After a cold opening reacquaints viewers with the monster-of-the-week threat in the zombified Mitch Romero who tears his former crew apart, “Dead Man Running” quickly refocuses on Team Flash. In a somewhat surprising move early on, Barry and Iris bring everyone in on the Crisis news. Not so surprising however, is Barry isn’t quite as forthcoming with his impending death. It’s one of those annoying aspects that heroes too often share; the propensity to keep pertinent information from those they love as a means of protection. Now, when it comes to secret identities, it’s an understandable lie, but not events that could irreparably damage the people themselves. Thankfully, Barry’s reticence to hide his inevitable death from the team is short-lived—less than an episode length, to be exact—and he, along with several others, have moments of catharsis that is the foundation of this week’s entry.
Frost (she’s “rebranding” y’all) is the first to outwardly show the emotional turmoil ever present in “Dead Man Running”. When she and Barry track down Romero, Frost blasts the dark matter-infused golem out the window. As the choir boy hero, Barry predictably takes her to task for possibly killing a meta. It’s not until later that she admits to Barry what’s driving her lashing out with such anger; fear. Fear of dying before she can experience some of the best things in life (the woman hasn’t even had a birthday party!). Her admission is a moment of clarify for Barry, one that Frost eventually repays when she figures out that Barry’s not expecting to survive the coming Crisis. While Caitlin is still there on the inside, Frost’s confession is a stark reminder of the differences between the pair and, that while they may share bodies, their experiences are their own.
One thing not in question is Ramsey’s gradual transformation into the season’s Big Bad. We know it’s coming, but since the Crisis is the primary event for the 2019 half of season 6, the writers are right to spoon-feed viewers Rosso’s journey. Through his experimentation with dark matter and human blood is a fascinating discovery (along with his as-yet unexplained ability to control Romero when the golem attacked him at S.T.A.R. Labs), “Dead Man Running” was more about giving us a bit more clarity on his emotional drive. He’s already expressed his resentment towards his mother’s “cowardice”, not fighting the HLH and instead, accepting her death sentence, one that he also shares.
Enter Barry and his own acceptance of the Monitor’s proclamation (and his own visions of the future) regarding his death. “I’m marking my calendar with the days I have left to live” he posits in opposition of Ramsey’s words about his own limited calendar leading to death. It’s a perfect example of how two people in such similar circumstances have such a vastly different approach. While there’s nothing wrong with that—and, contrary to what some may think, a difference of opinion does not make someone the villain as Ramsey’s actions will eventually make him—to watch these two characters interact on the subject is a powerful part of the episode and is one of the things that helps Barry see that keeping the truth from those he loves is not the way to go.
While the Romero zombie chase is the plot-driven arc of “Dead Man Running” it is the weakest aspect of the episode. Watching our beloved characters have such powerful moments of self-reflection is a reminder of how important these emotional narratives are to the overall story. Even Ralph gets some screen time with his mom, Debbie and though they are shortchanged for the more season-affecting arcs, they too share a special moment that also touches on how those we love may lie to us when they believe it to be in our best interests. But like Barry finally understands, there are very few situations where this is the right thing to do. More character-driven than the first two episodes, “Dead Man Running” does a solid job preparing its audience for the two halves of season six: the upcoming Crisis event and whatever Ramsey’s decent will create after it.
- I’ve been waiting to see what type of Wells we get this season. And while the wound of losing Earth-2 Harry (it’s still fresh, I don’t wanna talk about it) hurts, this new Harrison Nash Wells—or Indiana, as I called him before Cisco, mind you—seems to be a swashbuckling treat. Now, how much will the artifacts he’s searching for play in the overall scheme of his character’s arc?
- It looks like Allegra is not just a one or two-episode character. That’s not a bad thing because, based on what we’ve gotten so far, I like her. Meta powers notwithstanding, she has a strong heart, one that isn’t too dissimilar from Iris (something the latter acknowledges) and is a welcome addition to the team. It’s only a matter of time before she’s pulling double duty as cub reporter for Iris’s paper and as the backup on Team Flash. Heck, maybe she’ll be Cisco’s meta replacement since the knucklehead went and de-powered himself…