Last episode ended with the surprising ambush of Elongated Man by the annoying Ramsey Rosso. Now we see the outcome of that fight and several other surprises as the Crisis creeps closer. Things aren’t looking great for the Flash, and this is before his prophesied death even gets here. You can get an idea of what happens from the title, “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part One.”
Not even allowed a night to enjoy his being named Flash’s successor, Elongated Man and Rosso have a very unusual fight on the way down to the alley. Ralph gets in a few good moves, but this is the big bad and Ralph’s not the star, so naturally he loses. Rosso runs off just as Killer Frost breeches in. They bring Ralph back to STAR, where Frost lets Caitlin out to handle the medical emergency. In an extremely unlikely bit of comic book science, they give Ralph a transfusion of Barry’s blood to help him fight off Rosso’s blood nastiness. Come morning, they decide to ship Ralph off to ARGUS to give him time and a safe place to heal, since everyone knows STAR’s security is next to nonexistent. Barry broods about whether or not he’s prepared everyone for his death, and Iris reassures him that he has.
Worn out by the night, Barry goes home and flops down on the couch, but heroes rarely get to take naps. Rosso shows up and taunts Barry with what’s to come, and has a disturbing amount of knowledge about Barry and his life. That proves to be a cliché of what you’d expect. Over at the Citizen offices, meta-intern Allegra does some coloring and muttering to herself. Iris and Kamilla come in with plans for a new investigation, and it appears to link to some of Allegra’s backstory. Allegra drops a few hints about what she’s learned that Iris ignores.
Shaken by his experience, Barry goes back to STAR and gets a checkup from Frost, which just can’t be reassuring. He’s not feeling right, but can’t put his finger on what’s wrong. In a parking lot, the Central City Citizen’s entire staff confronts a guy about his ties to a murky organization. At first, he deflects and denies, then finally admits what he does, and it’s not at all what they were expecting. Allegra is all set to move on, but something doesn’t feel right to Iris.
Home again, Barry shows he’s not in a horror movie by actually doing a few smart things. But nothing is as it seems, and he gets a visitor wearing a shape he knows well to bring a dire warning. Iris is still hung up on her story until Allegra drops a bombshell on her. They discuss the ramifications of what Allegra knows, and bring up a link between them in the past that even Iris didn’t know about. This circles them around to a very important prop that’s been part of the show since the pilot episode.
Fittingly enough for when this aired, Barry’s next hallucination/fever dream features his friends and family gathered around a table for a big meal. Things go from strange to horrific when a by-now familiar face shows up with a special dish no one should ever eat. Stumbling away from this, Barry ends up in the time vault, confronted by the infamous newspaper about his own disappearance. Rosso is here, too, and mocks Barry’s efforts to change his fate. Our hero then walks through a graveyard with tombstones bearing familiar names and ends up in a nursery where he can’t touch what’s most precious to him. After being confronted by nightmare-twisted versions of his friends, and one enemy, Barry gets made an offer that’s very hard to refuse. Overwhelmed and running away, Barry ends up in a familiar place with someone else he knows isn’t what they seem.
Back out in the real world, Joe is once again (improbably for a captain) on a crime scene, and has called some interested parties to see what happened. A new subgroup of our cast of characters declares they have a mission, and pose dramatically while staring off at nothing. Back in Barry’s head, he gets some warnings and reassurances. He’s having a very human and understandable reaction to what he’s been told about the future, and I can’t blame him one bit. What seems like a nice conversation suddenly takes a sharp turn when he gets told something he didn’t want to hear and has trouble believing. This shock is reflected in the real world, troubling Cisco and Frost, who are watching over him. Things get more and more tense, and another part of Team Flash has some flashbacks while Barry has a rare but understandable fit of temper.
A very surreal argument gets played out in Barry’s head, with two different external forces both trying to sway the conflicted speedster. He actually loses control enough to pull a trick we’ve only seen the bad guys do. Outside, Cisco goes to an unusual hiding place to get an emergency piece of equipment which helps Barry in his battle. There’s an actual tug of war for the soul and mind of Barry Allen, with the good guys winning eventually.
Iris joins the ranks of Arrow-verse characters who get the “My name is…” monologue as she writes her article. She’s clearly pained, but determined to get it all out. While she gets summoned elsewhere to attend to something, Nash is still at work in the tunnels. He finds some symbols that, from what I’ve read elsewhere, have a larger meaning for the nearly here Crisis. They comment at one point that the Crisis is only two days away, which may be a nod to the two episodes remaining before the event starts.
Barry talks to his original team about what was happening, and they all share credit for the good outcome. The countdown hits 36 hours remaining, which I’m sure doesn’t put more pressure on anyone. Cisco talks with Frost about what happened to her, and she reveals a new deal she’s made. It might not be what she wants, but it’s a good thing for the team in general, which is arguably some of the mark of a hero.
The episode ends in the Cortex, as Iris arrives to make sure everything’s all right. There’s some talk between her, Barry, Cisco, and Frost. Gradually, the light begins to dawn. All is not well, and an earlier assumption was very wrong. Things go badly for the team, someone does something very unexpected, and the final scene is a surprising alliance and someone finally picking up their codename from the comics.
What I liked: I’m glad Barry finally got to react normally to everything he’s learned. Even heroes have doubts and fear, and his unshakable paladin act is just that. He’s got a great team, family, and friends, but that doesn’t solve everything. The deal Frost made shows some real growth. Cisco’s hiding place for his special reserve made a lot of sense. They did some great visuals and general air of menace in several scenes.
What I didn’t: They let Ralph get in a few moves, but just after being named Flash’s successor, he gets beaten. I know it’s not his show, but still, give the guy some credit. The “new mission” for that subgroup seems really awkwardly timed, with everything approaching.
Barry’s been through the wringer, and this episode showed some of the toll it’s taking on him. That makes the Fastest Man Alive easier to relate to. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5. The Crisis is almost here, and I can’t wait to see what they do.