The five part Armageddon event on Flash has been busy already, bringing in various guest stars to face the menace of Despero. This version of Despero is from the future and is determined to kill Barry because, in Despero’s time, Flash goes mad and destroys the world. Now, Team Flash needs to find out what’s going on with Barry, figure out a way to stop Despero, and keep things from going utterly bad for the Scarlet Speedster. Part 3 shows Barry looking for special help from a character we haven’t seen for a while.
At the Hall of Justice, a building Barry established for the collected heroes at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry has appealed to Black Lightning for help. Apparently at some point in an adventure we’ve never seen, the heroes clashed with the evil wizard Felix Faust and, as a result, established the Injustice Protocols, a way of stopping a hero gone bad. Barry wants Jefferson to help him take away his speed after a series of events that has Barry doubting his sanity and stability. While they debate what to do, and Jefferson recites a mantra he used often on his own series (which I still miss), Despero lurks in the subbasements of STAR, determined to find and kill Flash.
The rest of the team meets up in Chester’s garage, trying to figure out what they should do. They are shaken by Flash’s attack on the citizens of the city and his memory lapses, particularly since he forgot that his foster father, Joe West, a mainstay of the show since it started, apparently died six months ago. Emotions run high, there’s a lot of argument, and the team finally splits, with Iris and Allegra leaving to look into the possibility that something more is going on, while Cecile, Caitlin, and Chester (the C-team, I guess) work the crisis from another approach. In their discussions, they combine a few ideas about Cecile’s powers, what they got from Alex Danvers, and their own skills to come up an idea of what to try next.
Allegra and Iris go to the train station where Joe is supposed to have died, and at this point, my own experience worked against me. I know The Flash isn’t big on gore, and I don’t want it to be. This isn’t Punisher or The Walking Dead. But I’ve seen death by train in the real world, and I ended up thinking the footage they were watching proved something was up with Joe’s death because what we saw was just way too clean. At any rate, Iris ends up interviewing the station security chief and, shaken by the footage, decides she was wrong, Joe is dead, and they’re barking up the wrong tree. Cecile follows up on the C-team’s idea and goes in search of the Top, a villain they’ve dealt with before who has mental powers. After some back and forth, Top agrees to help, giving them a decent chance at finding Barry.
At the Hall of Justice, Barry is working on a device to help Black Lightning depower him. They discuss music, Joe West, and Jefferson’s late friend Bill Henderson. There are several references to characters and events from Black Lightning’s show throughout the episode, but rather than feeling forced, they work. It sounds like Jefferson is just simply and naturally talking about things from his life, and that bit of writing worked well. Finally, they move on to actually trying out their plan, and it looks extremely unpleasant for Barry. Back at the Central City Citizen, Iris is upset, but Allegra isn’t giving up. She comes in with some new research, including a few things I wondered about from last episode. Iris, apparently still having her vague “time issues” that were a part of a previous season, sees the same odd energy she did at the station, and decides it’s time to go back for another look.
Back in the STAR remote office (Chester’s garage), Chester comes up with a new gadget, Caitlin does some techno-babble, and there’s a joke about Chester’s grandmother needing some of this stuff back by seven. Their first attempt nets a partial success, causes some technical difficulties, and highlights some major differences between the Top and Cecile. Despero, hiding and lurking, is more than content to let the others do the work of finding Flash so he can slip in and take out the hero. At the train station yet again, Iris walks through a crowd that freezes, and Deon, the “Still Force” avatar, shows up for one of their treatments for Iris’ vaguely-defined malady. She explains what’s going on, he takes a closer look at things, and between them, the pair make an important discovery.
Cecile has been doing some uncharacteristic feeling sorry for herself in this episode, and Caitlin gently reminds her she’s far from the only person on the team to have lost a loved one. They talk about grief and ways to deal with it, and then Chester gets an alert on his phone. Top smirks, but he shares what it means, and it’s bad news. Despero, completely disregarding the deal he made with Flash, is taking matters into his own hands and finding a way to power himself up even more. The C-team tries again, and manages to get a better idea where Barry is. This is when Despero shows up and things turn ugly. There’s an attack, a betrayal, and someone rallying to use their power with more purpose and determination than we’ve seen before.
No fool, and far from a novice in the hero game, Black Lightning figures out that Barry isn’t telling him everything. Barry shares a bit, and then gets very demanding and acting very out of character, filling with rage when Jefferson starts asking questions about what’s going on. Very much out of control, Flash actually attacks Black Lightning, and things get ugly. Barry does something really, really stupid, especially given the powers and even the name involved. Despero appears, also attacking Black Lighting to get a shot at Flash. Man, Jefferson is never coming to Central City again at this rate. Iris and Deon arrive with their news, and the heroes start working together again. While Black Lightning holds off the villain, Deon gives Flash a boost and lets Barry try and go look into what’s going on. Despero makes an ominous comment and disappears once his quarry is gone.
The episode ends with Barry arriving in the future. He sees a sign for an event that catches his eye, and goes in to see what’s going on. Amid a group of familiar faces, we see something very surprising, and it shocks Barry as he takes it in. The ones gathered seem not at all happy to see Barry, and things are looking ugly as it seems we learn what’s actually been happening. Interestingly, while we know most, if not all, of the people in the gathering, two people who should be at something like this aren’t, which really makes me wonder about a lot of details.
What I liked: It was great to see Jefferson again. If they could have cleaned up some of the weirdness on his show, I really would have loved to see more of it, and definitely more of some of the characters. Barry turning to him for help made sense, and the damage during his fight with Jefferson snapping him out of things really rang true for me. While a lot of these shows seem to create conflict for conflict’s sake, and they’ve even done some of that on this one, the big confrontation between Cecile and Iris made sense to me, as did Deon helping out. The big scene at the end surprised me, and I’m wondering how they will resolve this. Considering there are at least two more episodes to go in this event and a few more promised guest stars, they can’t just wrap everything up as simply as it seems they might be about to do. I’m intrigued by the reference to an event we never got to see. Maybe the cancelled crossover from 2020 (thanks, COVID)?
What I didn’t: While Iris not giving up on Barry made sense, Caitlin seemed to turn away from her friend really easily. Where was Frost during all this? There was a scene at STAR at one point that seems very much at odds with what we were told was supposed to happen earlier. While I get the real world complications, with things this serious happening, shouldn’t they at least have called Cisco?
I liked most of this, and the flaws weren’t glaring or enough to drag me out of the show. I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5. I look forward to seeing more of the guest stars and how they resolve all this.