The impending “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover has cast a pall over The Flash. While the jury’s still out on whether or not that’ll end up being a good thing, I can say it worked really well in this week’s emotional and weighty “A Flash of Lightning,” an hour that nimbly juggles setting up the forthcoming multiversal calamity and building out The Flash’s world in interesting, non-“Crisis” related directions.
Picking up immediately where the premiere left off, we find Barry and Iris in the Time Vault processing the Monitor’s cosmic pronouncement that the Flash must die to save the multiverse. You can feel how much this is weighing on Barry because the episode opens on a close-up of Grant Gustin’s despairing face as he talks about how this future newspaper has gone from a source of comfort to one of dread. The vault is dimly lit, too, which adds to the depressing tone. But Iris refuses to become disheartened, and turns on the light and reminds Barry they can change the future. They’ve done it before!
To that end, Barry decides to gather more information about his death by speeding to Dec. 11, 2019, the day after he’s supposed to die. With a portable version of Gideon in his ear to guide him, he zooms off into the Speed Force, but the Speed Force immediately ejects him because there’s an anti-matter barrier blocking the way. Since that failed, time to move onto Plan B: Asking the multiverse’s anti-matter expert for help, Jay Garrick.
Barry jumps over to Earth-3, where the former Flash and his wife Dr. Joan Williams, Nora Allen’s doppelgänger, hook him up to a device that can project his consciousness across the Speed Force and past the anti-matter barrier since it’s impossible for him to physically go past it. So, Barry straps on Jay’s old helmet and is immediately shown billions of timelines in which everyone he loves, and everyone in the multiverse, dies in a blood-red anti-matter wave. As far as setting up the stakes of “Crisis,” this a terrific way to do it.
This little experiment traumatizes Barry both physically and emotionally. For one, he comes out of the device in immense pain because it fried his neural pathways or something. Emotionally, though, he’s distressed even more because, in the billions of timelines he saw, the only one where everyone survives is the one where he dies. When a defeated Barry returns to Earth-1, he tells Iris about what he saw in a heartbreaking scene that features fantastic performances from both actors. Iris refuses to sit there and watch Barry just accept his death and walks off.
As all of that goes on, Team Flash deals with Allegra Garcia, a metahuman who can control different wavelengths and is accused of murdering someone while trying to hijack their car. Cecile is ready to throw the book at her but relents when she senses that Allegra definitely didn’t commit the crime. Unfortunately, though, the evidence is stacked against Allegra because she’s eventually found standing over the body of the eye-witness who identified her as the initial murderer.
Nevertheless, Cecile refuses to give up trying to prove Allegra’s innocence, which puts her in direct conflict with Joe, who reminds her that her job as D.A. is to prosecute the cases the detectives bring her, not undermine them. For her part, Cecile doesn’t want to choose between using her powers to do what’s right and her job. What’s great about this argument is how it comes about naturally and doesn’t feel like the writers were trying to create conflict between Joe and Cecile for conflict’s sake. Both of their point-of-views seem very much in line with what we know about them. After everything she had to do last season, Cecile’s gotten used to using her powers in all areas of her life, so it makes sense that it’s difficult to ignore them now. Joe, on the other hand, is likely also feeling the pressure of his new job, and having Cecile undermine a case can’t be a good look.
Following the argument, Joe heads to the apartment to see Iris, but instead, he finds a couch-ridden Barry. “Something’s coming, Joe. I have to make a sacrifice, but at the same time I can’t help but feel like I’m giving up,” says Barry. Of course, Joe, the best father ever, has a story for a situation like this and reminds Barry that he’s not actually giving up if he faces whatever’s coming. “That’s called resilience,” says Joe. Barry takes those words to heart when his services are needed later on.
Cecile and Allegra realize that the latter’s cousin, Esperanza, who was also hit during the particle accelerator explosion, is actually alive and is the one who killed that driver. Esperanza attacks the precinct intent on killing Allegra because she’s now an assassin for some secret group and doesn’t want anyone to know she’s alive, not even her cousin. Still weak from his trip through the Speed Force, Barry rushes to the precinct, ignores Gideon’s warnings that ultraviolet waves travel faster than his top speed, and runs head first into Esperanza’s blasts until he get close enough to knock her out.
Having learned a valuable lesson, Barry apologizes to Iris and promises that he’s not going to choose to die, but he’s willing to if it means he’ll save the universe. So, the two of them make plans to tell the team and prepare them for a world without the Flash.
At the same time, the episode also makes plans for its post-“Crisis” future, since the Allegra storyline sets up three things: First, Team Flash is now concerned that there’s a shadow organization out there using metahumans as assassins, which isn’t good. Second, Allegra, who is trying to go on the straight and narrow, heads to the Citizen and becomes Iris’ first intern. No word yet if she’s paid or not, but I hope she is. Finally, Cecile’s experience with Allegra made her realize she wants to quit the D.A.’s office and become a defense attorney for metahumans since the legal system isn’t made to work in their favor. I’m genuinely excited to see how all of this shakes out.
Wall of Weird:
- Ramsey Rosso, who bopped around the sidelines of tonight’s episode, discovered he’s a metahuman while trying to buy more dark matter off the black market. His power? He can shoot gross black ooze from his arm.
- Meanwhile, Killer Frost learned the value of art in this episode — which is fine.
- Tonight’s episode is named after the Crisis on Infinite Earth‘s issue that Barry Allen dies in.
- The Flash premiere recap: The countdown to Barry’s disappearance in ‘Crisis’ begins
- The Flash boss teases the fallout of the Monitor’s grim ‘Crisis’ prophecy
- The Flash boss promises to reveal ‘new sides’ to Barry and Iris in season 6
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