Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Flash Season 9, Episode 1: Wednesday Ever After

Welp, for better or worse it's the big premiere of the ninth and FINAL season of The Flash!

Wow, nine seasons already! Seems like just a couple years ago that I started writing reviews of the show. Where the heck has the time gone?

If you'll recall, back in 2022 it was unclear as to whether there'd even be a ninth season or not. That prompted the producers to structure the final episode of Season 8 to serve as a SERIES finale if need be. After some touch & go contract negotiations with the regular cast, it ended up being renewed for one more year.

Should it have been renewed though? Ehhh... that remains to be seen. As much as I like the show, sadly I'm gonna have to say no. Ever since Eric Wallace took over as showrunner in Season 6, the series has become an exercise in ever-diminishing returns. 

Wallace is the brilliant visionary who gave us the execrable Mirrorverse Saga, the Power Rangers-esque Godspeed debacle, the disastrous Positive AND Negative Forces arcs and Iris' pointless "Time Sickness" storyline. 

He also stupidly and shortsightedly fired actor Hartley Sawyer (aka Ralph) to appease the Angry Twitter Mob, legitimately believed that Chester and Allegra would be adequate replacements for Cisco and Wells, added Chillblaine and killed off Frost for reasons known only to himself.

When you take all that into account, it's honestly a miracle the show's made it this far. It's definitely become an empty shell of its former self, and a far cry from its early glory days. Even the actors are starting to look like they'd rather be doing anything else.

I'll miss writing about the show once it's gone, but it's time for it to end.

From what I've read online, most fans are confident that Wallace is gonna pull off a miracle, and deliver an epic conclusion to the series. Just where they're getting that misguided notion, I have absolutely no idea. Based on his past work, I fully expect Season 9 to be more of the same.

Case in point, this week's episode, which does nothing to dispel my expectations. It wasn't a terrible episode, as there were actually a couple decent moments in it. It just didn't feel like a season opener. A premiere needs to set up the plot and the tone for the entire season, and Wednesday Ever After did none of that. It was just sort of... there.

Also, the writer clearly took a page from The Big Book Of Script Cliches when working on this week's script. See, whenever a TV show goes on for too long, it'll eventually run out of new ideas and feature several familiar plotlines before the end. It's a given you'll see the Musical Episode, the Puppet Episode, the Alternate Universe Episode, the A Christmas Carol Parody Episode and the Groundhog Day Episode.

The Flash has already done two of those, so it was inevitable they'd get around to the Groundhog Day one. That's what we got this week, as Barry and Iris found themselves stuck in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over. It wasn't the worst thing they'd ever done, but it was far from new. Heck, it's not even new in the Arrowverse, as they did the same schtick over on sister show Legends Of Tomorrow, in the Season 3 episode Here I Go Again! 

It wasn't the worst thing the show's ever done, but like I said, the fact that they went there is an undeniable sign of writer fatigue.

We also get a non-answer as to what the hell happened to Caitlin in the Season 8 finale, and a very brief setup for this year's Big Bad, as the writers are clearly dragging out these arcs to fill up as many episodes as possible. Meh.


The Plot:
The episode begins with evil meta Tar Pit attacking a Central City dockyard. Fortunately Team Flash arrives on the scene to stop him. Frost (!) immobilizes him with an ice blast, while Chester uses a hi-tech doodad protect nearby explosives from his rampage. Cecile telekinetically lifts Tar Pit into the air, while Allegra fries him with a UV blast. Joe even gets into the act, firing a meta-dampening bomb into Tar Pit's mouth, causing him to revert to his human form of Joseph Monteleone. Barry then cuffs him, as Team Flash strikes an heroic pose.

Monteleone hisses that Team Flash can't win, and says it's the end of everything. Barry then looks around and realizes something's wrong. Frost and all the others accuse Barry of not being good enough to protect them. Iris appears as well, and says he can't save her. Their eyes all flash (heh) red as they shriek in pain and collapse.

Barry then wakes up, and we see it was all a nightmare (groannnnnn!). Iris wakes, looks at their clock and sees it's Wednesday, February 1. Barry's sad they both have to go back to work after a glorious week-long vacation, and zooms off to CCPD.

At STAR Labs, Cecile's training by trying to telekinetically hurl a football through a tire. It doesn't go well. She notices Joe looking distant and uneasy, and asks what's wrong. He says it's nothing, and to keep practicing.

Iris arrives at Central City Citizen Media, where Allegra fills her in on what's been happening. She says 
Cat Grant, of CatCo Worldwide Media, wants to buy the company. She claims all Iris has to do is agree, and this will somehow be the start of her global news network. Iris looks ill and says she has to leave.

At CCPD, Barry goes to Kristen Kramer's office and tells her he wants to be the new Director of the CSI Division. She's skeptical that he can handle more responsibility along with his duties as the Flash. He assures her it won't be a problem, and she gives him the job. Just then Officer Korber enters and says Kord Industries is under attack. Barry zooms off.

Barry arrives on the scene and sees a new Captain Boomerang stealing a power module from a large piece of tech called a Roemer Accelerator. He hurls several explosive boomerangs at Barry, then teleports away. Amazingly, Barry seems strangely unfazed by this incident, as he's more interested in his dinner date with Iris. As he zooms off, the device crackles with energy.

Later that night, Barry & Iris return home from dinner. She mentions the CatCo offer, and he says he already knows about it. He then shows her a "mapbook" he's been working on, which outlines all the future events of their lives— that he pieced together with the help of Gideon. He says all they have to do is follow what's in it, and they can have the future of their dreams.

When Iris asks why he'd do something like that, he admits he's been having dreams in which he can't keep her safe, and this is his way of protecting her. Iris says she can't deal with this revelation right now, and they go to bed. Unbeknownst to them, their bed begins glowing with purple energy.

The two wake the next morning, and head off to their respective jobs. Iris is puzzled when Allegra tells her the exact same things she did the day before. She brushes it off as deja vu.

At CCPD, Barry's called into Kramer's office, and she says she doesn't think he can handle the Director job. Puzzled, Barry says she already offered it to him and can't take it back. Korber enters and says Kord Industries is under attack, and Barry zooms off.

Barry confronts Captain Boomerang 2.0 again, and this time tries to stop him from teleporting away. A massive explosion results, blowing Barry sky high and actually killing him (!).

Barry & Iris wake up in bed, and realize it's February 1st again and they're stuck in a time loop.

They go to STAR, where they're scanned by Gideon. Chester detects residual temporal energy in them both, but says it's nothing to do with Iris' "time sickness" from last season
. He theorizes that Barry's Speed Force energy must have interacted with the Roemer Accelerator, which caused the time loop. He says if they can get their hands on the Accelerator's power cell, they may be able to end the loop.

Barry zips off and returns a second later with the power cell, much to Chester's surprise. He begins picking around on it, and inadvertently sets off an explosion. Right on cue, Barry & Iris wake in bed.

We then get a montage of Barry & Chester fiddling with the power cell, dying and starting over again. In all, he and Iris go though the loop FIFTEEN TIMES.

On the last loop, Barry wakes in bed alone. Panicked, he searches the loft for Iris and finds her in the kitchen, day drinking (or I guess morning drinking). He asks her what she's doing, and she says she's getting good & drunk because the day will just reset itself again and she won't have a hangover.

She also says as long as they stay in the loop, she doesn't have to make a decision about the CatCo buyout. Barry believes that's the reason they're trapped to begin with. His mapbook indicates she says yes, and they'll be stuck repeating the same day until she does so.

Iris says that by following the book they're eliminating their free will. Barry disagrees, saying the book guarantees a safe future. Frustrated, Barry goes out for some air.

He ends up at Joe's house, where he tells them what's going on. He shows Joe & Cecile the mapbook, and says he's just using it to keep Iris safe after almost losing her so many times. Joe leafs through the book, and says that while it contains all the facts of their future, it doesn't say how or why things happened, or how it made them feel. Joe's homespun homilies make Barry realize he's right.

Barry goes back to the loft and tells Iris she has a point, and they should experience their future as it comes. He tosses the mapbook into the fireplace and ignites it.

They wake the next morning, still in the loop— but this time they take control. The two of them go to the Citizen, where Iris tells Allegra she plans on expanding her empire, but she's gonna do it her way. She's contacted Sue Dearbon, who's agreed to give her a loan to buy the Coast City Gazette. The two of them then go to Kramer's office, where they convince her that Barry can handle the Director position.

Barry then goes to confront Captain Boomerang 2.0, who's stealing the tech again. Just as he's about to teleport away, Iris shoots him with a blaster, incapacitating him. Unfortunately Boomerang says he always has a backup plan, and activates a nuclear device inside the Accelerator. He tells the Flash it's been fun as he teleports away.

Chester contacts Barry and says the nuke will go off in just twenty seconds. With no other options, Barry grabs the Accelerator and begins phasing it. The nuke explodes, but the phased shockwave passes harmlessly through Central City and all its citizens (!).

At STAR, Chester and Allegra realize they're both still alive and kiss. They then pull away from one another and look embarrassed.

Cut to Thursday, February 2nd, as the loop's finally been broken. Barry confirms they went through it a total of fifty eight times. Chester's upset that Boomerang got away, but Barry says he's confident he'll find him. Allegra wonders where Boomerang got all his hi-tech gear, and Joe theorizes he has a partner.

Iris is happy that she and Barry were able to get everything they wanted, but on their own terms. He says they should take a "baby-moon" instead of a honeymoon, in order to finally start a family.

In the Lab, Cecile finally masters her telekinesis. She senses Joe isn't happy, and asks him what's wrong. He says it's time they left the show, er, I mean Central City.

Elsewhere, Barry gets a mysterious text and zooms to Caitlin's old apartment. He sees someone standing in the window, and asks who it is. The figure turns around, and appears to be half Caitlin and half Frost.

Boomerang then enters a dark & deserted warehouse, and says his battle with the Flash used up most of his weapons. A case slides out of the shadows, and when he opens it, he sees it's filled with more explosive boomerangs. A shadowy figure then appears, and ominously says the Flash is never truly alone, but when he's done with him he will be. It then teleports away, leaving a glowing red bat-like symbol floating in the air...

• The episode opens with a pretty cool scene of Tar Pit (who's never actually named in the episode) attacking a dockyard in Central City.

Tar Pit's actually been on the show before, as he first appeared wayyyyyy back in Season 2's Fast Lane. It's been so long I honestly didn't remember him till I started researching the episode.

• At one point Tar Pit knocks over a scaffolding with two workers, sending them flying.
Not to worry though, as they land safely on two strategically placed cardboard shipping crates! Wow, what are the odds?

• I love the fact that the dock workers are all running for their lives from Tar Pit, except for the guy on the right— who stands there calmly welding. I guess maybe he can't see very well through his helmet?

• Barry then zooms to the scene, looks up at Tar Pit and dramatically says, "Welcome back. Let's do this one last time."

Clearly that was an affectionate little nod to the audience, acknowledging the fact that this is the show's final season.

 • Team Flash then appears and use their combined powers to defeat Tar Pit, and it's glorious. No one gets knocked out, no one does anything stupid and no one lets the villain get away so the plot can happen. Too bad it's all a dream sequence, and the characters never actually behave like this in "real life" on the show.

• This Week's Stupidest Line Award goes to Cecile, who uses her telekinetic powers to lift Tar Pit into the air, where he squirms helplessly. She then quips, "Hey Joey— leave my FRIENDS alone!"

Tar Pit's real name is Joseph Monteleone, so Cecile's obviously taking advantage of that to make a "Friends" joke, as the 90s sitcom featured a character named Joey Tribianni.

When I heard this idiotic line I slapped my forehead so hard I didn't wake up for twenty minutes.

• After Tar Pit's defeated, he reverts to his human form...

Wow, what a difference a couple years make! This current Joseph Monteleone looks completely different than the one that debuted back in Fast Lane. Why, it's almost as if they're two different people!

• After they defeat Tar Pit, Team Flash takes a moment to face the camera and strike their best "Bad Motherf*ckers" pose.

• I was hoping the producers might return to the classic "My Name Is Barry Allen" opening title for this last season, but I guess it's not to be. I noticed they updated the soap opera intro this week to includer CHILLBLAINE of all people, who's now been promoted to main character status. Oy gevalt.

I absolutely loathed Chillblaine and everything about him when he first appeared back in Season 7's Growing Pains. That said, the writers really workshopped his character in Season 8, to the point where I will grudgingly admit he started to grow on me. So I'll tentatively allow his inclusion here.

Also, it sounded like they had to extend the opening theme music by a few bars in order to cram Chillblaine into the montage.

The Flash has always taken place more or less in real time, and this episode's no exception as it occurs on Wednesday, February 1, 2023. Unfortunately it first aired on Wednesday, February 8— one week later. Did they actually intend to start the season on February 1, but something happened to push it back?

By the way, despite the fact that Barry & Iris' clock/calendar looks like something a terrorist cobbled together to detonate a bomb, it's a real thing, as I found some very similar models online.

• I realize The CW has always been about beautiful people who look like supermodels standing around spouting melodramatic lines, but c'mon, guys— make it make sense! It's been established that Central City is in Missouri. It's currently February 1st on the show. NO guy in his right mind is gonna be sleeping shirtless that time of year. I live in the Midwest too, so trust me, I know.

Maybe Barry & Iris have their furnace cranked up to 90ยบ, I dunno.

• So is that bonnet that Iris wears to bed a black thing that I'm unfamiliar with, or is she just insane?

I get that it's probably supposed to protect her hairdo while she sleeps, but... Seems to me that wadding up her hair and stuffing it into a bonnet would do just as much damage to it.

• Over at STAR Labs, Cecile practices her telekinesis in the Cortex, by attempting to fling a football through the center of a tire. At one point she causes the football to fly from her hands 
and smash into a tray of empty glass beer mugs, shattering them. WHAT THE HELL WERE THOSE DOING IN THE CORTEX IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Then a few seconds later she tries again, and this time the football destroys an expensive monitor. Here's a thought— m
aybe next time don't try telekinetically hurling objects in a room filled with breakables?

• In this scene, Cecile has to use her psychic/empathic abilities to tell that something's troubling Joe. Thank Thor for her powers!

• At CCC Media, Allegra tells Iris:

Allegra: "CatCo Worldwide Media wants to buy CCC Media and expand your global footprint under the umbrella of a major news conglomerate. She said it's a blank check. All you have to do is just say yes. Iris, this is your future empire, the one that Nora and Bart are always talking about. This is how it starts."

Um... Maybe I'm just really dumb about how big business works, but... what? If CatCo does a buyout of CCC Media, how is that gonna expand Iris' empire? Wouldn't Cat Grant own the company from that point on— with Iris possibly staying on as a figurehead? I don't get it.

By the way, Cat Grant was a regular in Season 1 of Supergirl, where she was played by Calista Flockhart. She appeared very sporadically in subsequent seasons. I guarantee they're just name dropping her here, and Flockhart isn't gonna make an actual appearance.

• Barry gets an alert from Kord Industries, and when he zooms to the scene he sees it's being robbed by Captain Boomerang 2.0, aka Owen Mercer. He's actually from the comics, where he is indeed the second Captain Boomerang— and allegedly the half brother of Bart Allen, aka Impulse (!). It'd take another 50,000 words to adequately describe— so I ain't goin' down that rabbit hole.

I will point out though that in the comic, Boomerang 2.0's powers included short bursts of speed, allowing him to hurl his weapons at incredible velocities. Some have even speculated he may be able to tap into the Speed Force and become a full-fledged speedster like Barry. 

The show seems to be ignoring that little aspect of his powers though, which is probably for the best.

Even though Mercer is the second Captain Boomerang, his costume's pretty close to the original version from the comics. Mercer's duds aren't quite as flashy, but he's sporting the same kicky white scarf.

The original Arrowverse Captain Boomerang was Digger Harkness, who first appeared in Arrow Season 3 episode Draw Back Your Bow. He was mentioned a couple times on The Flash, but never actually showed up in the flesh.

• Barry contacts Team Flash to get a rundown on Captain Boomerang 2.0. Amazingly, Allegra answers and fills him in on the perp. Wait, what? Why the hell is SHE there? We just saw her at CCC Media literally thirty seconds ago!

• Barry battles Boomerang 2.0 in front of the Hotel Georgia in downtown Central City.

Turns out there's a Hotel Georgia in our world too, located at 801 w. Georgia Street in... where else, Vancouver. It's right on a major downtown street, so it's a given they had to shut it down, blocking traffic for and entire day. I'll bet the residents of Vancouver will be glad when this show's over and finally leaves town!

• That night Barry shows Iris his "mapbook," which outlines all the major events of their future together.

* Later that night, Barry shows Iris his "mapbook." We get a quick glimpse of one spread, which reads:
Iris looks through it, and we get a quick glimpse of one of the spreads. Several things here:

First off, the lefthand page reads:

Sue 2024
Bart let slip
She buys Big Belly Burger Chain
Makes all plant based
Becomes world's richest woman.

Who the hell is Sue? Smart money would say it's likely Sue Dearbon, since she's a semi-regular on the show. But that's most definitely not her in that photo! Have they decided to recast the part? I hope not! Actress Natalie Dreyfuss brought a fun, quirky charm to the character of Sue, and was a breath of fresh air on the show. It's gonna suck if they bring in someone else play the role.

Secondly, the idea that Sue's gonna make a fortune by transforming Big Belly Burger. This is America, Barry. Home of bacon-wrapped burgers, 72 ounce steaks and pizza crust stuffed with cheese. No one's gonna become the world's richest anything by taking its biggest fast food burger franchise and making it plant based.

Third, the mapbook says Iris will win her first Pulitzer for an article titled, Nightmare Under Red Skies. Wait, is this article about Crisis On Infinite Earths? The Crisis that happened like four years ago? If so, why the hell's she just now writing about that? Or is this referring to 2024, when Barry's famously supposed to disappear in yet another Crisis with red skies?

Lastly, isn't this little scrapbook incredibly dangerous?

Barry of all people knows firsthand just how fragile the timeline is, and how little it takes to irrevocably screw it up. So why in the name of Zeus' Mighty Nose Hair would he compile a book giving him and Iris unprecedented knowledge about their futures?

Amazingly, none of the characters seem very upset about the existence of the book and how it could permanently ruin their lives. Instead they just half-heartedly point out that its contents robs them of their free will. THAT'S all they got from a book that could potentially destroy the entire timeline?

• Iris goes into work, where everyone tells her the same things they did the day before. It never dawns on her that she's stuck in a time loop, as she dismisses it as deja vu.

Apparently she never looks at her desk calendar that's literally two feet away from her. If she did, she'd see that it's February 1st again, and she's reliving the previous day!

• Meet the real star of this episode— Barry's dirty sock, which reappears on the dresser every time the time loop resets! Seriously, I think it gets more screen time this week than Joe does.

• After fifteen times through the loop, Iris says screw it and decides to take advantage of it. To that end, she gets good & drunk on wine, reasoning that once the day resets she won't have a hangover. A few things here:

First of all, is that condensation on her glass there, or does she really suck at washing dishes (you may have to zoom in to see it)?

Secondly, I guess her theory makes sense. If Barry repeatedly gets killed and comes back to life when the loop resets, then I guess their hangovers would vanish too.

Third, what an amazing stroke of luck that Barry & Iris somehow happen to retain their memories and knowledge of each trip through the loop. Because if they didn't... they'd be stuck inside it forever, completely oblivious to the fact they were repeating the same day.

Lastly, the usual purpose of a Groundhog Day episode is to show the characters learning from their mistakes after repeating the same day, eventually becoming better people. That was the entire point of the Bill Murray movie.

Sadly, The Flash's writers didn't seem to get that memo, as Barry & Iris get little or nothing out of their many times through the loop.

Barry inexplicably does the exact same thing over and over, never learning a blessed thing until the last cycle. Iris comes off even worse! She's content to live out the same day forever, just so she doesn't have to make a decision about expanding her news empire and becoming a media mogul. Seriously? In a time when many Americans have three jobs yet still can't afford their rent, she's whining about her own success! Feh!

• Whoever the cinematographer was on this episode reeeeally got their money's worth out of the smoke machine they rented. They use it in virtually every shot in the episode, filling the sets with vapor so they can blast visible God Rays through the windows.

I can only imagine what all that smoke's doing to the poor actors' lungs!

• At one point Barry goes to Joe's house to whine about Iris not wanting to live her life according to the mapbook. Joe picks up the book and leafs through it, and is surprised when it says Barry's gonna move into his house:

Joe: "You're gonna move into this house?"
Barry: "Yeah. Yeah, yeah. A couple years from now, Nora chips a tooth on those stairs. And then right here on this couch is where Bart says his first word."

Wait... so does this mean Joe & Cecile are gonna move out and sell their place to Barry? Or are he & Iris gonna move back in with their parents?

• After much soul searching and melodramatic tsuris, Barry realizes Iris is right and they shouldn't let their lives be dictated by the mapbook. He then tosses it into the fireplace, snaps his fingers and sends a bolt of flame into it, incinerating the book. Wait, what?

Did.. did Barry just use his Speed Force lightning to set something on fire? What the hell? 

OK, I know this is nothing new, as they've shown the destructive properties of Speed Force lightning many times before. Particularly in Season 8, where Barry & Thawne fought Godspeed with Speed Force lightsabers, for corn's sake.

It still seems wrong to me though. If Speed Force lightning really is combustable, then Barry should have burned down Central City years ago!

• Barry and Iris then decide to ignore their future and make their own decisions, hoping that'll break the loop. They revisit CCC Media, CCPD and the scene of Captain Boomerang 2.0's robbery.

It's the latter that bugs me. After so many trips through the loop, Barry knows the EXACT second that Boomerang 2.0 will show up to steal the Roemer Accelerator. So why doesn't Barry arrive on the scene a little bit early and stop him BEFORE Boomerang 2.0 gets there, to ensure he defeats him? 

Instead, he and Iris screw around at a resort somewhere, sipping mimosas until it's time for Boomerang 2.0 to show up. Sometimes I wonder about this show...

• Barry & Iris team up and manage to defeat Boomerang 2.0. He's not finished yet though, as he sets off a nuclear device right before he teleports away. With only seconds to act, Barry grabs the device and actually phases the explosion, causing it to pass harmlessly though the city and its citizens. Boy, are we gonna talk about this!

First of all, when Barry's informed the nuke will detonate in just twenty seconds, he seems curiously powerless to stop it. 

Apparently he forgot about Season 4's Enter Flashtime, in which a terrorist group set off another nuke in Central City. In that episode, Barry moved so fast that time seemed to stop for the rest of the world, giving him a chance to think of a way to prevent or reverse the explosion.

It also apparently never occurred to him to simply zoom the nuke out to the middle of the ocean, where it would do relatively little harm. Yes, Chester warns him that even touching the thing will cause it to explode, but so what? If Barry goes into Flashtime, then everything else stoips. He'd be able to move the device somewhere safe and get away before the explosion could even happen.

Too bad he completely forgot he has these amazing abilities and doesn't even consider using them here.

As for him phasing the explosion... Jaysis, where do I even start? A nuclear explosion has three main effects: The shockwave, the fireball and radiation. One could reasonably argue that a phased shockwave might be able to pass harmlessly through people and objects without affecting them, so I'll give 'em that one.

The fireball's another story though. Even if he was able to phase the actual flame, he couldn't affect the extreme heat it generates. Or the intense light given off by the blast. Anyone within several miles of the explosion would be blinded and then incinerated.

And then there's the radiation from the nuke. I'm not sure he's be able to phase that either, since it occurs on the atomic level and isn't a tangible thing.

I get that this is a comic book show, and as such subject to heaping helpings of Comic Book Science. But there's a limit to how far our suspension of disbelief can safely stretch, and I think this scene just snapped it.

• After the blast passes harmlessly through them, Chester & Allegra are so happy to still be alive they get carried away and embrace.

Thank the Christ Baby Jesus these two FINALLY kissed. Now maybe we can stop seeing them fumbling around one another every week like a couple of nervous, inexperienced teens. Does anyone out there really care about these two and their inexplicably awkward little relationship?

• After the crisis is averted, we get this aerial drone shot of Central City.

In reality it's a piece of video clipart of downtown Portland, Oregon, available on Shutterstock!

I'm perfectly OK with this! There's nothing wrong with using clipart, as that's what it's there for. Plus by spending just $179 on it instead of sending an expensive film crew out on location, there'll be more money left in the budget for cool special effects and comic book battles!

• In all, Barry & Iris lived through the time loop fifty eight times.

• Near the end of the episode, Joe tells Cecile he wants to leave Central City. 

This comes as no real surprise, as actor Jesse L. Martin announced he was leaving the show at the end of Season 8, but would make a handful of guest appearances this year. So what's that mean for Cecile? She appears in the opening titles so she's clearly not going anywhere. Are she and Joe gonna split up?

• Barry gets a text from Caitlin and rushes to her apartment. It just occurred to me that at this point in the show, Barry doesn't know she's supposed to be dead. Anyway, once there, he sees a Mystery Woman standing dramatically in front of the window (surrounded by those God Rays!). So... did she stand there like that for an hour or two, waiting for him to show up?

The Mystery Woman then turns, and we see it's just Caitlin with some cheap blue hair extensions. Barry asks if she's Caitlin or Frost, and she says neither— but won't actually come out and say just who she is.

Why all the secrecy? It's patently obvious that she's supposed to be an amalgam of the two, created when Caitlin entered her high-tech pod at the end of last season to try and resurrect Frost. Seems pretty obvious to me.

According to showrunner Eric Wallace, this new version of Caitlin/Frost will be known as "Snow."

By the way, Snow's reveal here retroactively makes Chillblaine look like a dimwitted boob (even more so than before, if that's possible).

If you'll recall, in the Season 8 finale Chillblaine agreed to help Caitlin bring back Frost. They built a resurrection pod, Caitlin stepped into it and Chillblaine fired it up. When it opened he gasped at the unseen figure inside and incredulously asked, "Who the hell are you?"

Turns out it was just his girlfriend with blue streaks in her hair. Yet somehow he was too dimwitted to recognize her?

• Boomerang 2.0 enters an empty warehouse, where he meets with the Shadowy Mystery Villain who's supplying him with tech. 

At first glance I thought it was Thawne yet again, as the show seems contractually obligated to bring him back at least once every season. But then the Mystery Villain speeds around the room and disappears, leaving a vaguely bat-shaped Speed Force symbol hanging in the air.

So what the hell's happening here, and who's this new evil speedster on the scene?


So the Mystery Villain appears to be Red Death, who first appeared in the comics a few years back. He started out as the Batman of Earth-52, who had a whole team of Robins (Dick, Jason, Tim and Damian) who were killed during various missions. 

Their deaths caused him to lose his mind, and he decided to do whatever it took to eliminate crime in Gotham once and for all. To that end he kidnapped the Earth-52 Flash and demanded he show him how to access the Speed Force. When Flash refused, Batman somehow stole his powers and became an unhinged speedster vigilante.

Note that this is a VERY condensed version of his origin, as it'd take another 50,000 words to adequately explain his backstory, and I ain't got the time or the desire to write it all out.

Obviously the Red Death seen in this episode isn't gonna be an other-dimensional version of Batman. That's because the Powers That Be have inexplicably decreed that the character can't be used in the Arrowverse. According to them, having a Batman on TV who's different from the one in the movies would be "too confusing" for the audience.

Never mind that Ben Affleck and Robert Pattinson are currently playing two different versions of the character, and Warner Bros. is bringing back Michael Keaton in the role as well. There's no way people could handle a fourth Dark Knight on TV.

So if Red Death ain't gonna be Batman, then who the heck is he?

Welp, according to Eric Wallace, this version of Red Death is... Batwoman. Specifically the Ryan Wilder version (played by Javicia Leslie), who was last seen in the recently canceled Batwoman TV series. 

So why is this new Red Death obsessed with destroying the Flash? What could he possibly have done to turn her from hero to villain? I'm assuming that'll all be revealed in future episodes.

Personally I'm not a fan of any of this. Not because they've race, gender and orientation-swapped the Red Death character— that's just par for the course these days. My beef with it is it's now Red Death in name only.

What's the point of taking a fan-favorite character and stripping away virtually everything that made them popular in the first place? If you have to fundamentally change a character until they're unrecognizable to get them to work in your script, then maybe choose a different one instead— one who'd work without needing a ton of alteration? Surely in the entire DC Universe there was a character better suited as a Big Bad?

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