Last week’s episode of The Flash ended with Barry and Iris deciding they needed to prepare the rest of Team Flash for Barry’s upcoming death. And so, they begin that in earnest in tonight’s episode, “Dead Man Running,” which opens with them sitting the entire team down to tell them that the crisis from the future newspaper is coming on Dec. 10, 2019. They conveniently decide not to mention that Barry is going to die, which is a stupid move since we’ve seen countless times that keeping secrets only makes things worse. Luckily, that choice doesn’t last for the entire episode.
Of course, Cisco, Ralph, and Frost are all shocked about the news and immediately question whether they can trust the Monitor. Barry and Iris assure them that it’s true, given what Barry saw when he went to Earth-3. The team obviously wants to get to work on changing the future, but Barry and Iris suggest they all take a day to process. Barry clocks that Frost is taking the news the hardest and decides to start mentoring her first.
So, Barry brings Frost with him to a crime scene where a bunch of arms dealers were brutally murdered by Mitch Romero, the guy Ramsey hit with black goo. All of this is new to Frost and she treats the entire scene pretty cavalierly, but she does help them get their first break in the case: Whoever killed the men stole all of the dark matter out of all the guns. That one detail leads them to Ramsey Rosso’s office since Frost remembers what Ramsey asked Caitlin for in the premiere and she believes he’s desperate enough to kill for it.
In the process of the investigation, Barry realizes Frost may need a bit more guidance before he shuffles off this mortal coil for a couple of reasons. First, she comes in hot and holds Ramsey at icicle point when they question him about the missing dark mater (he lies and claims he got some dark matter from Ted Kord, a real friend). More worrisome, though, when they speed over to Mercury Labs after getting a break-in call, Frost ends up ice-blasting Romero out of a window, to Barry’s horror. Luckily, Romero simply gets up and walks away because he’s been dead for 24 hours and the dark matter is simply strengthening his body.
After learning about Romero’s post-mortem existence, Ramsey offers to come to S.T.A.R. Labs and help them come up with a dark-matter powered serum that would weaken Romero. Of course, it’s all pretext so that he can steal some more dark matter, and Barry catches him in the act. In their ensuing conversation, the two men learn they both have expiration dates that they’re approaching differently. While Ramsey is scared of death and wants to fight it, Barry, like Ramsey’s mother, isn’t. In fact, Barry wants to spend what little time he has left saving as many people as he can, like a true hero. He offers Ramsey the chance to do the same, and the scientist begrudgingly gives the dark matter back and agrees.
That conversation also helps Barry understand what’s going on with Frost: She’s scared of death. She just got the opportunity to live and now she finds out that the world is going to end in two months. “Did you know Baskin-Robbins has 31 different flavors? I may die before I get to figure out which one is my favorite. Or what my favorite song is. Or have my first birthday party!” says Frost, in a funny but sad line. Barry understands how she’s feeling and lets her know that everyone deals with living on borrowed time. “That’s why you can’t let the threat of losing tomorrow keep you from making the most of today,” he advises.
That little bit of wisdom about fearing the unknown also applies to what’s going on with Ralph and his mother, Debbie, whom we meet in tonight’s episode, too. Ralph and Cecile team-up to help Debbie out with a legal problem, but in the process, Ralph discovers that his mother has been lying to him for years. Every time she broke up with one of her boyfriends, she told him they died because she was worried about hurting him the same way his father did when he left. Eventually, Debbie reveals that she preemptively broke up with all of them because she didn’t want to be hurt herself. Ralph, who has undergone a ton of growth since joining the show, knows better and says she’s closing herself off from joy by doing that. Debbie believes she’s not cut out for joy, but her son is.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, the dark matter-hungry Romero breaks in and comes face to face with Ramsey, who discovers that the two of them are connected and that Romero obeys and follows his every move. But the spell is broken when Barry enters the room and lures Romero to the pipeline, where he and Frost overdose the zombie on dark matter until he explodes, covering them in goo.
With the day saved, Ramsey heads back to his lab, intent on experimenting with the aforementioned goo (a.k.a. healthy human blood cells supercharged by dark matter), which he believes is the key to curing HLH and any human disease. Unfortunately, he’s going to need more of it for his human trials after he absorbs what little he was able to salvage.
Meanwhile, Barry throws Frost a birthday party at S.T.A.R. Labs, which is the second time this season we’ve seen Team Flash hang out outside of saving the day. And it’s all pretty fun! Alas, the good times must eventually come to an end because Frost figures out that Barry is dying, and both she and Iris convince Barry to tell the entire team. So, they do just that. While it was stupid for Barry and Iris to keep a secret from the team in the first place, at least the writers didn’t try to create needless drama out of it.
“Dead Man Running” also introduced the new version of Harrison Wells: Harrison “Nash” Wells. Iris and Cisco crossed paths with him when he zip-lined into an alleyway looking for a multiversal element called eternium as Indiana Jones-esque music played. Yes, this version of Wells is as smart as previous ones (he thinks the Council of Wells is a joke), but he’s also an adventurer. As the episode ends, we see him peering down a manhole, clearly having found what he was looking for.
Wall of Weird:
- Iris and Cisco became aware of Nash’s presence on Earth-1 because Allegra got a tip about it. Allegra came very close to finding out about the existence of the multiverse, but Iris managed to talk her down a bit.
- Barry and Iris definitely haven’t told Cecile and Joe about the Monitor’s cosmic pronouncement yet, right?
- The Flash star previews the team learning Barry’s fate: ‘It’s a bomb going off’
- Superhero Insider: ‘Crisis’ looms over The Flash, Arrow
- The Flash recap: Resilience in the face of crisis
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