Sunday, August 20, 2023

The Flash Season 9, Episode 12: A New World, Part Three

Virtue? Virtue?! VIRTUE?!?!?!?!

This week on The Flash, we're in the endgame now, as we've come to the penultimate episode of the series. Only one more to go!

Sadly, A New World has turned out to be a bust. Like all of showrunner Eric Wallace's story arcs, it started out strongly enough (giving the audience false hope). But then right on cue, it began sputtering and faltering as it lurches to the finish line. It's abundantly clear at this point that he only had enough material for one or two episodes, but stretched it into four. 

This entire season has been a complete and total exercise in frustration. We should have gotten one last epic multipart storyline, that tied up all the dangling plot threads and gave the characters a satisfying sendoff. 

Instead we got a series of episodes featuring everyone but the Flash, as he was inexplicably AWOL from his own series.

That trend continues in this final arc, as Cecile, Chester & Allegra have taken center stage, and Barry's barely shown up at all. This was a HUGE misstep in my opinion, as Eric Wallace has severely overestimated the audience's interest in these side characters.

I've also been extremely disappointed by this last storyline's Big Bad, Cobalt Blue. When it was first announced he was appearing in Season 9, I assumed we'd get a brand new, cool-looking evil speedster to challenge Barry.

Instead we got the Negative Speed Force possessing Barry's various friends and acquaintances— a lame plot device that's already been used to death on the show. Good for the budget, I suppose, but what a letdown.

Then we found out they were bringing back Eddie Thawne, and HE'D become Cobalt Blue. Definitely unexpected, but whatever. But then instead of a proper origin story, we've gotten THREE episodes in a row of Eddie wandering around looking confused. Which leaves just one for him to actually become Cobalt Blue.

This episode is also one of the most laughable in the history of the show, as a good chunk of it takes place in 2049, when Team Flash is apparently still a thing— but nobody's aged a day. Seriously! Despite the fact that they're all twenty six years older, they look exactly the same as they do in 2023. 

I don't know if the show's budget just couldn't afford a bunch of prosthetic makeup, or the writers don't understand how long 2049 is from now. Whatever the reason, it's utterly ridiculous and truly a sight to behold. 

Oh, and also this week, everyone's favorite character Cecile finally gets a superhero codename. And boy, is it a doozy. Well worth the three decades it took her to think of it. 

Ah well. Let's get this over with.


The Plot:

This episode takes place in two different time periods, making it tough to understand just what's happening when. So I'll be labeling the year as much as possible to try and avoid confusion.

Picking up right where he we left off last week, Eddie Thawne's just unlocked his memories, and is standing in his own empty grave. He says he needs to find out what happened and how he's still alive. Chief Korber, witness to all this, begs Eddie to let her take him to a hospital to make sure he's even human. Eddie lashes out, refusing her help.

Just then a portal opens in the sky, sucks Chief Korber up into it and vanishes. Eddie stares up in astonishment, wondering what the heck's going on (along with the audience).

At STAR Labs, Team Flash stands around trying to figure out why Barry disappeared again last week, and how to find him. Suddenly the Speed Force appears, as usual in the form of Barry's late mother Nora. She says the Negative Speed Force is behind Barry's disappearance, and is cloaking his energy signature from her. She then immediately contradicts herself by saying she senses Barry heading for 2049.

Speed Force Nora tells Team Flash they have to save Barry, because if he dies her power will be extinguished and their entire timeline will be erased forever. Sure, why not.

Team Flash— now being led by Barry's daughter Nora— returns to STAR Labs after a successful mission. Oddly enough, despite the fact that they're all twenty six years older, Chester, Allegra and Cecile all look EXACTLY the same as they did in 2023. And I do mean exactly. The 2049 version of Barry is conveniently absent, as he's "on the Watchtower in outer space."

Eddie enters the Flash Museum, which is located in the upper floors of STAR Labs. He sees an exhibit on the Reverse-Flash, and realizes that sacrificing his life to erase Eobard Thawne from the timeline didn't work— meaning he's a big sap who killed himself for nothing.

Just then a young blonde woman enters, who looks suspiciously like Nora. She says she's Eddie's daughter, and when he says he doesn't have one, she ominously says he could— if he'll come with her. A vortex opens up behind her as she beckons to Eddie.

Suddenly the real Nora zooms in and whisks Eddie away. 

Cut to Eddie cooling his heels in the Med Lab, as Team Flash scans him. Chester says Eddie's filled with Hawing radiation, and they theorize that his emotional state is causing the vortexes to open. Nora talks with Eddie, who's despondent about throwing away his life in 2015. She tells him he's been given a second chance, and should take advantage of it.

Team Flash tries to figure out how to rescue 2023 Barry in 2049. Since they've no way to time travel, Chester suggests Cecile could project her consciousness into her future self to find & help Barry. That might as well be a thing that could happen.

Nora goes into the Time Vault to send a message to Barry, who's still on the Watchtower. Suddenly the Blue Jolly Rancher Of Doom, er, I mean the Negative Speed Force crystal appears on the floor of the highly secure Vault. Nora picks it up like an idiot and is immediately possessed by the Negative Speed Force. Brilliant!

Possessed Nora chats with Eddie, urging him to remain calm so his emotions don't cause any more vortexes and kill anyone. He realizes he inadvertently murdered Captain Korber, and says there's gotta be a way to fix things. Possessed Nora suggests they look for clues at Mercury Labs, where his fake persona Malcolm Gilmore used to work.

2023 / 2049 / 2023
Chester hooks Cecile up to a technobabble device, and she projects her mind into the future. She wakes in her own body in 2049, and is stunned by the fact that she's nearly 80 but looks exactly as she did in 2023. 

She sees Chester & Allegra and for some reason doesn't tell them that she's occupying her future body. Why not? Don't know. She asks if they've seen Barry (meaning the 2023 version). They of course assume she's talking about the 2049 one and reply that he's still in space.

Cecile makes an offhand comment about checking on her family, and Chester says Joe'd probably like that, since she only sees him twice a year now. This horrifies Cecile, to the point where her mind link collapses and she wakes up back in 2023. She tells Team Flash she can't go through with the plan and runs from the Cortex.

Eddie and Possessed Nora arrive at Mercury Labs, where he looks for... some sort of clues, I guess? Possessed Nora begins taunting Eddie, pointing out how he threw his life away and he's the only Thawne forgotten by history. She says he could get his life back and become as powerful as the Flash by embracing the Negative Speed Force. She says then he could have his revenge on Barry, the man who stole his life.

Eddie actually considers it for a few seconds, then runs from the building to get some air (?). Just then 2023 Barry appears inside Mercury Labs (?), and is surprised to see high daughter Nora. He hugs her, unaware she's been possessed. She zaps him with the crystal and knocks him across the room.

The Negative Speed Force tells Barry there's nothing he can do, because any attempt to destroy it will kill Nora. Eddie walks back in, and in the confusion Barry grabs him and zooms him from the building.

They end up at the West home, which is owned by Eddie in 2049. Barry is shocked to see Eddie of course, and asks what's going on. Eddie tells him he's spent the past few years thinking he was Dr. Malcolm Gilmore, and asks how that's possible. Barry says the Negative Speed Force must have created a false reality for Eddie (???), so it could make him its new avatar.

Eddie's attitude begins changing, as he says so far the Negative Speed Force has only tried to help him, and whines that Barry has the life HE should have had. He hears the Negative Speed Force talking to him, and says with it he could be the hero and have the life he deserves.

Chester asks Cecile what upset her so much. She says her future self pretty much abandoned her family so she could play superhero, which makes her a failure. Chester gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, saying she's making her family situation work now, so there's no reason she can't do it in the future. Well, no reason except the fact that she's seen it happen with her own eyes. He says her greatest gift is her heart, which is a real virtue. Oy. Remember that word, folks.

Barry tells Eddie that the Negative Speed Force is pure evil, and he needs to resist it. Eddie worries that rejecting it will cause him to die again, but Barry assures him they'll figure out something. 

Just then Possessed Nora stands in the middle of Central City and demands Barry bring Eddie to her. How Barry can hear her, and why she doesn't just grab Eddie herself isn't explained. Barry tells Eddie to stay put and leaves.

Barry zooms to meet Possessed Nora. She demands he hand over Eddie to her. Barry tells her to fight back against the Negative Speed Force, but she laughs in his face.

Cecile marches into the Lab and says she's ready to send her brain back to the future again.

Barry tells Possessed Nora she's not getting her hands on Eddie. She howls in anger and the two then have an epic speedster battle as they race through the city. Barry stops on a rooftop and begs his daughter to fight the Negative Speed Force's influence. She forms an energy lasso, which grabs him and hurls his body to the ground far below. Somehow this doesn't kill him.

Eddie leaves his house and surprises 2049 Iris at the Loft (where she and Barry apparently still live in the future). Needless to say, she's shocked to see her dead fiance after nearly three decades. He tells her he has a decision to make, and needed to see her first.

Downtown, Possessed Nora lassos an SUV and hurls it at the injured Barry, intending to kill him. Amazingly, the SUV halts in mid air and is telekinetically tossed aside. Puzzled, Possessed Nora turns to see Cecile standing before her. Well, actually it's 2049 Cecile being controlled by the mind of 2023 Cecile, decked out in a brand new superhero costume.

Cecile blasts Nora with psychic energy, forcing the Negative Speed Force out of her. The blue crystal falls from Nora's hand, lands on the street and disappears. Barry thanks Cecile for saving him, and she tells him to call her... Virtue. Jesus wept.

Back at the Loft, Eddie tells Iris he loves her, and says they can have a second chance together. Iris informs him that's not gonna happen, as she already has a family she loves. His demeanor changes as he tells her she'll regret that decision, and he storms out.

Out on the street, Nora— now no longer possessed— apologizes to Barry for trying to kill him. Suddenly the skies turn dark, as red lightning begins flashing.

Back at STAR, Barry & Cecile (still in the 2049 version of her body) explain to Team Flash that the Negative Speed Force is attacking them across time & space. Even worse, Barry & Nora can no longer feel the Speed Force (so how do they still have power?). Chester delivers more bad news, saying the red energy in the sky isn't lightning, it's the timeline fracturing (???).

Cecile leaves her future body to warn the team back in 2023. Just then Iris enters, and says she has to talk with Barry. Suddenly he's enveloped in blue energy again and disappears.

Elsewhere, Eddie sits brooding at Mercury Labs. He throws a hissy fit, demanding to know why he was brought back if he can't have the family he deserves. He hears the Negative Speed Force call his name, as the blue crystal appears on his desk. It tells him he can have everything he ever wanted, if he will accept its power.

Eddie asks it what he needs to do. The crystal shows him images of Zoom, Godspeed, Savitar and Reverse-Flash, and urges him to form a team to destroy Barry Allen forever. Eddie reaches out his hand and opens a vortex...

• As with the first two parts of this arc, this one starts with a shot of blue roses just like I predicted.

• We also get a frantically-edited recap of the final minutes of last week's episode, as Eddie regains his memories and pulls the bullet that killed him from his chest. Chief Korber watches in horror and says, "This city is a lightning rod for insanity. You could be a clone or a cyborg. We need to get you to a hospital and get you checked out."

It really says something about what life in Central City must be like, if Korber legitimately suspects the man in front of her is some kind of robot.

• Eddie's agitated state causes a portal to open in the sky, which sucks Korber up into it. 

I assumed she probably ended up inside the Negative Speed Force or something and would eventually return, none the worse for wear. Nope! Later on in the episode we find out that the vortex apparently killed her! Jesus Christ! RIP Chief Korber, I guess.

• It's ironic that this episode is subtitled "Changes," when as we'll see in a few minutes, the cast doesn't change the least bit in the future at all.

• In 2023 at STAR Labs, Chester exclaims to what's left of Team Flash, "How nuts is this? The Negative Speed Force is attacking us across space and time?"

Hey, that's just what I pointed out last week! I said it possessed Joe in 2000 and Chillblaine in 2023, meaning it could operate in any era. I guess there's nothing stopping a force of nature from doing whatever it wants— it's just funny to me that the writers felt the need to lampshade the situation.

• Dammit, Opening Credits! Once again you've spoiled the appearance of a guest star!

• Speed Force Nora appears again and tells Team Flash that the Negative Speed Force is causing Barry to bounce around in time. She claims it's masking him from her, making it impossible to detect just where and when he is.

Then literally two seconds later she tells them she senses him heading for 2049 (the only future year anyone can travel to on this show).

So which is it, writers? Can she sense him or can't she?

Ah, but it gets better! Speed Force Nora then ominously tells the team:

Speed Force Nora: "If Barry dies and the Speed Force is extinguished, then this timeline and everything in it will be erased forever."

Wait, what? Why would the destruction of the Speed Force have even the slightest effect on the rest of the world? Didn't the Speed Force die a couple seasons ago? I'm pretty sure the only consequence of that incident was Barry losing his powers. I don't remember anyone saying anything about the timeline being erased!

Do the creators even watch the show anymore?

• Cut to STAR Labs, aka the Flash Museum, in 2049. As with all the other times we've seen this same shot, the parking lot appears to be filled with cars from the 2020s. Maybe the Museum placed all those old vehicles there as part of an historical exhibit.

• Inside STAR Labs, Team Flash 2049 returns from a mission. Lots to unpack in this short little scene. And I do mean LOTS!:

First of all, it appears Nora's now the leader of Team Flash. That's perfectly fine, as Barry would be sixty years old in 2049, and probably ready to retire.

Secondly, how likely is it that Team Flash has nearly the EXACT same roster in 2049? Yes, Khione's missing and Nora's joined the gang at this point, but Chester, Allegra and Cecile are all still hanging out there.

For corn's sake, it's been twenty six years, guys! Time to move on to bigger and better things already! Or maybe it's possible they DID try to find other jobs and failed, so now they're all just ratting around STAR, with nowhere better to go. How sad!

By far though the most baffling part of this episode, and possibly the series as a whole, is the issue of the characters' appearances in the future. As I said, this scene takes place in the year 2049. Despite that, the members of Team Flash all look astonishingly young. Unchanged even!

Take Chester and Allegra for example. According to the Official Arrowverse Wiki, Chester was born in 1991, which would make him 58 in 2049. Allegra was born in 1999, making her 50.

Now I ask you, does this look like a middle-aged couple? Nary a wrinkle or a single gray hair in sight!

Ah, but it gets worse!

The Wiki doesn't list Cecile's date of birth, but actress Danielle Nicolet is currently 50. If we assume Cecile is the same age, then in 2049 she'd be a whopping 76! Let me repeat that by shouting it through cupped hands— Cecile is SEVENTY SIX YEARS OLD in this scene! Jesus Christ!

The producers literally did not make even the slightest effort to age up the characters in this episode, despite the fact that much of it takes place nearly three decades from now.

I can think of several possibilities here:
1. Scientists in the Arrowverse found a way to dramatically slow the human aging process. 
2. The show's budget simply couldn't afford prosthetic makeup for everyone. 
3. The producers just didn't give a shit at this point, and wanted to hurry up and get the show over with. 
4. The writers don't understand just how far 2049 is from now.

Whatever the reason, it's downright laughable to see Cecile gadding about in a skintight catsuit and expect the audience to believe she's in her seventies. 

I bet even the actors were embarrassed by this. If they weren't then they should have been.

• Team Flash 2049 discusses their mission:

Chester: "Whoo! All right, party people! That's a wrap. The Chronarch is no longer the monarch. Come on home."
Nora: "Was that schway or what?"
Allegra: "Not bad for your first mission as team leader."
Cecile: "I know your dad's all the way in outer space, but I can feel how proud he is of you from the Watchtower."
Nora: "I mean, that was fun. But I'm ready for Dad to come home."
Chester: "Hey, babe. The way you went supernova on him at the end? It's like you were trying to blast that man into the 64th century."
Allegra: "Well, actually, that's exactly what I was trying to do."

Several things here:

First off, apparently Chester will still be saying his "party people" catchphrase twenty six years from now. Oy.

Secondly, in the Season 7 episode Central City Strong, the evil techo-magician Abra Kadabra mentioned a 64th Century being called the 
Chronarch, who was so cruel that even he feared him. He claimed the Chronarch would eventually become an enemy of the Flash.

Third, why doesn't 2049 Barry appear in this episode? He's mentioned numerous times, but is conveniently in outer space and unavailable. 
My guess is the producers didn't want to complicate the story by having two Barrys and having to film costly "twinning" effects.

Fourth, Cecile mentions Barry's in the Watchtower. In the comics, the Justice League's HQ was in an orbiting satellite called— you guessed it— the Watchtower. Looks like the Arrowverse gets a future version of it at some point!

Lastly, Chester mentions that Allegra defeated the Chronarch by going supernova on his ass. That actually sounds pretty cool! Helpful tip to the producers here— don't make your "unseen" adventures sound better than the ones we actually get to watch. Just sayin.'

• 2049 Cecile asks Chester:

Cecile: "How's the nano-welding coming along on my new super suit?"
Chester: "Oh, it should be ready this afternoon."

So... Cecile's been superheroing for twenty six years and she's just now getting a costume? Or has she had one for decades and is getting a new one? It could be interpreted either way.

• Where's Bart during these 2049 scenes? We see him in a brief flashback, but other than that he's completely AWOL. Is he not part of Team Flash in the future? Or is he chillin' with his dad out in space?

Of course the real world reason is that actor Jordan Fisher wasn't available, as he was appearing in a play during filming (these Flash actors sure do a lot of theater). Pity.

• Eddie wanders into the Flash Museum in 2049, presumably looking for Barry.

Clearly the "museum" is just the STAR Labs Cortex set, hastily redressed with a few displays. I guess the 2049 version of Team Flash set up a new HQ somewhere in one of the building's many lower levels?

Also note Atom's armor on display there at the right.

We also see Barry's Season 1 suit at left, with what looks like Jessie Quick's costume next to it. Not sure how they got ahold of that, since she was from Earth-2, then moved to Earth-3, then back to Earth-2 again, where she was killed by an antimatter wave in the Crisis. Maybe she had a spare costume and left it lying around STAR Labs.

Also, check out the director's name there in the credits. Jesus, buy a vowel, Stephan!

• At the museum, Eddie sees a video display on the Reverse Flash, which states how the evil speedster returned time and time again to menace Central City. This causes Eddie to freak the hell out, and rightly so. 

This scene perfectly highlights a major problem the show's had for eight years now. If you'll recall, at the end of Season 1 Eddie found out that Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, was his distant descendent. When the Flash failed to defeat Thawne, Eddie took matters into his own hands and killed himself to prevent Thawne from ever being born.

Of course Eddie's ultimate sacrifice didn't work, as Thawne returned over and over every season, despite the fact it made no logical sense. Which makes it easy to see why Eddie's so upset here. Basically he killed himself for nothing, as his actions literally had ZERO effect on Thawne at all.

• Eddie's then seduced by the Dark Side Of The Force, er, the Negative Speed Force, which takes the form of his "daughter." Well, the daughter he supposedly always wished he and Iris would have some day, that is. Amazingly, his faux progeny looks remarkably like Nora in a cheap wig.

This is another of the stupidest things the show's ever done, as we're expected to believe that the offspring of Eddie & Iris would look EXACTLY like the offspring of Barry & Iris— just with Eddie's blonde hair.

Jesus wept.

The reason this is so utterly, utterly idiotic is because it was done solely for the audience's benefit. While technically Eddie did meet Nora briefly in the past, he has no idea that she's Barry & Iris' daughter. So a fantasy version that looks just like her would mean absolutely nothing to him. The Negative Speed Force could have taken the form of ANY young woman and it would have had the same effect on Eddie.

• Fake Nora tries to lure the disoriented Eddie into some sort of portal, but Real Nora appears and zooms him out of harm's way. She then gasps in astonishment when she realizes who he is.

I was wondering just how in the name of Zeus' Mighty Taint that Nora could possibly recognize Eddie. From her perspective he's a guy her mom dated over THIRTY YEARS AGO! I don't know about anyone else, but I know absolutely nothing about my mom's dating history before she married my dad. Nor would I ever WANT to know.

But then the episode reminds us that Nora (and Bart!) actually met Eddie back in 2013, during Season 8's Impulsive Excessive Disorder— where the two went back in time to stop their Grandpa Joe from being killed. So I'll give them that one.

• Team Flash discusses Eddie's sudden resurrection and reappearance:

Allegra: "This is insane. Eddie Thawne died 34 years ago. How is he alive, and why hasn't he aged a day?"
(This is true, as he died in 2015)
Cecile: "And why is he here?"
Chester: "I have no idea, but all his fingerprints and DNA match. Except he's giving off high levels of Hawking radiation—the kind you only find inside singularities."
(This is also true. Hawking radiation is thought to emit from a black hole's event horizon.)
Allegra: "So you think Eddie's causing these portals to open?"
Cecile: "Maybe it's subconscious. Maybe it's his emotions triggering them."
Chester: "Oh, I was a black hole once. It happens."
(This is true as well, as back in Season 6 Chester had a black hole inside him, but got better.)

• In 2023, Team Flash discusses how to time travel to 2049 and rescue Barry. They write down various ideas & methods on STAR Labs' ubiquitous and impractical clear whiteboards. 

This scene's a veritable goldmine of references and callbacks, so you know what that means— I'll be examining it in obsessive and excruciating detail. Note that the text in the image above was originally seen from behind, so I flopped it for easier reading:

— Theoretically Great Idea
Override Gideon. Open her (illegible)
One Prob???
No Clue How To Do That

I'm puzzled by what they were planning to do with Gideon here. She's a sentient AI. What could that possibly have to do with time travel?

— Contact Brainy For Ideas??
UPDATE: No Response, Still Off-World With Supergirl

Funny how heavy hitters like Supergirl and Superman are always "off-world" whenever Team Flash could use their help.

– Breacher's Blade. Able To Cut Through SpaceTime

Breacher (played by Danny Trejo) was an interdimensional bounty hunter who popped up on the show from time to time, and was the father of Gypsy, Cisco's sometime gal pal.

— TOO RISKY!! Sim Model Concludes Interfacing With Cobalt Radiation Could Cause Bleeding Spacetime Rift!!

This appears to be just a bunch of technobabble to take up space.

— Called Luke Fox = He Said Look Into Research Done By A Dr. Nichols

Luke Fox is a former Wayne Enterprises employee and son of Lucius Fox. He served as Batwoman's tech support person over on her show.

— Dr. Nichols = DEAD END! Seems To Have Disappeared From Existence.

Nichols was an employee of Kord Industries, and was referenced a couple times over on Arrow. I don't think he ever appeared onscreen though.

We then see a different clear whiteboard, with even more suggestions:

— Call Waverider — Ask For Specs
No Response

They're referencing the Legends Of Tomorrow's timeship of course. The reason they don't respond is because the Legends were thrown into time prison or something in their series finale. At least I think that's what happened— I dropped out of the show early in its final season.

— Mssg'd Christina McGee About Her Quantum Bubble Matrix
She Responded: Can't Withstand Cobalt Radiation Signature

That would be Dr. Tina McGee (never heard anyone call her "Christina" before), head of Mercury Labs. She's helped out Team Flash several times in the past. There was also an alternate universe version of her on the 1990 Flash series.

— Contact Deon/Still Force?
Fighting With The Other Forces

Back in Season 7, Deon Owens became the Still Force and was able to control time. He could easily help out here, but last week Speed Force Nora appeared and said the other three forces (including Deon) were battling the Negative Speed Force in the cosmic plane, so I guess this tracks.

— Try Timeless Wells +
Professor Stein Again
UPDATE: Still No Response
Have To Move On

Back in Season 7, we learned that after the original Harrison Wells was murdered by Eobard Thawne, he was resurrected by technobabble particles left behind when his various doppelgangers sacrificed themselves. For reasons, this also gave him the ability to travel through time. Now calling himself Timeless Wells, he retired to a beach house in Starling City with his wife.

Timeless Wells could have definitely helped Team Flash here, but is probably tired of them bugging him whenever they're in a jam and started screening his calls.

Martin Stein was one of the Legends, and as such an expert in time travel. Unfortunately he died in the big Crisis On Earth-X crossover. Which probably explains why he's not answering Team Flash's calls. Not sure why they aren't aware of his death.

There's then a third clear whiteboard (not pictured here), that's largely blocked by Cecile's head, so I couldn't see much of it:

—Retrofitted Time Magnet
Would Take Weeks

Earlier this season Barry (in one of his rare appearances) and Iris were menaced by Lady Chronos, who used a Time Magnet to travel back to 2023 and steal hi-tech weaponry from STAR Labs. Apparently Team Flash confiscated her Time Magnet? Not sure why it would need retrofitted though, or why that would take weeks.

— Time Sphere
CS: Thawne Convinced Would Cause Cascade (illegible)

In Season 1, Thawne forced Cisco to build the Time Sphere, so he could go back to the future. It's been used numerous times on the show since, and as far as I know is still sitting in the STARchives. No idea why they couldn't use it here.

I'll give the writers credit for lampshading all these various methods to travel to the future and rescue Barry, as it prevents the audience from saying, "Why don't they just..." or "Couldn't they use..." Pretty clever!

That said, pretty much ANY the solutions on the clear white board would have been vastly better than the one we got! Once more with feeling: Don't make your abandoned and unseen ideas sound more interesting than the one used.

• Team Flash asks Chillblaine what it was like to be possessed by the Negative Speed Force last week:

Chillblaine: "Just that it's powerful as hell, and it hates Barry. When I was trapped inside, all I could think about was... was how much I love that guy. He's given me so many second chances, tenth chances. I didn't deserve any of them. I guess my, uh, love wasn't enough to fight the crystal's hate."
Cecile: "Mark, I just... I wish I would have known. You know, I could have used my powers to help boost your empathy and maybe fight it off."

Yes, Cecile, if only there was some way you could have, I dunno... sensed that Chillblaine's mind was being controlled by an evil entity. Too bad you don't have some sort of superpower you could have used.

• In 2049, Nora goes to the Time Vault to send a message to Barry— who's conveniently still chilling on the Watchtower.

Oddly enough, she's seeing herself onscreen the entire time she's recording her video. Shouldn't she be seeing Barry? Or if he's not available (as Gideon helpfully informs us), shouldn't she see a Watchtower test pattern or something on the screen?

We've all spent enough time in Zoom meetings the past three years to know this isn't how video calls work!

At the end of Nora's call, Gideon pipes up and says, "Message should reach the Watchtower as soon as it emerges from the dark side of the moon in 12 hours, 52 minutes."

Well there's an interesting notion! An orbiting superhero HQ that suffers a complete communication blackout for half the day! Let's hope there's never an emergency on Earth while the Watchtower's behind the moon, or we'll all be screwed!

• The Blue Jolly Rancher Of Doom, er, I mean the Negative Speed Force crystal then somehow appears inside the Time Vault. Nora does what anyone in that situation would do, and picks it up without a second thought and examines it— and is immediately possessed by the Negative Speed Force.

How'd the crystal get inside the supposedly ultra secure Time Vault? Don't know! Why the hell would she casually pick it up, when she just sent her dad a message telling him the Negative Speed Force is back? Don't know that either.

It's possible she might not know about the crystal in 2049. This episode bounces back and forth between eras so much it's honestly tough to figure out who knows what and when.

• Team Flash determines that 2023 Barry is stuck in 2049. In order to rescue him, Cecile volunteers to astrally project her consciousness into her future self. Sure, why not.

She then lies down on a table in the Med Lab, and the next thing she knows she's in her older 2049 body. Note that her older self is sitting in some sort of hi-tech chair with all kinds of contraptions bolted to it. Wait, what?

I'm confused here. Did... did her future self know this was gonna happen, so she prepared for it by sitting in this chair? Or was this all a big coincidence?

By the way, Cecile's lucky she's still alive in 2049. Otherwise her mind would have found itself in a decomposed body, in a coffin six feet under!

• 2023 Cecile, in her 2049 body, catches a glimpse of herself in a mirror, and says, "Damnnnnnn, lookin' good, future me!"

Once again, note that 2049 Cecile looks EXACTLY as she does in the present day, despite the fact that she's seventy six years old. I cannot emphasize this enough— she's supposed to be SEVENTY SIX in this scene.

I know I keep harping on it, but expecting us to believe this elderly woman hasn't changed in three decades is one of the most ridiculous things the show's ever done— and that's counting the time Captain Cold used his cold gun to freeze laser beams and then shatter them.

• Cecile sees Chester & Allegra puttering around in the Lab, but for some reason doesn't tell them she's currently possessing her future self. I guess she doesn't want to potentially screw up the timeline or something. Anyway, she asks if they've seen Barry, and, thinking she means the 2049 version, they tell her he's in space:

Cecile: "Outer space, OK. I'm gonna go ahead, I'ma hop on comms, anyway."
Chester: "Why?"
Cecile: "No reason. Just, you know, call Joe, Jenna, see what's for dinner."
Chester: "Oh, I'm sure Joe would love that, especially because you haven't been up to the country house in a while, right?"
Cecile: "Right. Hey, guys. You know what's funny? Weirdly, I can't remember the last time I was there."
Allegra: "Well, I don't blame you, considering you're only there what, twice a year?"
Chester: "Yeah, about that. I mean, between the Chronarch Wars and helping the Savothian freedom fighters, it's been a crazy year. But I'm sure the fam understands that we need a heavy hitter like you."
Cecile: (distraught) "Yeah. I'm sure the fam understands."

Jesus wept. So earlier in the season Cecile made the incredibly boneheaded and selfish decision to let her common law husband and their daughter move away, so she could stay in Central City full time and play superhero.

There were numerous better ways to handle this situation, but the writers went with the one that made Cecile look like a narcissistic asshole and a terrible mother.

And now we see that time apparently hasn't changed the situation one bit. In fact it's only gotten worse, as 2023 Cecile finds out her 2049 counterpart is so busy being a superhero that she only visits Joe and Jenna twice a year.

Wow. This officially makes Cecile the worst character on the show, ahead of even Eobard Thawne! Her daughter basically grew up without a mother, as she was raised entirely by Joe.

By the way, Chester's line about Savothian freedom fighters is actually a reference to the comics. In 2007's The Flash Vol. 2 #231, the Savothians were dog/camel-like aliens who were brilliant scientists, but sucked at battle. Jay Garrick helped them take back their homeworld from invaders— becoming a legend in their society.

• At Mercury Labs, Possessed Nora tries to manipulate Eddie, reminding him that he threw his life away for nothing. She tempts him by saying he could get his life back through the Negative Speed Force:

Nora: "The Flash gets his power from the Speed Force, but there's another side to the equation, another power that spent far too long in the shadows, forced into an unnatural balance. It needs someone to stand up to the Flash. And that should be you."
Eddie: "I don't understand. Are you talking about hurting your dad?"
Nora: "Eddie, are you still this pathetic? Are you a waste of a man, like Eobard said? A loser, a nobody, forgotten by history? Are you still the idiot who died trying to save a man who stole his life?"
Eddie: "No! I'm not."
Nora: "Then show me. You know how things were supposed to be. You can have that life if you take it. Eddie. Choose!"
Eddie: "No, this can't be real. I need some air."
(He runs from the building.)

Yeah, going out for an evening stroll is NOT the proper response when confronted with an evil force that wants to possess you mind and body. I honestly laughed out loud at that line.

• Barry then FINALLY appears in 2049. Possessed Nora takes one look at him and says, "Dad? What are you doing here?"

Note that she doesn't say, "Dad, why do you look so young?" That's probably because once again, no one in 2049 has apparently aged in the past quarter century. I have no doubt that the Barry who's hanging out in the Watchtower looks EXACTLY like the 2023 version!

• Barry saves Eddie by zooming him away from Possessed Nora and taking him to Joe's old house. Which is now occupied by Eddie. A few things here:

Once at the house, Barry seems genuinely surprised to find that Eddie's living there in 2049. Wait, what? If he didn't know Eddie owned the place, then why would he take him there? Was he hoping to see 2049 Joe there and ask him for help? That can't be, as Joe & Jenna moved out back in 2023— something that Barry certainly knew.

So again I gotta ask— why the hell would Barry randomly take Eddie there? Why not take him to the Loft? Or better yet, to STAR Labs, where he could put Eddie in the Secret Super Jail or Time Vault to protect him from Possessed Nora?

Clearly they repurposed the West home here because the show's budget is so puny they couldn't afford to build a new set. But narratively it doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

• Speaking of Possessed Nora— she's currently a temporary avatar for the Negative SPEED Force, AND she's a powerful SPEEDSTER in her own right. But for some reason she doesn't chase after Barry, and watches helplessly as he whisks Eddie away from her. I guess the Negative Speed Force forgot that it and Nora both have superspeed?

• For a couple weeks now I've been going on about how Eddie becoming Malcolm Gilmore doesn't make a lick of sense. He died in 2015 but was resurrected in 2049 as Malcolm— a fully realized personality who was somehow a prominent research scientist, despite the fact that Eddie was a cop and wouldn't know anything about theoretical physics.

I think maybe the writers finally attempted to explain that in this episode.

When Barry takes Eddie to Joe's old house, he notices various photos and awards and asks, "Do you live here? Eddie replies that he does, and wonders how he could be living another person's entire life. Barry says:

Barry: "I've seen reactions like this too, caused by negative tachyons. I think this place, Malcolm's belongings, his life... it's all made of negative tachyons. Like a false reality built for you to live in."
Eddie: "Well, who could have done that?"
Barry: "There's only one force powerful enough—the one inside that crystal. The Negative Speed Force. I think it brought you back to life."
Eddie: "Why would it bring me back?"
Barry: "Eddie, I think the Negative Speed Force resurrected you, so you could be its avatar."

So the answer to how Eddie could have Malcolm's memories and education is... the Negative Speed Force did it! A supremely lame and unsatisfying explanation, but at least it's something I guess.

Does that mean they're not actually in Joe's old house, but in a negative tachyon construct?

And what about Mercury Labs? Has Eddie been working in a negative tachyon version of it for years, and not the real thing? How far down does this go? Are we seeing the real STAR Labs of 2049, or a fake version? If it's all a negative construct made for Eddie, that would certainly explain why no one there's aged in the past three decades.

I need to go lie down in a dark room. I'm getting one of my sick headaches.

• It's hard to be 100% sure, but it looks like they STILL haven't fixed the broken pylon by 2049! I'd say by this point it's never gonna happen.

• Back in 2023, Cecile sits in the Lounge, moping over the fact that she's abandoned her family in the future. Chester enters and gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling her that she's still a good person and mother and that whatever decision she makes in the future will be the right one. Several things here:

First of all, Cecile freaks out when she discovers her future self only visits her family twice a year. I find it VERY hard to believe Joe would put up with that arrangement for almost three decades. He'd have given her an ultimatum or left her selfish ass long, lonnnnnnnng ago.

Second, when Cecile hears about the two visits a year thing, she feels like she failed Jenna as a mother. I guess it didn't occur to her that her daughter is THIRTY ONE YEARS OLD in 2049. She's a grown-ass adult, and well past the age where she needs mothering.

Lastly, why's Cecile acting like this future she saw is set in stone? If we've learned nothing else from The Flash, it's that the timeline is extremely subject to change. So she didn't like the future she saw. Change it then! What the hell's the big deal? Start going home more often or quit your superheroing. Problem solved!

• Chester then tells Cecile: "Your greatest strength isn't some meta ability. Cecile, it's your heart, and your dedication to the people that you love. That's a real virtue."

Remember that last word, as it's about to become a very cringeworthy and important plotpoint in just a bit.

• Check out this establishing shot of Joe/Eddie's house.

We can tell this scene's set in the future, because Eddie has a holographic house number projected above his front stoop. That's MUCH more practical than just nailing metal letters to the house like we do now. Future Tech!

• I've been tearing this episode quite the new asshole so far, and with good reason. There is one good thing in it though— the scenes with Barry & Eddie. Grant Gustin effortlessly knocks it out of the park as always, but Rick Cosnett turned in a surprisingly strong performance as well. He plays Eddie as confused, vulnerable, jealous and borderline psychotic— often all at the same time!

I especially liked the scene in which Barry tried to explain to Eddie that the Negative Speed Force is evil and just wants to use him as an avatar.

Barry: "It must need you to choose to take on its power."
Eddie: "No. That can't be right. The crystal showed me a better life, one with a daughter I was supposed to have."
Barry: "Eddie, the Negative Speed Force is unlike anything you've ever seen before. It gets inside your head. It feeds off hate and rage, all right? Everything about it is evil."
Eddie: "It brought me back from the dead, OK? Is that evil? And what if I choose not to be the avatar, huh? Do I go back to being dead?"
Barry: "No, no, we'll find a way to save you. You could choose to start a new life."
Negative Speed Force's Voice: "He lies."
Eddie: "Oh, really? Because all your team tried to do today was cuff me. But that crystal, it actually wants to help me get my life back. A life I was a fool to give up."
Negative Speed Force's Voice: "There's still time."
Barry: "Come on. You don't believe that."
Eddie: "DON'T TELL ME WHAT I BELIEVE! Did you know I can hear it right now? Sometimes I can't tell if it's the crystal's voice or my own voice. And I'm starting to wonder, what's the difference? It's funny. Returning from the dead really has a way of making you realize the mistakes you made in your old life. My mistake was being a nobody."
Barry: "Eddie, you weren't a nobody, all right? Listen to me..."
Eddie: "No! You listen. The second I died, everyone forgot about me. And you, Barry, the man I sacrificed my life for, you thanked me by stealing my fiancée."
Barry: "Eddie..."
Eddie: "But now I have a chance to change that. If I choose the crystal, maybe I could be the hero. I could get the girl and the family I deserve."

It's interesting to watch Eddie slowly unravel here, as he becomes increasingly disturbed and unhinged. Well done!

That said, actors are often hamstrung by the material they're given, and that's definitely the case here. The writers come perilously close to making Eddie sound like a typical whiny-ass incel in this scene. Especially when he started ranting about how he deserved  to have Iris and was owed a happy family.

Blaming the world for one's failures is pretty much Incel 101, and undermines the writers' attempts to make Eddie a sympathetic character. Fortunately they don't dwell on his attitude for too long, and move on before the audience begins turning on him.

• Possessed Nora then stands in the middle of a plaza and calls out Barry (who somehow hears her).

Ah, another scene filmed at good ol' Oceanic Plaza in downtown Vancouver. The spot's like an old friend by now, as pretty much EVERY Arrowverse show shot numerous scenes there over the years. The Flash in particular loves the place, as it's popped up countless times each season.

• We then get a pretty impressive battle scene between Barry & Possessed Nora. 

I could have done without Barry conjuring up a protective Captain America shield out of Speed Force energy, but other than that it's awesome. Well done, guys!

• Superhero Landing! Or I guess in this case it's Supervillain Landing. It's hard to see, but that's Possessed Nora at the right in the classic landing pose.

• Possessed Nora then conjures up a Negative Speed Force whip (!), wraps it around Barry and flings him to the ground far, far below.

Sigh... I really regret the day the show decided the Speed Force could be used this way. Speedsters are already ridiculously overpowered, and having this ability makes it even worse. They've pretty much become Green Lanterns at this point, able to create any weapon or construct they can imagine.

Also, Barry's dead now, right? He just fell about twenty stories and crashed through the roof of a bus stop, so... 

Not the way I though the show would end, but whatever. RIP Barry Allen. What's that? He's NOT dead after such an incident? Sure, why not.

By the way, why is Possessed Nora's lightning blue here? Isn't Negative Speed Force lightning traditionally red? Now that I think about it, why's the Negative Speed Force crystal blue as well? 

It's all just so we can get Cobalt Blue on the show, isn't it?

• Eddie then goes to visit Iris, who's stunned to see him alive and mostly well (and who could blame her?). Several things here:

First of all, Barry and Iris are apparently still living in the Loft in 2049— a full twenty six years from now. It's not impossible I guess, but most people don't stay in the same apartment for that long. Maybe the housing crisis is really bad in Central City.

Second, Iris doesn't hear Eddie come in because she's wearing futuristic AirPods in her ears. Do... do people really do that when they're home alone? On a train or at work, sure, but sitting on your own sofa when no one else is around?

Obviously this was a writing cheat, so Eddie could startle Iris when he walked up behind her.

Lastly, like everyone other member of Team Flash we see in 2049, Iris looks remarkably unchanged— despite the fact that she's sixty years old. To be fair, she's wearing an obvious wig with a few strands of gray in it. Other than that though she looks exactly as she did nearly three decades ago.

I need to just drop this and try to accept it, but it's so bloody stupid I can't.

• Nora taunts Barry as he lies in the street trying not to die.

Once again, they filmed on the street in front of Oceanic Plaza.You can tell because of the two story building at the right of the screen (with the two big air vents facing camera).

Here's a closeup of Possessed Nora standing in front of the plaza. Note the blurry sign in the background— I can't tell for certain, but I'm pretty sure it reads "Oceanic Plaza."

You can get a better look at it on Google Maps.

• Possessed Nora uses her stupid Negative Speed Force whip to grab a car and hurl it at Barry. 

Despite the fact I'm not a fan of the Speed Force weapon shenanigans, I gotta admit this actually looks pretty darned good! I'm assuming they skimped on FX in the first two chapters so they could pull out the stops in the last two?

• Fortunately for Barry. he's saved from being crushed by the timely arrival of Cecile, who's now in full Jean Grey mode. Note the fancy new costume she's sporting here...

Which looks much like a dollar store version of the one worn by Dreamer over on Supergirl.

Apparently this was the new costume Chester was nano-welding for Cecile.

• Possessed Nora then gets up close and personal as she confronts Cecile.

I love how she insists on using her superspeed to travel the ten feet between the two of them in this scene. She couldn't have taken two seconds to just walk over to her?

• Everyone and their dog has already pointed this out, but whatever. The Negative Speed Force taunts Cecile, saying any attack she makes on it will kill Nora. Cecile says she knows, and then uses her psychic powers to knock the Force right out of Nora's body.

It's a pretty cool effect. Unfortunately it's also a blatant swipe of the Ancient One blasting Doctor Strange's soul out of him in his first movie.

Heck, Doc Strange later did the exact same thing to Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home!

C'mon, guys! If you're gonna shamelessly plagiarize Marvel, then steal something obscure— not something iconic like this!

• We then come to the absolute STUPIDEST part of the episode— even more so than the characters' non-aging problem. Cecile walks over to the dazed Barry and poses in front of him. He groggily looks up and says, "Cecile?" She replies, "Actually, call me Virtue."

Jesus Jetskiing Christ On A Soda Cracker! Of all the words in the English language she could have chosen as a name, she picks that? What the hell? What does "virtue" have to do with psychic powers?

Plus it hardly fits her. The dictionary defines virtue as "behavior demonstrating high moral standards." Yeah, Cecile's so moral that she abandoned her boyfriend and child just so she could selfishly play superhero.

And lastly, remember that the Cecile we're seeing here is in 2049. Are you telling me that it took her TWENTY SIX YEARS to finally settle on a goddamned superhero codename? And then when she did, she picked VIRTUE?

Is this episode over yet?

Apparently there's a little-known character called Virtue in the comics. In 2013's The Movement #1, Holly Ann Fields was a metahuman with various psychic and telekinetic powers, who formed a new team to fight crime alongside the Justice League. 

Sounds a lot like our girl Cecile. The live action costume even looks fairly similar to the comic one. Why they chose to turn her into an obscure non-Flash character though, I have no idea. 

And just a helpful note to comic creators— don't call your new book or your team "The Movement." Just sayin.'

• Back at the Loft, Eddie tries to get Iris to marry him— despite the fact that she's already wed to Barry. I guess he forgot that way back in Season 1, Thawne showed him proof that Iris would end up marrying Barry. I suppose I can overlook that, seeing as the guy died and was resurrected with someone else's identity.

Anyway, quite rightly, Iris tells him to get lost. He won't take no for an answer though, saying they can finally be together like they were meant to be.

OK, this is probably mean, but... why would Eddie want Iris now? He's in this thirties, and she's sixty. At this point there's no way in hell she could possibly give him the family he wants (specifically the blonde haired version of Nora he's obsessed with). 

I get that he's unhinged here and not thinking clearly, but... there's no way this could ever work.

• At STAR Labs, Barry meets with Team Flash and fills them in on what's going on:

Barry: "Look, the crystal that possessed Nora, it attacked me in the past. And then it went after the team in 2023."
Allegra: "Wait, why don't we remember these attacks?"
Barry: "Because they're happening simultaneously across the timeline. First in the past. Then in your present. And now here, in 2049."

Yeah, that doesn't make a lick of sense and it's not how time works, but let's just go with it and move on or we'll be here all day.

• After Cecile chases off the Negative Speed Force, the skies above Central City turn red (AGAIN). Barry thinks it's Eddie's out of control emotions causing the disturbance. Chester disagrees:

Chester: "OK, all this red energy that's appearing in the sky, it's not lightning. It's the timeline starting to fracture. And it'll spread in every direction... until there's nothing left of the timeline at all."

Just like Speed Force Nora said at the beginning of the episode! I still don't get why the destruction of the Speed Force will destroy time itself, but again, whatever.

• Chester utters another of his Black History Month epithets, saying, "Sweet NK Jemisin."

As usual, I had no idea who that was and had to look 'em up. Apparently Jemisin is a modern fantasy writer. What that has to do with red skies tearing apart the Arrowverse, I have no idea.

• Iris enters, sees 2023 Barry and tells him they need to talk about Eddie.

First though, Barry looks at the now sixty year old Iris and says, "You're as beautiful as the day we got married." That's for sure! In fact, one might even say she looks exactly as she did in 2023, as if no one bothered to age her up at all!

Iris then says to Barry, "I haven't seen you like this in so long." Well if Future Barry is anything like the rest of the team in 2049, he probably looks just like he always has.

• At Mercury Labs, the now certifiably insane Eddie screams to the heavens, demanding to know what the Negative Speed Force wants of him. Just then the Blue Jolly Rancher Of Doom, er, I mean the Negative Speed Force crystal appears, and shows him a vision of Zoom, Godspeed, Savitar and Reverse-Flash. 

Apparently the Negative Speed Force wants him to form a team consisting of all the show's evil speedsters, in order to defeat Barry (I guess?) One would think the unraveling of the timeline would take care of him and pretty much everyone else, but what do I know.

Anyway, the majority of the crystal's candidates don't make any sense, as they had no connection whatsoever to the Negative Speed Force. Zoom got his power from taking the Velocity 9 drug. Same with Godspeed— he used Velocity 9 along with tachyon infusions to become a speedster, and later tried to steal Barry's powers for himself. 

Savitar WAS Barry (or rather a time remnant of him), and had absolutely nothing to do with the Negative Speed Force. In fact I don't think the writers had even come up with the negative forces hooey back when Savitar first appeared.

Of the four of them, the Reverse-Flash is the only one who derived his powers from the Negative Speed Force. Which makes the inclusion of the others in the crystal completely nonsensical.

Again I gotta ask, have the writers ever actually watched the show before?

• So let me see if I have this setup straight, just for my own edification. Eddie's pissed off because he killed himself to erase Eobard Thawne from existence. It didn't work, so now Eddie's forming a team of evil speedsters to destroy Barry and get the life he feels he deserves. Among those evil speedsters is... Eobard Thawne. 

So he's willingly working with the enemy he tried and failed to kill. Got it.

• We then get the usual "Speed Force Lightning Bumper" to close out the episode. Although if you look closely, you'll see the logo's being taken over by blue Negative Speed Force energy. OK, that's actually kind of cool!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter