“I stared at that newspaper for so many years. At first it felt like a guide. You know, proof that things were headed in the right direction. Then it became a sword hanging over my head.”
When his plans for a future jaunt to inspect the Crisis damage is thwarted by an antimatter wave, Barry visits Jay Garrick and gets an unexpected surprise while, in Central City Cecile finds herself re-evaluating her career.
Anytime Barry gets bad news, he tends to sulk and the beginning of “A Flash of the Lightning” drives that point home. It may not be overly heroic but, considering he was just told that his death is imminent, it’s a very human reaction and a big reason that Grant Gustin has been so wonderful as the Flash. Barry Allen is not full of bravado like, say a Batman or Arrow (the show, mind you), his heart is pure and a beacon of hope, similar to the Man of Steel. It makes him more human, more relatable. And having someone like Iris who can break through his ‘woe is me’ moments, is such a vital part of his character. It’s also fair to say that, over the past couple of seasons that, even when the narrative arcs were lacking, the personal relationship between these two was being cultivated. Knowing that he needs a way through the antimatter wall that appears when he tries investigating the post-Crisis future, Barry travels to Earth-3 where Jay Garrick awaits him. But it’s not Garrick’s use of a cane that’s a surprise, rather the speedster’s wife, Joan Williams (Michelle Harrison, Continuum, Fifty Shades Freed) who’s a doppleganger of his mom, Nora. But there’s no room for sentimental moments as the married scientists strap Barry up to the most recent invention of convenience and slingshot his consciousness across the multiverse. The experiment is a success but not without consequences. The neural entropy he feels and the pain that follows it (10 times what a normal person would feel…ouch!) is nothing compared to the billions of possibilities he experiences, all of which those he loves and billions more die horrible deaths as they are wiped from existence. Seeing only one reality where the Crisis is averted, Barry returns to his Earth and, with a little help from the sage Joe West, he is ready to accept what the future has in store for him.
Though Killer Frost gets her first episode as more than just the muscle, Cecile’s arc is the second biggest of the week. When she’s faced with prosecuting Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton, Making Moves, Chase Champion), a meta that can control radio waves, in a murder investigation, the emotions Cecile detects from the young woman gives her pause. Despite accepting a plea deal, Allegra’s innocent and Cecile is determined to help the young woman out of this mess. It turns out that Allegra’s cousin, Esperanza (Alexa Barajas, Wayward Pines, Charmed) got the same meta powers during the particle accelerator explosion and has returned to the city, presumably under orders from the mysterious organization that removed her years ago from the city’s care. But it’s Cecile’s determination that’s the real story here. Now that she’s a part of the meta community, and the dichotomous nature between the facts her position requires she follows and the feelings she experiences because of her abilities, she makes a huge change. She believes her greater impact lies in becoming DA for metas. This is a major step for her, one that Joe fully endorses and is a welcome direction for her character; it allows Cecile to have her own arcs outside of Team Flash (that will no doubt intersect) gives the writers more freedom to explore the show’s support characters.
“A Flash of the Lightning” may be light on the action, but its exploration of what it means to be a hero is a powerful narrative. Getting in touch with Barry and the turmoil he’s set to face was a necessary primer as we move forward towards the mid-season crossover. Gustin was fantastic—even if he was a bit too weepy—channeling Barry’s inner pain. His conversation with Joe was the biggest standout and Jesse L Martin’s delivery on facing danger “when [they hear] the call of duty” was the greatest summation one could give for the true meaning of a hero. The bookend conversations with Iris were the perfect beginning and end with, as they realize the truth of what awaits Barry, they are ready to face it head-on. And together.
- The show’s only real levity was in Killer Frost experiencing what it’s like to live a normal day. Like someone who’s been separated from society her whole life, she has to learn to interact with others and remember that people have feelings, let alone dealing with her own burgeoning emotions. It should be a welcome change for Danielle Panabaker to play a character that, while similar, is so very different. Maybe Tom Cavanaugh can give her a pointer or two…or five.
- So who’s this mystery organization that tasked Ultraviolet with killing those two witnesses? With the Crisis being the focal point for the first half of this season, I don’t see any way for the series to tackle this question in detail until the second half of the season. I do wonder if they’ll be the second half antagonists or will that be reserved for Ramsey Rosso—who just created his own little Frankenstein monster? Maybe they end up joining forces, who knows.
- Watching The Flash and Arrow back to back, it’s difficult not to catch the parallels they shared with Infinity War. First off, Barry one-ups Doctor Strange; instead of fourteen million future iterations, Barry experienced billions. Add to that Oliver watching several characters fade away as the antimatter wave hit and it’s the Snap (or Blip or Decimation, take your pick) all over again.