Following the mind-tripping of “The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen, Pt. 1,” this concluding hour is a more conventional exercise in action-horror, with mixed results. It’s also the mid-season finale of The Flash, even though there’s another new episode airing next Tuesday. (The CW is calling it part three of Crisis On Infinite Earths in all the advertising, but technically it is an episode of The Flash.) The hype for the crossover event overshadows the conclusion of the Bloodwork saga even within this hour, as the repeated promos make it clear that, no matter how dark things look for Barry Allen in this episode, he’s back to his normal self in time for the Crisis.
Still, the end of the Bloodwork arc does have its moments. With Barry transformed into Dark Flash at the end of last week’s episode, Cisco takes control at STAR Labs, putting up a force field around it and working on a photon emitter he thinks will rid Ramsey of his blood infection and free all those he’s turned from his control. Iris believes she can still reach her husband despite his darkened eyes and teeth, but her attempt at doing so only reveals Ramsey is in complete control of Dark Flash. Or so it seems!
As Ramsey’s blood brothers and sisters spread throughout Central City, different factions of Team Flash find themselves in trouble. Joe and Frost are surrounded outside, while Nash is forced to deal with the blood zombies down in the tunnel just when he’s finally closed in on his goal. In the most traditional zombie movie scene, Cecile and Kamilla find themselves trapped in their office building, using Cecile’s empathy powers to avoid the blood brothers as they try to make their escape in a long single take. (Or, more likely, a faked single take, but that’s okay. It’s one of the more entertaining scenes this week either way.)
Cisco’s photon emitter fails, but he and Iris both pick up on clues that Barry is awake somewhere under the goo and manipulating Ramsey just as he is being manipulated. Ramsey’s plan to use the particle accelerator to transmit his infection throughout the city sounds like another good reason why the particle accelerator should have been dismantled years ago, but Cisco figures out that Barry is hinting they use it to transmit the antidote instead, using a blast of UV radiation from Allegra.
It works, Barry is free of the spell, and best of all, Ramsey finally transforms into a giant blood-monster with a skull head. This might be the first time a major Flash villain has left me wanting a little more, as this incarnation of Bloodwork is only around for a couple of minutes, just until Barry reaches into Ramsey’s mind and plucks out his mother to give him a good talking to. That distracts him just long enough for Barry to get him into lockdown and eventually transferred to ARGUS.
Overall, how was Bloodwork as a villain? You could argue that he got shortchanged since the show had to do so much groundwork for the crossover during his arc, and an eight-episode stint is far shorter than the other Big Bads have gotten. But so many of those adversaries overstayed their welcome that I would never make that argument. The most interesting thing about Ramsey was his insistence that he was the hero, that everything he did was for the greater good because he was extending the human lifespan. The arrogance of the scientific mind is certainly nothing new on The Flash, but Bloodwork did bring an element of horror to the proceedings that felt like something different. Eight episodes is just about right, I think.
The hour ends on an intimate note, with the core Team Flash (minus Ralph, still in recovery and probably off filming some crossover scenes) gathered for what they believe may be the last time. The scene strikes a nostalgic note, with Cisco and Caitlin reminiscing about the early good times before all the doppelgangers and time-travel shenanigans made everything complicated. Maybe this Crisis On Infinite Earths will serve the purpose the original comics version was supposed to accomplish thirty-five years ago: simplify everything and bring it back to the basics. But as longtime DC readers know, it’s never that easy.
- Down in the tunnels, Nash Wells is saved from the blood brothers by the UV wave, but he doesn’t know anything about that and assumes the Monitor has saved him. He gets sucked into the void behind the runes, and my guess is he’s about to learn he’s actually been pursuing the Anti-Monitor—and will become Pariah in the process.
- Joe is badly injured (in the back, which strikes me as a reference to Jesse L. Martin’s troubles last season), and Frost finds the hero within to heal his wounds. That’s nice and all, but I can’t help but find Frost a lot less interesting since she’s dropped the Killer. The line between her and Caitlin gets blurrier as time goes on.
- After months of hype, it’s finally here. See you for Crisis On Infinite Earths next week!