pierce. Where are they?"

Well gosh, Caitlin, let's see. They appear to be inside a warehouse with a perpetually wet floor, and there's a van in the background that's prominently labeled "STAR Labs." How many other STAR warehouse facilities are out there?

• Despero appears in STAR Labs Lite, demanding to know Flash's location. Dillon then tries to cut a deal with him and let her help kill Barry. If you watch closely, it actually looks like she "primps" herself here before speaking to Despero— like she's attempting to make herself irresistible to him! I love it! Make Dillon a regular already!

So was Dillon really wanting to work with Despero, or was she trying to get him to drop his guard so she could zap him? I like to think it was the latter, but it's inconclusive at this point.

• Despero gets half of Barry's location from Dillon's mind, and tries ripping the other half from Cecile. Wait, what? How do you get half a location? Did he see an image of just the left side of the Hall Of Justice?

• Despero then tries prying the rest of Barry's location out of Cecile's mind. She manages to fight back and even defeat him though with— say it with me, kids— The Power Of Love. Yep, she uses her love for Joe— who's dead, mind you— to give her the strength to zap him with a mind blast and send him runnin.' Sigh... I just don't know about this show anymore, guys.

• "He flies now?" "He files now."

Back at the Hall, Barry attacks Jefferson when he refuses to take away his speed. I don't watch Black Lightning, so I honestly wasn't aware that Jefferson could fly. Well, sort of. Cool!

• Despero appears in the Hall and attacks Barry. Jefferson zaps Despero with lightning and holds him off temporarily, turning long enough to say, "Run, Barry, Run!"

According to my Official Run, Barry, Run Counter, this is the 15th time someone's said this catchphrase to him on the show.*

* Note that there've been many variations of the line over the years, but I'm only counting actual instances of "Run, Barry, Run."

• With Deon's help, Barry's able to travel to the far off year of 2031 to find out who's trying to frame him. Amazingly he arrives next to the very same "The End Is Nigh" graffiti we saw at the beginning of Armageddon, Part 1!

Note the series of steps on the right half of the screen. They should look VERY familiar to fans of The Flash and Arrowverse shows in general. 

They're the steps in front of 
the Oceanic Plaza in Vancouver. This location's been used on ALL the various shows more times than I could ever count.

• Once he's in 2031, Barry looks around and sees a sign in front of a hotel that reads, "West Party." 

This sign is touting the big engagement reception of Iris & Thawne. So qouldn't it make more sense if said "Thawne/West Party" instead?

I know the real world reason for this— by saying West only, it prolongs the suspense and makes Thawne's ultimate reveal a bigger surprise for the audience. But I can't think of any good in-universe reason for it.

• Barry sneaks into the West Party, where he's now wearing street clothes. Whaaaa...? He arrived in 2031 in his full Flash gear. Did he have these clothes on underneath his Flash suit? Does he carry casual wear in his Flash ring? Or did he go shopping at superspeed before entering?

• The reception's a star-studded affair, featuring numerous characters from The Flash and other Arrowverse shows.

First off we see Chester in the crowd, sporting the most preposterous wig I've ever seen outside a high school stage production. Next to him is Ryan Wilder, aka the New & Improved Batwoman, then Allegra and lastly Alex Danvers of Supergirl fame.
Ryan Choi's there as well, along with Cecile. Hey, remember when Ryan was gonna be the next big thing in the Arrowverse? He was introduced back in Crisis On Infinite Earths: Part Three, and was one of the seven Paragons (of Humanity) who rebooted the universe after it was destroyed. There were even rumors of him becoming the new Atom and replacing Ray Palmer on Legends Of Tomorrow.

Then POOF! He was seemingly forgotten by the writers, as if he never existed. In fact I don't think he'e ever even been mentioned until now.

No idea who the guy on the left is supposed to be by the way.

• I brought this up in Part 1, but it's still valid here— pretty much every guest star in this crossover event is from a show that's no longer on the air. 

Part 1 featured Ray Palmer, formerly of Legends Of Tomorrow (which is still going strong, but he was stupidly written off it a couple seasons ago). Alex Danvers is from Supergirl, which just ended its run. And now we have Ryan Choi, who's never been a regular part of ANY Arrowverse series. As I said earlier, he was in Crisis but hasn't been seen since.

The only crossover character who's still on a current series is Ryan Wilder from Batwoman.

There's nothing wrong with this per se, but it just seems odd to me. Did the perpetually cash-strapped The CW save money by hiring out-of-work actors desperate for any gig? Would it have killed them to have cast someone from a show that's actually, you know, still airing?

• Funny how all the reception guests look EXACTLY the same in 2031 as they do here in 2021. Sure, ten years isn't a huge amount of time in the average lifespan, but they should have visibly aged a little

According to the Official Arrowverse Wiki, Iris was born in 1989, which would make her forty two in 2031. Yet she looks pretty much unchanged here. Seems like the various characters should have had a few gray hairs here & there.

• The episode ends with the shocking reveal that in 2031, Eobard Thawne is engaged to Iris. GASP!

Of course it's Thawne who's framing Barry and destroying his life! Who the hell else would it be? Who else would the show turn to when it needs a good villain? Looking at the huge pile of failed antagonists like Cicada, Bloodwork and Mirror Master/Monarch/Mistress, it's clear at this point that the writers can't come up with a Big Bad that can top Thawne, so once again they bring him back and trot him out on stage.

I like Tom Cavanagh quite a bit and his portrayal of Thawne is masterful as always. That said, the producers can't keep going back to this particular well forever. As good as he is, eventually the audience is gonna tire of him— and I feel that day may have arrived.

One final thing here—I predicted all this last week when I said:

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.

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.

Welp, avert your gaze, gentle reader. I'm about to start upchucking!

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