Team Flash has been dealing with the Black Flame, a new meta who is killing at will throughout the city. The team even split over how to handle it as they learned more, and it led to a rare disagreement between Caitlin and Barry. At the end of last episode, it was revealed that the Black Flame is not, in fact, Ronnie Raymond, the original Firestorm, returned from the dead. What we have here now is Deathstorm, a brand new entity that means nothing good for anyone. The slightly reduced team has to figure out how to deal with this, while Iris and Sue are struggling with Iris’ unique condition. There’s a lot going on, and the title isn’t really inspiring hope: “Death Rises.”
Deathstorm gives a weird recounting of his (its?) history as he looms over Caitlin and makes grandiose statements. He attacks her with unexpected results, Flash arrives, and we see that most of his usual tricks aren’t going to help here. Allegra and Frost arrive just as the bad guy leaves, and everyone is left confused in the aftermath. Regrouping, the team exchanges apologies and general uncertainty about what to do next. Everyone is very determined to protect Caitlin from the new threat, but no one seems to have a real clear idea on how to go about doing that. Just after this, Cecile checks on Barry and realizes he’s upset about more than just this, and he shares the disturbing news that Iris is missing after encounter with the enraged Tinya.
In one of the show’s clunkier moments, Barry gets a text and zips home, and Iris is just randomly… back. They try and play off her dis- and reappearance as part of her ill-defined “time sickness,” but everything having to do with time in the Arrowverse seems to be colored green, and when Tinya grabbed Iris and whatever it was happened, the energy signature was more pink-tinged. Sue decides to give them some space and hastily exits, so Barry and Iris can have some time together. As an aside, this scene was another missed opportunity. Elongated Man left the show after the actor playing him was fired for some very questionable tweets. There were a lot of ways they could have handled his absence, and they have chosen the worst possible one: simply pretending Sue’s love interest and the team’s former ally never existed.
A random citizen serves as the proverbial red shirt while Deathstorm goes on a rampage, and we can tell things are going to get worse. Iris, Barry, and Sue (who has apparently come back) try to figure out how to get in touch with Deon. It’s not like the Still Force has a cell phone. Barry gets an emergency summons from Captain Kramer and, after some discussion, goes off to help her. While I get the budget and COVID concerns limit various opportunities, it seems a bit peculiar they are dealing with assorted time-related problems and no one even thinks to contact the Arrowverse’s resident time-travelers, the Legends. Or at least mention them.
Things are chaotic at CCPD, as multiple calls are coming in. Deathstorm is building up an impressive body count, and the police are out of their depth. Kramer, Flash, and Joe strategize and realize they essentially have nothing. Kramer is understandably unnerved by this. Here’s an idea no one thought of: Kramer duplicates powers. Maybe she could give Deathstorm a run for his money? Or Mark, whose tech does the same thing? Kramer briefs the cops on what they should and shouldn’t do, and we get another few lines from Officer Korber, who in the credits now has a first name, Daisy. Either they’re preparing to do something with her, or she’s about to die horribly to inflict guilt on one of the team. Team Flash comes up with an idea, finally, which is somewhat risky and involves even more questionable comic book science than usual. While Caitlin frets and Frost tries to reassure her, Deon pops up at the loft. Things are getting worse, and Deon has only the vaguest idea of what to do when he, too, unexpectedly vanishes. That seems to be a recurring theme of late.
Team Flash puts their newest plan in motion, and it not only doesn’t work, it comes close to backfiring spectacularly and endangering one of the team. After some supervillain gloating and threats, they are no closer to stopping the villain. Elsewhere in STAR, Allegra gets a blast from the past, and slips in some great lines as she shows how well she’s adapted to the superhero life. She then uses her powers in a way I don’t think we’ve seen before, and the team is left with more questions. Iris’ condition worsens, and some of the things Deon was worried about seem to be happening. Iris manages to hold on, largely due to a pep talk from Sue.
Joe finds Barry and offers a good pep talk. Caitlin and Frost get a very unwelcome visitor, and Frost’s powers prove just as useful so far as Flash’s have been. Caitlin does more classic scream queen shrieking and gets kidnapped, and Flash takes off in pursuit. The speedster can’t catch up with the fleeing villain, and, after some more techno-babble with Chester, manifests a new power that I just think is kind of silly. Deathstorm escapes anyway, and there’s a weird scene at a carnival, because who doesn’t want to go out for corn dogs and kettle corn when there’s a superpowered killer on the streets? Plus, Kramer ordered the city into lockdown, which a carnival is NOT part of. Flash arrives, manages to do nothing useful again, and Deathstorm gets away, leaving Caitlin behind after kidnapping her and puzzling the heroes.
Caitlin checks herself out at STAR, and gets some confusing results from her tests. The group talks about what they’ve learned and start to put some theories together about Deathstorm. Barry, in his failed pursuit, did manage to get another clue about where their quarry is going. With a lot of callbacks to older episodes, they put together a new tech toy, because THIS one will work. Really. They do find a flaw and have a volunteer willing to risk everything to stop Deathstorm. The episode finishes back at the loft, where Iris has another bout of weird symptoms which produces a face from the past for an unexpected cliffhanger.
What I Liked: I’ve been saying this for a few episodes now, but I’m glad Sue’s back. She’s a great character and is fun to watch. She’s also being a big help, with both her resources and her determination. Deathstorm has a cool look, I’ll give him that. Kramer was almost likeable this episode, and Joe remains the soul of the show and the team. I’m pretty sure I know what happened with the surprise guest at the end, but it was nice to see them anyway.
What I Didn’t: Flash’s new power is just… weird. There are so many holes in this episode. Why do they think Iris disappearing earlier was part of the time sickness? Why didn’t they even try with Kramer’s power or Mark’s tech? For that matter, where IS Mark in all this? I mentioned the time issues and not reaching out to the Legends. Why was the carnival operating under these conditions?
I’m giving this a low 3 out of 5, saved from the 2.5 by Sue. I guess we’ll see if the new toy works next episode.