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The Flash: Armageddon, Part 5

“You always have a choice.”

What makes a hero? Good deeds? A fancy costume? The willingness to sacrifice oneself? All the above contribute, but this episode makes the argument that a hero is defined by their choices.

First, Joe is alive! And it doesn’t take him long to prove why he is an essential component of Team Flash. As wise and beloved as Cecile is, her opinions don’t carry the same weight with Barry and Iris as those of the man who raised them. But we’ll get to that.

The timeline has been reset. Armageddon has been averted, and Eobard Thawne is about to wink out of existence. Faced with permanent erasure, Thawne turns to his nemesis for help. Not to beg forgiveness and throw himself on Barry’s mercy, but due to the absolute conviction that, regardless of Thawne’s intentions, heroes will not let him die.

This episode explores whether he’s right.

As a doctor, Caitlyn has vowed to do no harm. However, instead of pleading Thawne’s case, her initial response is to reach out to Frost for her input. Thawne doesn’t help his cause by belittling Caitlyn’s decision to remain with Team Flash instead of moving on or calling her deceased husband an idiot. It only reminds Caitlyn of Thawne’s repeated betrayals and the many reasons she has to hate him.

Barry first encountered Thawne at 11, when Thawne killed his mother and framed his father for her death. Like Caitlyn, Barry has every reason to hate the man. Yet, when Barry confronts Thawne, he’s not searching for an excuse to let him die. Barry honestly wants to know what he did to engender so much hatred and if there is any chance at reconciliation. The answers are that Barry once stole Thawne’s thunder and no, Thawne will spend his life trying to end Barry’s.

The other members of Team Flash may not have individual heart to hearts with Thawne but they each have reasons to want him to live or die. For Iris, it’s about the pain Thawne’s caused her husband and the knowledge he will never stop attacking her family. And while Frost never takes a verbal stand, I imagine she would want the person who hurt her Caty to pay. This leaves Allegra and Chester to argue on Thawne’s behalf. Chester makes the moral argument that killing is wrong. Allegra’s argument is more nuanced. Do they want to be the kind of people who can watch someone die when they have a chance to save them?

Team Flash aren’t the only ones weighing in on Thawne’s fate. Mia Queen doesn’t understand why it’s even up for debate. Given everything Thawne has done, death is the least he deserves. And Despero points out that if they don’t let Thawne die, the world will always be at risk. Neither of them is wrong.

One could make a credible argument that allowing Thawne to die is the right thing to do. Eddie’s death should have wiped Eobard from existence six years ago. His presence is an abomination of the timeline and his erasure is the cure.

But that’s not the issue, as Joe is quick to point out. Thawne asked for help and heroes help anyone in need, not just the people they like or consider good. His anger and disappointment in Barry and Iris was palpable, and they were suitably chastened.

Barry, Iris and Caitlyn may have needed Joe’s reminder, but they’ve already passed their crucibles. As heroes, they know the lines they won’t cross. Mia, much like her father, is still finding her way. She has taken up his mantle and vowed to protect her city and her family, but she’s not a hero yet. The two years spent searching for her missing brother has led her to make choices she’s ashamed of. I’d been hoping for some closure with William’s abduction, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully, Mia will return à la Diggle to rescue William.

Instead of the closure I’d hoped for, the show focused on Damien Darhk. Now, I’m always pleased to see Damien grace my screen, but the time devoted to this non-event surprised me. We knew Damien was exchanging his existence for his daughter’s. It just took longer than expected. I have to believe the focus on parental love and Damien’s passing of the Time Stone torch to Joe is a setup for things to come in the remainder of the season.

So, we end the series as we began it, with Despero. We knew from the outset he was no hero. However, the question was whether he was on that path. Survey says... a big honking no. I could understand his willingness to sacrifice the few to save the many (even if I didn’t agree). I could relate to his desire to have Barry let Thawne die rather than kill Thawne himself, since it ensured Thawne would be gone permanently. However, destroying Central City on the chance that Thawne might destroy the world? That logic escapes me.

Does this make Despero the Big Bad? I’m not sure. Thawne was a threat to Barry personally, not to the world at large. Yet, we will always care more about the people whose actions we understand and relate to than those who are evil because it’s their “nature.” I’ll take Thawne as the Big Bad any day.

Now that the series is over, we can judge it as a whole. On an episodic level, it worked for me. Each episode had a clear theme, an arc that made sense, and seemed to march towards a defined narrative goal. I loved getting to see beloved characters once again. And removing Thawne's speed gives him a new and improved reason for hating Barry. He has stolen the one thing (other than vengeance) that gives Thawne's life meaning.

As one overarching story, I’m not sure it holds together as well. It’s possible that I’m being overly harsh. The pre-pandemic multi-show Crisis events can’t be replicated, and it’s not fair to expect it. And after eight years of ongoing story, it is difficult to tie all the threads of all the various timelines into one cohesive narrative.

However, in keeping with my above comments, Despero’s actions make more sense in terms of plot devices than character motivated choices and, since he was the driving force for four out of the five episodes, it made it difficult to get invested. And while having characters come in for individual episodes was fun, the idea they would abandon Barry before Despero was defeated was a little hard to swallow.

Was it fun? Yes. Did I learn more about the characters I’ve come to know and love? Yes. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Well, that and Joe’s back.

3.5 out of 5 Time Stones

Parting Thoughts:

Ron Mallett is a theoretical physicist who believes time travel is possible. How apropos.

They pointed out Mia’s drink of choice, like it meant something. But I can’t find any reference to Sebastian James Scotch. Anyone?

Quotes:

Barry: “I can finally breathe again.”

Joe: “Barry, why is there a supervillain standing in my living room?”
Mia: “Where’s William?”
Thawne: “Who’s William?”
Mia: “Wrong answer.”

Caitlyn: “All the speed in the world can’t help you outrun what’s coming for you.”

Barry: “Don’t you have anything better to do than trying to destroy my life?”
Thawne: “Destroying you is my life!”

Barry: “Only a sociopath would react to something so small with that kind of rage.”
Thawne: “What you call rage, I call commitment.”

Barry: “If you want him dead so much, why don’t you just kill him yourself?”

Allegra: “I don’t care who Thawne is. I care who you guys are. And you save people.”

Despero; “I’m going to be the hero that this world needs, Flash.”

Barry: “We just saved your life, Thawne. Don’t make us regret it.”

Nora: “I thought you were...”
Damien: “Dead? I will be. I guess I just needed a little more time.”

Barry: “It’s our choices that define us. And the choices that we made are why we are all heroes.”

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

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