The final season of The Flash is upon us. Barry Allen, Iris West, and the rest of Team Flash have found themselves in a temporal time loop ala Groundhog Day. As Barry and Team Flash race to get themselves out of this time loop and secure Barry’s future with Iris, The Flash meets a new Captain Boomerang and Iris is faced with a massive business decision that will expand her media footprint and set the course to her not just winning her first Pulitzer, but an additional one as well.
This episode doesn’t quite hit the ground running but as it progresses it finds its footing and delivers what has made The Flash both great and cringeworthy over the past few years, it’s family dynamic within Team Flash and the relationship between Iris West and Barry Allen. Both Iris and Barry are still reeling from their big battle with the Negative Forces and Eobard Thawne. Nearly losing Iris to both the Time Sickness and the Reverse Flash has set Barry on a path to have strenuous contingencies in place to secure the safety of Iris and their future together, something that Iris is not too keen about.
Despite the brewing turmoil between the couple, Barry and Chester try to break themselves out of the time loop to no avail. One failed attempt after another finally pushes Iris to her limit once Barry implies that maybe the reason they are stuck in this time loop is due to Iris not yet having said “yes” to CatCo’s offer to purchase CCC Media thus further propelling their future plans in motion. A weird stance to take when you’re The Fastest Man Alive but we’ve seen Barry do some wild things in the past when it comes to preserving the timeline.
Iris reveals her reasoning for not wanting to “stick to the plan” according to Barry’s future book. This is a woman who was stuck in the Negative Fordce and dealing with the Time Sickness from it thus being displaced and also held captive in order to bring The Flash to his knees. Now that she is out of this dilemma, she feels liberated both literally and figuratively. Sticking to Barry’s contingency book (future book) will, in essence, shackle her to a way of living she does not want to adhere to. She wants to create her future with Barry rather than move chess pieces around to create a future that is not guaranteed. All of this throws into question Barry and Iris’ future as Mr. and Mrs. Allen.
Barry takes this quite hard and goes to seek some parental guidance from Papa Joe and Cecile. As a long-time fan of The Flash, I live for these 1:1 moments between Joe and Barry. There is something so loving and wholesome about Papa Joe giving Barry that fatherly advice. It’s always a tough position for Joe when it comes to dealing with Barry and Iris’ relationship because both individuals are his children. He has both of their best interests at heart but at the end of the day Iris West is his biological daughter and she will always be a priority. Joe always handles that aspect of his relationship with Barry with such grace and care that it is just heartwarming to see play out.
The key takeaway here in this scene is Joe’s question, is Iris happy? But also Cecile’s little anecdote, “the future is something we create”. This interaction brings Barry back down to Earth and puts things in perspective for him. Yes, Iris’ safety is important and so is their future together, as well as her success and their creation of their own family, but where in between those moments are you living in the present and enjoying every minute of every day that you get to spend with your significant other?
Iris and Barry decide to fully embrace the time loop and go day by day. Iris turns down CatCo’s buyout offer and gets granted a loan to buy out Coast City Gazette and bring in their remaining staff and expand CCC Media as its own major media entity. Barry is back in the Captain’s good graces and earns his letter of recommendation in order to become the captain of the Central City CSI Department at CCPD. Then proceeds to face off against Owen Mercer again, aka our new Captain Boomerang. We get our typical Iris helping out to save the day but that’s set aside rather quickly so The Flash can handle the task at hand.
A romantic connection that’s been teased through the entirety of The Flash Season 8 has finally come to fruition as Chester and Allegra finally share a much-awaited first kiss. Things get a little awkward rather quickly but it’s good to finally see the long buildup to this romantic relationship finally pay off to some extent. Hopefully, it lasts for the remainder of this final season and neither of these two individuals bite the dust by the end of the season.
Team Flash has now saved the day and the explanation as to why Barry and Iris were able to get out of the time loop seems rather lazy. Instead of spending their days apart, Iris and Barry spend their day together so the timeline can correct itself. A rather lazy way to get around it but that’s sort of expected when it comes to The Flash and the writing team when they write themselves into a corner like this one.
Despite all of that, Iris and Barry celebrate their win and decide to catch a sort of break before Iris ends up pregnant. Cecile finally masters throwing a football while Joe’s concern with the superhero life grows, prompting him to tell Cecile that he and her should leave Central City. With nine years of being part of Team Flash under his belt, being a cop, and dealing with evil metahumans and other evil speedsters, you can understand why Joe is somewhat over this lifestyle he’s been living for nearly a decade. We also get the return of Caitlin Snow, who theoretically isn’t Caitlin but someone else entirely. And she isn’t Frost either. It seems like Caitlin’s little snow experiment to bring back Frost had a slight miscalculation and misfire thus birthing a new alter entirely.
Before the credits roll, we get our first glimpse/tease of Javicia Leslie’s Red Death. It is revealed that the new Captain Boomerang, Owen Mercer is working for Red Death and has been supplying him with his boomerangs which are probably old batarangs just reworked into new, deadlier weapons. While Red Death’s quarrel with The Flash isn’t teased in the slightest here (nor do we get an actual costume reveal either), this meeting does confirm Joe’s suspicion that Boomerang is only the brawn behind the brains.
I’m still having a hard time accepting that the evil speedster this season is Red Death and that she is played by Javicia Leslie who we know as Ryan Wilder aka Batwoman. My main question here would be, is this actually Ryan Wilder or another character entirely? If it is Ryan Wilder, what caused her to go awol and become an evil speedster. She’s also most likely to be from the future as every single evil speedster we’ve seen in this show has been. However, I would’ve preferred that the writers of The Flash went with Daniel West’s Reverse Flash as the final big bad of the season rather than going with Red Death.
Red Death is a cool character but the prerequisites for why Bruce Wayne becomes Red Death in the comics are so very specific and The Flash as a whole has not hit those marks. At least with someone like Daniel West, if they decided to go this route, would feel much more personal as this iteration of Reverse Flash is Joe West’s son. That’s just my personal preference.
Overall, the premiere episode of the final season of The Flash was ok and entertaining for the most part. Some stuff worked and other creative decisions are rather questionable but I’m inclined to hold out hope that The CW wants to end The Flash on a high note and that every single episode of this shorter final season will make good use of every minute it is given.
The Flash Season 9 premieres Wednesday, February 8th at 8:00 pm EST on The CW.
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