Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Flash Season 8, Episode 4: Armageddon, Part 4

This week on The Flash, it's Part 4 of the big Armageddon crossover event.

And what an episode it is, too! Armageddon, Part 4 featured one of series' most shocking and amazing opening scenes ever, as Barry zooms into a drastically altered future, in which he's now the Reverse-Flash and Eobard Thawne is the Flash! WOW! I gotta say, I was NOT expecting that! Kudos to the writers!

Unfortunately things began going south immediately after the title sequence finished rolling. Ah well. It was fun while it lasted.

So where'd the episode go wrong? First of all, there was the puzzling decision to suddenly forsake Despero— the ostensible villain of the piece— in favor of Eobard Thawne in a standard alternate timeline plot. In fact the Big D (heh) barely even appears this week! I gotta say, it's a bold choice to completely abandon an ongoing storyline in the the middle of a miniseries and bring in a brand new Big Bad. Inexplicable, but definitely bold. 

So is that it for Despero? Is his storyline over already, shoved to the side as Thawne elbows his way back onto the show? Who the hell knows?

I made my feelings about Thawne clear last week, but I suppose it's worth a brief recap. Basically he's the best villain the show has, which is why the writers keep dredging him up and bringing him back every season.

That said, they can't keep going back to his particular well forever. As great as Thawne is, the audience is eventually gonna tire of him— if they haven't already.

I also said something along the lines of if it turned out that Thawne was really the one responsible for destroying Barry's life in this crossover, I would vomit with rage. And here we are.

In addition to the Thawne fatigue, WAYYYY too much of this episode was taken up by dull, pointless subplots involving the various side characters. And to make things even worse, NONE OF IT MATTERED! The bulk of this episode takes place in an alternate timeline, which Barry's working to erase. Meaning the audience was forced to watch what felt like hours of relationship drama between characters who don't actually "exist!" Again, quite a bold choice!

The episode wasn't all bad though, as it also saw the brief return of Damien Darhk, played to perfection as always by the amazing Neal McDonough. He's great here as always, despite the shortcomings of the script. If I had one complaint about his appearance, it's that it's WAY too easy for Barry to talk him into helping him save the day.

That's pretty much this episode's problem in a nutshell. There's far too much content stuffed into the brief forty two minute runtime. Thawne and his alternate timeline shenanigans have no business being sandwiched into the Despero arc, and really should have been a completely separate plotline.

Everything feels rushed here, as the story doesn't have any room to breathe. Barry goes to 2031 and finds a bizarre alternate timeline in which Thawne's the hero and he's the bad guy. He then runs into Damien Darhk, and within less than a minute convinces the psychotic villain to help him set things right. And by the end of the episode they've managed to undo Thawne's changes and reset the timeline. It's just that simple!

In fact all I could think of while watching this episode was those "That Was Easy!" buttons that Staples used to sell!

This week's episode was directed by Chad Lowe, brother of Rob. He started out as an actor of course, appearing on such shows as Life Goes On, Melrose Place, ER, and 24. He's also a veteran of the Arrowverse, as he played Thomas Coville on Supergirl. At some point he decided to switch to directing, and helmed several episodes of The Flash. He previously directed The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen and Family Matters, Part 2, as well as two episodes of Supergirl.


The Plot:
Central City, 2031.
At the West party, the various guests make pleasant conversation. as they ship champagne Ryan Wilder tells Iris she and her wife are thinking of having a baby. Cecile complains about Baby Jenna, who's now a teen. Allegra says she may leave London (?) and take a job in Gotham.

Eobard Thawne then gets everyone's attention and toasts Iris, declaring her the love of his life (!). Barry enters and asks what the holy hell's going on. The guests are all aghast and ask what he's doing there. Barry then realizes Thawne's the one behind the systematic destruction of his life.

Barry zips into his costume at superspeed, and is gobsmacked to see he's wearing a yellow Reverse-Flash costume. Thawne dons his suit as well— which is red— and says HE'S now the Flash. GASP!!!

The two face off, and Thawne blasts Barry across the room. Barry tells the others that he's from 2021 and that Thawne's tricking them again. Thawne orders his Team Flash to suit up and attack. Instantly Iris pulls out a huge blaster from somewhere, Ryan Choi activates his shrink gauntlet, Alex Danvers dons her Sentinel costume, Ryan Wilder changes into Batwoman and Allegra activates her UV powers.

The Team attacks Barry and delivers a severe beatdown. Somehow he rallies and manages to grab Iris and speed away with her.

Barry takes Iris to their apartment, where he tells her that Thawne messed with the timeline and that they're actually husband and wife and that HE'S really the Flash. Naturally she doesn't believe him and says he's psychotic. Thawne arrives and zooms Barry into a nearby alley.

Thawne then monologues to Barry, saying he realized the only way to defeat him was to BECOME him. To that end he created a Reverse-Flashpoint, in which he went back to 2013 and made sure HE was the one struck by lightning and cconnected to the Speed Force, formed Team Flash and got Iris to fall in love with him.

He then made it his mission to destroy Barry's life by killing Joe, eliminating STAR Labs and turning the public against him, which ensured he'd become the Reverse-Flash.

Barry then tries to punch Thawne, but his hand goes right through him. Thawne says in order to protect his perfect world, he went even further back in time and killed Barry when he was a baby. He tells him he now has just a few hours left before the new timeline solidifies and he's erased. Thawne laughs and says he finally won. Barry hears the police coming, so he speeds away.

Cut to Barry hiding out at Jitters. where he sees a news report on citizens protesting outside Damien Darhk's penthouse, demanding justice for his many crimes. Apparently Darhk and the Reverse-Flash are partners in this timeline, and the two murdered Cisco, Ray Palmer and the Legends Of Tomorrow.

Barry speeds to Darhk's penthouse, where Damien greets his old partner. He senses that Barry's low on speed (after attempting to erase his powers last week), and asks what happened. Barry stretches the truth a bit and says Thawne altered the timeline, which affected his powers and undid their nefarious deeds. Damien's furious with Thawne, and vows to help Barry restore the timeline.

Damien says fixing the timeline won't be easy, as they'll have to undo all the changes simultaneously or they won't stick (?). The only way to prevent Thawne from just changing everything back again is to combine Damien's Time Stone with the Particle Eradication Distributor— which is currently stored inside STAR Labs. Sure, why not?

At STAR, Cecile tells Thawne she can't sense Barry. He snaps at her and orders her to try harder. Chester says Barry's speed has been reduced, which is making it harder to track his "tachyon output," whatever that means. Iris says Barry called her his "lightning rod," and Thawne says he's just trying to drive a wedge between them. He suggests she get some rest before their wedding.

Alex notices Chester giving furtive looks to Allegra and asks her what's going on between them. Allegra admits that the two of them linked up TEN YEARS AGO, but nothing every came of it because Chester decided they should just be friends. Suddenly the two of them are knocked unconscious.

Chester & Ryan Choi are in the lab, tweaking their tachyon-detector. Immediately they detect tachyons within the room, and Barry drops his speed-invisibility shield, (?) revealing Damien and himself. Damien magically chokes Chester and Damien, while Barry finds the PED.

Just then Cecile enters, wearing the Psycho Pirate's Medusa Mask, and psychically blasts the two of them. Damien fires back and easily knocks out Cecile. Barry begins fading again, and Damien says they should kill Cecile and the others.

Barry instantly speeds Damien back to the penthouse, saying it'd be better to kill Team Flash later. Damien then Force-chokes Barry, saying he knows he's not really the Reverse-Flash. Barry spills his guts, saying he's from the past where Thawne— the true Reverse-Flash— altered the timeline to eliminate him.

Damien admires Thawne's chutzpah, till Barry points out that his daughter Nora Darhk is dead in this new timeline. Damien uses his Time Stone to confirm this, seeing an image of himself sacrificing his own life to save Nora. He realizes Barry's telling the truth, and decides to help him defeat Thawne in order to restore the timeline and save his daughter. Like I said in the intro, That Was Easy!

Back at STAR, everyone regains consciousness. Alex butts in and asks Chester why he ghosted Allegra ten years ago. He says he left to get coffee for them, and when he came back she was gone. He tried talking to her later but she said their hookup was a big mistake. Ryan Choi says Chester's better off, as love sucks. Alex tells Ryan he's missing "the best part of being human." Enjoy this cringeworthy relationship drama on your superhero show, kids!

At the penthouse, Barry calculates he'll have to run at Mach 20 (!) in order to open a time portal to the past, and will need a 40,000 mile head start. Damien says he can just use the Earth as a runway, but Barry says that'd destroy the planet and cause Armageddon, just like Despero predicted.

Barry says there's only a two percent chance it'll work, but Damien tells him he has to try it anyway. He says Barry's the Paragon Of Love, which is what's guiding them both right now, (Jesus wept) and all that matters is restoring their families.

Back at STAR, Alex confronts Allegra and asks her why she ended her relationship with Chester. How the f*ck is this any of this slag's business? Jesus Christ! Allegra says everyone she's ever loved has left her or died, so she pushed Chester away.

Ryan Choi then butts in, saying the reason he doesn't love "love" is because he's scared of putting his heart out there. He urges Allegra to tell Chester how she feels so she doesn't end up alone like him (GROANNNNNNN!).

Barry zooms to the loft to talk with Iris before attempting to restore the timeline. She pulls out a Velocity-Zero gun that Batwoman gave her and points it at him. He starts phasing out again, and she asks what's wrong with him. Just then Thawne speeds in and see what's happening. He urges Iris to shoot Barry.

Barry tells Iris he loves her, and she somehow senses he's been telling the truth about everything. She turns and shoots Thawne with the Velocity gun, robbing him of his speed. She tells Barry to go before she changes her mind.

Barry meets up with Damien on the street. Damien says Barry only has two minutes to reach Mach 20 and open a portal. Barry thanks him for his help and zooms off.

Back at STAR, Team Flash tracks Barry as he dashes around the globe. His vast speed causes massive upheavals in the Earth's crust, and the team believes Barry's trying to destroy the world. Thawne apparently recovers his speed and chases after Barry, trying to stop him.

Frost & Chillblaine appear and attack Damien on the street. He tries magically blasting them, but fails as they were given a protection spell from John Constantine (?). They then battle in hand to hand combat.

At STAR, Ryan Choi tells Allegra & Chester that if they have anything important they want to say, now's the time. Allegra & Chester admit they love one another and kiss. Is this really the best time for this crap?

Damien conjures up a sword to use against Frost & Chillblaine. Suddenly Ryan Choi, aka the Atom, appears and increases the density of the sword, making it too heavy to lift. Sentinel arrives and knocks out Damien, just as the city begins collapsing.

Meanwhile, Barry just can't seem to reach Mach 20 (hey, it happens to all guys now and then). Thawne tells him it's too late and he's failed. Barry calls out to Iris, who inexplicably "hears" him. She says she loves him, as her eyes glow and she somehow uses the Power Of Love to reinforce his connection to the Speed Force. He reaches Mach 20, opens a time portal and zooms through (and presumably undoes all of Thawne's changes).

Central City 2021.
Despero's in STAR Labs, where he's apparently killed Team Flash (!). Cecile's the only one left alive, and he demands she tell him where Flash is. She says she doesn't know, but he doesn't believe her and begins ripping her mind apart.

Just then a wave of temporal energy washes through the room and Barry appears— in his proper red Flash suit. He tells Despero he went to the future, where Thawne manipulated him into destroying the world. He says Despero left the future before he saw Thawne was the one responsible (by combining his speed with Barry's).

Despero morphs into his giant alien form for no good reason, says he's going to 2031 to check it out for himself and disappears.

Later, Team Flash celebrates their victory in the Lounge. Iris calls Joe, and Barry's overwhelmed with joy to find out he's still alive.

Cut to the Time Vault, where Thawne appears and activates Gideon. He tells her she's going to help make sure he survives in this timeline.

• As the episode opens, Ryan Wilder, aka Batwoman, is telling Iris that she and her wife want a baby but aren't sure they're ready for the responsibility. Iris says, "Sis, you're spiraling." Sis? SIS? What the hell? This is a brand new timeline, so for a second I thought Ryan had somehow become Iris' sister!

I guess she meant "sis" in a friendly way, like saying "dude" or 'bro."

• Iris tells Ryan, "If you really want to have a baby, your heart will figure out the how." GROANNNNN! 
Yeah, I don't think it works like that. Boy, the writers were really shoveling the Hallmark Channel Sentiment this week!

• Hey look, it's Bitter Drunken Single Mom Cecile! Apparently raising a kid by herself in this brave new timeline has taken quite a toll on her, because she's hittin' the sauce as she complains about Baby Jenna— who's now TEEN Jenna. 

Note that Jenna STILL doesn't appear on camera— not even in the future! As I've stated before, she's officially become an Unseen Character at this point, just like Maris on Frasier.

• At one point Allegra runs up to Iris & the others and says, "Do NOT use the bathroom. It's occupied. Really... occupied." OK, I get the joke here— she just walked in on someone having sex in the crapper. But the way she says it, it comes across like she's warning them to stay out because she just took a huge sh*t!

• Why? Just why? WHY would they plop that ridiculous looking thing on Chester's head? Did actor Brandon McKnight piss off someone in the Hair & Makeup Department, and this was their payback?

And before any SJWs out there try to cancel me for making fun of a natural hairstyle, I've got nothing against Chester's dreads here. I'm talking about the horrible quality of the preposterously fake-looking wig.

By the way, just to prove I can occasionally say something positive, I just found out that Brandon McKnight had a small part in The Shape Of Water— one of my favorite movies!

• Thawne's alternate timeline takes place in 2031. Wow, isn't it amazing how none of the characters change one bit in ten years? Not even a hint of gray anywhere!

• Barry decides he's had enough of Thawne's crap and changes into his costume. He's then gobsmacked to discover that HE'S now the Reverse-Flash, and Thawne is the Flash! Holy crap! Now THAT was an opening! Seriously, this may be the most awesome moment in the entire history of the series. 

If only the rest of the episode had lived up to this intro...

• Note that the opening titles have also changed to reflect this new timeline, as they feature Thawne's smiling face instead of Barry's. Cool!

They even altered updated Chester too, adding a shot of him in his hilarious wig. Not sure why Joe's still in the titles though, since he died ten years ago in this timeline!

• When Thawne tells his Team Flash to suit up, Iris whips out a large blaster (which looks like the same one Caitlin used in Part 2) and aims it at Barry. Um... where the hell did she get THAT? Did she pull it out of her ass? Why in the name of sanity would she bring a freakin' GUN to her engagement party?

I realize this is a comic book show, but Jesus Christ— it still needs to make some minute amount of sense!

Additionally, right after Iris pulls out her blaster, Ryan Wilder and Alex Danvers both change into their costumes in the space of about three seconds! Impressive! Note that there's an audible whirring or machine-like noise on the soundtrack as the camera pans around Barry, so maybe that was supposed to indicate their costumes are magically forming on their bodies, the same way his cowl does?

• Oh god. After the ruckus at the reception, Chillblaine (arguably the worst pop culture character of this century) and Frost exit the restroom. 

We then realize they're the ones Allegra walked in on, as Chillblaine says he put a tie on the door and she should have known better than to barge in on them. Jesus wept.

• Thanks, Opening Credits, for ruining the surprise that Neal McDonough, aka Damien Darhk, would be appearing in this episode.

• Writing time travel stories is hard. Writing ones that are coherent and actually make sense is even harder!

Such is the case with this episode. Thawne expositions to Barry that he created a REVERSE Flashpoint (sigh...) in which he killed Joe, sabotaged STAR Labs and framed Barry by making everyone think he attacked Central City. 

So far so good, as Barry's life is changed for the worse AFTER Thawne makes these changes, which is as it should be. 

But then Thawne says he went back to 2013, where he made sure HE was the one who was struck by lightning and became the Flash. He also somehow got Iris to fall in love with him, and then inexplicably took steps to ensure Barry would become the Reverse-Flash.

Wait, what? Here's where the episode's time travel goes off the rails. As I said, when Thawne ruins Barry's life in 2021, the effects are instantly felt. It's classic cause & effect. For some reason though, the changes Thawne makes in 2013 go completely unnoticed by Barry in 2021. In fact these alterations don't become "real" until 2031! That... that doesn't make any sense. Shouldn't these changes have happened immediately as well

Ah, but it doesn't stop there. Thawne claims he went back even further and killed Barry as a baby, in order to eliminate him for good. If that's true, then how the frak was Barry still alive in 2021? Again, this change should have happened instantly, just like the ones Thawne made in 2021.

It's as if none of these alterations really "happened" until Barry went to 2031— like he somehow jumped over all the changes. It's almost like Thawne created his own personal timeline— one that's completely separate from the prime one and is somehow running parallel to it.

However you look at it, t's a bona fide, Grade A clusterf*ck.

• This is some major league, way over the top nitpicking, but whatever. When Thawne explains that he went back in time and killed Joe, we see a shot of the exact same surveillance camera video that Iris watched last week. 

Note that this footage was captured in black & white, but for some reason Thawne's Negative Speed Force Lightning is somehow red. WHOOPS! Just chalk it up to the amazing properties of that Negative Speed Force, I guess!

• Thawne has a drink named after him at Jitters— just like Barry did in the original timeline.

• After discovering he's the Reverse-Flash in Thawne's altered timeline, Barry hides out at Jitters (a place that's consistently packed with customers), where we see him wearing the Official MCU Superhero Going Incognito Disguise®.

• Barry hears a news report at Jitters, which states that Damien Darhk was convicted for the murder of Cisco Ramone— who was apparently the director of ARGUS in 2031.

Wait a minute... earlier in the episode at the engagement party, Allegra attacked Barry (aka the Reverse-Flash) and said, "This is for Cisco!" So who actually killed him— Damien or Barry? I guess maybe they murdered him as a team?

• Damien Darhk's one of the best villains in the Arrowverse, and Neal McDonough's portrayal of him is a joy to watch. That said, doesn't it seem a bit weird that this psychotic mass murderer is now being portrayed as a loving and sympathetic father?

I enjoy a good redemption arc as much as the next person, but it just feels wrong to ignore his many crimes simply because he loves his daughter. It's like asking the audience to forgive Hitler because he adopted a puppy.

• Damien realizes Barry isn't the real Reverse-Flash and threatens to kill him. Barry spills his guts and says he's from the past and Thawne manipulated the timeline. Damien then uses his Time Stone to look into Barry's mind and see that he's telling the truth. Several things here:

First off, for those not familiar with Legends Of Tomorrow, the Time Stones (there were more than one) were created by the demon Mallus, and given to his most loyal followers. The stones allowed the user to travel anywhere in time AND space— and apparently as of this episode they can also see a person's past.

Damien acquired one of the stones at some point in the past. His daughter Nora Darhk had one as well, till it was destroyed by a younger version of her father (just go with it). Later Ray Palmer, aka the Atom, gave Nora her father's stone after he'd been killed by Mallus. Yeah, I know, it's convoluted.

Secondly, Barry says that in his timeline, Damien sacrificed himself to save his daughter Nora (in the Legends Of Tomorrow episode The Good, The Bad And The Cuddly). Damien then uses his Time Stone to peer into Barry's mind and see a replay of this. But... Barry wasn't present for that event! So how can he have detailed memories of it? Heck, how's he even know it happened? I suppose it's possible that one of the Legends might have told him about it, but even so he'd have no personal memories of the incident.

Thirdly, if the Time Stone could convince Damien that Barry was telling the truth, why didn't they just use it on the rest of Team Flash? That way they'd have had their own small army to fight against Thawne.

Lastly, it felt WAYYYYYY to easy for Barry to convince Damien to help him restore the timeline. Damien was ready to kill Barry till he mentioned his daughter, then suddenly he made a 180ยบ turn and was willing to help him in any way he could. That Was Easy!

Missed Opportunity: Barry should have mentioned his future daughter Nora to Damien, who'd then shout, "WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?!!"

• When Thawne's barking out orders to his Team Flash, Chester says, "Consider it done, Captain EO."

For those of you born IN this century, Captain EO was a 3D film attraction that played at Disney theme parks from 1986 through 1998. It starred Michael Jackson as the titular character, the leader of a motley crew of aliens who're hired to deliver a special message to the Supreme Leader.

The seventeen minute film had quite a pedigree, as it was written and produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It featured music by James Horner and FX by ILM. It featured numerous lasers, smoke and other physical effects for maximum audience immersion.

Captain EO ended up costing $30 million (in 1986 dollars!), making it the most expensive film ever produced on a per minute basis (averaging out at $1.76 million per minute!).

Because Knowing Is Half The Battle!

• Thawne orders Cecile to use the Thinker's Chair to amplify her psychic powers to find Barry. So apparently The Thinker existed in this altered timeline as well.

Oddly enough, even though Thawne clearly mentions The Thinker's Chair, later on Cecile attacks Barry & Damien inside STAR while wearing a 
modified version of the Medusa Mask. Which had nothing whatsoever to do with The Thinker. Looks like someone forgot to proofread the script!

• Ah, the Arrowverse and its Back To The Future references...

As Barry's slowly erased from the timeline, he becomes insubstantial— causing his hand to pass right through the PED. Just like Marty McFly!

• As I've mentioned before, I don't hate myself enough to watch Batwoman, but I'm aware it exists. This episode marked my first exposure to Javica Leslie, who plays Ryan Wilder, aka the new Batwoman. Good gods, she is terrrrrrrrible! Rarely have I seen such wooden, high school play-level acting. THIS is who you cast as a series lead?

• Batwoman gives Iris a Zero Velocity Gun to protect her from Barry. Why the hell would she have an anti-speedster weapon? She quips that it's a little something her team whipped up to use against a certain "Lady In Red."

She's likely referring to Red Alice, her archenemy over on her own show. But as near as I can tell, Alice isn't a speedster and doesn't have powers of any kind. So again, why does Batwoman have a Zero Velocity Gun?

Some fans are wondering if this was a subtle reference to Red Death?

In the comics, the Earth-52 Bruce Wayne was traumatized by the death of his team of Robins, and decided to avenge them. To that end he powered up by harnessing the Speed Force, and renamed himself Red Death.

I sincerely doubt that's what Batwoman was referring to here. Even if I'm wrong and they are setting up Red Death, he'll be a completely different character from the one in the comics, since there's no Batman currently active in the Arrowverse.

• In a transparent effort to cut costs as well as pad the runtime, this episode features a ton of banal and turgid relationship drama. As I said in the intro, there's nothing better than watching the love lives of characters who don't really "exist," from a timeline that's about to be erased. I cannot believe how much screen time they wasted on this bullsh*t.

Anyway, Alex makes it a personal mission to stick her nose into Chester & Allegra's business. She tears Chester a new asshole for ghosting Allegra— because the two of them had a one night stand TEN YEARS AGO!!!

Let me shout that again through cupped hands— they hooked up a decade ago, and this slag demands to know why their non-existent relationship never progressed any further.

WHO DOES THIS? Who fixates on the ancient history of someone they barely know, and demands an explanation for it? I was really rooting for Allegra to go all Super Saiyan on Alex and fry the prying cow.

• Alex demands to know why Chester never told Allegra he loved her after they hooked up. He says it happened at the same time that Team Flash was attacked by the Legion Of Doom, and claims it was a "chaotic" time.

Chester's most likely talking about the Legion Of Doom that appeared in Season 2 of Legends Of Tomorrow. The team consisted of Eobard Thawne, Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn, Captain Cold and for a short time, Heat Wave.

There was also a Legion Of Doom that appeared in the comics, as well as the Superfriends TV series. Both teams consisted of pretty much every major DC villain the company owned.

• Back in Crisis On Infinite Earths, Ryan Choi had a wife and newborn child. His love for them served as motivation to join the other heroes in order to save the universe. 

In Thawne's altered timeline, Ryan's now a single, love-hating cynic. For reasons known only to himself, when Thawne was creating his perfect timeline he apparently he went to the trouble of specifically altering the details of this extremely minor character's life. Why would he do such a peculiar thing? Your guess is as good as mine.

• When Ryan Choi razzes Alex for butting in and trying to be a matchmaker, she says the worse line ever uttered in the series" "What is your problem? Why don't you love "Love?" Jesus Christ On A Soda Cracker! The Flash, ladies and gentlemen! Come for the superhero action, stay for the Hallmark Channel moments!

• At Darhk's penthouse, Barry scribbles on one of those clear "whiteboards" the show loves so much (I assume he zoomed one in while we weren't looking) and says, "According to these equations, I'd have to hit Mach 20 in order to open a time portal."

Back in Armageddon, Part 1, Caitlin asked Barry what it was like to be able to run 4,000 miles per hour. At the time I said quantifying Barry's top speed so specifically was a really bad idea, and would come back to bite the writers in their collective asses some day.

Welp, someday's here. Barry needs to run Mach 20, eh? A quick trip to google tells me that's the equivalent of 15345.4 miles per hour— quite a bit faster than 4,000!

• Barry tells Damien that running fast enough to open a time portal will destroy the Earth:

Barry: "Yes, but the Earth isn't just a solid rock. It has a molten core. The kind of pressure I'd be exerting on its mantle would cause cataclysmic damage. We're talking volcanoes erupting, ice caps melting, earthquakes, tsunami. It'd be Armageddon."
Damien: "So in order to save the world and bring my Nora back..."
Barry: "I'd have to risk destroying it, just like Despero predicted."

A couple things here:

First off, Barry's opened time portals NUMEROUS times before on the show, and he never once tore the planet apart even once. I don't see why it's suddenly a possibility this time.

Secondly, I don't see the problem here. So his actions might destroy the world. So what? THIS IS AN ALTERNATE TIMELINE! He's already attempting to erase it from existence. So who cares if this particular version of Earth is destroyed or not? In a few minutes it won't matter either way!

• Barry goes to see Iris right before he restores the timeline. For no good reason, we see he's taken the time to change back into his street clothes. I guess maybe he did it to try and put Iris more at ease, so she'd see him as himself instead of the Reverse-Flash?

Annnnd then a couple minutes later he preps for his world-destroying jog and we see he's back into his yellow togs again. Jesus, he has more costume changes in this episode than Princess Leia did in Return Of The Jedi!

• Barry begins his timeline-resetting run around the globe, leaving cataclysmic damage in his wake. First of all, I just noticed that he's leaving a trail of RED Speed Force Lightning behind him. That's because in this new timeline he's the Reverse-Flash, and as such has "evil" red lightning. Nice attention to detail!

Secondly, LITERALLY TEN SECONDS after he starts his run, we see a TV newscast reporting on the destruction he's causing. Now THAT'S on the spot reporting! Jaysis! How the hell is that even possible?

Note that once again, the TV's tuned to Channel 52, the only channel that apparently exists in the entire Arrowverse.

• In addition to running at Mach 20, Barry says he'll need a 40,000 mile head start to reach to that speed. Damien says he'll have to use the entire globe to do so. 
The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles, meaning he'll have to run around the planet almost twice to get up to speed. 

So just how many times circuits does he make? Does he really only run around the world twice, or do the writers drop the ball and show him zooming around it dozens of times? Unfortunately it's unclear. The episode cuts away to the ridiculous Chester/Allegra lovesick subplot so many time's it's impossible to tell.

• So Barry runs so fast his speed begins ripping up the Earth's crust. Thawne chases after him, determined to stop him.

For a second I was sure I'd found a major plot hole in the episode (one of many). If one speedster running at Mach 20 would destroy the planet, wouldn't TWO of them annihilate it twice as fast?

Ah, but those "clever" creators thought of that, as that's the episode's big twist! Despero was wrong about Barry— he didn't destroy the planet after all. It was Thawne chasing Barry that ended the world. Eh, I guess so. It's no "I See Dead People," but I suppose it can be considered a twist.

• As Damien's monitoring Barry's progress, he's confronted by the icy duo of Frost & Chillblaine. 

THANK THE MAKER! The most amazing character in pop culture in the past fifty years finally showed up in this crossover! For a second I was worried that we might not get a chance to see him this week.

Jesus Jetskiing Christ, would you look at that outfit? At the risk of bringing SJW wrath down on me, that's gotta be the absolute gayest getup I've ever seen! The most flamboyant, feather-wearing drag queen in the world would take one look at this outfit and say, "Nah, that's too much." I think it's the smart fur shoulder trim that really sells the ensemble. Well, that and the lack of a shirt.

• Damien refers to Chillblaine as "Chill-Lame," perfectly echoing the audience's sentiments.

• Frost claims that she and Chillblaine are protected from Damien's magic by a spell given to them by John Constantine. Hmm... Apparently Thawne's timeline changes must have prevented Constantine from dying in this timeline.

Once Darhk finds out he can't harm Frost & Chillblaine with his magic, he begins fighting them in hand to hand combat. Wait, what? So he can't directly blast them with magic, then why not use his powers to drop a car or a grand piano on them? Surely that would sidestep Constantine's spell.

Eventually Damien wises up, and when Frost & Chillblaine fire ice blasts at him he magically reflects them back, knocking out the duo.

• Sigh... Allegra and Chester decide that the absolute best time to profess their sappy love for one another is in the middle of this apocalyptic world crisis. Sure, why not? It's not like there's anything more important going on that needs their immediate attention.

I know exactly what's gonna happen here. Even though these versions of Allegra and Chester don't really exist and are about to be erased, their relationship will serve as a setup for their pairing in the real, prime timeline. I'm calling it right now— at some point later in this season, the two of them will sense a faint "time echo" of their affair, which will lead to it happening for real.

• Even though I'm not a fan of this alt-timeline Ryan Choi, it was cool to see the Atom in his comic accurate costume!

Note that the suit he's wearing here is the old school Silver Age version— the one worn by Ray Palmer throughout the 1960s and 1970s. There's actually a Ryan Choi in the comics, but his costume's quite different from the original. This new Arrowverse Atom appears to be a combination of both versions.

• Try as he might, Barry just can't get up to Mach 20. Fortunately Iris gives him a much-needed boost, as her eyes glow with golden light and she "reconnects him to the Speed Force." Because as we all know, she's his "lightning rod" in any timeline, blah, blah, blech.

• So it looks like right after Barry went to 2031, Despero apparently captured Team Flash & dragged them all the allegedly condemned STAR Labs. He then tortured them to find out Barry's location, and when they refused to talk he straight up KILLED them all! Damn, Despero! That's dark!

Fortunately when Barry returns, he rewrites this reality and undoes Despero's actions. Not exactly sure how THAT happened, since he was trying to undo THAWNE's changes and not Despero's, but let's just go with it or we'll be here all day. 

Oh, and of course despite Barry rewriting reality, Despero remains unchanged and remembers everything.

• When Barry returns to 2021, his costume's magically transformed back to its normal red version. This makes a certain amount of sense, since he was wearing it before he traveled to Thawne's timeline. But then we see he's still has the flashbulb, er, I mean the PED device strapped to his chest.

Wait a minute... now that he's undone all of Thawne's alterations, everything he experienced in that timeline never actually happened, right? So where'd he get the PED, and how in the name of Stan Lee's Mighty Toupee can be be wearing it?

Oy, I'm getting one of my sick headaches. I need to go lie down in a dark room.

• When Barry returns to STAR, he tells Despero he was wrong about the future. He doesn't believe him or course, and threatens to kill him again. Barry suggests Despero go to 2031 and see for himself. Amazingly, Despero does so, and teleports back to the future.

And just like that, the ostensible Big Bad of this crossover is gone! Like I said in the intro, That Was Easy!

• Barry's overjoyed when he sees Team Flash— who're all very much alive in the now-restored timeline— hanging out in the Lounge. Iris calls Joe, and Barry tearfully talks to his now-resurrected father.

Damn, we didn't even get a shot of Joe talking on the phone! Or even get to hear his voice on the other end. What the hell? Was Jesse L. Martin too busy to even record one line of dialogue?

• Back in Armageddon Part 2, Kristen Kramer suspended Barry from the force. She claimed the DA found evidence that Joseph Carver (of Black Hole) had a mole working for him in CCPD, and implied Barry was the prime suspect. He denied this of course, and vowed to discover the identity of the mole.

This all happened around the same time that Cecile started displaying her unhinged, rage-filled behavior. I floated the idea that someone might be psychically manipulating her, and that she might be the mole.

NOPE! I was WAY off on that one. Apparently there never was a mole, as it was all part of Thawne's campaign to destroy Barry's life, as this entire subplot was summarily dropped like a hot potato.

• In the tag scene, we see Thawne's somehow survived the timeline reset (natch!) and is back in his yellow Reverse-Flash costume. He appears in the Time Vault, where he tells Gideon she's going to help him live.

For some reason he's sporting a brand new version of his usual yellow outfit— one that's bright and much tighter fitting.

In fact it may be a little TOO tight. Get a load of how stiffly Tom Cavanagh's moving in this scene. He can't even turn his head, as he has to spin his entire body around just to look behind him. Then he lumbers up to the control podium like Frankenstein's monster!

How the heck did this happen? It's not like this is the first Flash suit the costume department's ever made. After eight seasons they should all be old pros at this. Yet somehow they've come up with a suit so restrictive the actor inside it can barely move.

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