The Flash: Marathon

"We don't live in Crisis mode anymore."

By nature I love brevity: The Flash's excellent sixth season returns with a mellow episode that explores the fallout of the most ambitious superhero television event of all time.

One of my major concerns for this show going forward after the Crisis was how they would deal with Barry's survival. The season up until this point was laser-focused on dealing with the fact that Barry knows he is going to die. Death and its approach were the central themes, and I wondered if they would be able to carry them over into the back half. This episode answered my concerns head-on, and did so very well.

So what does happen when you've been preparing for death, and it just doesn't come? The first eight episodes were filled with a sense of urgency and buildup. The payoff was excellent, in my opinion, but where could you possibly go from there? The show responds by giving its characters the same feeling of being lost. They, like the audience, have no idea where this is going.

This is reflected in the changes to the multiverse. We are treated to some tiny details that serve to flesh out where the world stands right now, and reinforce the idea that the characters have just as little idea of what their life looks like anymore as we do. Specifically, Barry, Iris, and Cisco have serious problems adjusting.

Let's look at Barry. The inciting incident of his journey throughout this episode is a visit from Diggle and one last gift from Oliver. It's the first mask the Arrow wore, which Barry made for him and encouraged him to wear. This is an appropriate final memento, but Barry refuses to see it as just that. Seizing on a small stain of Mirakuru on the mask, he takes Diggle on a wild goose chase that leads them to Lian Yu. Barry refuses to give up even when it's clear there's no real mystery, finally getting so worked up that he loses control of his abilities in a small way. It's a wake-up call. Barry's lesson is that the appropriate response to another shot at life is to slow down and live it.

Cisco, too, has a hard time letting go of the people he's lost, only his problem stems from Nash and the loss of Earth-2. Harry was Cisco's friend, and now he's gone. In fact, if there's only one Earth in the whole Multiverse (there isn't, but the others are on other networks at the moment), there are no more versions of Harrison Wells. None except for Nash, who is directly responsible for the deaths of all the rest, and who was forced to watch the destruction he caused over and over again. Cisco's survivor's guilt, which is not uncommon for the character, runs deep. And he's not going to fix it overnight. Cisco's lesson is that healing takes time and reflection.

But the centerpiece of the episode, taking the majority of the runtime, is Iris. She and Team Citizen are gunning for the mysterious organization that's been looming for the past season, and they won't stop for anything. But it's Iris' reckless and hasty approach to the investigation that's most concerning. Everybody around her who isn't directly under her authority is telling her not to publish this story so quickly and rashly, but she did it anyway and didn't care what the consequences might be. But while this approach makes sense when you're reasonably certain the death of the entire universe is right around the corner, it doesn't track anymore after that has been successfully prevented. Iris is stuck in the gung-ho, every-day-like-it's-your-last mentality of the Crisis lead-up. It takes good old Papa Joe to remind her that it's okay to take her time now. She doesn't have to do everything at breakneck speed anymore. Iris' lesson is that Rome wasn't built in a day.

Everybody on The Flash needs to slow down. This episode was designed to accomplish that, by easing both characters and audience out of the adrenaline rush that was Crisis. This show has been saying for years that the team is all together in this. 'We are the Flash' has been the mantra. But here we see that this has negative consequences as well as positive ones. Sure, it's great to be the Flash, but only if you can slow down once in a while.

Running Plot Threads:

-The meta-trafficking/research organization now has a name, Black Hole. It also has a few faces - McCulloch Technologies CEO Joseph Carver and the new version of Dr. Light, Kimiyo Hoshi. This mystery was stretching a little thin earlier in the season, so it's helpful to have somebody to latch onto as the bad guy now.

-Joseph Carver's thought-deceased wife is called Eva McCulloch. In the comics, a man named Evan McCulloch was one of the two main people to hold the title of Mirror Master. The Mirror Master we've seen previously, and who has now returned according to Cisco's book, was Sam Scudder. Mirror Master's mirror dimension is probably what Iris was sucked into at the end of this episode.

-Cisco has determined to leave the show for a bit to go document the changes to the universe post-Crisis.

-Nash has a picture of himself and a version of Allegra Garcia in treasure-hunting gear. Cisco also charged him with keeping an eye on STAR Labs in his absence, which puts him squarely on the team.

Pensees:

-Jitters has reopened with a new look. Natalie is still employed there.

-Speaking of new looks, we have a new title card! I admit to being entirely too excited about its coolness.

-A confirmation for Arrow fans: the two children of Diggle and Lyla are John Jr. and Sara.

-A bunch of old villains have returned, according to Cisco. Is it too much to hope for that we might finally see Plastique again? That's bothered me since Season One.

-The physics of breaching have changed since Crisis.

-That hologram trick is on its last legs. I hope they don't use it too many more times.

-No Ralph in this episode. This show likes to just sort of forget he exists whenever they don't have a place to use him.

-Okay. Here goes. According to the new map of the Arrowverse and a little comparison with Google Maps, Star City is in Oregon. If we go with the typical DC convention of analogs to real-world cities, it is Portland. National City is in California, and its best analog is San Francisco. Gotham is in Wisconsin, and its best analog is Milwaukee (I think they were shooting for Chicago, and were off by half an inch). Metropolis is in New York, and it pretty much just is New York City. Freeland is in either North or South Carolina, and its best potential analogs are Wilmington, NC; Myrtle Beach, SC; and Charleston, SC. Lastly, Happy Harbor is off the coast of Nova Scotia, without any likely analogs. We already know Central and Keystone Cities are located in Virginia; Central City being an analog for Richmond.

-The other locations on the map were: Santa Prisca, San Monte, and Corto Maltese in South America; Markovia and Kasnia in Europe; Qurac, Nanda Parbat, Bialya, and Tokyo in Asia; Kooey Kooey Kooey Island, Lian Yu, and Dinosaur Island all in the Indonesian area; Gorilla City, Zambesi, and Tunisia in Africa; and the Fortress of Solitude up in the Arctic.

Quotes:

Frost: "What happened to Magenta? I liked her!"

Diggle: "I know it's sort of like asking the ocean to be less wet, but do you think you could maybe... slow down?"

Cisco: "An infinite number of Harrison Wells, and we're stuck with the one who killed the Multiverse."

Barry: "I have to finish what Oliver started."

Diggle: "Life's a marathon, not a sprint, Barry. Slow down and enjoy it."

4 out of 6 dumb mirror-image door labels.

--
CoramDeo's got money, but not much!

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

An excellent review, CoramDeo. And an interesting reset that I think will do the show a lot of good. Except that I'm a Cisco fan and I didn't want him to go!

Yay for Nash, de-Pariahed, because this show wouldn't be the same without Tom Cavanagh. And Diggle still around in the Berlanti-verse. Enjoyed the overdue update of the title credits that now no longer include that awkward saga sell.

Also loved Cisco's Superman tee shirt. It was a little thing, but fun.

CoramDeo said...

Billie, I didn't even notice the lack of saga sell! I won't miss it either.

Nick said...

Never fear, Billie. According to the showrunner, Cisco is not going anywhere.

"“Oh, no. No. [Cisco and Carlos] are not going anywhere,” he maintains. “Cisco’s off on his journey to catalog the world, but he’ll be back very quickly. "

Billie Doux said...

Nick, thanks for that. I'd heard somewhere that Carlos Valdez wanted to leave the show.

Red Pearl said...

But didn't the last episode of Crisis shows a bunch of Earth being reborn? Including Earth 2? How could Cisco say they're all gone?

And how stupid was Iris, going off by herself like that? Just after she said she's going to slow down. You'd think she's think twice about doing something so reckless.

CoramDeo said...

Red Pearl, you will see my frustration at the lack of post-Crisis clarity as this season goes on, particularly the question of how many Earths there are now. You're not alone in wondering about that one.

Red Pearl said...

Yeah, they really could have explained that one better.

It's the same on Supergirl, where they also think Earth-Prime is the only Earth survived.