Saturday, January 8, 2022

The Flash Season 8, Episode 5: Armageddon, Part 5

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

So, how was it? Did it live up to its potential, or was it another disappointing dud? Eh, it's not quite that simple. If I had to describe this crossover with a single word, I'd say it was puzzling. At every turn, the writers made the worst and most perplexing decision possible.

It started out on a promising note, as it was leaps and bounds better than anything the writers crapped out in the disastrous Season 7. Armageddon, Part 1 and Part 2 were actually surprisingly decent outings, as the ultra powerful alien Despero arrived in Central City, bent on killing Barry in order to prevent him from destroying the world. And Part 3 ended with a shocking, plot-twisting cliffhanger that may have been the best thing the series has ever done!

But then the cracks began showing. Armageddon should have been a straightforward story— an alien comes to Earth gunning for Barry, and he has to find out why and ultimately defeat him. Instead the plotline became hopelessly and needlessly muddled. Despero has psychic powers and says he'll kill Barry if he senses his mental state deteriorating. Shortly afterward, ANOTHER psychic villain shows up and begins tampering with Barry's mind! Why clutter the story with TWO villains who have the exact same powers? It was clumsy and confusing. Puzzling even.

Things really got muddled in Armageddon Part 4, when the writers seemingly got bored with Despero, and shoved him aside in favor of Eobard Thawne. Yep, that's right— once again they trotted out the most overused antagonist in the Arrowverse for yet another appearance. 

Don't get me wrong, Thawne's definitely the best villain on The Flash, and actor Tom Cavanagh plays him to perfection. But he didn't belong in this crossover. There should have been two separate story arcs— one featuring Despero, and one Thawne. Cramming them both in the same plotline only served to dilute Despero, to the point where he might as well not have been there at all.

Ah, but the puzzling decisions don't stop there! Part 4 featured Barry finding himself in a hellish alternate timeline of Thawne's making— one in which HE was the Reverse-Flash. It was an interesting concept, but wasn't given enough time to breathe as Barry set everything right before the last commercial. The "ThawneWorld" arc really needed to be two or three episodes long.

Which brings us to this week, in which there's nothing left for the characters to do besides sit around and debate whether to let Thawne die, or try to save him. The idea of helping an insidious villain like Thawne is utterly preposterous, and made the characters all seem like idiots. Oh, and Despero— the ostensible Big Bad of the piece— makes a final, perfunctory appearance, almost as an afterthought. Puzzling!

More puzzlement— this big "crossover event" featured a slew of characters who, strangely enough, were all from defunct Arrowverse shows that are no longer on the air. We got appearances from Alex Danvers of Supergirl, Jefferson Pierce from Black Lightning, Ryan Choi, who was in Crisis On Infinite Earths and nothing else since and even Mia Queen from Arrow. Atom and Nora Darhk also showed up, fresh from their firings from Legends Of Tomorrow. How strange! Honestly, would it have killed them to bring in someone from a show that's actually still on the air? 

Even more puzzling was the fact that the crossover spent an inordinate amount of time on characters who didn't really "exist" or who we'll likely never see again. Part 4 featured a ton of relationship drama between versions of Team Flash from a timeline that was about to be erased. Why we were meant to care about them before they disappeared, I have no idea. 

Then Part 5 doubled down on Mia Queen, who was to be the star of a series that was canceled before it was even greenlit! Again, why insert an ersatz character and her abortive storyline into a crossover on The Flash? I don't get it.

On the plus side, Barry finally gets gold boots to wear with his costume, so that was a positive.

Ah well. Let's get this over with, shall we?


The Plot:
After finding out that Joe's alive, Barry runs to his house to greet him. He explains to Joe that Thawne created a hellish "Reverse Flashpoint," but he was able to undo it with the help of Damian Darhk (!).

Right on cue, Damian appears. Barry asks how he's alive after the events of the previous episode. Damian explains that Barry used the Time Stone to undo Thawne's changes, and it must have preserved him somehow. He says once the new timeline solidifies though, he'll die for good. He hopes to see his daughter Nora Darhk one last time before that happens though. Barry gives him back the Time Stone, hoping it'll stabilize him or something.

Meanwhile, Thawne (who's now the Reverse-Flash again) speeds into CCPD. The officers tell him he's under arrest, and he points out he hasn't done anything wrong yet (?). He tells them he's there because he's not ready to  die.

Back at STAR, Barry tells Team Flash about the alternate timeline. Joe thanks him for risking everything to save them all. Just then they get an alert that Thawne's at CCPD. Barry speeds off to confront him.

Cut to CCPD, where Thawne's throwing lightning at the officers in an effort to draw out Barry. Just then Mia Queen appears (?), knocks Thawne to the floor and aims an arrow at him. She demands to know where "William" is, and Thawne (along with the audience) says he has no idea who she's talking about.

Thawne's body flickers as the timeline begins to solidify. Mia recognizes the effect and realizes he doesn't have much time left. He blasts Mia with Negative Speed Force lightning, grabs her by the throat and preps to vibrate his hand through her chest. Just then Barry finally arrives and punches Thawne across the room. Thawne says he didn't come there to fight— instead he wanted witnesses to see him ask the Flash for help.

Barry & Mia take Thawne to STAR, where they lock him up behind a force field. Mia tells Team Flash she was looking for "something" when she picked up Thawne's "temporal scent," and followed him to 2021.

Barry tells her Thawne's being erased due to the changes he made to the timeline, and that if he disappears this time it'll be permanent. Mia's all for this, but Team Flash isn't so sure. Iris says they need to talk it over before making any decisions about Thawne's fate (!). Mia says they're all nuts (preach it!) and walks off.

Iris follows Mia and asks why she's really in 2021. Mia confesses she's there to find her missing brother William, as he disappeared the night she put on the Green Arrow costume and she hasn't seen him since. She's been looking for him for two years now, and she found evidence that indicated he might have come back to 2021. Not sure what any of this is doing in a Flash episode, but there you go.

Mia tells Iris she'll kill to get William back, and says that Team Flash is too afraid to do the same and give Thawne the death he deserves. Can't say I disagree with her there.

Caitlin analyzes Thawne's readings and tells him he has two hours left before he fades away forever. He says he's not worried, as Team Flash are the "good guys" and they'll think of a way to save him. Caitlin snaps that she might surprise him and let him die. He then taunts her, saying she hasn't moved on and is in the exact same place she was before her fiancee Ronnie Raymond died. She angrily tells him that death's a part of life, and it's his turn to die now.

Caitlin finds Barry and tells him they need to let Thawne die. Barry's stunned by this uncharacteristic outburst from her.

Barry goes to see Thawne, and asks why he hates him so much. Thawne says that thanks to time travel shenanigans, they'll meet for the first time two hundred years from now. He says he made himself into speedster hero, and just as he was about to present himself to the world, Barry showed up and stole his thunder. Humiliated, he vowed to become faster than Barry and destroy him.

Barry asks what Thawne will do if they save him, and he answers truthfully— he'll continue trying to kill him.

Barry walks out of the detention area in anger, and is immediately confronted by Despero. Hey, remember him? The ostensible villain of this crossover, who was cast aside in favor of Thawne? Despero says he went to the future and saw that Barry was telling the truth about Thawne actually being the one who causes Armageddon. He says as long as Thawne lives he could still destroy the world, and tells Barry to let him die. He then vanishes.

Barry gathers Team Flash and tells them he's decided to let Thawne die— for the good of the world. Chester, Allegra and Cecile are horrified at this, pointing out that heroes don't let people die. Iris tells them that as the "new kids," they don't get a vote (!), and the decision is made.

Just then Joe enters, and asks to speak with Barry & Iris privately. He tears them both a new one, asking them what they hell they think they're doing letting Thawne die. He says Thawne came to them for help, and they're obligated to at least try and save them. Quite rightly, Barry points out that if they let Thawne live, none of them will ever be safe again. Joe says as heroes they're duty bound to help everyone, whether they're good or evil. I'm at a loss for words here.

Amazingly Barry agrees to try and save Thawne. For some reason he believes that permanently taking his speed away will stabilize him and prevent him from being erased. 

Barry tells Caitlin and the others they've decided to try and save Thawne. He says once they take his speed away they'll hand him over to ARGUS, where he'll spend the rest of his life in custody. Caitlin says life in prison isn't enough for all the lives Thawne destroyed.

Elsewhere, Despero telepathically monitors the situation, and decides he'll have to kill Thawne himself. He takes over Mia's mind to help him. Despero then appears before Barry, and demands he let Thawne be erased. Barry argues that Thawne won't be a threat if he's stripped of his speed (wrong!). Despero gives him a final warning, telling him to let Thawne die or suffer the consequences.

Barry refuses, so Despero teleports them out onto the street in order to fight. Iris tells Allegra and Frost to protect Thawne, and then goes after Barry. The second Iris is gone, the now mind-controlled Mia fires a sonic arrow at Allegra and Frost, knocking them out.

Out on the street, Barry says he's figured out Despero's secret— he wasn't a rebel leader as he claimed, but the cruel despot who ruled his planet. Despero admits it, saying he did what was necessary for the greater good. He morphs into his true form and the two begin battling one another.

Back at STAR, the power goes out— but luckily not for Thawne's forcefield (?). Mia attacks Iris and the others, as they realize she's under Despero's control. Iris somehow dodges one of Mia's arrows (???), but Caitlin's hit in the leg. Mia tells Iris (in Despero's voice) that she's going to die for making the wrong decision about Thawne.

Iris gives Mia a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling her she has the power to fight Despero's mind control. For some reason Mia aims her bow at Cecile, but Iris pulls a gun on her and tells her to stop. Cecile psychically urges Mia to resist Despero. Iris tells her to think about William, and which path he'd choose. Mia hesitates a bit and then drops her bow. Suddenly she clutches her head in pain and drops to her knees. She tells Iris she's sorry.

Just then the CGI budget runs out, as Despero senses Mia's rejection and reverts back to human form. He teleports into STAR, where he causes the reactor to begin overloading. Chester says when it blows, it'll not only take out Thawne but the entire city as well.

Allegra says there's gotta be a way to stop Despero without destroying everything (well that was a helpful comment!). Barry suggests they sever Despero's link to the Flame Of Py'Tar— his power source. Chester says he has just the tech to do it, and opens a large box. Barry and the others look inside the box with wonder.

Barry takes a pair of gold boots from the box and puts them on. Chester says he made them out of the PED device from the previous episode (?). Barry zooms to Despero, who's unleashing the Flame. He speeds around him, creating a vortex. He runs up a nearby building, dragging the Flame with him. He then redirects it so it blast Despero back on the ground. This somehow breaks his connection to the Flame, leaving him powerless. Despero says Barry will pay for what he's done and vanishes.

Chester radios Barry and says they only have thirty seconds before Thawne disappears. Barry zooms back to STAR, and blasts Thawne with Speed Force Lightning. This forces the Negative Speed Force energy from him, and it shoots up into the sky and disperses.

Caitlin scans Thawne and says his speed's gone for good. Barry tells him they just saved his life, and hopes he doesn't make them regret it. Thawne says Barry's taken everything from him and left him in Hell.

Sometime later Team Flash gets all dressed up and celebrates at a nightclub. Mia apologizes again for trying to kill them. Just then Damien appears, and she puts a knife to his throat. He tells her to go ahead and kill him, as he should already be dead. Mia relents and goes to get a drink. Damien tells Barry he doesn't understand why he's still alive.

Iris gives Mia some info she got from a hacker that may point to William's location. She thanks her, and Iris says she should visit the past more often.

Frost senses Chester's feelings for Allegra, and urges him to tell her how he feels. He approaches Allegra and the two awkwardly chat, till Barry comes over and cockblocks Chester. He tells them they were right about saving Thawne.

Joe thanks Damian for helping Barry restore the timeline. Damien says being a parent changes a person, and wonders why he's here instead of his daughter Nora. Damien gives Joe his Time Stone, saying he's going to need it some day (FORESHADOWING ALERT!).

Just then Damian disappears and finds himself in a ghostly version of the club. Nora Darhk appears, and asks what's going on. Damian says it doesn't matter, as he's glad he got to see her one last time before he goes. He tells her he loves her, and she reaches out to touch him.

Suddenly Nora's standing inside the real club. She asks what's happening, and Joe says her father just saved her. He takes her aside to tell her what Damian did for her.

Barry gathers Team Flash and makes a toast to "making and protecting their own destiny."

At CCPD, we zoom in on a photo on the wall of the Overlook Hotel, er, I mean New Year's Eve 2014. Suddenly the photo changes, and Bart and Nora Allen appear in the background (?).

• Nice to finally see Joe again. Too bad it took FIVE episodes for him to show up.

• In the Lounge, Barry tells Team Flash about his adventure in Thawne's alternate timeline, and how he saved them all from horrible futures and/or certain death. Amazingly, they're all suitably impressed and even praise him for being such a hero and risking his life to save them.

It's funny to me how they all just blindly accept his outlandish tale— one which he can't possibly prove really happened. Just once I'd like to see him tell Iris and the others something like this, and they all say, "Surrrrre you went to an alternate timeline and saved the world, Barry! Now let's get you up onto this bed so Caitlin can check out your brain."

• During the debriefing, Barry says Chester invented the energy absorption tech that helped save the world in Thawne's timeline. He then zooms off to... somewhere and comes back with the piece of tech. He hands it to Chester, who examines it and says, "Holy Ron Mallett, this circuitry is next level."

As always, Chester's Black History Month exclamations go right over my head, causing me to have to look them up. Ronald Lawrence Mallett is an African-American physicist, professor and author at the University Of Connecticut. He's best known for his theories on the possibility of time travel. Because Knowing Is Half The Battle!

• Wow, when the gang's chilling in the Lounge, Cecile actually takes Joe's hand for a few brief seconds. I'm pretty sure this is the first time they've even been in the same room with one another in over a year— much less touched. I wonder... is there some kind of behind the scenes tension between the two actors that prevents them from working closely these days?

Nice Touch: At CCPD, Officer Korber and a fellow policeman walk past a large portrait of Chief Singh.

• When Thawne appears in CCPD, Officer Korber tells him he's under arrest. Thawne smiles and smugly says, "For what, officers? I haven't even done anything... yet."

OK, so he may not have done anything illegal TODAY, but what about his lengthy rap sheet full of priors? Surely there's at least one past crime they could arrest him for?

• As happened last week, Thawne lumbers around in his new Reverse-Flash costume like Frankenstein's monster, seemingly unable to even turn his head.

It's unclear at this time why they changed the costume, as the old one was perfectly adequate (even though I never quite understood why the yellow material faded to black on the forearms and shins). The original outfit was a completely different material and allowed for much more movement.

Many fans have speculated that they built the new Reverse-Flash suit for Grant Gustin to wear in last week's episode, and Tom Cavanagh's now inherited it. Eh, that seems unlikely to me. Yes, both men are tall and have slim builds, but there's no way in hell they're exactly the same size. If this really was a hand-me-down it probably wouldn't fit Cavanagh at all.

• During Thawne's rampage, Mia Queen shows up at CCPD. For those not familiar with Arrow, she's the daughter of the late Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak, and is from the year 2040.

Um... has Katherine McNamara, who plays Mia, ever seen a bow & arrow before? When she first pops up in CCPD, she has an arrow nocked on the left side of her bow, just above her hand. A few seconds later the arrow's on the OTHER side! WHOOPS!

For the record, the first way— with the arrow to the left and above her hand— is correct.

• Speaking of Thawne's ill-fitting costume: When Barry finally arrives at CCPD, Thawne throws up his hands and surrenders to him. If you look closely, you can see the thumb of his right glove is all punched in! Holy crap! Now THAT'S A bad fit! Maybe it wasn't made for him after all.

• Barry takes Thawne to STAR Labs, where Team Flash debates on whether to let him die or not. For some reason, they hold him inside some sort of open platform surrounded by a forcefield. Where the hell did THIS come from all of a sudden? What happened to the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail (with its power-dampening cells) that we've been seeing for the past seven years? 

Did the producers of The Flash scrounge this set piece from the Waverider over on Legends Of Tomorrow?

• Last week I pointed out that Armageddon, Part 4 spent an inordinate amount of time on the banal relationship drama between members of Team Flash who were from a timeline that was about to be erased. It was a bold choice to focus so much on characters who didn't really "exist." Puzzling, but bold.

Welp, something similar happens in this episode as well!

For reasons known only to the producers, this episode leans HARD into Mia Queen, and devotes a shockingly large amount of screen time to her and her backstory. Which is strange, since she's currently a "character without a country," so to speak. 

See, Mia was introduced back in Season 7 of Arrow, and over time became the new Green Arrow. The Season 8 episode Green Arrow And The Canaries served as a backdoor pilot for Mia and her team, setting them up to star in their own spin-off series.

Unfortunately the whole pandemic thing torpedoed that plan, and the series was unceremoniously shelved.

Which makes her appearance in this crossover all the more baffling. Why the hell would The Flash producers feature a defunct character and focus on her superfluous storyline? A storyline that's gone unresolved for two years now? Were they hoping viewers would instantly take to her and demand she get another shot at her own show? Who knows.

• Mia infodumps her backstory to Iris, as well as to members of the audience who have no idea who she is or why she's there (like me!). She and the Canaries became a team and began fighting crime sometime in 2040.

Apparently her brother William was abducted by someone at some point (which was no doubt going to be the focus of her unproduced series), and she detected "temporal signatures" at the crime scene that led her to 2021. 

How'd a woman with no superpowers manage to travel back in time, you ask? Your guess is as good as mine, as she never offers an explanation!

• When Despero finds out Barry's holding Thawne at STAR Labs, he warns him to do the right thing and let the villain die... or else.

If this superpowerful alien is so concerned about Thawne potentially destroying the Earth in the future, why doesn't HE just kill him himself? Why wait till the midnight deadline when Thawne will vanish? Despero's tried to murder Barry on numerous occasions throughout this crossover, so it's not like he's afraid of getting his hands dirty. Just march into the detention area and twist off Thawne's head!

• While I didn't think much of this episode as a whole, kudos to the director for staging this shot. Team Flash is divided— philosophically as well as visually— as to what to do with Thawne. The opposing sides stand on opposing ends of the screen, while Cecile— who's apparently on the fence and acts as mediator— is in the middle.

 Too on the nose? Eh, maybe, but it works and I appreciated the effort.

• When Barry tells Team Flash he's decided to let Thawne die, Chester and Allegra strenuously object. Iris condescendingly tells them that as the "new kids" on the team, they don't get a vote. 

What the f*ck? Who elected her team leader? Jesus Christ! Chester and Allegras should have told Iris to f*ck right off, then spun on their heels and walked out as they quit this cockamamie team.

• Annnnnd then we come to the absolute stupidest part of this entire crossover event. Maybe even of the entire series!

Joe calls Barry & Iris aside and rips them both new assholes for agreeing to let Thawne die. Are you freakin' kidding me? Yes, I get Joe's line that heroes and public servants are obligated to save people despite personal their feelings. But Thawne's a special case, and not your average small-time crook. Let's take a look at just a few of the wonderful things Thawne's done over the years, shall we?

— Killed the original Harrison Wells and took his place.
— Murdered Barry's mother Nora.
— Tried to kill Young Barry.
— Framed Barry's father Henry for Nora's murder, resulting in him going to prison for years.
— Caused the Particle Accelerator explosion, which killed Caitlin's fiancee Ronnie Raymond and created numerous evil metas.
— Attempted to murder Cisco by vibrating his hand through his chest.
— Joined the Nazis from Earth-X and helped them try to take over Earth-1.
— Attempted to murder numerous heroes in the Earth-X crossover.
— Formed the Legion Of Doom, and used the Spear Of Destiny to rewrite reality.
— Was imprisoned in 2034, and manipulated Barry & Iris' future daughter Nora into helping him escape, which caused her to be erased from the timeline.
— Possessed Nash Wells before being dispersed into space.
— Tried to kill Barry after teaming up with him to defeat Godspeed.
— Ruined Barry's life by making him question his sanity. 
— Altered the timeline by killing Barry as a child, became the Flash, got engaged to Iris and turned Barry into the Reverse-Flash.
— Killed Joe in an alternate timeline by shoving him in front of a train.

And that's all just off the top of my head! I'm sure there are other crimes and atrocities he's committed that I'm forgetting.

The notion that Barry or ANY member of Team Flash would object to letting Thawne die is absolutely preposterous. Thawne is Barry's most dangerous and persistent foe— one who's attempted to murder him, his friends and his family on numerous occasions, and will continue to do so if saved. Barry'd have to be an idiot to even think about saving him.

It doesn't make any sense for Joe to want to save him either. Thawne just callously killed him in an alternate timeline, simply to mess with Barry's mind! Jesus Christ!

Joe's objections make are even more nonsensical when you realize that Barry isn't actively trying to kill Thawne. Thawne's situation is a direct result of his own actions— he's reaping what he's sown, so to speak. His impending death is all on him. Barry's just choosing to let "nature take its course" and erase Thawne. That's quite different from deliberately trying to murder him.

I get that the writers probably wanted some kind of moral dilemma in this episode, to divide the team and provide dramatic interest. But this was NOT the way to go about it.

• Stung by Joe's harsh words and righteous reasoning, Barry says he can prevent Thawne from disappearing by taking away his speed. Lots to unpack here!

First off, how would removing Thawne's Negative Speed Force energy keep him from being erased from existence when the timeline resets? Comic Book Science, that's how! 

An even better question— how does Barry know this would save Thawne? It's not like he ran an exhaustive series of complicated computer simulations, brainstormed with Team Flash or consulted with Cisco over at ARGUS. He just blurts it out with the utmost confidence, as if it's an established scientific fact on par with the Theory Of Gravity. It's clearly all just supposition on his part though, that he pulled straight out of his ass. Maybe he read the script, I dunno.

Lastly, Barry takes it upon himself to forcibly remove Thawne's speed in order to keep him from being erased. Woah, woah, woah! Wait just a goddamned minute here... Did Barry just decide to take away Thawne's powers... without his consent?

If you'll recall, the whole meta consent thing was a MAJOR part of Season 5. Cisco invented the meta cure, a glowing blue serum that would strip away a person's powers. Much of the season then focused on the various members of Team Flash arguing over the morality of turning metas into normal people without first getting their express written consent.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Barry planning to de-power Thawne against his will? What happened to all the lofty, high & might talk about getting permission before erasing someone's powers? Feh.

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. Despero takes over Mia's mind, and she fires off a sonic arrow to knocks out Frost and Allegra.

I'm struggling to understand just how she managed to shoot an arrow horizontally down the hall and make it stick straight up in the floor like that!

• Did Iris retain a bit of her speedster powers from last season? At one point the possessed Mia fires an arrow at her, and she somehow jumps out of its way! What the hell?

According to the interwebs, arrows can travel between 150 and 200 mph. I'll leave it to you to decide if Iris is indeed fast enough to dodge something coming at her that fast. Maybe she took advantage of the scene's sudden switch to slow motion, which gave her plenty of time to dive for the floor.

• Angry over the Thawne decision, Despero morphs into his alien form and battles Barry. For some reason, Barry seems to have a wide array of never-before-seen powers this week.

First of all he's able to block one of Despero's energy blasts by inexplicably using his arm as a shield!

Then a few seconds later Despero attempts to smash him with a car, but Barry's somehow able to catch it and even push it back.

I guess we're to assume that Barry's using Speed Force Lightning to perform these new tricks here, but he's never done anything remotely like this before. I don't mind him gaining new powers and abilities from time to time, but they've got to be properly set up. He can't just pull a brand new power out of his ass whenever the need arises!

• I'm a bit fuzzy on Despero's motivation in this episode. When he first appeared in Part 1, he 
intended on killing Barry in the past to prevent him from destroying the Earth in the future. It's implied he's a humanitarian who's just looking out for his adopted homeworld. So far so good.

Suddenly in this episode he believes Thawne will still destroy the world in the future, and decides to kill him— by overloading the STAR Labs reactor, which will wipe out Central City and the surrounding area. 

In essence, he's going to destroy the world in order to save it. Got it!

• Chester tells Barry he has just the thing to help him defeat Despero, and drags out a large case. Barry opens it, and Team Flash stares in wonder at what's inside.

Why the hell is the interior of the case glowing? Does it contain Marsellus Wallace's soul or something?

• In the very next scene we see what was inside the box— a brand new pair of gold boots for Barry.

With them, his costume is now closer than ever to the Flash's classic Silver Age look. The only thing missing is the little wings on the boot tops.

While I'm usually all for accuracy to the source material, I don't know how I feel about his gold boots. If I'm being honest, I think they look kind of goofy. Eh, maybe jarring would be a better term. I think I just need some time to get used to them.

Oddly enough, despite the fact the news of these new boots was all over the internet, it was nearly impossible to find a decent photo of them. This behind the scenes snapshot was the best look at them I could scrape up.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that as a fan of MST3K, I was reminded of THIS when I saw his new footwear.

• After trying out his new boots, Barry radios Chester and says they're a perfect fit. Chester then utters a variation of the series' catchphrase, saying, "Run, Boss, Run."

• Barry creates a vortex and uses it to draw the Flame Of Py'Tar away from Despero. 

He pulls the energy high into the air, then redirects it so it slams into the alien warlord back on the ground. The resulting explosion severs Despero's link with the Flame.

And just like that, Despero's completely powerless. He hisses the standard Defeated Villain Threat®, saying, "I swear by the moons of Kalanor, you'll pay for this! This whole planet will!" and then teleports away.

Much like last week, my first thought was "That Was Easy!" If severing Despero's link was all it took to defeat him, then why the hell did Barry wait till NOW to do it? Team Flash knew about the Flame Of Py'Tar all the way back in Part 1!

• With Despero defeated, Barry only has seconds to deal with Thawne. He blasts his body with Speed Force lightning in an attempt to save him. So... I guess in addition to suddenly being able to form energy shields and lift cars with super strength, Barry also has the power to drive Negative Speed Force energy from evil speedsters. Convenient!

• Once it's freed of his body, Thawne's Negative Speed Force energy stabs straight upward. Ah, Giant Beam Of Energy Shooting Into The Sky. How you been, old friend? I haven't seen you since the last MCU movie!

• The episode wraps up with a lengthy scene in which Team Flash gets all tarted up (boy do they ever!) and celebrates their victory. Because that's what you want to see in a superhero show. Infinity War/Endgame wouldn't have been nearly as successful without all the cocktail party sequences.

• Damian Darhk unexpectedly shows up at the party, and Mia instantly pulls a knife from... somewhere,  and holds it to his throat. So where the hell was she storing that in her skimpy cocktail dress?

• Joe approaches Damien at the party. Damien asks if he going to arrest him and Joe scoffs, "I'm not a cop anymore."

WOW! So I guess when he quit the force last season, he wasn't kidding! But wait... In Armageddon, Part 3 we saw surveillance footage of Joe getting killed by a train, presumably while investigating a case. If he really quit, then what was he doing at the train station?

It gets more convoluted. Earlier in Armageddon, Part 2, Barry saw Joe's memorial plaque, which listed him as RETIRED Captain. WHOOPS!

One of these scenarios has to be wrong, as he can't be retired and investigate cases at the same time. I suppose it's possible he may have retired from the force and became a private detective, and that's why he was snooping around the train station?

• Damian appears and chats with Joe for a bit. Before he disappears forever, he gives his Time Stone to Joe, saying, "It's a gift. Father to father. And I think you're gonna need that some day."

It's obvious from the big closeup we get of "Chekhov's Time Stone" here that this scene's setting up a future storyline for Joe. One in which he needs to travel back (or maybe forward!) in time for some reason. Expect to see this return later in the season.

• Right before Damian's erased from the timeline, he's granted a cosmic reprieve and gets to see his daughter Nora Darhk one last time. 

Nora's puzzled as to what's happening, then sad when she realizes she's losing her father a second time. She's referring to the events of the Legends Of Tomorrow episode Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac, in which Damian stabbed himself with the Hell Sword to atone for his many sins. At the time I said this was most likely Damian's Arrowverse swan song, but I'll be darned if they didn't bring him back yet again.

Nora Darhk is played as usual by Courtney Ford— the real life wife of Brandon Routh, who played Atom on Legends Of Tomorrow. Oddly enough Atom was featured in Armageddon, Part 1, meaning Routh and Ford made bookending appearances in this crossover event!

Sadly, Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford were forcibly fired from Legends Of Tomorrow back in 2020, much to the consternation of their fans. 

The producers claimed they let the two of them go because "their characters' storylines had reached their conclusions, and there were no other tales to tell about them." Of course we all knew that was HollywoodSpeak® for, "The two of them were being paid too much, so we dumped them in favor of some cheaper actors."

It was a stupid and shortsighted decision, and Legends hAS suffered greatly for it. Frankly the show just hasn't been the same since they left. 

I'm honestly surprised that Routh & Ford actually agreed to return to the Arrowverse after their unjust dismissal. If it'd been me, I'd have probably told the producers to go f*ck themselves. Fortunately for the audience, Routh & Ford are consummate professionals who took the high road and didn't let their feelings color their decision to return.

Nice Attention To Detail: Barry makes a toast, and everyone in Team Flash lifts their glasses as they join him. Note that everyone's drinking champagne except for Chester, whose glass is filled with a darker liquid— most likely root beer. Looks like the creators remembered that he doesn't drink alcohol. Well done, guys!

• In the tag scene, the camera slowly zooms in on a photo hanging in CCPD, depicting New Year's Eve of 2014. There's a sudden crackle of Speed Force energy, and Barry & Iris' future kids Bart and Nora appear in the background of the photo— implying they must have traveled to the past again for some reason.

If you didn't get serious The Shining vibes from this scene, then you're just not trying...

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