Some things even superheroes are powerless to stop. In this case, the coronavirus has brought season six to an early end. “Success is Assured” is episode 19 out of what was supposed to be 22, but they couldn’t finish filming. This has changed the pace of the impromptu finale, the nature of the cliffhanger, and prevented the return of a major character. Also, as I write this, the news has just broken that Hartley Sawyer will not return as Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, due to some of his past tweets resurfacing. Based on what I personally read of them, I support this decision, much as I liked the developing relationship between Ralph and Sue. And with those examples of the real world intruding into the fictional, I’ll put my focus back on Central City.
The show starts with Eva plotting her revenge against her husband, and anyone who stands in her way. Really, I’m very disappointed in Cisco here. They know who the bad guy is by now, and she’s still “Eva.” There’s a long history of Mirror Master bad guys in the world of the Flash, or, if you like, Mirror Mistress for a woman. Either way, I’m surprised they seem to have totally dropped the ball on Cisco’s naming gig, which is very out of character. At Caitlin’s place, Frost is packing to go away for a while with Dr. Tannhauser, Caitlin’s mother, to cure her lingering wound from Dr. Light. Nash and Allegra are helping her pack, when they’re not sniping at each other. Well, she at him, really. Nash is trying, I’ll give him that. Cecile is also there to offer support and play referee, and then everyone is surprised when someone makes an unexpected appearance.
In a change of pace, Barry is plotting out the plan of attack against their foe in his lab at CCPD instead of STAR. He’s worried about losing his job, which is a change since all the CW heroes seem to be spending less and less time in their “real” lives. After some brainstorming with Allegra (sole survivor at the Central City Citizen), Ralph, and Nash, they come up with a few things to pursue and get going. After another painful scene between Allegra and Nash, Flash and Elongated Man go to a storage facility of Carver’s, trying to get some more information. Instead, they run into Singh’s evil twin, who monologues at them and still manages to set a major fire. What is Barry’s tag line again? The something-est man alive? Ralph manages to save something that will help out Sue Dearbon, but they don’t really make any headway with Eva or Joe Carver, although Barry realizes he has to do something unpleasant next.
I guess the bad guys are having budget cuts, because their big secret meeting seems to be at Jitters, which is an odd choice. Barry talks to Carver, who pretty much dismisses everything the earnest young CSI has to say. Carver both dodges questions and is an annoying jerk while Barry keeps trying to help him. In the Mirror-verse, Iris and Kamilla try and plan their escape, and a way to rescue the real Singh. Also spending at least a little time with his day job, Ralph gets a very surprising visit at his office, which leads to a whispered discussion with someone and getting told off by someone he’s trying to help. Much less helpful, Sunshine, Dr. Light, and Ultraviolet patrol Carver’s place, watching out for whoever is coming after him, and reenact a famous Agatha Christie story. Later, Carver gets home to an unexpectedly empty place.
Allegra is happy they’re not helping Carver, while Nash relates some troubling experiences he’s had in places similar to the Mirror-verse. Their discussion ends when Carver joins the long list of people who just wander past assorted alleged security systems. Carver comes asking for a favor, but in his usual smug, annoying way. Since he can’t conceive of people just helping because it’s the right thing to do, he makes an offer to try and entice them. Over at Caitlin’s place, the apartment has been converted to a makeshift lab as Mama Tannhauser runs some tests on Snow, and the scientist and the reformed villain get to know each other. Back at CCPD, Carver is impatient and then Barry has to deal with another unexpected offer from a different quarter. Things get bad and Nash uses his smoke bomb/teleporter gizmo, and then gets a visitation and some unasked-for advice. Later, Carver keeps playing annoying businessman and tries to buy Nash’s tech.
After some annoying back and forth, Carver talks about some secret improvements at his office, and the others buy into the idea of forting up there. Pulling our titular hero aside, Nash asks him some hard questions, and makes Barry really consider some choices he’s on the verge of making. As the heroes help evacuate the civilians (because who wouldn’t take orders from unknown people, in no costumes, who are there for (to them) unknown reasons). Allegra gets to be annoyed at Nash again, and Ralph has a very brief reunion with someone. In no time, things get ugly as the bad guys show up to attack.
Weirdly, as the three villains mount their assault, they wade through scores of security guards while the heroes apparently went out for popcorn. Barry finally gets away from Carver, and has a run in with Evil Twin Singh, which also doesn’t go as expected. Very little does in this episode, really. Finally the heroes get back from the concessions stand and start fighting the bad guys, with some additional backup and some odd video effects. I get what they were trying to do, and it was clever, but they kind of overused it a bit. Only one movie has tried this effect, and that movie was pretty well mocked by everyone, so maybe not the best thing to emulate here?
Carver, as it turns out, wasn’t paranoid enough and didn’t really think things through in his little hideaway. Eva does away with his stolen safeguards (a nice nod to another CW character we don’t get to see anymore), and gets set to cap off her monologue by offing her ex. This is when Flash realizes he’s supposed to be actually doing something, and shows up just in time to play pincushion. It looks remarkably painful. He tries to appeal to her better nature, as he and Supergirl both tend to do. It doesn’t take, and she completes her mission in a fairly unique way that isn’t really great for the Flash. She then pulls a trump card that only works because everyone has been keeping secrets, and makes a quiet exit.
Later, Eva does a press conference, which is oddly set at the CCPD. Why is never explained. She does a masterful job of spinning recent events, flanked by some new lackeys she picked up along the way. Sue and Ralph get a quick scene together that sets up for a really interesting plot for next season… that we most likely won’t get to see now, or at least not as originally intended. Caitlin finally leaves with her mother after giving Barry some last minute advice, and an interesting three-way chat with Barry, Caitlin, and Frost. Allegra and Nash manage to patch at least a few of their differences up. Barry gives a nice little motivational speech to the gathered allies as they get set for a rescue I’m not sure we’ll get to see. The final scene sets up another cliffhanger with some other characters and the ever ominous “To Be Continued.”
What I liked: After some questionable moments, Barry stayed true to his heroic self, not the more anti-hero Oliver was. I’m glad they finally let Nash and Allegra make some progress with their differences. They shot around Danielle (Frost/Caitlin’s) pregnancy pretty well, and if I hadn’t known and been looking for it, I’m not sure I would have noticed. While I do have some mixed feelings about it, I’ll put Hartley Sawyer’s departure in the like column due to the nature of what he said.
What I didn’t: While the episode had a few flaws, like the heroes watching the guards fight the villains, much of what I didn’t care for wasn’t their fault due to the abruptly truncated season. It really didn’t feel like a finale, and we didn’t get a lot of closure. We didn’t even get to see Cisco, who I guess was off on his quest in Atlantis this episode. They did what they could with what they had, but some of it was kind of jarring. I hope Ralph’s sudden departure, however they write it, doesn’t mean we lose Sue, who has a lot of potential.
For those keeping score, we’ve now lost Ralph Dibney/Elongated Man and Kate Kane/Batwoman from their shows in the off season. I wonder what’s next.
I’ll give this a 3 out of 5. It wasn’t a bad episode, and they had a lot of constraints, but the flow just felt off for a lot of it.