Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Flash Season 9, Episode 6: The Good, The Bad And The Lucky

This week on The Flash, we get a dreaded filler episode, as the series inexplicably focuses on the various side characters nobody cares about, instead of the ostensible star.

For a couple years now I've considered Season 7's execrable Mother as the all-time worst episode of the entire series. Sadly there's a new contender in town, as The Good, The Bad And The Lucky gives that dumpster fire a run for the title.

In addition to being a filler, this is one of the series' dreaded "Flash Lite" episodes, designed to give star Grant Gustin a bit of time off during filming. That's fine for a normal season, but this one's only about half the normal length.

It's incomprehensible that the producers would completely waste an episode this way in the show's final season, when every single minute counts.

This is all the more mystifying when you realize showrunner Eric Wallace originally had epic plans for the show's future. In a recent interview with Nerds Of Color, Wallace said:

"I had originally had a two year plan for the series for Seasons 9 and 10. And it culminated with this incredible 200th episode, a spectacular, wonderful emotional event that was meant to happen. That was before we got the news that this is going to be our last season. That was going to be a Season 9 was only I found myself in position going, 'Wow, I have a whole bunch of story for 40 episodes!' that I’m now going to cram into 13."

What are the absolute most important things to get out in Season 9? What things do we owe story wise? What character things do we have to pay off?

From day one as we see in our season premiere. It’s very, very Barry and Iris centered. That’s a model that we’ll be following for the majority of this year.

My original concept was to have at least one— if not a two parter— that wrapped up Legends of Tomorrow. And you know, there will be a little crossover we get them back, we get them out of time jail, all these good things, Booster Gold, etc, etc. When we found out we only have 13 episodes, that was no longer possible. We barely have enough time to wrap up things with Barry and Iris’ upcoming family let alone who is Danielle Panabaker playing now, so there wasn’t enough time. So unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to wrap up the Legends storyline which I know is very disappointing to the fans. It’s disappointing to me. But we just don’t have the bandwidth."

So Wallace was very obviously aware he had a limited amount of time to wrap up the series— and then he took one of the final ever episodes and flushed it completely down the crapper.

At this point I gotta believe the guy is just trolling the fans now...

I have to admit I was so bored by this episode that I actually went out in the kitchen and started washing dishes, just listening to it in the background. And you KNOW I gotta be bored before I willingly do that chore!

This episode almost feels like a backdoor pilot for a Cecile series that's never, ever gonna happen. Even The CW isn't that desperate.


The "Plot:"
We start with Becky Sharpe, aka Hazard, telling us all about the recent events of her life. Thanks to her good luck powers, she met a man named Dom, fell in love and got engaged. Then suddenly her powers changed, causing her to constantly have bad luck. 

Her misfortune reaches its peak when she comes home and finds Dom unconscious and bleeding on the floor— just as the police storm in. She's arrested for assault and realizes she needs needs to lawyer up. We then see she's been telling this tale of woe to Captain Kramer.

Cut to Cecile, who's on the phone with Joe. Now that he and Jenna have moved out of Central City, Cecile only gets to see them on the weekends (!). She tells Joe she's taking the train to wherever they live that night, in order to cook her special birthday breakfast for Jenna the next morning.

Just then Kramer calls Cecile, tells her about Becky and says she has a feeling she's innocent. She wants Cecile to take her case.

Over at STAR Labs, Barry & Iris are heading to Coast City for some R & R. Yep, it's the annual "Grant Gustin and Candice Patton Need A Week Off Episode." In fact the two of them can't wait to run offstage and out of this week's show. 

Allegra mentions she's having trouble with the hot water in her apartment, and Chester offers to come over and fix it. She thanks him and the two then embrace, making the rest of the characters nauseous. Chillblaine points out that Khione somehow healed his injuries and revived him last week, and wants to find out just what her powers are. Chester agrees to help out with that as well.

Cecile meets with Becky, agrees that she's innocent and takes her case. She's in a hurry to catch her train though, and says she'll start looking into the situation on Monday. Just then Kramer enters and says forensics just found the assault weapon— one of Becky's broken heels. Cecile realizes the case just got more complicated, and she's gonna miss her train.

Cecile, Allegra accompany Becky to her apartment to search it for anything "the police may have missed." How Cecile got Becky released into her custody is anyone's guess. Allegra finds a poker chip, and they ask if Becky's returned to her old casino job. She says no, but admits that Dom's brother-in-law Tony liked to gamble.

The three go to question Tony, who says the chip belonged to Dom. Apparently he had a secret gambling addiction he kept from Becky
, and owed a ton of debt to the mob. Tony says Dom regularly gambled at a secret casino night held once a month at O'Shaughnessy's Pub.

Cecile and the others then check out the Pub. While there, two huge thugs appear and try to abduct Becky. Cecile tries using her telekinesis to knock 'em across the room, but it fizzles out— apparently short circuited by Becky's bad luck powers. Allegra manages to send the thugs running with a UV blast.

Back at STAR, Chillblaine & Chester test Khione to find out what powers she has— if any. For some reason Chillblaine's convinced she has ice powers just like Frost's. She tries firing off an ice blast but nothing happens, causing Chillblaine to get upset and dash out of the Lab like a tween girl.

Back at Cecile's office, she realizes she missed her train, ruining the big birthday breakfast. She tells Allegra she wishes she'd never taken the case, just as Becky walks in and overhears. Becky apologizes, saying her bad luck is not only destroying her life, but the lives of everyone around her.

Just then the two thugs reappear and grab Becky. Allegra tries to blast them, but one of the thugs holds up a technobabble device that reflects her attack. Cecile's telekinesis backfires again as well, and the thugs get away with Becky.

Back at STAR, Chester says he'll examine the device the thugs used against Allegra. Chillblaine apologizes to Khione, but still thinks she has some sort of cold powers. She denies this, but as she does so it starts snowing inside the Lab (?).

Allegra tells Cecile she knows she's been sleeping in her office, and asks why. Cecile says she can't stand being in her empty house now, and regrets agreeing to let Joe & Jenna move away (which serves her right). She says she's afraid Jenna will think of her as a distant relative rather than a mother. Allegra gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling her she's a great mother no matter how much distance is between her and her child. Jaysis.

Chester discovers the thug's device uses dark matter to reverse powers, explaining why Allegra's blast backfired on her. Cecile wonders if a similar device is affecting Becky. She 
remembers that Tony helped Dom pick out Becky's engagement ring, and somehow figures out it contains dark matter that's affecting her powers.

Cecile has Chester illegally hack into Tony's bank account, and they see HE'S actually the gambler, and is in serious debt to the mob. They realize he cooked up an elaborate plan to reverse Becky's powers to make him lucky and win a ton of money at the casino night, all so he can pay off his debts. Everybody got all that?

Cut to O'Shaughnessy's Casino Night, where Tony's forcing Becky to be his blackjack dealer, while one of the thugs holds a gun on her to make sure she goes through with it. Thanks to her engagement ring, she consistently loses as the dealer, while Tony wins each game.

He easily wins enough to pay off his debts, but greedily keeps going. He admits to Becky that Dom tried to stop his plan, forcing him to attack his own brother and frame his future sister-in-law.

Cecile and Allegra arrive at the Pub, where they try to head upstairs to stop Tony. They're grabbed by the other thug, who tells them both to sit quietly. Chester overhears this on the comms, and engineers a city wide power outage (another one?) as a distraction. The second the lights go out the Pub erupts into chaos, as gamblers grab as many chips as possible in the darkness and flee.

Allegra kicks the thug in the nuts, and she and Cecile run upstairs. Cecile's powers finally work, as she telekinetically yoinks Becky's ring off her finger. Instantly her powers are reversed, causing the thug's gun to explode in his face when he tries to shoot Cecile. Tony tries to escape, but thanks to Becky's powers he falls down the stairs and knocks himself out.

Cecile calls Kramer & tells her to come down to the Pub and pick up Tony and the others. Becky's presumably cleared of all charges, and finds out Dom's out of his coma and is gonna be OK.

At the West house (or is it the Horton house now?), Cecile tells the others that her powers were glitching earlier not because of Becky, but because she was feeling guilty about letting Joe & Jenna leave. She says her powers returned after Allegra's little pep talk. Oy.

Cecile then asks Allegra to move in with her, saying she has plenty of room and her hot water works. Allegra accepts for some reason.

A week later, Team Flash breaks into Barry & Iris' Loft and decorates it. The happy couple return home, where they're confronted with a surprise baby shower.

Later at STAR, Chester analyzes the data he collected after running tests on Khione. He's surprised to find out she's not a meta after all. I fact she's 
missing fifty five of fifty six common biometric signatures... meaning she's not a human either.

• Not a nitpick, but an observation: In the "Previously On The Flash" recap, we see Barry and Iris (with her heavy duty blaster) fighting Boomerang 2.0. I naturally assumed that meant he— and the rest of the Bad Rogues— would be returning this week, since they seemingly vanished without a trace in the previous episode.


Not only does Boomerang 2.0 not show up, there's not even a mention of him or any of the other Rogues. So why the hell was he in the recap? Was he originally in the episode and got cut out?

• "Somehow, Becky Returned."

This episode begins with a montage of Becky Sharpe (aka Hazard), narrating what she's been up to the past few years. Which is interesting, since she was killed by The Thinker back in Season 4's True Colors

Becky explains this lucky break by saying she was brought back to life thanks to the Crisis On Infinite Earths, when the universe was destroyed and ultimately rebooted.

As stupid and convenient as that is, it's not the issue here. The problem is that Becky knows about any of this at all. According to the Crisis miniseries, the only people who remember it happening were the seven Paragons (and a few close associates they shared it with).

The Becky who was killed by The Thinker no longer exists, and the version seen here never died in the first place.

Once again, it's starting to look like the writers have never seen the show or don't understand it.

• During her montage, Becky admires her new gown outside of Sonrisa's Bridal Boutique. The internet informs me that Sonrisa means "smile" in Spanish.

• Becky comes home from work and finds her fiancĂ© Dom lying on the floor in a pool of blood, seemingly in a coma.

Forget coma— based on the alarming amount of blood leaking out of the back of his head there, he oughta be dead!

• As I mentioned in the intro, this is one of the show's infamous "Flash-Lite" episodes— one in which the titular character appears for just a few seconds. 

They've been doing this for a few years now, in order to give Grant Gustin a much-needed break. Filming twenty four episodes in a season is understandably a grind, and because he's in virtually every scene it makes sense he'd need a break.

But this isn't a normal season— it's a truncated, thirteen episode one. Is he really so burned out after shooting just five shows that he needs a vacation already?

This is also the FINAL season of the series. As such the producers should be utilizing every episode to its fullest, to wrap up the various storylines and give all the characters a proper and satisfying sendoff. 

Instead they give us a dreary, pointless filler featuring Cecile & Allegra trying to prove the innocence of a character who's been dead for five years. 

It's utterly baffling to me why they'd completely waste one of the last ever episodes on such nonsense. They could have easily used this episode to flesh out the Red Death Saga a bit, giving that story room to breathe and keep it from feeling so rushed and choppy. But no, seeing Cecile & Allegra stand in a room and talk for forty two minutes is good too.

Sometimes I just don't know about this show.

There were numerous better ways they could have handled this situation. It's clear that Gustin and Patton weren't actually present at any point during this week's shoot, as they probably filmed their two brief scenes in the previous episode.

They could have easily taken the time to shoot a few more scenes during that episode and spliced 'em into this one. That way we could have had a storyline in which Barry's captured by an evil meta and held hostage. Then Team Flash could have spent the episode trying to rescue him. That way the characters would be talking about him all through the show, giving the audience the impression he was in it way more than he was.

An even better idea— schedule some time to shoot an extra ten minutes during the previous five episodes. The producers would then end up with an entire sixth episode starring Barry— and we wouldn't have had to endure this week's complete waste of time.

See, guys? It's not that hard! If a schlub like me from Indiana can figure it out, surely professional Hollywood writers oughta be able to!

• So Barry & Iris show up this week just long enough to announce they're leaving town on vacation. In fact they practically flee the set, as if they can't exit this episode fast enough.

I guess that means neither one of them had any interest in going to Jenna's fifth birthday party the next day. You know, Jenna, the child who's literally Iris' half sister and Barry's foster aunt/lil' sis? Way to support your family, guys!

• Becky's charged with the attempted murder of Dom. Cecile says the evidence against her is all circumstantial, and everything should be fine. Kramer says not so fast, as forensics just found the alleged weapon— Becky's blood-soaked stiletto heel.

So... how was she supposed to have used this on Dom? Club him in the head with the shoe and knock him into a coma? Becky doesn't seem anywhere near strong enough for that. Maybe we're meant to think she stabbed him in the back of the head with the heel? That would account for the puddle of blood he was lying in, but... surely that wouldn't put his lights out instantly. I'm confused.

• Cecile & Allegra search Becky's apartment, to "see if there's anything there that forensics might have missed." A couple things here:

First of all, Becky's there in the apartment with them, so I guess Cecile somehow got her released into her custody?

Secondly, while Cecile & Allegra are snooping around, Becky exits her bathroom and sheepishly tells them, "Sorry about the smell."

Wait, what? Was... was that supposed to be a joke that failed epically, or am I missing something here? Such is the impeccable quality of the writing in this episode.

• Allegra uses her UV vision to scan the apartment for clues. I guess she's OK with Becky knowing she's a meta? Becky's one herself, so maybe it doesn't matter?

• Check out the padded shoulders Allegra rocks in this episode. I thought those went out with powdered wigs!

Her entire outfit this week is downright bizarre, as it looks like she raided the closet of a forty-something divorcee out on the prowl for a new husband. 

• Cecile questions Dom's brother Tony, who reveals his sibling was a notorious gambler. Becky doesn't believe her future husband would hide something like that from her. Tony says, "He was THE gambler. Only thing missing was a roasted chicken."

I think that was supposed to be a joke about Kenny Rogers? Maybe? See, decades ago he had a hit song called The Gambler, and starred in a TV movie of the same name. He also owned a chain of chicken restaurants called Kenny Rogers Roasters. Hence the line about gamblers & chickens.

A long way to go for an obscure and unsuccessful joke!

• Tony tells Cecile that Dom regularly gambled at "a bi-monthly high stakes casino night" held at O'Shaughnessy's Pub. 

Why would anyone arrange such a thing at a dingy little neighborhood dive bar like that, instead of an actual casino (which Central City has)? Because budget, that's why. They couldn't afford to build a casino or go on a costly location shoot, and the O'Shaughnessy's set was already there.

• When the gals investigate O'Shaughnessy's, two thugs appear and grab Becky, holding her hostage. Cecile tries going all Jean Grey on them, but her telekinesis glitches and sputters out.

Allegra's so startled by all this that she apparently forgets she has powers of her own, and watches helplessly.

She does eventually blast the thugs across the room, but only after politely waiting for the ad break to end!

A few seconds later the thugs wake up and take the hapless O'Shaughnessy bartender hostage. They warn Cecile and Allegra not to follow them, or they'll kill their captive. They then throw the bartender on the floor and run out the door. Wait, what?

Yeah, that's not how hostages work! Did anyone proofread this script before filming it?

• Back at STAR, Chester tests Khione for any powers she might have:

Chester: "So I have retrofitted our combat dummy to test for over fifty six different power sets. I'm talking pyrokinesis, telekinesis, technopathy..."

Apparently "technopathy is the ability to control machines with one's mind. I did not know that.

• After being relatively restrained the past two seasons, for some reason Chester reverts to the over the top, slang-littered manner he had in his very first appearance back in Season 6's Into The Void. He even dusts off his old "Yo, Party People!" catchphrase from that era.

Why? I have no idea. Maybe actor Brandon McKnight was doing whatever he could to spice up this dull as dishwater episode.

• In the Lab, Chillblaine tests Khione to find out if she has any hidden powers. For some reason he's convinced she has ice powers like Frost. In fact he goes all Vertigo in this episode, desperately trying to will Khione into becoming his old flame Frost.

His obsession here was pretty well done, and the closest this episode got to actually doing something interesting. Too bad they didn't make this the A-plot.

• Khione tries blasting a dummy with ice powers as part of the test. At one point she holds out her hand and shouts, "Ice blast activate," and "Go, ice, go," hoping something will happen.

This was clearly a nod to Peter Parker testing his web slinging powers in 2002's Spider-Man.

• At various points in this episode, Khione says:

Khione: (to Barry & Iris when they announce they're going on vacation) "The drive to Coast City's gonna be beautiful this time of year, especially 'cause we're having an early spring."

Khione: (when she sees Chester & Allegra kiss) "You guys are so cute. I'm so happy for you. I'm gonna get you a congratulatory sapling."

Khione: (when Chillblaine believes she has ice powers) "If you say so. Okay. Let's see what fruits I can bear."

Khione: "Did you know that in Utah, there are these rock formations where gorgeous wildflowers grow inside certain canyon walls?"
Chillblaine: "What does that have to do with Frost?"
Khione: "These canyons were eroded over centuries of time by a river that's no longer there. And it left behind this beautiful life so we could all enjoy these beautiful blossoms. Mark, there is more of Frost left behind in you than there ever was in me. I know she's gone, but those memories, they're still there, and they are a beautiful part of what's inside of you. And if you let them, they'll just keep blossoming. Just like those wildflowers."

Get it? DO YOU GET IT? Khione is in tune with nature, and has something to do with plants and plant life! Get it? Eh? EH?

• Khione has a heartfelt chat with Chillblaine, and somehow inadvertently makes it snow inside the Lounge. 

It's supposed to be a beautiful and poetic moment, but it just made me want to change the channel and watch Edward Scissorhands again. Note to producers— don't remind the audience of better things they could be watching instead of your show.

• Grab a snack, because I'm about to go into "Flashrant" here.

Cecile gets so caught up in trying to prove Becky's innocence that she misses her train, and realizes she won't make it to Jenna's big birthday bash by morning. She calls Jenna and tries to apologize, but her daughters heartbroken.

Cecile then regrets her decision to let Joe take Jenna and move out of Central City, as she tells Allegra, "
My daughter is gonna stop thinking of me as her mom and just think of me as some relative who visits on the weekends!"

Why, it's like she finally learned the bitter truth that actions have consequences! 

We're meant to sympathize with Cecile here, but I don't feel the least bit sorry for her. As I said last week, only a monster would have agreed to let her (common law) husband and daughter move away while she stayed behind to play superhero in the big city. 

It's a given that this arrangement will inevitably lead to her and Joe drifting apart, and she'll miss out on dozens of important milestones in Jenna's life. Yet she seems totally blindsided by this revelation. What the f*ck did she think was gonna happen?

This entire scenario was completely preventable, and highlights a problem this show's had for years now. When virtually every single character is some sort of meta, it's tough to come up with a situation that can't be easily resolved with their powers.

For example, Cecile's sad that she stupidly agreed to a long term relationship with her own family. Not a problem! Barry's a speedster, and could zoom her to Joe's new house every evening in two seconds (and back the next morning). Surely he'd be happy to do so for the woman who's technically both his foster mom and mother-in-law?

If he wasn't available, then there's her gal pal Allegra. Back when Nash Wells appeared, he regularly used teleportation smoke bombs of his own invention to instantly pop from place to place. He gifted his supply of them to Allegra before he sacrificed himself, and she's been using 'em for years now. 

These smoke bombs would be an even better solution, as Cecile could just throw one on the floor and be at Joe's place in a second. Same when she needed to return to Central City the next morning. She could even use one to meet Joe for lunch every day if she wanted!

Also, back when Cisco lost his organic vibing powers, he created hi-tech gauntlets that could open up dimensional doorways. Surely he could loan Cecile a pair of his old Vibe gloves so she could be with her family?

There's probably some more tech I'm forgetting about that she could use to quickly traverse the distance. 

Heck, thanks to the pandemic, three years ago we all learned about a little thing called "Work From Home." I would bet a good deal of Cecile's job involves tasks that could easily be done remotely. She'd need to occasionally travel to Central City for court cases, but they wouldn't be an everyday occurrence.

It's abundantly clear there was no reason for her to let her family move away, because there are so many ways around the situation. Of course the characters conveniently forget about all these potential solutions, because the writers need to generate conflict for the sake of drama. Surely there was a better way to go about it though. 

• At STAR Labs, Cecile asks Chester to do something "a little shady" and look up Tony's confidential bank records. A couple things here:

When Chester first sees the records, he utters another of his Black History Month oaths, saying, "Holy Casper Holstein!"

As usual, I'd never heard of the subject of his exclamation. Turns out Holstein was a famous black philanthropist and mobster during the Prohibition Era.

OK, I'm calling bullsh*t on that one. It's one thing when Chester's familiar with famous black scientists and such, as he's one himself and knowledgable about that world. But why the hell would he know about a mobster? Is he really THAT obsessed with any famous figure of color? Even criminals?

Secondly, a few minutes earlier we saw Cecile was going through Dom's bank records. Did she get those through shady means as well? If not, then why was it OK to look at Dom's but not Tony's?

• Check out the big high stakes casino night at O'Shaughnessy's. In particular, note Becky dealing a blackjack game there in the upper right corner in the mezzanine.

Then in this reverse angle we see there's a row of upper windows opposite the mezzanine, located some fifteen or twenty feet above floor level.

Just to refresh your memory, this is the exterior of O'Shaughnessy's. So just where is that upper level located? Whoops!

• So let me see if I understand Tony's plan in this episode, just for my own edification:

— He somehow finds out Becky's a meta with the power to make good luck for herself, but bad luck for everyone around her. How'd he learn this bombshell? Unknown.

— He then gets his hands on a dark matter crystal that reverses meta powers. Where'd he get such a rare and ridiculously specific item? Good question!

— He finds someone to cut the crystal into a gem and mount it onto an engagement ring.

— He then goes ring shopping with his brother Dom, and somehow manipulates him into buying the special dark matter ring for Becky.

— He attacks Dom to get him out of the picture, beating him just enough to put him into a coma but not kill him. He then frames Becky to deflect suspicion away from himself.

— He has Becky abducted, and somehow gets her a job at O'Shaughnessy's casino night.

— Lastly, he somehow makes sure Becky's his blackjack dealer during the casino night. Since the dark matter crystal in her ring reverses her power, she loses every hand while he wins, and he racks up hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Is that it? Did I get it?

Man, talk about convoluted. I wrote it all out and I'm STILL not sure I completely understand it. 

None of this makes any sense, even for a comic book show. For example, why'd he frame Becky for Dom's assault? She almost went to prison for attempted murder, which would have made it kind of hard for her to be his blackjack dealer.

How'd he get Becky a job at the casino night, when she's currently a criminal suspect? I guarantee the casino management would do a background check on potential dealers, and reject any with a police record.

And most importantly, what was his plan after winning all the money? Pay off his mob debts and then take the remainder of his winnings and live out the rest of life in a tropical paradise somewhere?

Plus, if Tony's such a genius that he could rig up an engagement ring that reverses superpowers, surely to Thor he's smart enough to figure out an easier way to earn money.

• Cecile & Allegra arrive at O'Shaughnessy's to look for Becky. They're immediately stopped by one of the thugs, who threatens to kill them. Just then Chester causes a city-wide power outage as a distraction. Several things here:

First off, the instant the power goes out, every gambler in the place grabs an armload of chips and runs out the door. The Pit Boss helplessly throws up his hands, realizing he's just lost hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.

But why? As in all casinos, there's no actual money changing hands here— just chips. What good's it gonna do for anyone to steal those? Can't pay your rent with casino chips!

Secondly, did it really never occur to the Pit Boss to place guards at the door, to prevent this exact scenario from happening?

• When Becky's forced to be a dealer by Tony, she's dressed in her old casino uniform.

Note that it looks EXACTLY like the one Hazard wore in the Infinity Inc. comic. In fact this may be the most comic-accurate costume on the show to date!

• During all the chaos, Cecile finally gets her groove back and uses her telekinesis to pull Becky's dark matter engagement ring off her finger. With the ring destroyed, Becky's powers now work normally, causing her to have good luck while everyone around her has bad.

Somehow Becky instantly understands this, and dares the thug to shoot her. 

How the hell did she figure out her ring was scrambling her power? Especially since she wasn't around when Cecile & Allegra realized the truth? Because the script says so, that's how.

The thug shoots at Becky, but her power causes his gun to explode in his face. Did... did she just inadvertently kill a guy? At the very least his face was likely erased by flying shrapnel from his gun.

• With Tony and the thugs defeated, we then get the cringiest line in this cringey episode, as the gals toast themselves and Becky quips, "I would say that we are three badass bitches!" Oy.

• This is some more Heavy Duty Nitpicking, but whatever. The next morning at the West home (or is that the Horton home now?), Cecile eats breakfast with Allegra & Chester. 

Jesus Christ, look at that spread! A giant basket of bagels, a tray of fresh fruits, a plate full of croissants and more. There's enough there for ten people. Did she use her TK powers to swipe all that stuff from a local breakfast buffet?

• Barry & Iris deign to make a special cameo appearance in the final seconds of the episode. In all they had a whopping sixty three seconds of screen time this week. In one of the final ever episodes of the entire series.

Yep, that's some bullshit there.

And yes, I measured their screen time with the stopwatch app on my phone.

Multiverse Of Meh-ness

In Back To The Future, Marty McFly accidentally travels back to 1955, where he crashes into Old Man Peabody's barn.

Peabody and his family are startled by Marty, whose hazmat suit and DeLorean make it look like he's an alien from another planet.

This is confirmed by Old Man Peabody Jr., who holds up a sci-fi pulp mag with a cover featuring an invading alien who's dressed just like Marty.

For the record, this is the front & back cover of the kid's Tales From Space mag. On the back there's a colorful ad for an Official Red Rider Carbine Air Rifle...

Which is very much like the one Ralpie Parker covets in A Christmas Story.

Welp, that makes it official! Back To The Future and A Christmas Story both take place in the same cinematic universe! 

I can't wait to see Doc Brown interact with Ralphie's Old Man! 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Flash Season 9, Episode 5: The Mask Of The Red Death, Part 2

This week on The Flash, we get the wrap up to the incredibly uneven and underwhelming Red Death Saga.

Wait, what? Already? The thing just started! Heck, Red Death just revealed her true identity and infodumped her back story last week! And now it's all over? What the hell?

In the past I've complained about the fact that the series gives us way too many filler episodes, in order to drag out the storylines longer than necessary. That's why I can't believe I'm saying this, but this entire story arc was way too short! It felt rushed, like they compressed ten episodes into a measly five, resulting in some extremely choppy storytelling. The story barreled along with no room for scenes to breathe or even register with the audience.

I cannot overstate just how rushed this arc felt— as if the producers couldn't wait to be done with it and move on.

As with most story arcs we've gotten in the past two or three seasons, this one started out fairly promisingly, but quickly devolved into an incoherent mess. Such is the nature of The Flash these days.

It didn't help that Red Death was a terrible, terrible choice for a Big Bad. In the comics, Red Death was really the Batman of Earth-52, who went a little nutty for reasons and stole the Flash's speed to wipe out ALL crime on his Earth.

That's a problem, as there's no real Batman in the Arrowverse. They couldn't just suddenly add a Batman, as he'd have no prior relationship with Barry— something the comic version had. So the producers created an alternate timeline Batwoman and plugged her into the part of Red Death. 

That didn't make any sense either, as this ersatz Batwoman had no connection to our Flash either, making the audience wonder why she had such a beef with him and wanted to destroy him.

So why bother using Red Death at all then? Why not pick one of the thousand other villains in the DC Universe to use as the Big Bad here? 

It didn't help that Red Death's motivation changed multiple times over the course of the arc, often within the same episode. iIn fact I'm still not entirely clear on just what she was trying to accomplish.

I don't think the writers quite understood the character they cobbled together either. Last week she told Iris she was from an alternate timeline, one that's apparently existed for decades. That's usually not how such things work, and it felt more like she's from another Earth in the Multiverse— which isn't supposed to exist anymore.

The rushed storyline also resulted in a ton of sloppy writing this week. For example, the REAL Batwoman shows up just in the nick of time in the third act, with absolutely zero explanation as to where she's been. Not even a quick, simple line of clarifying dialogue! There's also no mention of what happened to Red Death's Bad Rogues, who seem to have just sneaked offscreen while no one was looking and are still out there somewhere. Sloppy!

Worst of all though is the way the whole Red Death storyline was wrapped up. For weeks now the show's been building her up as this deadly, marrow-freezing ultimate threat. And then in this episode she's knocked out with one punch. Literally! It's the most underwhelming and unsatisfactory ending I've ever seen. 

Lastly, there's the jaw-droppingly appalling way the writers resolved the Joe & Cecile storyline. For the past month now, the two have been trying to decide whether to leave Central City or stay. 

Incredibly, this episode solves their dilemma by having Joe & Jenna move away, while Cecile stays behind and visits them on the weekend. And Cecile happily goes along with this plan!

Seriously? We'll talk about this more in depth below, but Jesus Jetskiing Christ, what moron on the writing staff thought it'd be a good idea to have assassinate Cecile's character by having her gladly move away from her family for the most narcissistic reason possible?

It's honestly one of the most appalling storylines I've ever seen on a TV show. 

On the barely perceptible plus side, Gorilla Grodd makes a brief appearance this week, so that was good. 

Anyway, on with the complaining.


The Plot:
The red lightning continues striking all over Central City, causing damage and chaos the series' budget can't afford to show us.

At CCPD, Kramer enters her office and sees Murmur sitting at her desk like a January 6th rioter. The evil Rogue holds up Kramer's Flash signal device and shows it to her for some reason (?). Just then a red blur speeds through the station, knocking out (or maybe killing, I dunno?) all the officers.

Kramer sees Red Death, Boomerang 2.0, The Fiddler and Rainbow Raider standing in the middle of the station with some sort of hardware. Red Death orders Boomerang 2.0 and Murmur to take the tech to the roof and let her know when it's ready.

Kramer then dusts off her powers and mimics Rainbow Raider's emotion-controlling abilities, causing him and The Fiddler to experience intense terror. Red Death is affected as well, but throws off her fear and slaps meta dampening cuffs on Kramer. Red Death hisses to Kramer that she's going to show her what true justice looks like. 

At STAR Labs, Team Flash is upset that they were forced to leave Chillblaine behind when they escaped from Red Death's lair last week. Jaco says now that they've destroyed Red Death's Cosmic Treadmill, she'll be coming for them. Barry, who still hasn't recovered his speed, says they need to be ready for her. Goldface points out they don't even know how to find her, and Barry says he knows someone who can.

Hard cut to Cecile lying on a table in the Lab, hooked up to some technobabble device. Joe's there with her for some reason— emotional support, maybe? Chester uses the device to boost Cecile's telepathy, and tells her to scan the city for intense hatred— the kind generated by Red Death.

Cecile quickly locates her at CCPD, but then also senses someone else. She begins hyperventilating and gasps that Chillblaine's still alive at Red Death's warehouse.

Barry tries to talk the Good Rogues into rescuing Chillblaine, but they refuse, pointing out that he betrayed them all. Khione pipes up and says she'll go with Barry, even though she doesn't have any powers. This shames the Rogues into helping Barry after all.

At CCPD, Boomerang 2.0 and Murmur set up an antenna to hack into the station's satellite. Kramer says Red Death will never get through their firewall, but she types on a laptop at superspeed and instantly punches through. Red Death tells Kramer she should be thanking her, as she'll eliminate all crime be being judge, jury and executioner.

Red Death then somehow creates hundreds of clones of her armor that she controls remotely, in order to police the city. These Sentinels march around ordering people to stay in their homes.

Chester scans the Sentinels and says they're psychic energy manifestations that are somehow created by Red Death. He says she must be getting a major boost in her powers to control them all, and starts scanning for a source. Khione wants to go with Barry to rescue Chillblaine, but he forbids it, saying he doesn't want to lose her like Caitlin and Frost.

Allegra and Goldface teleport to Red Death's warehouse for some reason— I guess to stand watch outside it? Meanwhile, Barry, Hartley and Jaco teleport inside the place. They find Chillblaine alive, chained up and completely unguarded. Just as Jaco says the whole thing feels like a trap, Red Death zooms in and knocks everyone out— except for Barry. She steals the last of his speed, leaving him helpless.

Red Death begins monologuing to Barry, saying her Sentinels will allow her to eliminate all crime everywhere. He tells her he'll find a way to stop her, but she says he's already made it possible for her to succeed. She shows him a vision of Grodd, standing alone in a forest. She says Barry promised to help Grodd find his fellow sentient apes, but then abandoned him after the Crisis. She then came along and offered to help him in exchange for amplifying her psychic powers.

Barry snaps out of the vision and sees Red Death's gone. So why didn't she kill him and the Good Rogues while they were out? Good question!

Cut to STAR Labs sometime later, where we see Chillblaine lying in a coma in the Med Lab. Barry tells Team Flash that everything so far was all part of Red Death's plan— she planted the vision of Chillblaine's location in Cecile's mind, knowing it would lure them to the warehouse, where she could... taunt him, I guess.

The Good Rogues tell Barry it's all over, as Red Death's won. They decide to leave and spend what little time they have left with their loved ones.

Khione tells Iris she feels useless, as she doesn't have any powers. Iris gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling her she has a purpose but just needs to find it. Khione wanders into the Med Lab and tells Chillblaine she wishes he'd wake up. She kisses him, and a puff of superchilled air is shared between them as he finally comes to.

Barry stares out the window at the red lightning, also feeling useless. Joe enters and gives him an epic Patented The CW Pep Talk®, saying he's always had the gift to bring out the good in everyone. He then tells Barry he & Cecile are thinking about leaving Central City, and Barry gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk® as well, telling him his "power" is to inspire others. Jaysis. Somehow Barry's own words make him realize what he needs to do.

Chester scans for Grodd and finds him in the Serengeti. Barry teleports there to talk with the massive telepathic ape. Grodd rages at Barry for abandoning him, and says Red Death's the only one who can help him locate his tribe. 
Barry tells Grodd that once he's served Red Death's purpose, she'll turn on him. He gives Grodd a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, saying he's a hero deep down inside and asks him to help save the world.

Back in Central City, chaos erupts as looters roam the streets. The Sentinels encounter a looter and straight up fry him with their eye beams. At STAR, Chester monitors the situation and sees the Sentinels have spread all over the world.

Suddenly Chester detects a surge of psychic and Speed Force energy coming from the Serengeti. It spreads around the world, wiping out the Sentinels. Red Death's at CCPD, where the psychic blast causes her to double over in pain. Kramer sees that as her cue to nope out of there, and escapes through an air vent (?).

Red Death recovers, and realizes her psychic boost from Grodd is gone. She screams in anger, blaming Barry for foiling her plans again. She zooms to the center of town and shrieks for Barry to face her.

Barry appears, causing Red Death to ask how he got his speed back. He explains that three years ago he gave a spark of his speed to Grodd for some complicated plot reason, and the giant ape gifted it back to him.

Barry & Red Death then have an epic battle as they zoom through Central City, hurling Speed Force energy at one another. She manages to hit Barry with a blast, stunning him.

The Good Rogues then appear and attack Red Death with their various powers. She manages to take them out yet again with her speed. She's about to deliver the killing blow to the incapacitated Barry, when a Batarang flies out of nowhere and stabs her in the chest, shorting out her armor and apparently nullifying her speed (?).

Batwoman then appears and tells her evil doppelganger to knock it off. The two then kick and punch each other for a while, trading quips. 

Red Death pauses to taunt Batwoman, but Barry swoops in and strips her of her armor at superspeed. Batwoman then knocks her out with one punch. Well that was anticlimactic!

Back at STAR, the REAL Ryan Wilder, aka Batwoman, schmoozes with Team Flash. They thank her for her timely help, and Barry tells her that the evil Ryan is now in ARGUS custody.

In the Lounge, Joe tells Cecile he has an idea. He says he still wants to get out of Central City and give Jenna a normal childhood. But he knows that the city needs Cecile and her powers to protect it. So he comes up with a solution— he and Jenna will move, while Cecile stays. He says Cecile can do all her superheroing from Monday through Friday, and then spend the weekends with him and Jenna.

Amazingly Cecile goes for his plan. What the hell?

Two weeks later, Cecile invites Team Flash (and Chillblaine) to a going away party for Joe. He gives a heartfelt speech about how they're all family right before deserting them. Chester and Allegra finally kiss, ending their interminable Will They/Won't They/Who Cares drama. Chillblaine says he feels out of place, but Barry tells him he's part of the team now.

Suddenly Iris almost faints and says she feels funny. Khione calmly says it's probably because she's pregnant, much to Barry & Iris' surprise.

• Last week Red Death's Cosmic Treadmill turned the skies AND the lightning over Central City red. In this episode it's suddenly just the lightning that's crimson. Why the difference? Good question!

Once again, this whole "Red Skies Over The City" thing would have been the perfect opportunity to finally address Barry's long-prophesied disappearance. I'm assuming the writers have abandoned that storyline now, since it was kind of resolved in the Crisis.

• At CCPD, Kramer enters her office and sees Murmur in her chair, sans the creepy mask. 

Was there any good reason for her to expose her face this week? No? I didn't think so.

I was a little surprised to see that Michelle Amar, aka Murmur, looks like she's fifty years old here— if not older! I figured she was much younger than that. The old gal's pretty spry for her age!

In real life, Alexandria Wailes (who plays Murmur) is forty seven, and doesn't look anywhere near as old as her character. So what was the point of making her up like a senior citizen?

Also, last week I pointed out that Murmur used sign language to "speak," since her lips are sewn shut. But I noticed her fellow Bad Rogues were signing to her as well, making me wonder if she was supposed to be a deaf-mute.

Welp, looks like the answer is yes! Alexandria Wailes is actually deaf, and since actors can only play what they are these days, that means Murmur is too!

Lastly, as I mentioned a couple weeks back, how the hell does Murmur eat with her lips sewn shut? I guess maybe there's just enough room to stick a straw or a Slim Jim through.

• Red Death and her band of Rogues infiltrate CCPD, where they incapacitate everyone but Kramer. While Red Death's blathering about something, she scans them and mimics Rainbow Raider's powers, making them all feel overwhelming terror.

Wow, it's been so long since Kramer used her powers that I'd completely forgotten she's a meta mimic! Maybe she should have absorbed The Fiddler's sonic power instead, and knocked out everyone with a sound blast.

• At CCPD, there's a brief exchange between Rainbow Raider and The Fiddler:

The Fiddler: "Nobody gets in or out... alive."
Rainbow Raider: "Now you're playing my tune."

Comedy Ahoy!

• For the past few seasons, showrunner Eric Wallace has been determined to make Iris a major part of Team Flash— one who's every bit as important as Barry himself.

As proof, note this not-so-subtle shot here, in whch her outfit is the same shade of red as Barry's costume. Heck, the boob window in her top even simulates his Flash symbol!

• Goldface wins the Nicknamer Of The Episode Award. This week he refers to Allegra as "Lite-Brite," Chillblaine as "Chill-lame" and also as "Six Pack Blondie."

• At CCPD, Red Death attempts to hack into the station's satellite. A couple things here:

Do most police stations have their own private satellite that they launched into orbit? Pretty sure I know the answer to that one.

Second, Red Death tries gaining control of the satellite by tapping away at Kramer's laptop at superspeed (as evidenced by her blurred hands above). I guess maybe she's trying every possible password combination in a few seconds? Yeah, that's not gonna work. 

Computer processors have a clock speed, which determines how fast they can perform tasks. Typing 100,000 words a minute isn't going to make the computer work any faster— it's just gonna make it crash.

• Red Death then creates hundreds of copies of herself (called Sentinels) to patrol the city. Just like Mirror Master/Mistress/Monarch did with her mirror clones in Season 7, and Godspeed with his duplicates in Season 8. That Eric Wallace sure does love his armies of identical villains! And hey, why not? If a plot device works once, why not use it a dozen more times?

By the way, the part of the building the Sentinels are guarding here is played by the Vancouver Art Gallery, in... well, you know where.

Also, that group shot of the Sentinels on the steps reminds me of this one from the 1968 Doctor Who episode The Invasion, in which the Cybermen struck a similar pose.

• Last week Red Death told Iris that she planned to eliminate all crime in her timeline by killing criminals before they broke the law. At the time I wondered just how she intended to do that. Was she a telepath in addition to being a speedster?

Welp, this week we find out she is! In fact she has quite an array of psychic powers! I guess being a bat-themed speedster wasn't enough for her?

At one point Barry & Chester discuss Red Death's Sentinels, and where she got 'em:

Chester: "It looks like they're reservoirs of psychic energy. It's like they're individual manifestations of a single telepathic consciousness."
Barry: "Red Death's getting stronger. But how's she doing this?"
Chester: "Beats me, but in order to create these mental projections, She's gotta be getting a neural boost from some mega powerful psychic source."

So the Sentinels aren't actually real, but psychic projections of Red Death's mind or something. But where's she getting these new powers? From Gorilla Grodd, the telepathic gorilla who clashed with Barry numerous times over the years. As Red Death explains:

Barry: "Ryan, what have you done to him?
Red Death: "Nothing. Like I said, this is your doing, Flash. After your Crisis, the gorillas in Gorilla City lost their sentience and were scattered across your lawless world. Grodd never found his tribe because you left him with little more than a pat on the back, arrogantly thinking that teaching him your hero's way was enough. It wasn't."
Barry: "I didn't know."
Red Death: "Because you didn't care. Which is why your Grodd took my offer to help reunite his tribe in exchange for amplifying my telepathy. All because your lessons of heroism failed him."

This retroactively explains her comment last week about preemptively stopping criminals before they can break the law.

By the way, what the hell was up with actress Javicia Leslie in her Grodd dialogue? She straight up mispronounced at least three words in this little speech. She said "tella-PATHy" instead of "tah-LEPP-athy," "heeero-ism" instead of "hair-o-ism" and "felled" instead of "failed." Meh, she just flubbed an entire page of the script. No need for a retake.

• Barry falls for Red Death's trap, which used Chillblaine as bait. She then captures him and starts monologuing about her Sentinels. Barry dismisses them, saying:

Barry: "They're just psychic manifestations. They can't hurt anyone."
Red Death: "Oh, Flash. When Bashir put Savitar in your mind to stab you in the chest, did that hurt?"

She's talking about Bashir Malik (aka the Still Force), and an incident that happened in Season 7's Fear Me. But... how does Red Death know about that? Did the Four Forces Saga happen in her timeline as well? Or did she use her newfound psychic powers to read Barry's mind?

• All through this episode, whenever Red Death uses her telepathy, we hear the "Cecile's Empathic Powers" sound effect. So I guess that sound is for ANYONE using psychic abilities, and not just Cecile?

• Has that big gap between Barry's cowl and his cheek always been there? If so, I never noticed it before, and it's really bugging me.

• OK, so Red Death used Chillblaine to lure Barry, Hartley & Jaco to her warehouse lair. She knocks out the Good Rogues, then steals Barry's speed and taunts him for a bit, explaining her master plan.

And then we hard cut back to STAR Labs, where Barry & the others are all safe & sound. Wait, what? Did we skip a reel or something?

Why the hell did Red Death let everyone go? She even said Barry had served his purpose in her plan, and was no more use to her. So why didn't she kill him and the others when she had the chance, and make sure they didn't cause any more problems for her? Nothing about this makes any sense.

• The god rays we've been seeing all season return again this week. The cinematographer must really be pumping the sets full of smoke to get the lights to show up like that.

• A couple weeks ago in Hear No Evil, Goldface explained he got out of prison by turning state's evidence against the love of his life, Amunet Black. This week when it looks like Red Death's about to conquer the world, he says, "Guess I'll go to Iron Heights, apologize to Amunet. Maybe she'll forgive me before we all die."

Yeah, what are the odds she's gonna forgive the guy responsible for her being in prison right now?

• After he's rescued, Chillblaine lies in the Medbay in a coma. Khione waltzes in and manages to wake him with a kiss.

For some reason there's a puff of what appears to be super chilled air that appears between the two after she kisses him. It's unclear though if it came from her or him. He'd be the obvious candidate, since he has cold powers, but who knows in this episode? 

Does Khione unknowingly have some kind of life-giving powers?

• Barry stares out the window at all the carnage outside, which the episode can't afford to show us. Joe walks in and gives him an epic Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling Barry he always brings out the best in people or some such hooey. It then becomes a mutual admiration society, as Barry gives Joe a 
Patented The CW Pep Talk® of his own, saying his "superpower" is inspiring others.

I gotta say, I will NOT miss these endless maudlin scenes once the show's over.

• During all the chaos caused by the red lightning, we see this hapless looter stealing a TV,

Note the brand name here. According to Google Translate, "Mejenste" is Spanish for "better."

One of the Sentinels appears and fries the guy with its eye beams. Pretty harsh punishment for stealing a lousy TV!

As near as I can tell, this is the one and only fatality caused by Red Death in this entire arc! And it's not even really her doing the killing here! Some villain!

• Last week Red Death forced Barry to power her Cosmic Treadmill, and he ended up running so hard he exhausted all his speed. Amazingly his speed still hasn't regenerated itself in this episode!

I could be totally off base here, but I don't remember that ever happening before on the show. He's exerted himself much harder and longer in the past, and never completely lost his speed before. So why's it happening now? Because the script needs it to happen, that's why.

• Barry goes to see the real Grodd (not one in his mind this time), and gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling him to be the hero he knows he can be. Grodd eventually agrees to stop boosting Red Death's psychic powers.

I gotta say, Grodd was looking pretty good in this episode— especially for a TV budget. It's probably telling that I'd much rather we'd have gotten an episode in which a telepathic ape was the Big Bad instead of Red Death.

• Back at STAR, Chester and the others gaze at a display showing that Red Death's Sentinels have spread all across the world. 

It might have been nice to actually see a couple shots of Sentinels in Paris or Beijing, rather than just hearing about them. I guess they blew all their money on Grodd's CGI, and didn't have anything left for any establishing shots.

• Wow, Kramer's definitely the Fastest Captain In Central City! When Grodd cuts off his psychic boost to Red Death, she doubles over in pain. Kramer sees this, and in the space of two tenths of a second she somehow leaps across the room, pulls the grate off a heating duct and dives into it to escape. Impressive!

Did she mimic Red Death's speed here in order to accomplish all that?

• Red Death then zooms into a Central City plaza, where demands the Flash show himself.

The part of the plaza's played by the Vancouver Public Library— which looks a lot like the Parthenon in Rome!

• Red Death sees Barry somehow has his mojo, er, I mean speed back, and demands to know how. He explains that years ago he gifted Grodd with a spark of Speed Force energy for reasons, and the giant ape's now given it back to him.

This little revelation goes by so fast that it's easy to miss the fact that it opens up a HUGE can of worms. From this point on Barry need never lose his speed again! All he has to do is store a piece of the Speed Force in everyone he knows— Iris, Joe, Cecile, even Jenna. Then whenever his powers fail, he can just retrieve his speed from one of them and he'll be a speedster again!

• Red Death then shrieks like a banshee, saying, "You took Grodd's mind away from me! You poisoned another Rogue to use against me! Why do you keep ruining my life, Flash?"

Jesus, she's less a villain and more a petulant child here. It's honestly hard to take Red Death seriously when she sounds like a toddler who needs a nap.

I don't know if these histrionics were a choice by the director, or if this is what it sounds like when Javicia Leslie tries to play "crazed."

• Red Death and Flash then have an intense but brief Speed Force battle as they race through downtown Central City. I love how the camera periodically whip-zooms in on them as they duke it out. I don't recall ever seeing that effect on the show before, and it's actually pretty cool.

• The FX team gets creative with the Speed Force lightning again during the battle. At one point Red Death throws Speed Force-charged Batarangs at Barry.

He counters by protecting himself with a hastily-conjured Speed Force shield.

When then get something totally new as Red Death forms a Speed Force grapevine (!), and swings from it like Tarzan to kick Barry into next week! 

I honestly can't decide if this is awesome or the stupidest thing I've ever seen. Maybe a little of both. At this point the speedsters on this show have pretty much become Green Lanterns, able to form anything they can imagine out of their Speed Force Lightning. Wasn't the ability to move incredibly fast enough?

• The Good Rogues then get in on the act by combining forces to attack Red Death. Sadly their battle's all too brief, and she easily knocks 'em out.

• Just as Red Death is about to deliver the killing blow to Barry, her armor's shorted out by a Batarang. 

We're then expected to gasp in awe by the timely appearance of Batwoman, aka the REAL Ryan Wilder.

Note the use of leitmotif here, as every time Batwoman is onscreen we hear the theme from her show. Is she playing that through a speaker in her belt?

So where'd this Ryan that we all know and love (cough) come from?

Last week Ryan 2.0 told Iris that she was from an alternate timeline. At the time I assumed that meant she probably abducted the real Ryan and took her place. I predicted the real Ryan would show up at the end of this Red Death arc. 

Welp, I was kind of right, as she did indeed pop up. But from where? Did Ryan 2.0 really abduct her? Did she somehow escape from wherever she was being held? Or did she take a well-earned vacation and just got back?

Apparently it's none of our goddamned business, as it's never explained. None of it. Not a single word to clue us in as to where she's been. She just appears in this scene, with zero fanfare.

Look, I'm not asking for a detailed account of what happened to her here. But a line of dialogue explaining her whereabouts was definitely in order. Even something as simple as, "Red Death captured me a couple weeks ago, and I just now managed to escape" would have sufficed. 

This is some extremely sloppy storytelling here, and I shouldn't have to write the goddamn script myself.

• Apropos of nothing, note the side of the van there next to Red Death. Apparently there's a heavy metal band in Central City called Sickada, which I assume is a deliberate misspelling of Cicada, the Big Bad of Season 5.

Sickada was actually mentioned once before, back in Memorabilia.

• The two Ryans then duke it out a while, punching & kicking at one another. This was probably pretty easy to film, since Red Death's face is covered by her helmet, eliminating the need for costly "twinning" effects.

• Barry enters the fray and uses his speed to strip Red Death of her helmet and chest plate. This apparently leaves her powerless (?), and Batwoman simply punches her lights out.

And that's it! After five whole episodes of buildup, this allegedly terrifying major villain is defeated with a single punch! Talk about anticlimactic! 

I cannot overemphasize just how underwhelming this ending was. It honestly felt like the writers became bored with this arc and flushed it down the crapper as quickly as possible just to be done with it.

This scene also spotlighted something I didn't realize till now— Red Death apparently got her speed from her armor! 

Last week she told Iris she studied Barry's powers to become a speedster herself. I took that to mean she somehow altered her body to become a speedster, or maybe created an artificial Speed Force that only she could access. It never occurred to me that she built a super fast suit of armor!

I assume this suit somehow protected her from the extreme velocities it generated. It better, otherwise the first time she put it on and zoomed off, she'd end up as chunky salsa on the inside of it.

• The Good Rogues recover and join Flash & Batwoman. She asks them if Central City's always this crazy, and the Rogues grin and reply, "Well... it's a Wednesday!"

Jaysis... I think I just sprained my eyeballs rolling them so hard. The only thing missing after that awful line was a rimshot or a "comedic" musical sting.

• Last week week when Ryan 2.0 revealed herself, she had a large white streak in her hair. I never watched Batwoman, so I didn't know if that's just how Ryan normally looked, or if they added the streak to make the alt-timeline version of her look more evil.

Apparently they did it for evil purposes, because the real Ryan doesn't have the skunk stripe.

• During the wrapup, Barry informs Ryan:

Barry: "ARGUS has the Red Death in custody and they know she was from another timeline, so you and your identity are still safe."

So what? How's that gonna keep her secret identity safe? "Hey ARGUS, here's an evil bat-themed speedster named Ryan Wilder, who's from an alternate timeline. But she's completely unrelated to the Ryan Wilder in our timeline, who's definitely NOT a bat-themed superhero." Even the dimmest of bulbs could put those clues together.

Plus what's to keep Ryan 2.0 from telling everyone at ARGUS about Batwoman's true identity?

Also, as with the Star Labs Secret Super Jail, it appears Ryan 2.0 will likely be incarcerated at ARGUS indefinitely, without the benefit of due process or a trial. Does the law not apply to people from alternate timelines?

• Barry explains what happened to Red Death, but... what about her Bad Rogues? There's absolutely ZERO mention of them from this point on. As far as the episode's concerned, all four of them are still out there somewhere.

OK, I assume Barry probably rounded them all up at superspeed and threw 'em in Iron Heights, but would it have killed the writers to have included a brief line explaining this? Sloppy!

• How about this Batwoman transition? Again, I can't decide if it was cool or idiotic.

• Back in the season premiere, Joe told Cecile he thought it was time they left Central City— much to Cecile's protests. Later she changed her mind and agreed to move. But then Joe recanted and said they should stay, as the two constantly flip-flopped on the matter. 

I predicted they'd drag out this "conflict" for the entire season, resolving it as Joe & Cecile road off into the sunset in the series finale.

Welp, I was wrong about that. Joe changes his mind again this week, and definitively decides to go.

Also, actor Jesse L. Martin officially left the show last season and is only making a handful of guest appearances this year, while Danielle Nicolet is still a regular. I wondered if that meant the producers would split up the happy couple and have them go their separate ways.

Amazingly, I got that one right, as that's exactly what happens in this episode! 

Joe decides to take Jenna and move away, leaving Cecile in Central City to play superhero! He tells Cecile she can come and visit them on the weekends.

Incredibly, Cecile's perfectly fine with this plan, and even seems excited by it! In fact she's downright giddy at the prospect of seeing her family just two days a week.

Are you F*CKING kidding me?

What kind of a monster would willingly abandon her (common law) husband and child— and with a smile on her face yet? It's inevitable that this arrangement's gonna strain her relationship with Joe and cause the two of them to drift apart. And think of all the major milestones she's gonna miss out on in her young child's life.

Note that this isn't a case of Cecile desperately needing to stay and keep her job to support her family. She's an attorney, and as such would be able to find another well-paying job anywhere in the country. No, she's staying solely for the most selfish reason possible— so she can play superhero with Barry and the rest of Team Flash.

This plan doesn't do Cecile any favors, and makes her look like the most narcissistic asshole possible. Did the show's writers really think this was a good idea for her character?

I couldn't help but wonder what the actors thought about this ghastly scene. Were they horrified by it too, but had no choice but to be professional and say the awful lines?

There was a much simpler and infinitely more satisfying way to handle this situation. Just have Joe & Jenna stay put in Central City, but never show them— till maybe the series finale. All they had to do was have Cecile talk to Joe on the phone now and then to remind us he still exists, and that'd give the illusion he was still around. It's not rocket science, writers! If a schlub from Indiana like me could figure it out, surely big shot Hollywood talent oughta be able to!

• Last week Red Death released a massive EMP that knocked out the power all over Central City. I noted that it'd do far more than that, as it would fry any electronic device that wasn't properly shielded— permanently

It'd be a disaster for the city, causing millions, if not billions in damage. It'd take months or even years to repair the catastrophic damage and fully restore power. That said, I predicted that come next episode, everything would be back to normal like it never happened.

Guess what? The next episode's here, and everything's back to normal like it never happened! As evidenced by this establishing shot of the city.

As always, the part of Central CIty is played by Portland, Oregon.

• Team Flash then throws a going away party for Joe & Jenna. Several things here:

First off, Joe gives a heartfelt speech telling everyone how much he'll miss them. It looks like actor Jesse L. Martin is actually getting emotional for real here. I'm sure he was, as he's saying goodbye to the people he's worked with for the past nine years.

Second, Joe blathers on about how they're all family, coming perilously close to channeling Dom Toretto from the Fast & FUrious franchise— and then immediately tells everyone he's leaving town. Sure, why not.

Lastly, I wonder if they'll keep the West house here in Central City for Cecile to live in? Can Joe & Cecile really afford two houses? Eh, possibly. He's a retired cop with a presumably healthy pension, and she's allegedly an attorney, even though we never see her doing any actual attorneying, so they're probably doing just fine.

Martin officially left the show last year, but agreed to make five guest appearances in this final season. This week is his fourth. So look for him to pop up in the series finale.

• At the party, Chester and Allegra kiss, finally acting like normal people in their thirties (which they both are) instead of awkward, lovesick teens. Hopefully now that they've officially hooked up, the writers will forget about their relationship and we can finally stop hearing about it. I don't see that happening through.

By the way, everyone goggles at them when they kiss, and Barry asks, "When did this happen?" Iris replies, "I think a better question is what took so long?"

Yeah, that was definitely a dig at fans like me, who've been complaining about Chester & Allegra's "relationship" and how long the writers have dragged it out.

• Iris then stumbles and almost passes out, causing Barry to worry that her time sickness is back. Turns out that's not true, as Khione announces that Iris is pregnant. 

Does Khione have some kind of precog powers, in addition to being able to bring people back to life? Eh, I don't think so. It seems more like she's just in tune with nature and life, and sensed changes in Iris' body. Or not. I honestly have no idea what's going on with this character.

Heavy Duty Nitpicking Time! So Iris finds out she's finally pregnant. This comes as a shock to Barry, since according to his Map Book from Wednesday Ever After, she wasn't supposed to get preggers for another three months. The two of them are excited though, as they can't wait to see their daughter Nora— who regularly visits them from the future.

But will they really see her?

OK, there are two possibilities here: A. The Map Book was wrong, and Iris was destined to get pregnant on this date, or B. The Book was right, and Barry & Iris changed the timeline somehow, resulting in a much earlier pregnancy.

If it's A and Iris was meant to be pregnant now, then there's no problem. They'll have a baby girl who'll grow up to be the Nora they've already met.

But if B's true and Iris is pregnant way early, then that changes everything. Thanks to numerous biological variables, scientists calculate the odds of a specific person being born are around 1 in 400 TRILLION (!). If my parents had conceived me three months earlier, I'd be a completely different person than I am now. Heck, even a delay of an hour would have been enough to result in a different me!

So the odds of them conceiving the child they've already met are astronomical, to say the least.

Do I really expect the show's writers to strictly adhere to basic science like this? Of course not. Even I'M not that nitpicky. I just thought it was worth a mention, and I'll allow it.
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