Hot on the heels of Superman and Lois, the Flash just crossed the finish line on its eighth season. The CW’s veteran superhero series has been criticized in the past for padding out its season-long stories to fill their 20+ episode seasons. This season is a drastic departure from that format. Season eight was broken up into three distinct arcs with an episode or two in-between.
The first five episodes were released as a pseudo-crossover event called “Armageddon” wherein a time-travelling alien named Despero arrives and attempts to stop the Flash before he brings about the end of the world in the future. The second arc sees Caitlin Snow swooning over the possible return of her deceased husband Ronnie, all while citizens across Central City are being mysteriously burned alive by cold fusion fires. The final arc revolves around Thawne, the Negative Forces, and a new speedster with black lightning!
Each arc is tied loosely together by Iris’ progressing “time sickness” that has plagued her since she escaped the mirror dimension. She has to be kept away from the rest of Team Flash while they deal with the first two arcs as she can accidentally poof people out of time. This all comes to a head in the final few episodes as two different versions of Barry’s arch nemesis return, aided by forces beyond their control.
While each arc moves into the next they all feel a bit disconnected. That being the case, we’re going to go through each arc individually. So, first things first…
“Armageddon” was a great way to start off this season. The lack-luster reception to season seven demanded nothing less. Tony Curran’s portrayal of the telekinetic alien from the future was a surprise. He manages to be a genuine threat, but he’s also not a mindless monster. He’s reasonable and open to negotiation. Open to the idea that he could be wrong, or that the future could be changed. Brandon Routh reprises his role as Ray Palmer to give us an episode with one of the Legends, and it’s fantastic to see him back. I hate that he had to leave Legends of Tomorrow and that the rest of the Legends had their time cut short, so this was a treat.
To try to prevent this horrible outcome, Barry (Grant Gustin) enlists the help of Black Lightning (Cress Williams) to try to purge himself of the Speedforce and take away his powers. The two meet at the Hall of Justice and discuss a joint mission against the villainous Felix Faust that forced them to collectively adopt what they refer to as the “Injustice Protocols.” Jefferson eventually convinces Barry that giving up his powers is the wrong way to go, and Barry decides to go check out the awful future for himself. I wish I’d gotten to see that Felix Faust fight. It sounds absolutely awesome.
Barry discovers that Reverse Flash, Thawn (Tom Cavanaugh), has created his own “Flashpoint” resulting in an alternate timeline where they’ve swapped lives! Reverse Flash, acting as the scarlet speedster, is the one who will ultimately destroy the world, but now it’s up to Barry to convince Team Flash, Alex from Supergirl, and Batwoman that he’s right and get their help to save the future. Of course, he does, and then he shoots Thawn full of so much lightning that he loses his speed. With the awful future prevented Despero leaves as a possible future ally and Thawn is locked up on Lian Yu, the island from Arrow, and Flash embarks on the next leg of his journey.
Overall: 8.5/10 A fun “crossover” event to start off the season
Being an event of sorts, “Armageddon” doesn’t hold back with the spectacle. Barry is at his fastest and has more lightning than ever. It was fun, energetic, and felt concise and contained to what it was. Having a different cameo from across the Arrowverse in each episode also added to the fun. Even Oliver’s daughter from the future got in on the action. All-in-all, I didn’t have much of anything to complain about with these first few episodes.
The second set of episodes is… less fun. Iris’ (Candice Patton) time sickness starts acting up again so she and Sue Dearbon (Natalie Dreyfuss) go to Coast City to wait it out and see if Deon (Christian Magby), the Still-force, can fix it. Meanwhile in Central City, seemingly random people are being attacked and burned alive with cold black flames.
Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) starts hearing a familiar voice and believes that Ronnie (Robbie Amell) might somehow have survived his apparent death at the end of season one. She and Chester (Brandon McKnight) rebuild the Firestorm matrix and tweak it so that it will work with only one person. The device is able to reconstitute Ronnie’s body, and a heartfelt reunion is had by all. Sadly for Team Flash, it was all a lie.
An evil entity from the gap between universes has stolen Ronnie’s form in order to get a physical body and become: Deathstorm. He’s like Firestorm mixed with Ghost Rider. He wants to transform Caitlin into a being like himself so they can live forever in the void. Frost isn’t having any of that, and transforms herself into “Hellfrost” in order to fight the malevolent being. She’s victorious, but the power is too much for her and she passes away before anyone can save her.
Her sister dead, Caitlin takes a break from Team Flash to go stay with her mother. In reality she stays at home and plans to resurrect Frost by using the Mirror Gun again and recreating the moment she came to life. Frost’s boyfriend swoops in to help. The two of them forge an unlikely friendship as they work to try to bring Frost back to life. When Barry discovers what they’re doing, he takes matters into his own hands and destroys their collective research to try to force them to grieve and move on. SPOILER ALERT: they don’t.
Overall: 6.5/10 Ronnie will never get to live in this show
The Deathstorm arc feels like filler. There is a little bit of mystery early on as to why certain people are being targeted and how a meta would even be capable of doing it. However, the mystery ends abruptly when the villain decides to just talk to Caitlin and try to manipulate her. Caitlin hasn’t had anything important to do for awhile, so the writers gave her Ronnie… again. And then she stays at her apartment for the rest of the season or doesn’t show back up at all.
The final arc of season eight revolves around the negative version of the different forces of the universe attempting to resurrect their avatar and defeat the Flash once and for all. Iris vanishes and appears in 2049 where she is told that anti-tachyons are what have been causing her time sickness and they’ll have to be removed or it will get worse.
Evil Deon visits Thawn on Lian Yu after Diggle pays him a visit and decides not to become a Green Lantern. Gonna have to have a few words with the writers about that one. Deon kills Thawn attracting the attention of Team Flash. Barry then runs into a woman who has speed similar to his, but her powers are artificially generated. He offers to train her so that she can get faster and do even more, and young scientist, Dr. Meena Dhawen (Kausar Mohammed) agrees.
Barry discovers that Eobard Thawn (Matt Fleischer) is her lab parter, and he immediately suspects foul play until he learns that Thawn has amnesia and no speed. Barry and Thawn form an uneasy alliance as they help Meena grow in power and speed. After an altercation, it is revealed that the artificial speed that Meena has been tapping into is actually the Negative Speedforce.
The Negative forces trick Barry and use his energy to turn Fleischer Thawn into Cavanaugh Thawn and the two have an epic battle through the streets of Central City. Flash eventually figures out that he can’t beat Reverse Flash just by punching him, and he manages to outthink his opponent and get him vaporized into nothingness. Farewell, Reverse Flash… until next season I’m sure.
Overall: 6.5-7/10 REVERSE, REVERSE!
While I was happy to see Iris’ time sickness storyline finally resolve, it didn’t feel like this was something that needed all the time and setup that it had. We’ve been hearing about this time sickness for years at this point, and I had no idea what it was doing to her, why, how she got it, anything really, until the last episode of the season.
Barry fighting Tom Cavanaugh for the 100th time has gotten boring. While leaps and bounds better than the lightning lightsaber fight of last season, this fight just felt like a rehashing of things we’ve seen already. Putting Reverse Flash in an awkward and bulky looking black suit didn’t help anything either.
The Final Word: 7.5/10
The Flash bounds out of the gate for its eighth season, but gradually loses steam before getting a bit of second wind before the finale. Things feel less focused and get more and more messy as the season goes on. Each arc has its own unique strengths, but they’re played less and less to by the end. Before you know it you’re at the last three episodes and you still don’t know what the main plot of the season was.
Visually things have improved drastically from previous seasons. Colors pop, and the visual effects for the Speedsters and villains have clearly been worked on. Things have more weight to them in combat situations, and atmospheric and particle effects are much more crisp than in seasons past.
With next season potentially being the final season for the Flash, I hope they focus things and give us a proper sendoff for the scarlet speedster and the rest of Team Flash.
Now for something a little different.
A question for the writers…
What are you thinking in regards to Diggle? Seriously? You’ve teased and dropped hint after hint after hint that he’s eventually going to become a Green Lantern. You even went so far as to give him a box with a glowing green thing in it. YOU WERE RIGHT THERE! How do you just abandon everything you’ve been setting up for nearly a decade?
Is it Green Lantern Corps on HBOMax? Is it the Green Lantern movie from 2011? What is it? Because you don’t spend all these years setting something up to literally throw it away.
You can stream all of the Flash on Netflix on July 7th, or catch up on the last five episodes on the CW app. Check back with us here on GVN for more news, reviews, and and all things geek! Catch ya next time.
The Flash bounds out of the gate for its eighth season, but gradually loses steam before getting a bit of second wind before the finale.
I’ve worked my whole life to become a comic book illustrator, writer, and stand-up comedian. Batman and Captain Benjamin Sisko helped put a good head on my shoulders. I spent most of my childhood saving Hyrule and the Mushroom Kingdom and seeing the Justice League save all of creation time and time again. I live in Johnson City, TN with my wife Kary and daughter Laila enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery and occasional show. Three puppies round out the family and take up the rest of the time that isn’t spent debating which Wes Anderson or Studio Ghibli movie to watch. I spend an inordinate amount of time binge watching SVU, Futurama, and Letterkenny, and when I’m not watching I’m listening to “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” or playing the occasional game of D&D. If there’s a nerdy endeavor out there, I’ve probably at least tried it.