The CW’s big crossover events are something that a lot of fans, me included, look forward to. Like so many other things, last year’s was cancelled due to complications from COVID. In part to try and make up for that, The Flash began season eight with a five-part event called Armageddon. There have been many guest appearances as Flash and his team try and work out why Despero, an alien from the future, has come back in time, claiming he has to kill Flash to prevent the end of the world. In Part Four, we get a lot more guest stars and learn more about what’s really happening, and there are some great twists here.
Last episode ended with a very confused Barry arriving in Central City in 2031. A gathering of familiar faces is there to celebrate the union of Iris West and… Eobard Thawne? There are also a lot of faces not here that should be, and, while they explain some of them later, it seems we’re just pretending Team Arrow never existed now. Barry is lost when his closest friends and allies turn on him, and his attempt to prove who he is reveals something is desperately wrong. Somehow, everyone is suddenly in costume and armed (I’d really like that explained) and pulling out all the stop to take down Barry. Outnumbered, overwhelmed, and confused, Barry leaves after a big fight with some good maneuvers and some things that don’t make any sense at all. For some comic relief, Frost and Chillblaine show up late to the fight with an interesting excuse.
Barry’s retreat wasn’t just him, as he brought Iris along for the ride. She’s not happy, and is close to panic, as Barry tries to figure out what in the world is happening. Thawne shows up moments later, and gives us a villain monologue to explain what’s been going on. As if all this wasn’t enough, Thawne has pulled an additional trick, putting Barry in even more jeopardy. Thawne blasts him and, for reasons I’m not sure of, leaves him in alley. Barry wakes up and changes to his civilian clothes, hiding out in Jitters as he hears some disturbing news and some of the earlier absences are explained. The broadcast at least points him in a new direction, and he seeks help from a very unlikely source: Damien Darhk. Neal McDonough returning in this role makes the entire crossover worth it in my opinion. Barry tries a bluff and even changes his speech patterns convincingly, and the pair embark on a new plan.
At STAR, this skewed version of Team Flash is trying to find Barry, but not at all in a good way. Everyone is confused about the things Barry said, and Thawne’s masquerade is wearing thin. There’s a lot of tension, and Alex decides to bull her way into the drama between Allegra and Chester. As I’ve said before, no one gets to be happy in the future in hero stories. Alex and Allegra’s heart to heart gets interrupted as Darhk and Barry come calling to get something they need. As with any temporary alliance between a really good hero and truly evil villain, they don’t see eye to eye on much. Elsewhere, we see Chester working closely with Ryan Choi, another guest star who we haven’t really seen since Crisis. Now, he’s clearly stepped into a different role, and is close to Chester. Cecile shows up with something we haven’t seen her use before, making her much more effective, and the unlikely allies retreat after getting what they needed. Darhk realizes something off with Barry, and is ready to kill him, but Barry falls back on the truth and they find some common ground.
In the loft, Iris has a talk with Ryan Wilder, and they discuss love, relationships, and the complications in them. We learn more about Ryan’s life in the future, and it feels like she’s the only one doing well. Despite her wanting to help, she has to go back to Gotham to deal with another Bat-foe, but leaves Iris with some good advice, a new weapon, and an odd reference to what could be any of several different characters. Not one to let go of something once she sinks her teeth in, Alex goes to Chester and demands some answers after her conversation with Allegra. Chester tells his side of things, amid cynical comments from Choi and surprised reactions from Alex. Alex lays in to Choi about his attitude and leaves. Barry and Darkh go over their new plan, and Barry sees a lot of problems, some even lining up with some of Despero’s claims. In a bit of role reversal, Barry sees nothing but obstacles while Darhk is the one pushing for optimism.
Even in the midst of a supervillain crisis, there’s still time for emotional drama, and Alex forces a confrontation with Allegra about some lies she told. Allegra pours out a tragic story about her past, and Alex gets some support from a surprising ally. Speaking of emotional drama, Barry can’t resist going to see Iris once more before everything jumps off. Thawne shows up again, and the difference in how both men are acting throws Iris off enough to make a surprising choice. Things are looking bad for the world, but there’s yet more emotional drama at STAR, even while the literal end of the world is looking more and more likely. Things split off into a few different action sequences, as Flash and Reverse Flash engage in another deadly race, and Darkh engages in some hand-to-hand with some of Team Flash. We even see the debut of someone in a new costume that, for once, is really close to the comic book look. There’s a reference to an Arrowverse character we don’t get to see any more (sore subject, there), and a very amusing reaction to some of the more soap opera aspects of the story.
Back in 2021, Despero’s rampage is continuing, and it’s not looking good for Team Flash. Just in the nick of time, Flash returns and the plan he and Damian came up with worked, resetting most of the chaos. Flash explains to a confused Despero what happened, and the time traveling alien is conditionally convinced. Barry has an emotional reunion with his team, and Cecile’s power helps her pick up on something big having happened. As Barry has an emotional (if one-sided for us) additional reunion, we see the lurking threat that’s going to be the big problem for the final part of the story.
What I liked: This episode felt like one of the big crossovers, and I liked that a lot. I liked seeing the characters from different shows interact and the creative use of some of their powers. Neal McDonough is a performer I’ve enjoyed every time I’ve seen him, and I’m glad he came back for this. Some of the explanations for some of the people we don’t see makes sense, even though it’s very grim, and I’m glad they took a moment to do that. Iris and Ryan Wilder getting closer over time makes sense, as does the friendship between Chester and Ryan Choi.
What I didn’t: A few things in the big first fight didn’t make sense, from some fight moves to the sudden appearance of costumes and weapons (and some not getting in costume, which was also not explained). As I said earlier, they seem to be just pretending Team Arrow never existed, which is a shame. I’d love to see Chester and Curtis working together in the lab. I know it’d be boring to explain every single absence from the big scenes, but I’d like to have found out what happened to Black Lightning and his family at the very least. The Allegra/Chester subplot was weird, and didn’t really do anything, since everything that led up all that big drama now never happened.
It was a well-done episode, and it filled some of the gap for the missing crossovers. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. I’m curious to see where they go with the final part of the story.