Friday, October 11, 2019

The Flash 6x01 Review: "Into the Void" (Flash! Ah-ah!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Into the Void”
Original Airdate: October 8, 2019

Unlike previous seasons of The Flash, I’m going into season six completely ignorant of everything the show has planned. Will the villain for the season be a speedster? A megalomaniacal genius bent on world domination? A time traveler? I don’t know! I’m really hoping this lack of knowledge will add suspense and obfuscate the show’s usual pacing issues. Can’t be bored of stuff when you don’t know where it’s going, right?

Anyway, this season opener was fun, with a good balance of action-y stuff and emotional stuff and pretty much all the characters getting something to do. That’s always nice. Overall, a solid debut for the show’s sixth season — and as a bonus, this episode has probably the best music moment of the whole series so far.


Moments after we ended last season, Barry and Iris are leaving the Time Vault where they’ve just finished listening to Nora’s sad goodbye message. As soon as they’re out of the room, an alarm goes off and they run back in to find Nora’s recording glitching and the little disc that held it frying in the futuristic SD card slot. So, Iris and Barry have lost their time-erased daughter’s final words to them, which... man, it’s no wonder Iris spends this whole episode looking like she’s about to crumble to pieces. Barry, by the way, takes the complete opposite route this episode and adopts overly cheery “can-do” attitude that he pulls out every time a new problem arises.

Speaking of problems: four months later, someone out there is making fake versions of the villain Godspeed for some unfathomable reason. The false Godspeeds look realistic but they only make a screeching sound the likes of which I haven’t heard since back when I’d connect to AOL via dial-up. This most recent Godspeed is the fourth one so far. I assume the spare Godspeeds is going to be a season arc thing?

But it’s not all about action heroics with Team Flash! You gotta make time for family cookouts, too. Iris and her father are both wearing kicky hats and there’s more than one Hawaiian shirt on display, so you know everyone’s having a good time. Seriously, though, it’s a cute little scene and further establishes how much the team is like a family. There are no horrible secrets being hidden from anyone, no dramatic interpersonal troubles, no lies... I enjoy a comic book show that just goes “all these people love each other and it’s great” and leaves it at that.

Unfortunately, plot rests for no one: Barry has to deal with a break-in, Caitlin has to go to a funeral, Cisco has science stuff, Iris wants to hunt down a box her father threw away, and Joe and Cecille are left with the washing up. I’m mad because there’s a whole pie in the shot that no one ate.

At the funeral Caitlin left for, a suave, English-accented man is giving the sort of eloquent eulogy only given by people on TV and movies. The funeral is for his mother, who was apparently a mentor of Caitlin’s while she attended med school with Suave Man, whose name is Ramsey Rosso. Ramsey invites Caitlin out for coffee, which means he’s destined for death and/or villainy. Sure enough, later he gives Caitlin an evil speech of evil in which he asks for her help obtaining dark matter in order to cure the disease that killed his mother. Caitlin refuses, and he essentially tells her she’ll rue the day! Rue it!

Meanwhile, Iris is at a junkyard and the attendant helps her find the box Joe threw away. Did Joe really throw away a box without checking what was in it first? Because the thing in the box — the thing Iris went to a junkyard to find — is Nora’s XS jacket. Sadly, as soon as she gets her hands on a memento of her lost daughter, a black hole opens and sucks it inside. It almost sucks the attendant and Iris inside as well, but it closes before they get to visit another dimension.

Other black holes are popping up around the city, including one that nearly sucks Caitlin in while she’s on her coffee date with that future supervillain. Notably, when Caitlin nearly gets pulled into a black hole in the middle of a coffee shop, she calls for Killer Frost to lend a hand but her alter-ego fails to appear. I assumed we’d have more Killer Frost is Missing drama because it’s always something with that frosty lass, but it turns out she was just kinda sulky about not being able to live her own life.

The main issue is those black holes. Iris has managed to put her investigative reporter skills to work and tracked down an online personality named Chester P. Runk. Chester is energetic and eccentric and a genius, judging by Cisco’s reaction to what he’s building on a recorded livestream. I assume the livestream is like, non-copyrighted Twitch or something but I don’t really know because, if you couldn’t already tell by my reference to AOL earlier in this review, I’m old and boring. Iris fast-forwards through a lot of Chester’s rambling and building a device that’s meant to contact aliens but malfunctions and creates a miniature black hole. The livestream cuts out as soon as Chester touches the black hole.

Cecille has apparently used her connections as DA to find Chester, and Iris shows up to question him about the black holes. There’s a snag, though: Chester is catatonic. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Iris storms out and Cecille follows, having caught on that Iris lost something belonging to Nora at the junkyard. They have a little heart-to-heart about the grieving process. Inspired by her own difficulty communicating, Iris goes back and see Chester, whose twitching finger is in tune with the pulse pattern of the black hole on the news playing on the hospital TV. You know what this means? Central City’s local news has no time delay! Also, Chester and the black hole are connected, and stopping the black hole will mean killing Chester.

The nerd sector of Team Flash figures out that the cycle of stimuli in Chester’s brain disappears halfway around, only to be completed in an energy cycle within the black hole. So, the team has figured out what the problem is, but not so much the solution — Cisco argues that they might have to let Chester die if it means saving the whole city. Barry, dropping the positivity buzz he’d had all episode, snaps that he won’t lose “anyone else,” so clearly this is very Nora-related.

After his blow-up, Iris talks to Barry about losing Nora. She explains that she feels awful about the black hole eating Nora’s jacket because, illogically, she thinks Nora will need the jacket in order to become XS. You know, the writing of this speech (and Candice Patton’s stellar acting) seriously sells that irrational part of mourning. In this case, it’s the idea that one’s future daughter needs a jacket to complete some sort of time loop and arrive at the place in her life she needs to be, but it’s just a very bizarre version of a very real thing.

But there’s no time for emotions — a black hole has opened up in Central City! Team Flash has determined that Barry will be going into the black hole to stop it from the inside. The bad news is, it might smoosh him into subatomic tininess. The good news is, the Speed Force is stronger than physics and we have a whole season left, so he’ll probably be okay.

Cisco, who has the best priorities, needle-drops the song “Flash” by Queen for Barry’s trip into the black hole — wait, Queen? This show can afford Queen?! Anyway, it’s awesome and I approve. With a little help from Nora’s time travel equipment, Cecille’s ability to carry Chester to S.T.A.R Labs (apparently she can bench her body weight, so that’s something), and some crowd control from Joe and Killer Frost, Barry saves the day and saves Chester to boot. He also managed to get Nora’s jacket out of the black hole, which doesn’t seem like it should be possible but it’s a heartwarming moment so I’ll allow it.

The heartwarming moment is interrupted by the arrival of The Monitor. Heeeey, Monitor. Monitor anything good lately? Oh, no, just the imminent destruction of the multiverse and/or the death of our hero on December 10, 2019? Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

Other Things: 

  • Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry are working on something called the “MAC” to augment his brain in order to predict the future and, for real guys? You’re going to mess with Barry’s brain? Sure, how could that possibly end poorly?
  • I kind of really like the friendship between Ralph and Killer Frost.
  • “He’s still, you know, glowing in the eyes with orange dark energy, but he’s in really good spirits!”
  • I like Chester and I want him to show up again.


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