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The Flash: Timeless

“I’m supposed to protect lives not destroy them.”

I am so confused. Given the shortened season, one would think we’d at least have the contours of this season’s arc mapped out by now. Yet, while it’s clear The Powers That Be are working towards something, I don’t have a clue what that might be. And each episode leaves me with more questions than it answers.

There are several contenders for overarching themes this season. We have Barry’s trust issues after being manipulated by Eva and Nora. Barry’s decision making has taken a nose-dive after both events, along with his ability to recognize good advice when he hears it. This episode could also make an argument for the theme of parenthood, but they did a more thorough exploration of that in season five. If I had to pick, it would have to be an acceptance of others. The show has argued this by having both Frost and Deon rail against being defined as mistakes and consistently pointing out that different does not mean wrong.

You would think Barry could understand how one’s abilities come to define who you are. Especially when he believed his speed was gone for good. Yet, for all the trauma Barry has suffered, he was never unloved. He never doubted who he was as a person and has a hard time relating to people who do.

Still, I didn’t envy the position Nora put Barry in. The other Forces have each rained destruction on the citizens of Central City but that doesn’t mean they deserve a death sentence. Separating the Forces from the individuals they inhabit seemed like a rational solution. My concern with Barry’s plan had more to do with his ability to limit the fallout from changing the timeline than from the idea of ending the Forces before they came into existence.

That said, his plan was doomed from the start. It is a narrative impossibility for a plan to succeed when the Flash and his lightning rod are on opposing sides. That Joe and Cisco were on Team Iris and Chester and Wells had their doubts should have given Barry pause. Yet he doggedly continued without any attempt to find an alternative which only proves my earlier comment regarding his decision-making skills.

His single-mindedness didn’t make Iris right. Regardless of whether the Speed Force is a person or just an entity with Nora’s face, I doubt any argument will change her mind. And if there was a chance Psych or Deon could be reasoned with, that ship has now sailed. Which means they still need to protect the Forces from Nora and themselves.

Is the hope that the recently revived Alexa can win the other Forces over? I’d put those odds at slim to none, but at least it’s something. Although, the knowledge that Barry and Iris can bring the Forces back to life certainly lowers Nora’s threat level.

Speaking of which, what of Iris and Barry’s connection to the Forces? Are Barry and Iris parents to all four Forces or just the three new ones? Is their connection empathic? Deon and Psych seemed to sense Barry and Iris’s emotions? Not to mention Barry’s claim he could sense their futures. Also, if they can bring a god back from the dead, what else can they do? And can someone explain to me how the present day iterations of the Forces were disappearing at the same time they were being “born?” If Barry had collected all the particles, what were the Forces being born from?

The B plot revolved around Cisco and Kamila’s decision to leave Central City. And I use the term plot loosely as it implies a narrative arc. We understand Cisco is unhappy about something, but we have no idea what or why leaving Central City might be the answer. We are told Kamilla wants to go to San Francisco. However, art installations are temporary. So why do they each need to leave Central City? And if they independently intended for their departures to be permanent, you’d think breaking that news would be a far more fraught conversation than it was.

I never thought I’d say this but both storylines are suffering because of the need to contort the plot to support the character issues The Powers That Be want to address. That’s bad enough. Unfortunately, they then refuse to follow those issues to their logical conclusions. As I said above, I’m confident there is a plan for this season. However, instead of a methodical creation of character needs versus escalating conflicts, this season feels like all my favorite ingredients baked into an unappetizing mess. That the season feels so close to something I would enjoy is more disappointing than an outright failure.

3.5 out of 5 Elemental Force Particles

Quotes:

Nora: “When you regained your speed, I wasn’t the only thing you two willed into existence.”

Wells: “I’m guessing this isn’t a social call.”

Deon: “Why do I get the feeling you’re the reason I’m this way.”

Wells: “Honey, I’m home.”

Deon: “Do you have any idea what it’s like to be told that you shouldn’t be here?"

Cisco: “He doesn’t want to be saved by you. He just wants to be given the chance to be himself.”

Kamilla: “We can ask him when we’re done. Assuming we survive.”

Barry: “These forces. They’re not my children.”
Joe: “You sure?”

Deon: “What are you?”
Nora: “A reckoning.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Shari, I am also confused. And I don't want to lose Cisco. Oh, well.

Shari said...

I wonder if the season feels so disjointed because it's so much shorter than the norm. Especially since the first 3 episodes were used to close out last season. I also imagine they had different plans for Elongated Man this season before Hartley imploded. Or maybe I'm just trying to find a way to give them the benefit of the doubt.

As for Cisco, I'll miss him but I had thought they had written him out of the show when he left after Crisis. Everything after that has felt like gravy.