Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Flash Season 9, Episode 10: A New World, Part Two

This week on The Flash we get Part Two of the big A New World storyline— the final one of the series. Only two more episodes to go before it's all over!

As I said last week, this has been an extremely poor final season so far, as it's suffered from truly terrible writing and puzzling creative choices. Particularly baffling was the decision to sideline Barry for most of the season, focusing instead on the various supporting characters.

Last week's episode was surprisingly not awful though— mainly due to the fact that it heavily featured the title character for a change! This gave me hope that this final story arc might actually usher out the series on a high note.

Haw haw! Sometimes I say silly things.

A New World Part Two is a return to current form, as once again Barry's absent for most of the episode, showing up for a whole two or three minutes late in the third act. 

Instead it focuses primarily on Eddie Thawne— a character who was killed off EIGHT YEARS AGO and hasn't been seen outside of a couple flashbacks. Why dredge up and lean so heavily on someone whose story ended nearly a decade ago? Don't know!

Methinks showrunner Eric Wallace seriously overestimated the audience's interest in and affection for Eddie, and decided to make him the spotlight of this final arc.

Trouble is, Eddie's story only contains about ten minutes of actual story, meaning the rest of the episode is pure filler. Which is what you always want in the final season of a show.

Elsewhere, this episode also features the return of Chillblaine— something I guarantee no one was clamoring for. Oh, and Iris FINALLY goes into labor so she can give birth to Nora— something that should have happened at least a season ago, if not earlier.

Ah well, it's too late to change anything now, so let's get this over with.


The Plot:
In 2049, Dr. Malcolm Gilmore wanders into CCPD looking for help. He draws stares from the incredulous officers, as he looks exactly like Eddie Thawne did at the time of his death in 2015. Just then he's greeted by CAPTAIN (not Officer) Daisy Korber, who tells Eddie they need to talk.

Cut to 2023 (or maybe it's 2024), as Team Flash discusses Barry's disappearance in the previous episode. Iris is convinced that whatever happened to him wasn't an accident. Chester says he's picking up traces of cobalt radiation, which may be a clue. Just then an heroic musical fanfare heralds the return of Chillblaine, who says it looks like the team could use his help.

For some reason Khione's ecstatic to see him, despite all the horrible things he did to her this season. Cecile admits she called in Chillblaine to help find Barry, as she's been in contact with him ever since he walked out on the team.

Iris goes to her office at Central City Citizen Media to "do some research" on Barry's disappearance. I guess she doesn't know that thanks to the internet, she could do that literally anywhere. Anyway, she finds an old "Flash Vanishes In Crisis" article she started, which gives her icky bad feelings. 

Allegra enters and tries to reassure her. Iris says her original future daughter Nora grew up without a father after Barry disappeared after her birth. She's afraid the same thing will happen to this new version of Nora she's about to give birth to.

Allegra goes to get Iris some tea, but is attacked and knocked into a coma by... someone. Suddenly there's a halon leak, and Citizen employees Taylor and Aariz pass out and collapse.

Just then Khione teleports in with Chillblaine for some reason, and see that Taylor and Aariz are dying from lack of oxygen. Khione then infuses them with plant cells, which oxygenates their bodies and cures them. It also has the unintended side effect of turning their skin green, which freaks out the two of them. They flee in terror from Khione.

Chillblaine and Khione take the unconscious Allegra back to STAR, and discover traces of cobalt radiation in her body. Chillblaine says someone or something is targeting Team Flash.

Back in 2049, Malcolm shows Korber his driver's license to prove that he's not Eddie. He says he was working in his office at Mercury Labs, when he was hit by a bolt of lightning. When he woke up there was a file lying next to him, with the name "Eddie Thawne" printed on it. He says he came to CCPD looking for answers.

Korber tells him about Eddie, and says CCPD never quite got over his death. Just then Malcolm begins hearing voices, and he runs from the building.

Back at STAR, Chillblaine & Khione chat in the Medbay. She's upset that he disappeared for months without speaking to her. He says it's because something's happening to her, and she's not the person he knew. He brings up the way she fixed Taylor and Aariz, saying her cure was worse than the disease. He says she's become an inhuman abomination. It's only at that point that we finally realize he's been possessed by the Negative Speed Force, and not just being his usual dickish self. Khione runs from the Lab in tears.

Elsewhere, Iris is hiding out in the Time Vault with Cecile, to protect her from the Negative Speed Force. Iris mopes about Barry's continued absence, and Cecile gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, assuring her that everything will be fine (Narrator: Nothing on this show will ever be fine again).

Meanwhile, Negative Chillblaine visits Chester in his Lab. Chester's worried about Allegra, so Negative Chillblaine tells him to go be with her, while he finishes calibrating the satellites to search for cobalt radiation. As soon as Chester leaves, Negative Chillblaine shuts down the satellite scan.

Negative Chillblaine then calls the Time Vault and says he brought food for everyone. Cecile pops out to get dinner for her and Iris, and Chillblaine fires a blast and knocks her out. Iris hears the disturbance and walks out into the hall, where Negative Chillblaine threatens to kill her and her unborn child.

Just then he's hit by a blast of energy, as the Speed Force (in the form of Barry's mother Nora of course) shows up in the nick of time. Gasp!

Speed Force Nora then grimaces and doubles over in pain. Iris asks if she's OK, and she says the negative forces are currently all attacking her on the cosmic plane (which we conveniently don't get to see). She also tells them the Negative Speed Force is using Chillblaine as its temporary avatar. Iris asks if Nora can find Barry, but she says the negative forces are preventing her from sensing him. She says Khione might be able to help locate him.

In 2049, Malcolm wanders the streets in a daze. He sees flashes of memories of Eddie's time with Iris, so he goes to the Citizen (which is still there in the future) and breaks into her office, desperate to find a clue to his identity. Taylor finds him rummaging through Iris' things and calls security. Malcolm rushes out.

Back in the Time Vault, Iris looks at images of her and Barry's wedding. She then asks Gideon to record a message to Barry, and gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, saying that wherever he is, she knows he's fighting to return to her as he always does. 

Cut to a flashback to A New World, Part One, as Barry's battling Negative Speed Force-Possessed Joe, and we realize that episode took place at the same time as this one. Iris' words seem to transcend time and space, and give Barry the boost he needs to defeat Negative Joe.

Speed Force Nora uses the last of her strength to teleport Khione back to STAR. Khione's still moping over Negative Chillblaine's words, and whines that she's not even human. She says she's connected to literally every living thing on Earth, and can feel everything happening everywhere all at once. Speed Force Nora give Khione a 
Patented The CW Pep Talk®, saying that's her true power and that she's the only one who can save them all. Khione eventually accepts this.

Chester fixes the satellite scanner and detects cobalt radiation in Caitlin's old apartment— meaning Negative Chillblaine is there for some reason. Khione teleports to confront him.

Khione gives the Negative Speed Force one more chance to vacate Chillblaine before she acts. It laughs at her, saying any attack on her part will inadvertently kill Chillblaine. Khione says she knows, and snaps her fingers, turning Chillblaine to ash. The blue Negative Speed Force crystal falls out of his body as he disintegrates, and lands on the floor. She then reconstitutes Chillblaine, good as new. The crystal disappears again before Khione can grab it.

Back in the Time Vault, Iris begins going into labor. She heads toward the Med Bay, just as Barry finally reappears in a flash of blue light. Just in time for the birth of the daughter he's already met.

Barry takes Iris to the hospital, where he explains what happened to him in the previous episode. Chillblaine thanks Khione for killing and resurrecting him. She tells him she's now a god, and says it's time for her to leave. She says she'll stay long enough to deal with the Negative Speed Force though.

Just then Barry disappears in another flash of blue light. Again? Jaysis, he just got here.

Back in 2049, Malcom's somehow located Eddie Thawne's grave, and dug a perfect hole with razor-sharp sides to exhume his body. Just then Captain Korber shows up and orders him to stop, as he's committing a crime. He laughs and says he needs answers, and has to know who's buried in Eddie's grave. He flings open the coffin and sees it's empty.

Suddenly all of Eddie's memories come flooding back to Malcolm. He remembers killing himself to erase Eobard Thawne from existence, and being sucked into a wormhole. As he looks down he sees blood on his chest from his self-inflicted gunshot wound. Korber watches in horror as he reaches into his chest and pulls out the bullet, proving he's really Eddie Thawne. He throws his head back and laughs maniacally.

• Just like last week, this episode begins with a shot of blue silk roses (since real ones of that color don't actually exist in nature). I have a feeling the next two eps will begin the same way.

• Malcolm Gilmore, the Mystery Man from last week, enters CCPD looking for help. His presence prompts the various officers there to gawk at him, as he looks exactly like Eddie Thawne— who died back in 2015. Several things here:

What's the deal with these scenes of Malcolm? Are they taking place in the present day? The future? A multiversal Earth?

We get a couple of clues that Malcolm's in the future— most likely 2049, which seems to be the only year anyone on this show can ever travel to. The first is when we see a brief shot of this desk sergeant's computer screen, which appears to be a clear acrylic sheet displaying a glowing image.

By the way, I'm not crazy about that CCPD logo there. That stylized eagle symbol looks a little too... nationalistic, if you know what I mean.

The second clue comes when we see CAPTAIN Daisy Korber enter the room. She's been a regular beat cop all through the series, so it's a good bet we're seeing her in the future here, after a big promotion.

If this scene really is taking place in 2049 though, then Korber has one hell of a beauty regimen. She looks EXACTLY as she did in 2023, despite the fact we're seeing her twenty six years in the future! 

We don't know how old Korber was in 2023, but actress Stephanie Izsak is currently thirty six. If Korber's a similar age, that means she'd be SIXTY TWO in 2049. Does this look like a woman nearing retirement age?

Get used to this non-aging trope, as it's a running theme throughout these final episodes.

Also, how are all these officers recognizing Malcolm as Eddie? From their perspective, Eddie Thawne died a whopping THIRTY FIVE YEARS AGO. Have all these cops really been working at CCPD that long? If not, how the hell would they know Eddie? I've worked at my current job for eleven years and I have absolutely no idea who was here before I started. I'm also not sure I'd recognize a coworker after almost four decades.

• We then get confirmation that Malcolm is living in the future, as the rest of the episode takes place in "The Present." Which, due to last week's time jump, could be 2023 or 2024.

At STAR Labs, Team Flash tries to figure out why and how Barry disappeared. Note the typical hard to read clear "white board" there, listing everything they know about what happened. I reversed the image to make it easier to read, and it says:

• Time Of Disappearance: 12:35 pm
• Location: Loft #5 587 2nd Ave., Central City, 901301
• Cause Of Disappearance?
• Blue Energy Source?

Looks like they know a whole lot of nothing! By the way, based on that board, Central City appears to have an extra digit in its Zip Code. Every one I've ever seen has only had five digits. Maybe they use six over in the Arrowverse, I dunno.

• Iris comes to the conclusion that Barry was taken by someone or something, which she says is "terrifying." Right on cue, Chillblaine enters the Cortex and says, "Sounds like y'all could use some help!"

Why the hell does the music swell as this doofus walks in and strikes an heroic pose? He's betrayed the team several times now, and quit a few weeks back because he had icky bad feelings about the things he'd done. So why is the show treating his appearance here like some kind of triumphant return?

Even more puzzling, why in the name of sanity does Khione throw herself at him when he struts in? If you'll recall, earlier this season he literally attempted to erase her from existence, as well as trying to Vertigo her into becoming Frost. Why would she ever want to be in the same room with a creep like that, much less embrace him like a long lost lover?

• Chillblaine then explains his absence:

Khione: "Where have you been?"
Chillblaine: "Tundi, the Arctic, Corto Maltese, volunteering at a few different research facilities."
Allegra: "What are you doing back here?"
Cecile: "I called for him."
Khione: "You knew how to get in touch with Mark?"
Chillblaine: "A few months after I left, I reached back out to Cecile. Guess I just needed a friend to talk to."
Cecile: "Khione, honey, I'm so sorry that I couldn't tell you. But Mark wanted some space, and he asked me to stay quiet."

So wait... Chillblaine contacted Cecile, of all people? Have the two of them ever even spoken to one another on the show before? I sure don't remember them ever being chummy, but I'd have to go back and rewatch the past couple seasons to make sure, and THAT ain't happening!

• Chillblaine mentions it's been seven months since he left the team and went on his little walkabout. That incident occurred in Wildest Dreams, which originally aired on March 29, 2023. Add seven months to that, and this episode is apparently taking place sometime in October. So I guess we really are still in 2023 and not 2024— the year fans hoped the series would end.

• Chester says he detected traces of cobalt radiation after Barry disappeared. Team Flash then springs into action to find him:

Chester: "I can try resetting our satellites to scan for the cobalt isotope."
Cecile: "And I can call Cisco at ARGUS, see if maybe they've heard anything."
Iris: "I'm gonna go to the office and search the database for anything about cobalt radiation."

A couple things here:

First of all, don't mention Cisco unless he's gonna make an actual physical appearance on the show.

Speaking of which, why isn't Cisco in this final handful of episodes? Wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity for one last cameo?

According to Entertainment Weekly, actor Carlos Valdes (aka Cisco) wanted to return, but just couldn't find the time, as he's currently appearing in the musical comedy Up There on Hulu.

Said Valdes: "I did consider it. Honestly, there was no way to make it happen with regards to my schedule and just all the different creative ventures and life circumstances that I was trying to juggle at that time. I couldn't really make it work, which was really heartbreaking to me because I thought, if I decided to step away from the show, at the very least I have to be there for the finale to round this thing out and to really honor the full circle-ness of it." 

Well that stinks! Cisco was one of my favorite characters on the show, and one of the "core four" when it started way back in 2014. It would have been awesome to see him again, even if only for a few seconds. 

I get that Valdes was busy on another show, but surely there was some way to make it work. Cecile could have called up Cisco and he could have made a quick appearance on a monitor. Wouldn't have been as good as a full blown cameo, but it'd have been something. Surely he could have taken half an hour out of his schedule to shoot something like that? 

Secondly, why is Iris physically going to her office to google cobalt radiation? I guess she forgot the internet and wifi exist. Plus why would a newspaper have better info on something scientific like a specific form of radiation than STAR Labs would?

• At the Citizen, Iris inadvertently runs across an old draft of this story, and realizes it may actually be coming to pass.

Of course it isn't though, because the series stupidly resolved this storyline and nipped it in the bud back in Crisis On Infinite Earths— and in the lamest way possible, I might add. Plus current showrunner Eric Wallace didn't want anything to do with it, even though it's literally been teased since the freakin' Pilot episode.

• Jesus Christ, how late do the employees of the Citizen work? It's clearly well into the night at this point, and poor Taylor and Aariz are still there plugging away. Does Iris make 'em work sixteen hour shifts? It's called "work/life balance," sweetie! Look into it!

• At the Citizen, Allegra goes to get Iris some tea and is violently attacked by... someone. She flies backward and smashes into a gas pipe, setting off a halon leak. Taylor manages to shut off the leak, but not before she and Aariz are overcome by the gas. Lots to unpack here:

So who attacked Allegra in the hall? It had to be someone she knows, as she looked up and said, "Oh hey! What are you doing here?" right before she was blasted.

Obviously the Mystery Attacker is supposed to be the Negative Speed Force, since it's the Big Bad so far in this arc. But in its current state it needs to possess someone in order to function. Plus Allegra was hit by what appears to be a blast of blue energy, which is the Negative Speed Force's signature in recent episodes. So who's its avatar here?

Logic dictates it was Chillblaine, since he's possessed by the Negative Speed Force for the bulk of the episode. But how can that be? Thirty seconds from now Khione teleports into the Citizen— and brings Chillblaine along for the ride. 

Did he blast Allegra, then hightail it across town to STAR Labs in the space of a few seconds so Khione could teleport him right back? That seems unlikely, so again I gotta ask— who attacked Allegra? Apparently it's none of our business, as it's never addressed.

Let's talk about that halon leak, shall we? As the gas seeps into the office, Aariz staggers over to a pipe to turn the shutoff lever. 

Unfortunately he's overcome and passes out before he can do so. Taylor then saves the day by running over and easily shutting off the gas.

Seriously? Aariz honestly couldn't turn a simple lever before he passed out? Keep in mind this isn't a complicated piece of machinery, nor does it require a massive amount of strength to operate it. It's literally a small lever that needs to be rotated 90ยบ. Hell, he could have shut it off by falling on it as he passed out!

• Khione teleports herself and Chillblaine into the Citizen, which is apparently another power in her rapidly-growing arsenal. Sure, why not? That's a thing that might as well happen. Yes, we saw her teleport herself last week, but this is the first time she's brought others along as well.

• Khione examines Taylor & Aariz and determines the halon's deprived their brains of oxygen, threatening to kill them. She heals them by infusing their bodies with plant cells, which oxygenates their brains. It also has the unwanted side effect of turning them both bright green. Comic Book Science!

The two regain consciousness, but instead of being grateful they freak the hell out over their skin color. Khione tells them their new hue is just a temporary side effect, but they curse her name and flee from the building like they're being chased by Satan himself. 

Seriously? Seems like a HUGE overreaction to me. Especially in a city where metahumans are an everyday fact of life. I've never been turned green though, so what do I know.

• Iris then finds Allegra lying unconscious in the hall. Cut to STAR Labs, where Gideon determines Allegra was hit by a blast of cobalt isotope radiation.

I'm sure the fact that Allegra gets KOed early on couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that actress Kayla Compton directed this episode, and needed a way to limit her screentime.

I suppose knocking her out was a better solution than a couple weeks ago when Danielle Panabaker directed, and they explained Khione's absence by saying she was stuck in a long line at the bakery!

• Earlier in the episode, Chester said the following:

Chester: "I've doubled back to the loft to look for evidence at the scene of the crime. Picked up some weird energy signature from the air, trace amounts of a radioactive isotope of cobalt."
Khione: "Did anyone else just get a bad feeling?"
Allegra: "I... I don't get it. What could leave behind radiation like that?"
Chester: "I'm not sure. But isotopes like this don't just occur spontaneously. Barry's disappearance wasn't an accident."

Note that Chester clearly states cobalt radiation is NOT a natural occurrence.

Later in the Med Bay, Chillblaine asks Khione if she can draw the cobalt radiation from Allegra's body. She replies:

Khione: "I can only expel the unnatural from people, and the cobalt isotope is part of the natural order."

Whoops! So which is it, writers? Is cobalt natural or not? Did anyone actually read through this script before filming it?

I think the confusion here lies with cobalt itself, which comes in two distinct forms. Non-radioactive cobalt occurs naturally in various minerals, and for centuries was as a blue coloring in paints, ceramic and glass. Radioactive cobalt is a produced artificially in nuclear accelerators, and is used in medicine and various industries. Methinks the writers didn't read the full wikipedia page on cobalt!

• After Barry's disappearance and Allegra's attack, the rest of Team Flash realizes someone's trying to eliminate them. Chillblaine then steps up and assumes leadership of the team, barking out orders and assigning tasks to everyone. Chillblaine. The guy who betrayed them all several times and walked out on the team. Amazingly, everyone accepts his new role and carries out his instructions!

This script was written by an AI, wasn't it?

• I'm not a hundred percent certain, but I think this shot of 2049 CCPD just might be a CGI render. Either that or it's located in Toontown.

• We get more confirmation that the Malcolm scenes take place in the future when he shows his driver's license to Captain Korber, and it lists his date of birth as 2017. If this really is 2049, that'd make him thirty two years old.

Also note that the driver's license was issued by the "Central City District," whatever that is. Um, no. Licenses are issued by states, not individual cities. It was established several seasons ago that Central City's in Missouri, so I'm not sure why his license doesn't say that. Maybe things work differently over in the Arrowverse.

By the way, I liked the parallel here of Malcolm going to CCPD for help, which echoed Barry doing the same thing last week when he found himself in the year 2000. It was a nice little bit of symmetry.

• The smoke machine gets another workout in this episode, so the cinematographer can get those all-important god rays coming through the windows. They've been pumping the sets full of smoke like this all season, to the point where the actors are probably developing lung issues.

• At STAR, Chillblaine and Khione have a heartfelt conversation:

Chillbaline: "You upset that I've been in touch with Cecile?"
Khione: "No, not at all. I'm glad you had someone to talk to."
Chillblaine: "It's just, these last few months, there were so many things I wanted to talk to you about."
Khione: "I guess you just didn't wanna talk to me."
Chillblaine: "I... It's not... look, I... I spent the last seven months trying to get my head on straight, you know, so that I could accept my...; my grief, which I think I have. But I also learned that... sometimes, people grow apart."
Khione: "Not when you have a bond like we did."

Bond? BOND? What the hell's she talking about, bond? The guy literally tried to mold her into his dead girlfriend. and when he realized what he'd done he was so ashamed he fled town. Have the writers of this episode ever actually seen the show before?

• Chillblaine then slowly begins turning against Khione.

Chillblaine: "You are not the same person you were when I left! What you did to those people tonight."
Khione: "They were dying. I needed to help them breathe."
Chillblaine: "Oh, so you turned them into mutant plant people?"
Khione: "I used nature to bring air to their lungs"
Chillblaine: "Khione, there was nothing natural about what I saw today. You warped their bodies. You made them into monsters! What... what right do you have to do that?"
Khione: "I didn't have a choice. I saved them!"
Chillblaine: "Saved them? You tortured them. They could barely speak. Their skin was green. You hurt them!"
Khione: "I would never hurt a living being!"
Chillblaine: "Really? Did you notice they didn't say thank you? They ran away! Before I left Central City, I told you there was something amazing inside of you. I really thought you were gonna be a hero, but I was wrong. Khione, you... you're an abomination."

The idea here is that Chillblaine's slow, deliberate turn is supposed to be, er, chilling, as his comments gradually become darker and more sinister, and we eventually realize he's been possessed by the Negative Speed Force.

It says something about the writing on this show that it took me a long time to figure out he was actually being controlled by an evil force here, and not just acting like his normal assholish self!

• Speaking of Chillblaine, just when was he possessed by the Negative Speed Force? Before or after he showed up at STAR Labs? There's honestly no way to know, but I'm betting it was before. In fact that's likely why he returned to STAR in the first place— so the Negative Speed Force could destroy Team Flash from within.

• OK, last week Joe was taken over by the Negative Speed Force in 2000. This week Chillblaine's possessed by it in 2023/4. And later Malcolm hears it taunting him in 2049.

I guess time means nothing to the Negative Speed Force, and it can operate in multiple eras simultaneously? There's nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but... it just adds an extra layer of confusion to an already muddled story.

• Something I just thought of: Whenever the Negative Speed Force possesses anyone, its avatars just stand around and look menacing— only occasionally trying to kill Barry and his friends. 

Note that at no time do the people it possesses become speedsters though. I guess it can't charge up its avatars with speed? Too bad, as that would have made things far more interesting!

• At CCPD, Captain Korber chats with Malcom and tells him why everyone's staring at him. She says he looks just like Eddie Thawne, and that she and the others never quite got over his tragic death. 

Really? Eddie died back in 2015. This scene takes place in 2049. Meaning he died a whopping THIRTY FOUR YEARS ago! And they're STILL grieving over him? Jaysis, I can't even remember the names of the people I worked with a short ten years ago! Seems like the various officers oughta be over his death by now.

• Malcolm begins hearing voices and runs out of CCPD. He looks up and sees this futuristic skyscraper looming above him. 

I figured this was another location in Vancouver, but after checking it turns out it's a piece of video clip art of a building somewhere in Russia. It looks like the FX team used AfterEffects to add some rain to it though.

• Malcolm stumbles through the streets of downtown Central City, drawing stares from the crowd. Note the poster in the background, which reads, "LIPS 2049." If you'll recall, back in Season 8, Jaco Birch, aka The Hotness, worked as a security guard at a LIPS concert in Central City.

So LIPS is still out there plugging away in 2049? If so, they'd be well into their fifties or  maybe even sixties by then. I guess it's not entirely out of the question, as the Rolling Stones are still touring and they're all nearing EIGHTY!

• Back at STAR, Possessed Chillblaine appears and tries to kill Iris and her unborn child. She's saved in the nick of time by the surprise appearance of the Speed Force— in the form of Barry's mom Nora of course.

Wait, shouldn't it have been Barry who saved Iris here? You know, the guy who used to be the star of the show? Basic storytelling rules dictate HE should have been the hero here. So why the hell is the Speed Force taking over his character duties? It doesn't make any sense.

I'm starting to wonder if there was some sort of production problem that sidelined Grant Gustin this week, forcing them to pivot and bring in Michelle Harrison yet again.

• Malcolm sees a vision of Iris, so he goes to the Citizen to find her and starts rummaging through her office for some reason. A few things here:

First of all, note the portrait on the wall in Iris' office. That's Ida B. Wells, a famous educator, civil rights leader, NAACP founder and prominent investigative journalist. Iris has had that painting in her office for several years now. Keep in mind that these scenes with Malcolm are taking place in 2049— meaning Iris hasn't changed her office decor since at least 2023!

Secondly, Taylor (who I guess is still working at the Citizen in 2049) sees Eddie poking around Iris' office and calls for security. Again, remember that these scenes are taking place twenty six years in the future, which means Taylor's well into her fifties here. Wow, she looks pretty darned good for a middle-aged woman! She has two or three streaks of gray in her hair, but other than that she looks exactly as she did in 2023!

I'm starting to think the producers don't understand that 2049 is almost three decades from now. Either that or the people of the Arrowverse discovered a way to dramatically slow the aging process!

Lastly, a security guard appears and asks what Malcolm's doing in Iris' office. Malcolm runs from him and dashes out of the building. The guard follows him for literally six feet and then just... stops. I guess he doesn't get paid enough to chase perps?

• In the Time Vault, Iris records a message to Barry, saying Team Flash is under attack by the Negative Speed Force and that she somehow senses he is too.

We then see Barry battling Negative Speed Force Joe from last week. The implication here is that Iris' love somehow traveled back in time to the year 2000 and gave Barry the strength he needed to win.

This is our first and only indication that A New World Parts 1 & 2 are happening simultaneously.

• Realizing Team Flash is in trouble without Barry, the Speed Force gives Khione a Patented The CW Pep Talk® to convince her to stop moping and help her friends. To that end, Khione teleports to Caitlin's old apartment, where Negative Chillblaine is waiting for her. A couple things here:

Khione makes a splashy entrance in the apartment as she blows the door clean off its hinges & sends it sailing across the room. She couldn't have just turned the knob?

Second, back at STAR Labs Chester's satellite sensors detect Khione's arrival at the apartment, as he says, "The barometric pressure just shifted 1,000 millibars!"

OK, a millibar is a unit used to measure atmospheric pressure. The standard air pressure at sea level is 1,013 millibars. So if Khione just caused the pressure to drop a 1,000 millibars in the apartment, does that mean there's now a vacuum there?

• Chillblaine— who's still possessed by the Negative Speed Force— begins taunting Khione. It tells her there's nothing she can do to stop it, because any attack by her will kill Chillblaine.

Khione solves this conundrum by straight up killing Chillblaine, reducing him to a pile of dust. She even snaps her fingers before disintegrating him— just like Thanos! 

Once the Negative Speed Force's Blue Jolly Rancher Of Doom is out of Chillblaine's system, she reconstitutes him. Amazingly he survives this process.

I gotta admit, that was a pretty ingenious solution! And I was impressed with the visuals here as well. Chillblaine's disintegration was way more gruesome and intense than any of the snap deaths we saw in Avengers: Endgame. Well done, guys!

• Late in the third act, Iris FINALLY begins going into labor. Cecile— using her oh-so-useful powers, says, "I'm getting a lot of wild emotions off of you!"

Yeah, it's called labor, you preposterous pudding! You know, the thing you've gone through twice in your own life?

Also, Cecile can sense Iris' labor pain, but for some reason was totally blind to Chillblaine being possessed by the Negative Speed Force. Got it!

I wonder if Cecile can sense the audience's distress every time she appears onscreen?

• Barry finally returns to the present from the year 2000, just as Iris is going into labor. When he finds out she's about to have the baby, he exclaims, "Right now?"

I think this may be a callback to Season 4's We Are The Flash, in which Iris suggested they have a child and Barry asked, "Right now?"

• Cecile tells Barry they need to get Iris to the hospital, stat. 

Earlier in the season Barry mentioned not wanting to zoom Iris around at superspeed while she was pregnant, lest it accidentally harm the baby. Let's hope he remembered that little rule here and they took an Uber to the maternity ward.

• Well THAT'S an unfortunate image!

• All of Team Flash shows up at the hospital to share the blessed event with Barry & Iris. Well, almost the whole team— Allegra's still back at STAR, recovering from her earlier attack ( I guess they just left her there alone?). And more importantly, Joe's conspicuously absent as well.

Why would Joe not be present for the birth of his first grandchild?

Welp, as I've mentioned many times now, Jesse L. Martin was contractually obligated to make five appearances in this truncated final season. The producers foolishly wasted FOUR of those in the terrible Red Death story arc at the beginning of the year. And then he appeared in last week's episode— which explains why Joe is nowhere to be found when his daughter goes into freakin' labor this week.

Also, unless I'm wrong about the whole five episode contract thing, then he's not gonna show up in the SERIES FINALE either! Are you freakin' kidding me? That's just not right. Who the hell's running this shit show of a show?

• At the hospital, Chillblaine asks Khione how she was able to reduce him to dust and then resurrect him. A fair question! She calmly replies, "I'm a goddess."

So somehow, putting Caitlin (who had no superpowers of her own) in a technobabble device in the Season 8 finale somehow transformed her into a literal goddess with a completely separate consciousness. Sure, why not. Comic Book Science!

• Determined to discover the truth about himself, Malcolm somehow locates Eddie Thawne's grave and begins digging it up to see just who's inside.

Hilariously, despite the fact that he's using a shovel instead of a spade and a lantern for light, he digs a hole with perfectly straight razor-sharp sides! Why, if I didn't know better I'd think he used a backhoe to dig it!

And why is he using an old-timey railroad lantern for light? Isn't this the future? Don't they have LED lights in 2049?

By the way, Eddie's tombstone lists his death as May 19, 2015. That's the date that Fast Enough aired, which was the episode in which his character actually died! Nice touch!

• We get another indication that these scenes are happening in 2049, as Captain Korber threatens to arrest Malcolm and points a futuristic gun or taser at him. Or maybe it's a barcode reader, it's honestly hard to tell.

• Malcolm ignores Korber and flings open the coffin lid. Nope! Before burial, coffin lids are fitted with a rubber gasket and locked with a "sealing key," making them air and water tight. They can be opened if necessary, but it takes considerable doing. Again, maybe things are different in the Arrowverse.

• Malcolm looks inside the coffin, and of course it's empty. This unlocks Eddie's memories, and he realizes his true identity as numerous clips from past episodes come flooding back. Among them are:

Eddie making the big step of gifting Iris with a key to his apartment, as seen in The Man In The Yellow Suit.

The Flash revealing his true identity to Eddie, in Tricksters.

Eddie proposing to Iris on a bridge in front of STAR Labs, and being interrupted by Eobard Thawne, as seen in The Trap.

And Eddie shooting himself to prevent his descendent Eobard Thawne from ever being born (as a horrified Joe asks what he's done), from the Season 1 finale Fast Enough.

• Once Eddie's memories return and he realizes his true identity, his chest begins bleeding from the self-inflicted gunshot wound he gave himself back in 2015.

He even pulls the bullet from the wound, which I guess has been lodged in his chest all these years. At this point, why not?

• So let me see if I have Eddie's story right, just for my own edification. At the end of Season 1, Eddie finds out that Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, is his distant descendent. Eddie then shoots and kills himself, to ensure that Thawne's never born.

Once Eddie's dead, his body's sucked up into a wormhole created by Barry & Team Flash.

So far so good. But then things start getting dicey...

Apparently the wormhole spit out Eddie's body at some point in the future— probably 2040 or so. Incredibly, it also somehow brought him back to life and healed his injuries. But then inexplicably left the bullet that killed him lodged in his chest. 

Even more amazing, the wormhole wiped his brain and installed a new identity in his head— that of Malcolm Gilmore. This new Malcolm persona was a fully realized individual— one with his own personality and a complete set of memories.

Despite the fact that Malcolm appeared completely out of nowhere, he acquired Joe West's old house and began living there, and somehow got a job at Mercury Labs as a brilliant research scientist!

Oh, and Team Flash apparently buried an empty coffin in Eddie's grave in 2015.

I'll leave it to you to decide just how likely any of this is. Or to make sense of it!

How did the wormhole create a whole new identity for Malcolm, complete with a lifetime of memories? How'd he become a scientist with decades of specific knowledge in his field? Why did Eddie's police file appear next to Malcolm after he was hit by lightning? How did it take years before he ran into someone who recognized him as Eddie Thawne? How did Malcolm buy Joe's old house without him knowing about it? Don't know! 

I assume the answer to all this is that the Negative Speed Force did it. But that just brings up even more questions! Such is the amazing showrunning talent of Eric Wallace.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

A Joke Twelve Years In The Making

Wayyyyy back in 2011, AMT released a new model kit of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. Note that this was the exact same kit they'd released numerous times before, but this time there was a twist. They molded it in glow in the dark plastic, and said the ship was from the TOS episode The Tholian Web (in which the ship did indeed glow green for a few seconds).

I thought this was one of the most blatant and transparent cash grabs I'd ever seen, mocking it mercilessly on my blog. I even came up with several other ridiculous Enterprise variations that AMT could pump out. 

Among them was this ship from the episode Who Mourns For Adonais, in which the Greek god Apollo captured the Enterprise by clamping onto it with a forcefield shaped like a giant ghostly green hand. 

I said all AMT would have to do is sculpt a hand in green translucent plastic and they could reuse the same ship molds again. Instant cash!

Welp, it took twelve long years, but my little joke finally became a reality. This week Hallmark premiered their new line of ornaments for 2023. Among them was the Enterprise— with the giant, ghostly green hand of Apollo clamped onto the front of it!

OK, so it's an Xmas ornament and not a model kit, but... close enough!

Now if only I could use my clairvoyant powers for something useful, like divining the PowerBall numbers!

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