Flash: Negative, Part One

Have to admit, she wears it well.

Season eight of The Flash is almost over. We’ve reached the two part finale, and things aren’t looking good. What might as well be gods are ranged against the team, they’ve lost most of their powered members over the last season or so, and the rest of the Arrowverse has once again apparently mysteriously ceased to exist. Flash and his friends struggle to figure out what’s going on, and they’re a few steps behind throughout the episode. Other surprises include more visitors, the truth behind an ally, some troubling decisions, and a shocking ending. The season finale is spread over two episodes, starting here in “Negative, Part One.”

In their native time, Bart and Nora enjoy some rare downtime, and play some video games. The future effects are cool, and the game itself is very suggestive of another fandom. Of course, their time off gets interrupted, first by a call from their mother, Iris, who has a task for Nora, and then a surprising arrival. Nora and Bart try the easy and obvious solution to the problem, and it doesn’t work at all. In present day Central City, Meena questions the need for her costume (which she looks great in, in my humble opinion), lets Barry persuade her, and then pushes herself hard, training with her powers. Things don’t go wonderfully well, and she speeds off in frustration. Flash takes off in pursuit, has a talk with her, and breaks what might be his longest streak of not unmasking with someone he doesn’t know that well (and does it in public, again, which is great for the secret identity, right?). She gets inspired by his talk, accepts the name he gives her, and they decide to train more.

At the ARGUS super-max facility on Lian Yu, Thawne talks with his unexpected visitor, Deon. Thawne has some demands, Deon has other ideas, and things don’t go well for the formerly Fastest Villain Alive. Somehow, despite this being the center of an ultra-high security detention facility, no one there seems to notice what happened. Team Flash is aware, and Flash crosses the world to see the aftermath of what went down, and is at a loss for what to do. The team realizes they’re in trouble, and facing a particularly dangerous kind of foe. At the West home, Joe isn’t happy to hear about Cecile’s new hobby. Their discussion gets interrupted when Rosalind Dillon, the Top, shows up. Personally, I’d be worried about a supervillain showing up at my front door, but they veer almost at once into a discussion about superpowers. Joe reluctantly chips in to the talk, and they decide on a new course of action.

In the future, Bart and Nora consult with Joan Williams, Jay’s wife. Joan has some news, none of it good, and the kids get more and more worried. Nora decides she has to do something, and takes off, despite agreeing with Joan it might not be a great idea. Meena and Eobard talk about her pushing herself too hard in her training. They, in turn, get interrupted by the “negative forces” showing up, who are the usual Forces evil twins. Or something. They’re definitely in villain mode, complete with sadistic taunting and monologuing. Flash arrives, struggles with the villains, and then shows them how overconfident they are. Flash is weakened by this fight, and they decide to meet up with the others at STAR Labs, where they have company waiting.

In Caitlin’s apartment, she and Mark decide to go ahead with their mad scientist project. Even just hearing them discuss it makes it sound insane, and one very intelligent woman and a fairly slick researcher really should know better. They go ahead with their plan, which I’m sure will lead to an ugly reveal in part two of this finale. At STAR, the team talks with Nora, who relays her problems earlier. They all theorize about what’s going on, and realize someone is missing from the puzzle. Barry leaps to a conclusion I don’t understand at all, and they worry about the magnitude of the foe they’re facing. Chester offers some technobabble, and then Barry does another pep talk for the team. Barry tries to put a team together, but gets told Cecile isn’t available.

Cecile is at Iron Heights, our second super-max prison for holding supers this episode. Cecile, as a defense attorney known to specify in metahumans, I can see getting in. But even with the favor Joe called in, Dillon, the convicted supervillain, shouldn’t be on the guest list. That to one side, they interview the Queen of the Royal Flush Gang, and Cecile shows the extent of her new powers. Although I still don’t see how this happened or how it’s working. Cecile then goes on to contradict what we’ve just been told about this special room, because her powers work differently because… reasons. In the future, Nora, Bart, and Joan are increasingly worried as things continue to look bad for their guest. At STAR, Eobard and Meena continue to argue about her obsessive training, and they have a nice little moment after it. Or they would if Barry didn’t interrupt it with a new plan about what to do next. The three go to train, and Barry gives another speech about the power of love.

The Forces, or the Evil Forces, or whatever they are, show up and, despite their ability to teleport, conveniently appear in the hallway where they are met by Chester, Cecile, and Allegra, the “We Work with a Superhero and have no Costumes, Codenames, or Masks” crew. They square off and fight and the matches make very little sense. Allegra acts like a rank amateur, Cecile’s powers work in a completely different way than they’ve been explained so far, and Chester has a neat little gadget that doesn’t do what he says it will within minutes of the explanation. Just as Team No Mask gets beaten, Flash shows up with FastTrack and Reverse Flash… what? 3.0? Something like that. There’s another big fight, the Forces do something utterly unexpected, and things take a really ugly turn to end the episode.

What I Liked: There were some interesting ideas here, and some cool effects. The brutal surprise at the end was visually stunning. I appreciate Meena’s idealism, and I like this version of Eobard. The last two big reveals were things I didn’t see coming, I have to give them that.

What I Didn’t: Wow, a lot. Supervillains show up at the front door and no one hits the alert? Supervillains get to visit prisons? The guards at an elite facility are utterly unaware of something really serious happening in their own facility? Why did Deon and company pop up in the hallway? How did Cecile’s powers grow in the first place, and do what they did in the big final fight? Why are they sending an avowed pacifist into a fight? If things are this serious, where’s Cisco, ARGUS, and Jay (and those are just characters from this show)? No one’s checking on Caitlin?

I’ve been a fan of this show since it started, and it’s gotten really uneven. This wasn’t one of their better episodes. I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5, and that’s being kind.