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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