The sixth season of Flash, much like season eight of Arrow, is pretty much straight buildup to the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover coming in December. The heroes have gotten hints about what’s coming, and Barry is trying to figure out what to do now that, as far as he can tell, his fate is sealed. There’s a lot of strangeness going on, and a few family secrets, in “Dead Man Running.”
The episode opens with a weapons deal that goes horribly wrong, and leaves me with a few questions. The implication from some of what happens is that these blasters are fueled by dark matter. Considering how much time the STAR crew spends looking for that, I’m surprised some low-rent thugs have any.
Unaware of the mess they’re going to have to deal with, Barry tells the team what they’ve learned about the coming Crisis. The various members take this news in different ways. To no surprise, Killer Frost is the angriest about it. Barry worries that he only has seven weeks to prepare the team to go on without him, which sort of creates a minor continuity glitch. So far, the best trainer we’ve seen for most of these kinds of things is Oliver Queen. We know he’s busy, but Team Flash doesn’t, and they never so much as mention getting him to come play drill sergeant.
Ralph got a page from the CCPD, where we find his mother has been arrested for robbery. From what Ralph has hinted, we’ve gotten the impression Momma Dibny is no saint, but Joe rattles off an impressive rap sheet for her. She has a very convoluted possible alibi, which gets Cecile very excited about a road trip. I guess between episodes she’s already quit her job and started her own firm, which is damn impressive. Barry, with a new “consultant,” goes to the crime from the opening and tries to figure out what happened, “helped” by his new assistant. Frost actually makes a few useful observations and points them in the direction of a possible suspect.
What follow is, to quote an old X-Files episode, “good cop, insane cop” as Barry and Frost go confront Ramsey Russo. He admits he’s been looking for dark matter for his own experiments, but claims he got some from Ted Kord. Kord, in the comics, is the Blue Beetle, and has been hinted at in the Arrow-verse for years. He was supposed to show up on Arrow several years ago, but legal complications over rights had them change that up from Blue Beetle to Atom. Ramsey, after various misunderstandings are cleared up, offers to help them. How a blood specialist is going to help with a violent criminal hunting for a weird energy source I’m not sure.
Iris has a rough day at the office when Allegra, her new intern/reporter/metahuman brings in an interesting lead. We have our first Wells sighting of the season, but Allegra doesn’t know about the multiverse, so she thinks it’s the “original” Harrison Wells back from the dead. He was seen at McCulloch Industries, which was both part of a story last season and the name of the second Mirror Master in the comics, a member of Flash’s Rogues. Iris tries to cover things up, badly, and really ticks off Allegra. From what she knows, I don’t blame her for being mad. Conveniently, since big secrets are being revealed, Kamilla is nowhere to be seen this episode. Ralph and his mother, Debbie, make an impressive team as they try and corroborate her story, and Cecile is in over her head very quickly.
For once, no pun intended, relations between Russo and Frost are cold. He wants to talk to Caitlin and plead his case, but Frost isn’t letting go of the driver’s seat. From what she says, Caitlin isn’t that happy with Russo anyway. Their argument ends when Barry pops back up, naming their big hulking foe as Mitch Romero. Before they can get anywhere with that information, there’s an alert at Mercury Labs. Nothing goes as expected there, from what Romero is doing with his prize to how Flash fumbles with the damper cuffs to how Killer Frost handles the big bad guy. This, in turn, degenerates into more of an argument between Barry and Frost. Debbie and Cecile prove to make a good team while Ralph uses his powers to get them what they need.
Barry and Russo talk, and he asks to be able to continue his work. Not being an idiot, Barry doesn’t want Russo messing with dark matter. Cisco and Iris have an encounter with the new Wells, who manages to be different from the others we’ve met so far. With a nice nod to Crisis creative team Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Debbie ends up revealing some secrets to Ralph about her past that hurt and anger him. Remember what I said about Barry being an idiot? I take some of that back as he brings Russo to STAR. For once, Barry hasn’t revealed he’s the Flash after knowing someone for five minutes or less, but I’m wondering how he’s going to explain how a CSI guy has unlimited access to an advanced research place like STAR. Barry gives Russo a chance to make an idiot of himself, and Russo does. Barry does handle this well, credit where it’s due. Somehow, this disagreement gives Russo some weird insight into what’s going on with Barry. All stirred up after this, Barry goes for a run in the speed lab, which is a great idea to do in civilian clothes with someone you already don’t trust wandering around.
In Iris’ office, Nash Wells wakes up after getting on Iris’ bad side, and she and Cisco try and explain a bit about what’s going on. Wells is not at all impressed at Cisco’s mention of the Council. They argue, Wells gets away, and Iris has some explaining to do since Allegra witnessed all this. Iris finally tells her at least some of the truth, enough to get her to not quit. In a foul mood, Frost does some training, at first alone, then with Barry. They even throw in a Matrix quote as Barry finally gets Frost to admit some of what’s been bothering her this episode, and then makes a point. The wise speedster delivers some good advice, and she focuses on the mission at hand. Down in the lab, Russo works, falls victim to an action movie trope, and then makes a discovery about his own abilities. Barry and Frost work together to first trap Romero in the supposedly inescapable Pipeline cells, then Frost gets a clever idea of how to beat him when that fails. Fatal and messy, but clever. The Scarlet Speedster is remarkably inconsistent this episode about potential enemy deaths.
There is a series of small scenes to wrap the episode. Russo and Barry part under somewhat better terms, for now at least. At his office, Ralph and his mother have a heart to heart and mend some fences. Off on his own, Russo experiments with his new abilities, which can’t be good for Team Flash. Barry does something really nice for Frost, and everyone joins in, although later she shares a quiet moment with Barry. Later, he finally shares the full details about what the Crisis is supposed to mean for him. And, to wrap things up, the new Wells continues his quest. The stuff he said he was after, unless they’re just borrowing a name, is the first tie between the CW-verse and the Marvel Family (as in Shazam!).
What I liked: I get Barry trying to keep some of the bad news to himself, and am glad he finally shared. His trying to get the team ready to go on without him makes sense (which would be easier if Cisco hadn’t randomly given up his powers. No, I’m not going to let that one go). The party at the end was fun. The possible tie to the Marvels, especially with Crisis coming, has me curious and hopeful, although I know the rights for that character are ridiculously complex.
What I didn’t: While Sendhil Ramamurthy has a great voice and good presence, I’m not caring at all about his character. I don’t know that we needed wacky Debbie popping by, and I suspect she’s going to be a recurring character. Cecile changed jobs damn fast. I work for a city government and it takes 3 months to get paperwork processed to leave. I’m not sure about all Frost, all the time.
It was a decent, not great, episode. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.