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The Flash: Armageddon, Part 1

“Wow, you have seriously leveled up.”

They weren’t exactly subtle with the theme, were they? In case you hadn’t noticed, Team Flash has leveled up. Let’s hope the show has, too.

Iris has expanded the Citizen to include three new journalists and added a podcast. Allegra was promoted to Supervising Editor. Barry has gotten so fast, he only needed half an episode to defeat the villains of the week. And, as a bonus, Ray Palmer has graced everyone with his charm and complete obliviousness.

In addition to all that leveling up, The Powers That Be address the inconsistencies of last season by hitting the reset button, hoping to engender the warm fuzzies we used to have about the show. Not only did they choose old school villains like the Royal Flush Gang to open the season (complete with bad card based puns straight out of the old Batman TV show) they set the gang’s origin pre-series while Barry was still in a coma. They also introduced a major comic book storyline that can only be resolved with superhero team-ups. They’ve even gone back to work showing both Barry and Iris doing the things that pay their bills.

This is all great stuff. I especially love Despero as the Big Bad. Mostly because he’s not all bad. If The Flash of the future is as destructive as Despero says he is, and The Powers That Be took great pains to prove he’s not lying, then stopping The Flash in the past seems like a viable option. Although rule number one in The Superhero Handbook© is “Killing is never the answer.”

And as much as I miss both Cisco and Wells, it means there’s finally time to devote to Allegra and Chester. Now we just need TPTB to work their magic and make me love them as much as the other members of Team Flash. At the moment, I’m ambivalent.

I wish Allegra wasn’t a meta-human. Then she would just be part of Team Citizen the way Kamila was, and I’d be satisfied with this week’s storyline for her. I would still think Iris sucked as a boss for throwing Allegra to the journalistic wolves without giving her any advice, but that wasn't Allegra’s fault.

In some ways it felt as if Allegra was a stand in for TPTB. Was her claim that the journalists were at their best when readers can see themselves in the stories and her appeal for them to remember who they were writing for an acknowledgement of the show’s past mistakes and their promise to do better? Or is that just wishful thinking?

Unfortunately, Allegra is a meta and a part of Team Flash. Yet, despite all the fuss they made over her leveling up, her role has diminished from hero to transportation clerk. The only things Allegra’s done since she went all Głowy is to transport the other metas to and from conflicts. Wait, I lied. She’s also Team Flash’s pet Energizer Bunny. But surely, she’s more useful than that.

In contrast, Chester has not changed in the two plus seasons he’s been on the show. He remains the rambunctious puppy with no off switch or the puppy that just got its nose smacked. This episode was more of the same. Chester meets another of his lifelong heroes, goes overboard in his eagerness and then assumes he’s useless and/or incompetent. If there was a character that needed to level up. It’s him. However, Ray had a very similar character arc, and they made me love him, so I have hope.

Yet, all this leveling up is part of the problem. We’ve always had to suspend our disbelief a smidge when Barry fought anyone other than another speedster. If he is really as fast as "Enter Flashtime" implied, episodes would last as long as the average commercial break. Combine his abilities with Frost’s, Allegra’s and the fact that he has the other superheroes on speed dial, and every time the words “I don’t know what to do” leave Barry’s lips I shake my head in disbelief. The show is now in the unenviable position of making their characters look like idiots or using valuable time, explaining why they can’t make use of all the resources at Barry’s fingertips.

There is another problem intrinsic to this particular storyline. Savitar. Barry has already proven he can go horrifically evil. Savitar was so damaged that he tried to kill Iris. Any version of Barry that would do that could certainly “revel in betrayal” as Despero so awesomely described it. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe this version of Barry would ever go that dark. However, having Barry wrestle with the possibility that he might would be more interesting and not mentioning Savitar is just sloppy writing.

I don’t want to overlook Kramer’s inclusion in the episode. She may have made peace with her meta abilities, but she’s still a tad conflicted about how to deal with criminals with meta abilities. I’m assuming that topic is bound to make another appearance. Having her mistake Barry’s fear that she’ll notice his abilities if they continue to work together as a prejudice against metas was also a nice touch. It’s only a matter of time before she finds out about his extracurricular activities.

We should also mention Caitlyn’s (and possibly Frost’s) love lives, or lack thereof. They would not have been given such a prominent position in the episode if it wasn’t going to be an important plot point in the not too distant future.

It’s the first episode of what appears to be an ambitious story arc. Ray is just one of several heroes scheduled to appear over the next five episodes. All of which makes me giddy. If only I believed TPTB have taken Allegra’s words to heart.

3.5 out of 5 cryptocurrency heists

Parting Thoughts:

Armageddon is a storyline from comics which shares only the tiniest commonality with this version, in that a hero turns evil and someone from the future comes back in time hoping to defeat him.

Despero is also pulled from the comics, although he wasn’t involved in Armageddon. Given how many iterations there were of him, The Powers That Be can go in almost any direction with the character.

Isn't it amazing how quickly the news anchors are aware of accidents...

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Kramer resign her position as Police Chief?

The Royal Flush Gang made their first appearance in season one of Arrow. They were a family of non-metas. Although this band could have stolen their name...

And just in case you were wondering. Qubits are real.

Quotes:

Ray: “Am I interrupting?”
Barry “No.”
Iris: “Never.”
Ray: “Great.”

Iris: “Dealing with this is a part of growing into your new position.”
Allegra: “Well, I’m not growing. I am crashing and burning.”

Queen: “Go ahead, Flashy. Pick a card, any card.”

Barry: “I guess the House doesn’t always win.”

Barry: “You’re Ray Palmer, Legacy Honoree. If you want something that doesn’t exist, invent it.”

Despero: “You all should run... While you still can.”

Ray: “Have you been working out?”
Barry: “Yeah, thank you for noticing.”

Barry: “Now I know how Diggle feels.”

Chester: “How do we beat a ten-foot-tall red alien that thinks like Grodd and punches like Fuerza?”

Allegra: “They’re still not happy with me.”
Iris: “Welcome to management.”

Despero: “You’re the most dangerous kind of killer because you hide in the body of a hero.”

Barry: “I’ve spent my entire life protecting this world. All I’m asking is a chance to prove I’d never turn my back on it.”

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

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

A good episode and I am hoping for a good season. It was lovely to see Ray again, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the crossovers.

But I am missing Cisco, Wells, and Joe West, who wasn't in this episode. I want to like Chester, but like you said, Shari, they're not letting him change and grow, and his plotline with Ray was mostly annoying.

The thing that bothered me most was that it felt to me like Grant Gustin was phoning it in. Or was he deliberately being very laid back?

Shari said...

I think this is his version of a more mature Barry. I'm on the fence about whether it works.

Did you catch Chester and Cecile's conversation about death? I'm wondering who died. Papa Joe was conspicuously absent. But if it was Papa Joe, she wouldn't be the only one affected...

Billie Doux said...

Yeah, I caught that. I just refuse to accept that we might have lost Joe West, too. :(

Shari said...

Joe's image was still in the opening credits. My fingers remain crossed.