The eighth season of The Flash wraps up with “Negative, Part Two.” The saga of the Negative Forces is finally drawing to a close, there are guest stars aplenty, and a bit of a set up for next season. I had some hopes about who might turn up, and didn’t get the one I thought they were leading up to, but maybe next season. This also marks a milestone, in that as of this episode, The Flash surpasses Arrow in number of episodes. With this being a season finale, there will be spoilers below.
Last episode ended with the shocking, and gruesome, death of Eobard Thawne, or at least the good version of him that’s been working with Meena and then Team Flash. He was replaced with the original and all evil version played by Tom Cavanagh. Thawne, as Reverse-Flash, taunts Barry unmercifully, and provokes the hero into attacking him. Barry seems to be on the edge of doing something horrible when XS and Impulse show up and stop him. Barely. After more taunting, Reverse Flash disappears. I’m really not sure what his gameplan was here. He was trying to get Barry to kill him just after he returned to life?
The battered team regroups at FastTrack Labs, I guess for a change of pace from STAR? Barry comes up with a plan no one else likes, Chester remains a force of optimism throughout the discussion, and finally, the kids say they need to talk to Barry alone. Barry rages about what he saw and his kids grow more and more worried about him. Elsewhere, Iris (we knew she wasn’t dead) tries to figure out what’s going on, and gets some help from a very unexpected direction.
Team Flash does some strategizing, and between them, Barry and Meena have some ideas about how to get where they need to go. Allegra and Cecile are worried about what’s going through Barry’s head, but he’s really not in a place to listen right now. Following his earlier disappearance, Reverse Flash gets shanghaied to a meeting with Deon and the Negative Forces. They don’t exactly hit it off well, but Deon and company aren’t taking no for an answer. Iris gets some more information about her current situation, and some hints about how to get out of it.
Flash, Impulse, and XS try their plan, involving some familiar looking accessories that have been repurposed once again, This attempt doesn’t go to plan, and an emotional Meena speeds off. Barry goes after her, and they have a talk that I somehow don’t think the rest of the team would approve of. At the West home, Joe worries about Iris and what’s become of her. Jay and Joan Garrick speed in, tracing some strange energies that Joan has been looking into. After some discussion, we see the payoff for a plot seed that was planted back near the beginning of the season.
Strange things are happening in Cecile’s office. She and Allegra working together, I get. Rosalind Dillon, the Top, who Cecile stole powers from, seems to have little reason to cooperate. And somehow, Queen from the Royal Flush Gang is there, despite being a supervillain and supposedly in Iron Heights. Did they get a day pass or something? Bashir (the original one? Positive one? Whatever phrase you want to use) shows up, clearly fighting to stay in place, as he talks Cecile through what she needs to do to help fight the Negative Forces. Impulse and XS arrive at FastBack just too late to stop Barry and Meena’s plan, and Flash disappears, off to take on Thawne. Flash gets a sort of modified villain monologue from the Negative Forces, filling him in on what’s actually happening and why. In a typical Barry move, he suddenly decides all this is his fault. I’m not sure that reasoning really works, but what do I know? As multi-colored lightning flashes down from the skies of Central City, Thawne, now in a Black Flash costume, appears and starts attacking any and everyone he sees. Given how long weird things have been happening in Central City, I think at the first hint of strange weather, I’d go inside and stay there, but that’s me.
Iris gets an unusual pep talk from her surprise guest mentor, and manages to harness some power in her system to finally escape the other-dimensional limbo she’s been in. Iris spends enough time in other planes of existence that she ought to get some kind of frequent reality hopping card. When the writers on this show don’t know what to do, they have a speedster run around their foe in circles. I’m not sure what this is supposed to do, but I don’t think it’s worked yet. In this case, Flash, Impulse, XS, and Meena all arrive and do this, utterly failing to impress Thawne, who sends the junior speedsters away. Flash and Reverse Black Flash (I’m not sure what to call him at this point) fight each other, while Cecile gets some help and manages to bring back the Positive Forces. In turn, they power up Flash with a lot of special effects. Their battle rages on, with Barry both looking like he’s going to lose control of his temper and do something irreversible, and then suddenly demonstrating a power that’s utterly outside the speedster framework that never gets commented on or explained. I really think the writers and/or special effects team are getting sloppy here.
Iris fights her way back to the real world, has a short reunion with her dad, and then Jay whisks her off, bringing her to the big speed fight. Iris penetrates Barry’s rage and manages to get him acting like a hero again. Flash makes a very… interesting… choice about what to do next, and it somehow or other works. Flash manages to play with his powers, and time itself, and defeats the bad guy and his back up force-band.
With the bad guy beaten, again, it’s time for a whole series of scenes to wind down the episode and the season. Iris’ vague time sickness has been cured, and Thawne is apparently gone for ever or until next season. Whichever. The visitors from the future go home, and Meena has apparently lost her powers but is ok with that. Cecile’s major power up has been undone now that the big crisis has passed, although we see something that shows her powers are continuing to evolve in ways that don’t really make sense. Tinya shows up at Central City Citizen Media, with no explanation about how the penniless homeless teen got all the way across the country. There’s a happy reunion, and then some characters are left to once again travel across the continent with no apparent help from, oh, I don’t know, the guy who can run around the entire planet before a person could blink?
Things go weird at Caitlin’s place, as Mark wakes up from a nap and we get the vaguest of hints about what’s happened with the ill-advised experiment he and Caitlin have been working on. I guess this, too, will be dealt with next season. We end with Barry and Iris enjoying a quiet night at home. They talk about all they’ve been through and speculate about who their next bad guy might be. We get a hint of how that might happen in the final scene, but it’s no time soon.
What I Liked: I’m glad this Negative Forces thing is over with. I didn’t like it, and there was some really strained writing in parts of it. Ditto Iris’ time sickness. I’d be happy to never hear about that again. While we all knew Barry wasn’t actually going to kill Thawne, his rage made perfect sense and was in character. It was nice to see Jay suit up again, and I love that this show continues to pay homage to the original Flash show in the 90’s. The guest star that helped Iris is a favorite of mine, both the character and the actor. It was great to see them again.
What I Didn’t: There were lots of little bits that didn’t make sense, both specific to this episode and in general. Barry used one power that you can’t explain with any superspeed rationale, and I don’t understand what they were doing there. As I keep saying, Cecile and Allegra working with the team, and spending time with supervillains, with no masks or costumes, is not a good idea, and goes against the whole “secret identity” concept that Barry, at least, used to think was important. I have no idea how they got Queen out of Iron Heights, or how Tinya was making cross country trips.
I’ll give the episode a 2.5 out of 5, and the season a 3 out of 5.
Flash will return for a final season of 13 episodes, which will mark the end of the Arrowverse. They’ve established that Superman and Lois are off on a different Earth, and I have no idea if Diggle’s supposed new show will be on Earth Prime or yet another different world, if it happens. Gotham Knights is definitely on another world.
The future of superhero tv is in flux, especially on the DC side of the aisle. It’ll be interesting to see how things spin out.