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The Flash: Armageddon, Part 3

“This is gonna hurt.”

In the grand scheme of things, not much happened. Barry is still jobless, S.T.A.R. Labs-less, and wondering if he’s lost his mind. Despero still wants Barry dead. And Joe is still literally dead. However, the halfway point of this saga comes with a paradigm shift that pulls everything into focus. O.M.G!

So, if The Powers That Be weren’t going to spend their time moving the plot forward, (yes, there is the monumental leap at the conclusion of the episode but we’ll get to that later) the least they can do is get in bucket loads of character development. It’s like they wrote the episode just for me.

First there’s grief. We get to see it in all its stages and in so many forms this week. From Iris and Cecile’s raw and bleeding wounds to the battered and scarred dignity of Caitlin, Allegra, and Jefferson. So much is made of Barry losing his parents that it’s easy to forget how many other people have been lost on this show.

Iris and Cecile both want to save Barry, but recent events have sent them on vastly different paths which has so much to do with their approach to grief. This is why their argument was so brutal. Iris feels she owes it to her father to find out the truth, especially when it means he could still be alive. Cecile can’t afford to dwell on maybes. She’s has to hold herself together so she can support Barry, Iris, and the rest of Team Flash. Plus, she has a daughter to raise.

After seeing the original footage from Joe’s accident, Iris has a mini crisis in which she believes Cecile might be right. After all, it is easier to move on than risk re-opening her barely healed wounds with graphic proof of Joe’s death. It’s Allegra, still recovering from the loss of her cousin, who reminds Iris to have hope. It doesn’t hurt that she also brought Iris a temporal isotope infested clue.

Things are more complicated for Cecile since she isn’t just dealing with her grief. As an Empath, she bears the weight of everyone else’s sorrow as well. Which is why Cecile’s so quick to focus on the task at hand. As someone who’s suffered from mental illness, it also makes perfect sense that her first goal is to get Barry the help he needs even if it means partnering with a not-so-former criminal to do it.

Using Cecile’s psychic abilities to search for Barry may be their best option for finding him, but it also risks drowning her in a flood of emotions. Rosa’s advice is for Cecile to bury her grief. This makes sense from the person who plays with other people’s emotions as easily as she plays with their sense of balance. Caitlin, playing a similar role to Allegra, points out that an Empath’s strength is in feeling emotions, not in suppressing them. A reminder that comes in handy in Cecile's face off with Despero.

Can you call it grief if you don’t remember it? For Barry, Joe’s death wasn’t proof of a supervillain’s nefarious scheme, but final confirmation he was losing his mind. How else could he forget the death of the man who raised him?

As proof of his goodness, Barry invokes the Injustice Protocol rather than risk the chance he might rain destruction on his friends and family. Yet he doesn’t tell Jefferson the whole truth. Barry claims it was only to avoid the argument that would ensue about capturing Despero. Is Barry choosing to sacrifice himself for the greater good? Is he afraid to fight a future he believes may be inevitable, or is he simply afraid to die?

Jefferson, in true Papa Joe fashion, charges Barry to stand up to his fears and live his life “by any means necessary.” He owes it to Oliver, who sacrificed his life to save Barry’s, and all the people Barry has sworn to protect to be the hero he is meant to be.

One could also make the argument that Despero is acting out of grief. His inaction led to suffering and death and his eventual banishment from his home world. A mistake he vows never to make again. One could even extend the sacrifice analogy to claim Despero is giving up his inherent goodness to save his adopted planet. Despero will not only kill an innocent Barry to save Earth from his mentally unstable future version, Despero will kill the few individuals that attempt to stop him in the hope of saving the Earth of 2031 from destruction. Worse, he’s reached the point where his fear of history repeating itself is so great that he’s no longer willing to listen to any evidence to the contrary, compelling or otherwise.

Regardless, all this talk of grief and sacrifice sets the stage for our final confrontations. It turns out, just as there’s a negative speed force, there’s a negative still force (honestly, that should have been my first clue). And someone has been manipulating it to play with the timeline. Joe may be dead, but he’s not supposed to be. More importantly, (as importantly?) Barry isn’t crazy.

Unfortunately, Cecile’s search for Barry only allows Despero to swoop in and find Barry the moment they know his location. Iris’ discoveries are not enough to dissuade Despero from killing Barry. Luckily, Jefferson holds Despero off long enough for Deon to send Barry to the heart of problem—2031.

In truth, Barry should have done that the moment he heard Despero’s claims, but it would have made for a much shorter series and a less effective reveal. Of course, Thawne is behind this! No other character would have the power to dismantle Barry’s life so intimately.

I have so many questions. Chief among them is who does Iris (or the rest of the gathering) think Thawne is? Wells? Barry? I can’t wrap my brain around a scenario in which they know it’s Thawne. Unless they’ve all been brainwashed.

As for the more plot-based questions regarding Barry and Thawne’s impending confrontation and Thawne’s ultimate defeat, I’m content to watch the events unfold. I just wish they’d unfold faster.

4.5 out of 5 TVs with rabbit ears

Parting Thoughts:

Faust, the reason for the Injustice Protocol, is a character from the show Constantine. Apparently, when the multi-verse merged, a version of him came along with it.

I loved Barry and Jefferson's discussion about music. It was a small moment that spoke volumes about who they are as people aside from their hero personas.

Rosa Dillon, A.K.A. Top now knows The Flash’s identity. Why is no one worried?

Quotes:

Jefferson: “Injustice. Damn.”

Cecile: “Someone that we love is going through a mental health crisis, so I don’t care what he may or may not do ten years from now. He needs help today.”

Cecile: “If you insist on pursuing this lie than we will save Barry without you.”
Iris: “Fine. You save him your way. I’ll save him mine.”
Chester: “You want me to build Cerebro out of the trash in my garage? I mean... Oh, frak, yeah. I can do that!” (and all of my fandoms collide)

Rosa: “Horton, I’m surprised you showed. Figured you’d still be crying over your boyfriend somewhere. You should have heard the cheers at Iron Heights when that news broke out.”
Cecile: “Well, that’s funny ‘cause I figured you’d already be running Scudder’s entire criminal enterprise, not hustling morons in a dive bar.”

Rosa: “I’m sorry, but does that TV have rabbit ears on it?”
Chester: “Yeah, it’s cause it’s my grandma’s, which means we have to be done by 7:00 cause she doesn’t want to miss her stories.”

Chester: “Why would Despero turn on the particle accelerator?”
Rosa: “He’s into alternative energy. Who cares?”

Despero: “You have no allies left. You’re weak and you’re alone.”
Cecile: “You’re wrong.”
Jefferson: “You’re keeping something important from me. I suggest you remedy it.”

Iris: “He’s innocent. Someone changed the timeline to kill my father and make Barry seem insane.”
Despero: “You really believe you’re telling the truth. How tragic.”
Thawne: “You’ll never know what face fate will be wearing when she shows up to knock on your door and change your life forever.”

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

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