The Flash hits the last episode before the big Crisis On Infinite Earths takes over the DC CW-verse. Last time, Barry got taken over by Bloodwork (that’s just not an intimidating name for a villain), leaving the team without their most powerful member. With Elongated Man hospitalized and Cisco de-powered, that leaves Killer Frost as the only real powered member, depending on how you feel about Cecile’s increasingly unreliable empathy. They have a lot to wrap up in their second half, “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part Two.”
The “Dark Flash” as they take to calling him this episode, left in a big hurry. You thought he was rough on papers lying around in the first few seasons? I guess they finally got paperweights, now that I think about it, since that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. At any rate, the team picks themselves up and tries to figure out what just happened. Cisco quickly enables some defenses he made “Just in case Flash went dark.” Interestingly, he calls this the Babel protocol. In the Justice League of America book several years ago, the Babel protocols were what Batman came up with to stop his fellow Leaguers. While Iris wonders why Ramsey didn’t just have Flash kill them all, Cisco comes up with a plan. Iris doesn’t like it, and they argue a good bit.
In the office building that everyone seems to be based in now when not at STAR, Cecile and Kamilla meet up to deal with what’s essentially a meta version of the zombie apocalypse. While they try and come up with a plan, Joe is leading the cops in the battle on the streets, but, with Joe nobly ordering no lethal force, the boys in blue are getting overwhelmed. Bloodwork shows up to gloat and show off his newest slave- the Flash, much to Joe’s horror. Killer Frost shows up to help after Joe’s emotional appeal doesn’t get through, and Bloodwork leaves the two to the tender mercies of his attack zombies. For some unexplained reason, Frost doesn’t use her powers as the horde closes in.
Down in the tunnels, Nash Wells continues his obsession with hunting down the Monitor. His focus is forced to shift a bit when more of the Bloodwork zombies find him, although why they went down in the tunnels I have no idea. Cecile’s powers are doing more harm than good, and Kamilla tries to talk her friend out of an empathy-induced panic attack. Cisco and Iris continue to disagree over how to handle this mess, and she ends up leaving on her own to go confront the Fastest Zombie Alive. Iris’ words of love work about as well as Joe’s did, and Ramsey shows some disturbing new aspects of his powers. Cisco arrives just in time to see Iris almost die in a familiar way, but Ramsey pulls his pet away at the last minute with more taunts.
Back at STAR Labs, Cisco and Iris argue about what to do next, how to handle Barry’s possession, and both of them are very aware of Crisis coming closer and closer. Downtown, Frost and Joe get overwhelmed, which is when Frost finally remembers she has both powers and one of those handy portal gadgets. While all this goes on, Cecile and Kamilla play hide and seek with the zombies. Because teamwork has gone utterly out the window, Cisco tries his own plan, which oddly enough doesn’t work since he’s going up against two supervillains. While the plan didn’t work, it does provoke a villain monologue, so the good guys have an idea what’s going on, at least.
As the ramifications of the bad guys’ scheme start becoming clear, Frost and Joe arrive. Frost argues with herself as, down in the tunnels, Nash shows he has a lot of toys, overconfidence, and enemies. Finally, Iris and Cisco manage to figure out they should be working together, and pick up on some clues they’ve been missing. Gambling everything, they drop the shields, letting in all sorts of badness. The new plan draws on STAR’s particle accelerator, Allegra’s power, and Cisco’s calculations. Things come down to a big showdown in the Pipeline, another heartfelt appeal to Barry, and a magically appearing blaster. Frost, who definitely is a lot more positive than she used to be, provides moral support for Allegra’s part in things. There’s some impressive energy special effects and, of course, the last-minute cure of the zombified.
Dark no longer, Flash gets his showdown with Bloodwork, and it’s almost anticlimactic after all this time. It was satisfying to see some of Ramsey’s tricks turned back on him, finally. I’m still not clear on why the Pipeline failed to hold Romero last time, but they come up with another idea, taking advantage of a recent addition to STAR’s toybox. It could be an all’s well that ends well kind of thing, but there’s more to come.
Ramsey gets sent to ARGUS in some off-screen clean up. I wonder if they get tired of cleaning up after the various heroes? Barry tells his friends what it was like while he was under Ramsey’s influence, and it doesn’t sound pleasant at all. Frost spends more time talking to herself, and decides to make a change as the Crisis approaches.
There are times I think knowing what’s coming is arguably worse than the alternative. Maybe ignorance is bliss in some circumstances. As the clock ticks down to the date they all know marks the start of the Crisis, the team gathers and reminisces about the start of their time, before time travel and dopplegangers and Infinite Earths. They all agree their lives are better than they were before Team Flash, and that they can handle whatever comes. They’re about to get their chance, as the skies go red, the thunder and lightning appear, and we once again see Nash’s scene in the tunnels, although with more context this time.
What I liked: Sendhil Ramamurthy has an amazing voice, and leant some real menace to Bloodwork. The way the skies went red was intimidating, and a great effect. I wasn’t sure how well that would translate from the comics to the screen, but they did a great job with it. Joe was very true to himself, refusing to let his officers hurt the transformed citizens. While they didn’t do too well working together, Iris and Cisco were both acting off their belief in Barry, just in different ways.
What I didn’t: I’d like to know where Iris’ suddenly-appearing blaster came from. Cecile needs to get a handle on her powers, although in her defense, they keep changing. I’m hoping I’m wrong, but Ralph missed the last crossover, and I don’t like the timing of his suddenly disappearing right before this one. I didn’t like the Bloodwork plot overall. It felt like a weak episode to be the lead-in to Crisis.
I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. I’m really looking forward to the Crisis.