The five part “Armageddon” event kicked off with Flash’s first episode of season eight. Billed as a special crossover to help make up for the lack of big events due to COVID, this is supposed to feature Barry Allen and company teaming up with various other Arrowverse characters to battle a great menace. Part one had fan favorite Brandon Routh reprise his role as Ray Palmer/the Atom, last seen when the character was written off Legends of Tomorrow. Now, the lurking threat of Despero is causing complications for Flash and his allies, as a truly horrible series of events unfold. While the episode is called “Armageddon, Part 2,” it might just as easily have been “Barry Allen’s No-Good Horrible Day.”
The first scene has Despero and Flash down in the sub-levels of STAR Labs, where Despero is far from a well-behaved guest. There are a few exchanges between them, and we learn a bit more about Despero’s mission. Each show has their own theme in the Arrowverse, but Flash really does seem to impinge on the Legends’ time-travel niche a lot. Despero gives some cryptic warnings about the next day and ends the conversation.
Being smart, the team reaches out to Supergirl’s team, since they deal with aliens a lot. Alex helps out by linking their Tower to STAR Labs, sharing data (you’d think heroic allies would have done that in the past), but has no data for them on Despero or his homeworld. Despite the promised “team up” theme of the episodes, Alex video-conferencing in a few times is the best we get on this episode until a cameo at the end. Team Flash discusses what they’ve learned so far, and Frost is the first to wonder if Despero is right to worry about Flash going bad. Considering she’s one of the ones that have known him the longest, it’s an odd choice. We hear a bit more about how dangerous Despero is, and while Barry maintains his upbeat demeanor, Frost makes more dark comments about the near future. Frost and Chester go off on their own, and Frost presses Chester to do something he’s really not comfortable with.
Morning comes, and Barry and Iris start off in their loft, talking about what’s to come and how many times they’ve faced dangers together and always managed to find each other again. Given their history, it’s a scene that makes sense and shows the strength of their relationship. Barry gets called to a crime scene and learns about some odd details of a bank robbery, but before he can go in, Kramer shows up (I really, really, am sick of this woman), gives Barry some bad news, and tells him he’s off the case, and any other case for the foreseeable future. Watching from the crowd, Despero closely observes as Kramer outlines the current issue, drawing on a story from season six. Barry is stunned, makes an emotional appeal, and gets politely shut down. There are also more cryptic references to Joe, which were an odd and puzzling part of the first episode.
Reeling, Barry goes to see Cecile, who over-reacts and threatens legal action that’s not even remotely appropriate. She’s obviously upset, and there are more curious almost-references that make it sound like something really bad has happened to Joe. Cecile breaks off suddenly, sensing a presence with her powers. Despero proves to be lurking in the corner, and taunts Barry some more. Not helping concerns about his mental state, Barry talks with Despero, who Cecile can’t see (thankfully she can sense him, at least). Despero makes more barbed comments and then leaves. Barry and Cecile talk about what happened earlier in the day, and Barry goes to do some investigating on his own. He makes the brilliant choice of going somewhere there’s lots of security and using his powers out of costume, but somehow doesn’t get caught. Barry doesn’t really get anywhere with the guard he came to see, and then gets called back to STAR after a frantic call from Caitlin.
There’s a truly unlikely (and unfortunate) series of events going on, and STAR Labs itself is the next to feel the brunt of what’s happening. If this isn’t an orchestrated attack on everything that means anything to Barry, it’s a probability-bending clump of events in close proximity, time-wise. Things sound dire, the team is being forced to leave, and it sounds like STAR Labs is going to be destroyed, but not by a villain this time. Chester does some scans to back up the claims of city official Director Hackshaw, and there’s a lot of suspicious stuff happening all at once, but no one seems to find it odd. Things are getting really serious, and Barry retreats to the Time Vault, takes steps to protect the team’s secrets, but has to do something drastic and we lose an occasional presence that’s been around since the series started. Unruffled by supposedly deadly things happening, Desepero keeps chilling down in the sub-levels, eavesdropping on the events above, as the team makes a very sad exit from the building.
I think the team really needs to look up “self-fulfilling prophecy.” The major concern is Barry having some kind of breakdown, he’s already having a horrible day, and some of them are expressing more and more doubt about him as the day goes on. Also, given she just got a major promotion at her “real” job, how is Allegra spending all day on this? Barry manages, somehow, to keep upbeat in the face of all this, and goes on to try and find a new way to approach things since they’ve lost all their cool toys at STAR. I’d think they’d be able to remote access this stuff, but apparently not. Barry goes to see Iris, who sends her minions out to gather information about a new meta in town, Xotar. Xotar (actually much like Despero) was one of the earliest foes of the Justice League of America, and has been rebooted several times. This particular incarnation seems to have nothing at all (to include race, gender, and powers) in common with previous versions.
Getting word of the new foe, a very overconfident Flash races off to fight her. This goes horribly badly, and he suddenly finds himself someplace else, in very strange circumstances, with his team about ready to blast him. Flash has no idea what happened, or what led to this, but tries hard to tell them about the new meta. His word is good, they back it up as best they can, and there’s a very uneasy cessation of hostilities. Grudgingly, the team breaks into smaller units to handle new assignments and improvise replacements for some of what they lost at STAR. Searching through the city, Flash meets up with Despero again and we get a bit more of Despero’s history, which takes some bits of his comic book background and weaves them into a new story.
In Chester’s garage (I didn’t even know he had a house), he and Allegra try and get some things up and running, when she finds one of his projects. Chester reveals what Frost asked of him earlier, and tells us the background of some of his convictions. Allegra listens and offers some good advice, with a few references thrown in about their off-screen pastimes. Chester gets a new alert and gives Flash a warning about a new problem. You know that old saying about “Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result”? Apparently, he doesn’t. Flash fights Xotar once again, does something desperate to beat her which causes a lot of property damage, and then barely manages to beat her. Here’s a question: with STAR shut down, do they have to try and get back their special damper cuffs from CCPD? How will that work with Joe not there anymore, Cisco gone, and Chester apparently putting in as much work there as almost any Arrowverse character to their profession (not much).
With the bad guy defeated, the team breathes a sigh of relief and tries to catch their breath. The good feelings are remarkably short-lived when Barry says some things that throw everyone else off, and tie in to something we the viewers have been wondering about. He takes off and has a very emotional scene at the West home with Cecile and Iris. Earlier, Cecile was very supportive and understanding of Barry, but that seems to have wholly evaporated. Things go from bad to worse when Despero shows up again. Despite a lot of doubts, the team rallies behind Flash, giving him a chance to get away and earning the ire of the powerful alien.
Alex gets another video bit, and seems to think that telling them that “We’ve opened a file on Despero” is going to help or be reassuring. We do, at least, get an explanation as to why Supergirl and J’Onn don’t come help, which is too bad. The Martian Manhunter especially would be very helpful with the current problem. As the episode winds down, we learn Barry didn’t just escape from Despero; the team doesn’t know where he is. With STAR shut down and neither the loft nor the West home a place he should be, Barry goes someplace else that makes sense and draws on some history from the Arrowverse. We get a nice nod to some past events and the strong hint that next week’s guest star will be more than just a video screen presence. I’m really looking forward to this episode.
What I liked: They are doing some deep cuts for the villains in this series of episodes. The early scene with Barry and Iris worked well and spoke to their history. Reaching out to the Tower for data on aliens made sense. I liked what we saw at the end, and the set-up for next week.
What I didn’t: Some members of the team seem really quick to start casting doubts on Barry. I’d think he’s earned more faith from them by now. I mentioned the issues with Allegra’s and Chester’s supposed jobs above. Flash was overconfident to the point of reckless in the way he fought Xotar. I’m surprised no one thinks the string of bad things happening is a bit much to be coincidence. I don’t like whatever weirdness is going on with Joe. I sort of feel like they cheated with this week’s “guest star.”
This episode didn’t impress me much, especially with all the hype they gave Armageddon (a storyline in DC Comics with very little to do with this) as a team up. I’ll give this a 2.5 out of 5, and hope the rest of this arc gets better.