The Flash premiere recap: The countdown to Barry's disappearance in 'Crisis' begins
Welcome back to a new season of The Flash! I don’t know about you guys, but I really enjoyed the season 6 premiere. Picking up after the tragic season 5 finale — which capped the drama’s best season since the first — the opener confidently and maturely dug right into the show’s new post-Nora status quo. “Into the Void” acknowledged Barry and Nora’s grief, but didn’t allow it to bog the episode down. There was also some levity to balance things out (that music cue!).
We begin literally seconds after the conclusion of “Legacy,” with Barry and Iris rushing to the Cortex as a power surge races through the building. They discover it’s coming from the Time Vault. Unfortunately, by the time they get there, they’re only able to catch the last few seconds of Nora’s message before the hard drive fizzles out. Not only did they just lose their daughter, but they also lost her final words.
From there, the action jumps four months into the future. We find Cisco quarterbacking from the Cortex, with his girlfriend Camila by his side (thank God they’re still together!), as Barry’s out speeding after Godspeed. Yes, the faux speedster (False Godspeed?) we met in last season’s flash-forward episode is causing trouble in Central City 2019. Barry makes easy work of the gaudily dressed baddie, but when unmasks the villain, he discovers that he’s not the real Godspeed. This one has no language skills and only emits a loud noise. It turns out this is the fourth fake Godspeed they’ve encountered this summer. What’s up with this? I don’t know, and the episode doesn’t explain. Perhaps this is a mystery for later in the season or just something random the writers decided to throw out there for shiggles. (It’s probably the former.)
Anyway, with the day saved, it’s time for Team Flash to clock out and head to Joe and Cecile’s home for a backyard barbecue — which was one of my favorite scenes in the entire episode. Yes, we’ve seen them gather for holiday parties before, but there was something sweet and relaxing about seeing the entire team sitting outside around a table drinking and laughing. Furthermore, the scene was a great way of revealing how things have changed for Cisco. At the end of last season, he gave up being Vibe and took the metahuman cure. Now, when we catch up with him here, he’s thriving as a normal human and cherishes his newfound work-life balance — which Barry, who is very on throughout the entire episode, tries to disrupt with work. Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin are currently working on a mental augmentation chamber (a.k.a. the MAC) that would super-charge Barry’s brain with the Speed Force and allow him to see multiple outcomes (in other words: speed thinking) and Barry wants Cisco to get back to work on fixing it. Cisco, on the other hand, just wants some beer.
While Cisco is enjoying his new normal, the same can’t be said of Barry and Iris. Both of them keep repeating that they’re grieving, but they know they’ll eventually see Nora again in the future. Of course, that’s not making the grieving process any easier, and the episode does a good job of conveying the profound loss they’re feeling. Iris goes searching for her purple jacket in a junkyard because she wants a piece of her daughter to hold onto (and hopes future Nora wears it as XS), and she can barely look at a front-page article about XS without tearing up. Meanwhile, Barry has become obsessed with work. When a black hole starts randomly appearing all around Central City, he enthusiastically throws himself into solving the problem, hoping the work will fill that hole. It’s hard to watch, but in a good way because you can’t help but feel for them. Patton’s performance is especially heartbreaking. As the episode unfolds, the two of them realize they can’t simply run from their grief and must share it and work through it together.
Iris does some digging into the black holes, which leads her to Chester P. Runk, an eccentric and energetic scientist/video blogger who accidentally opened up a black hole in his garage, touched it, and is now in a catatonic state. Iris realizes that Chester isn’t just connected to the black hole, his consciousness is the black hole. That epiphany puts a kink in Team Flash’s plan of simply throwing a stellar grenade into the event horizon. So Barry and the team are forced to come up with another plan when the black hole returns even bigger than before: Barry decides to run into the event horizon, pull Chester’s consciousness into his suit using quantum computing tech from Nora’s gauntlet, and then speed it back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where Chester’s body is patiently waiting for in the MAC. Sounds simple, right?
This plan leads to one of the show’s best moments to date: As Barry zooms into the black hole, Cisco hits play on Queen’s “Flash Theme,” a.k.a. the most appropriate song ever and the definition of lawful good. With that one musical cue, a typical Flash action sequence becomes an infectiously joyful experience; I was smiling throughout the entire thing. In fact, this moment is indicative of what the shows does so well, balancing danger and drama with pure bursts of light. And in the end, Barry not only saves Chester, thereby closing the black hole, but also retrieves Nora’s purple jacket, which got sucked in.
Yes, the day is saved, but there’s danger looming on the horizon. First, there’s the matter Dr. Ramsey Rosso, Caitlin’s friend who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and wants to use dark matter to cure it. Caitlin knows better and refuses to give him what he needs. So, Ramsey acquires it another way and injects himself with the cure, which rids his cells of the cancer but also transforms him into something monstrous: the DC Comics villain Bloodsport. In other words, hello season 6A big bad.
At the same time, Barry and Iris also receive some troubling news: The Monitor appears to them in the Time Vault and reveals that the Flash must die in the coming crisis (specifically this winter’s crossover “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Have you heard of it?) Naturally, the couple believes there’s another way, but the omniscient alien insists that there isn’t and there’s no point in trying to find one. We’ve known this moment was coming since Comic-Con, so I’ll wait to pass judgement until we see what this means for Barry and Iris going forward.
Wall of Weird:
- In another one of the episode’s subplots: Caitlin decides to let Killer Frost take the wheel more often outside of battle so that she can build a life for herself. In other words: we’re getting more Killer Frost this season. Not only that, but Ralph will be Frost’s life coach.
- For the most part, this episode spent a lot of its time setting up things that will unfold over the season: the MAC, the Monitor’s “Crisis” tease, the growth of the Citizen, and so much more.
- Ralph spent the summer traveling the world for the Sue Dearborn case he received at the end of last season. He also just learned how “yacht” is pronounced.
- Chester will indeed be sticking around for the time being because he needs to spend four to six weeks in the MAC so that his molecules can readjust to being, you know, in his body.
After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. the Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.