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David Ramsey, Grant Gustin
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)
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The Flash returns from winter break a bit later than usual, thanks to the wrap-up of Crisis On Infinite Earths and the last two episodes of Arrow. Before discussing the changes the post-Crisis Earth-Prime has wrought upon our TV friends, let’s take a brief look back at the first half of the season. As you may recall, those episodes were soaked with angst regarding Barry’s impending, unchangeable date with the Grim Reaper. As events unfolded during Crisis, it turned out to be another Barry from another Earth who made the ultimate sacrifice, and all that angst melted away pretty quickly as our heroes banded together to take down a giant menacing Furby. (Or something like that. I may have been hallucinating by the time we got to Part Five.)

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The Crisis crossover was terrifically entertaining for the most part, but as a payoff to a storyline that began in the very first episode of The Flash (with the first appearance of the future headline noting his disappearance) and dominated the first nine episodes to a depressing degree, it was underwhelming at best. In fact, it made all that moping around in the first half of the season even more pointless than it felt at the time. As the second half begins, it’s back to business as usual for the most part. Jitters has reopened and is almost immediately under siege by anti-latte terrorists who don’t realize the place hasn’t had a chance to earn any money yet. They’re easy pickings for the Flash, but bigger threats lie in wait. Cisco is busy cataloging the changes in the newly crowded Earth-Prime, including a revamped rogues gallery of “villains with fresh paint jobs.”

You could interpret that line as the creative team’s way of saying there won’t be any sweeping changes to The Flash in the wake of Crisis, just a few cosmetic ones. I would argue that rebooting some of the classic villains is a great use of this reset, giving that some of them got short shrift the first time around. Early in the show’s run, there was no way of knowing it would stick around this long, let alone be part of a sprawling, network-wide continuity. With B-listers like Cicada and Bloodwork being promoted to Big Bad status lately, it’s high time to reinvent some of the baddies who were ill-used the first time around. If you’ve been reading these reviews for the past five and a half seasons, you know that means my Mirror Master radar went up immediately. More on that later.

Tom Cavanagh, Victoria Park, Carlos Valdes
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)

With Arrow’s run now complete, John Diggle is moving on with his life, but not without first dropping in on Team Flash to deliver a parting gift from the late Oliver Queen: his original Green Arrow mask. Unable to let go of Oliver as an ongoing presence in his life, Barry is convinced there’s a message from beyond the grave, namely the Mirakuru super-soldier serum used by Deathstroke. Fearing the remaining supply of the serum could fall into the wrong hands, Barry whisks Diggle (who takes his motion sickness pills) to Lian Yu. Sometimes, however, a mask is just a mask, leading Diggle to offer some counterintuitive advice for a speedster: Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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Two subplots deal with the post-Crisis changes in different ways. Iris and Team Citizen run up against the criminal organization Black Hole while investigating a infrared photon rifle stolen from McCulloch Technologies. Iris becomes the target of a new Doctor Light,Dr. Kimiyo Hoshi, who has the weapon. (Hoshi first appeared in the Crisis On Infinite Earths comics; the previous Doctor Light on the CW was the Earth-2 Linda Park.) Iris is determined to expose Black Hole, but Joe echoes Diggle’s advice to Barry, telling her she can’t win this war in a day. Iris collects the evidence to pin McCulloch’s CEO as the Black Hole mastermind, but more intriguing is the fact that his missing wife, the previous CEO, is named Eva McCulloch—and as Iris soon discovers, there’s a new Mirror Master in town.

Cisco, meanwhile, is under the impression that Earth-Prime is all that remains of the multiverse, meaning that countless billions were killed in the anti-matter wave, including Harry and Jesse. As we know from the end of Crisis, Oliver-as-Spectre created a new multiverse, and there’s every reason to believe our friends are still in it somewhere, but Cisco lashes out at Nash for his role in releasing the Anti-Monitor. Later Cisco realizes that he’s actually blaming himself for giving up the Vibe powers that might have helped stop the Crisis in its tracks early on, so at Cailtin’s urging he decides to walk the earth for a while and find himself. Cue another round of “Is Carlos Veldes leaving the show?” speculation, given the way Wally West’s walkabout appears to have turned out.

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But if the changes to the multiverse are not as seismic as Cisco imagines, the same can be said for The Flash. If a revamped Mirror Master is on board as the Big Bad for the second half, that’s a potentially thrilling development, but the most liberating change is the lifting of Barry’s death sentence. The Flash is always going to have its pep talks and easy-to-digest life lessons, but now maybe it can rediscover the fun sense of adventure that’s been all too scarce lately.

Stray observations

  • Another promising development: Gorilla City is on Earth-Prime now.
  • Diggle doesn’t say anything about finding a Green Lantern ring, but does mention that he and the family are moving to Metropolis, which may mean there’s a spot for him on the upcoming Superman & Lois series. (Or not! Pure speculation on my part.)
  • Cisco’s breaching tech doesn’t work post-Crisis, which is a good thing given how powerful a plot crutch it had become lately.
  • Groovy new opening credits, no?
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My debut novel Charlesgate Confidential is now available from Hard Case Crime.

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