Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Flash 7x11 Review: "Family Matters, Part 2" (Forces Finale) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Family Matters, Part 2”
Original Airdate: May 25, 2021

This week on The Flash: the nightmare that is the Forces storyline appears to have come to a blessed end. I’m sorry to say it remained frustrating, confusing, and annoying until the very last moment but at least it’s over! I think! I hope! Please, I am begging you, let this storyline be over.


In the aftermath of the end of last week’s episode, it’s revealed that the death of Iris, Alexa, and Bashir was just an illusion Bashir can suddenly project into everyone’s mind. With everything else that’s frustrated me about this storyline, I don’t think I brought enough attention to the fact that the Forces seem to just conveniently gain powers as the story requires them. Bashir randomly gained the ability to manifest physical light-tentacles last week, now he can cause mass illusions that essentially allow him to manipulate reality and it’s never made clear how it works. This happens multiple times this episode, all clearly because the writers couldn’t find ways out of whatever situation the characters found themselves in or couldn’t find ways to get certain characters together in one place. It’s transparently bad writing, and I honestly expect better from this show.

With everyone alive who’s supposed to be alive, the priority turns toward keeping them alive. The Speed Force wants the other Forces dead, and Team Flash figures the only safe place to put them is inside the Speed Force pocket universe that’s been abandoned by the Speed Force entity. It’s very confusing and it doesn’t actually matter all that much because as soon as Iris, Alexa, and Bashir arrive in the Speed Force (Location) — which looks like the West house but dusty, by the way — the two Forces start plotting a way to get out and kill the Speed Force (Person). Oh, and the Forces can speak to each other telepathically. That’s another convenient power they get to have now.

Barry spends his time hunting down Deon, who is feeling sorry about killing the other Forces and Iris until Barry tells him that they’re actually fine. Then Deon’s desire to go a-killin’ is renewed, except it’s the Speed Force in his sights now. Why did Deon switch from being against the Speed Force, to allied with her, and back to being against her? Well, frankly, if the writers didn’t worry about that making sense, then neither should you.

Deon snaps away from Barry in order to enact his revenge, and Barry’s at a loss for how to find him again. Barry is taking it upon himself to keep all the Forces alive and to stop them from killing each other even though, at this point in the story, the Speed Force has fully decided that the others must die and also the city might be destroyed in the process. According to Barry, “These forces exist because of me and Iris, I have to do everything I can to protect them.” Actually, you don’t! Look, I’m not a parent but if I had a kid and that kid turned into a serial killer, I’m definitely not protecting them. Sorry. I mean, I know the reason he’s sticking to his guns on this is because the Forces will all turn out to be good people and Barry knows that because he’s read the scripts, but still.

Another face-off with the Speed Force and Barry learns that the reason why Central City is being besieged by technicolor storms and repeatedly struck by lightning is because of the other Forces, not her. We get a weak reveal of foreshadowing when Allegra remembers seeing an old-fashioned car on the street once, indicating a Still Force time paradox. Wow, that sounds like something that should have really been peppered throughout the season a lot more, The Flash. You know you can’t follow breadcrumbs if the breadcrumb is literally a loaf of bread, right?

Deon shows up to attack the Speed Force but he gets knocked out fast, landing himself in the S.T.A.R. Labs medbay and regaining his humility again. This guy really does teeter precariously between sad kid and rage-filled bully, huh? Anyway, while Barry laments that his inability to control the Forces might be a sign that he and Iris shouldn’t be parents (hey, Barry, here’s something that might make any future parenting easier for you: don’t adopt four fully-cognizant and independent adults) Joe tells him that’s nonsense and that he should be bringing the Forces together instead of separating them. Bashir and Alexa escape from the Speed Force (Location) and convene with Deon at S.T.A.R. Labs, having “felt” that things are different between them. Yet another convenient power gained during this plotline.

Barry, Alexa, Deon, and Bashir go to confront Nora, but she’s gotten to the point of having black eyes and a constant wind rustling her hair and clothing. She’s reached nuclear levels of goth! Lightning sparkles. Barry et al. disappear. If this is all about their “family” coming together, shouldn’t Iris be involved in the confrontation? Everyone ends up in a bad green screen universe. A fight sequence on par in CGI quality with an early-2010s video game cutscene proceeds, resulting in Barry and the others getting kicked out of green screen world. We get some technobabble about the Forces storm eventually causing a reverse Big Bang, thereby destroying the universe, so Barry and his “kids” have three minutes to save the universe and I’ve never been more bored of a ticking clock. Barry runs off while the good kids face off against the Speed Force.

The three use their convenient psychic connection to plan another trick against the Speed Force: making her hallucinate (or foresee?) a world without people. The Speed Force’s primary fear is being alone, so it sends her into a regret-spiral that turns her eyes back to normal and pacifies the ever-present wind billowing her goth clothing. She asks for forgiveness and the four now-united Forces lend some power to Barry, who runs around the massive tornado that was about to destroy the universe until it disappears. Day saved!

With the Forces family having worked out their differences, Barry sees them off inside the Speed Force (Location), which looks a lot nicer now. They’re going to build out that pocket universe and… I guess the human beings they’re possessing will just never see their friends and family again? I know the show made a point of trying to define the Forces-humans as sad sacks with no lives, but I find it really hard to believe none of them had anyone they’d miss in the real world. But whatever, this plot is over and I’m done wondering about it.

At the end of the episode, Barry and Iris decide to try having kids.

Other Things:

  • Other plotline: Frost escaped prison just to put other metas who had escaped prison back into prison. She spends the whole episode fighting that bartender she met before being arrested, then shows up at Caitlin’s apartment having been released from her “life without parole” sentence for good behavior. What was the point of the “Frost goes to jail” plot if they were just going to undo it? 
  • Also, a bunch of metas escaping from prison seems like it should’ve been a prime chance for Kramer to use that meta-cure gun they teased last episode, but we got nothin’.
  • I can give this episode at least one compliment: the soft choir music that plays over the direct aftermath of Barry running the tornado disaster away is really pretty.
  • Do I regret my stubborn refusal to call the Speed Force “Nora” since the Speed Force is being used as a location in this episode? Maybe.
  • Next week: We say goodbye to Cisco. It’ll be sad.


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