Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Flash 8x05 Review: "Armageddon, Part 5" (The Thawne Problem) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“Armageddon, Part 5”
Original Airdate: December 14, 2021

This week on The Flash, Joe is alive again thanks to time travel shenanigans! Since he was only dead due to much more evil time travel shenanigans, this will not cause any unfortunate timeline consequences. Not that the time travel shenanigans in this show ever actually make any sense in terms of consequences or continuity.


Still in the middle of the conversation to Joe that Barry started last episode, we see Joe’s side of the phone call just before Barry zips in and gives him a hug, then explains the whole ordeal with Thawne. But also alive, as it turns out, is Damien Darhk, who shows up at Joe’s place just when Barry announces how he feels like he can relax again. Darhk blames his resurrection (or not-dying?) on his connection to the Time Stone that Barry was wearing when he went Mach 20 and opened the space-time continuum or whatever. He got dragged along with Barry and he seems pretty sure the whole “die and allow his daughter to live” plan is still on target, just a little delayed for reasons unknown.

Later, as Barry and Team Flash are chatting about everything Barry went through over the past few days that they no longer remember, Iris gets an alert that the CCPD is under attack by Thawne. Thawne is indeed at the CCPD, lightning-striking a bunch of officers and bellowing about how he’s trying to lure Barry to him. Barry isn’t the one that shows up, though — instead, Mia Queen is there as the Green Arrow, asking about the location of her brother William. Mia recognizes Thawne is suffering from temporal displacement and notes that he’s not long for this world. 

Before Thawne can speed-phase his hand through Mia and kill her for wasting his time, Barry finally shows and gets Thawne to admit why he lured Barry to the CCPD to be in front of witnesses: he wants Barry to save him. I vote “no” on that, mostly because saving the guy who has no qualms about murdering everyone and potentially destroying the world just to get first place in a foot race is an obnoxiously stupid thing to do. But, I already know going into this that Team Flash will be doing the obnoxiously stupid thing here and the show will try to frame it as a sign of his true “goodness” even though I suspect it’s actually because the writers can’t bear not having Thawne dangling over the show like the low-hanging fruit this hollow and pointless character has become.

And Mia Queen has instantly become my ally, because she also thinks Team Flash is stupid for even entertaining the idea of saving Thawne. Unfortunately, Mia also has a real case of YA Novel Protagonist Syndrome, which is to say she’s overly surly and kind of bratty, so I’ve gotta weigh the good with the bad here. Anyway, Mia tells Iris she’s in 2021 looking for her brother, who’s been missing for two years.

Look, it’s not even that Barry et al. have to actually murder Thawne. The timeline is handling that for them — all they would have to do is just not save him, which shouldn’t be such a moral quandary. If Thawne had a terminal disease unrelated to fiddling with timelines, would Team Flash be obligated to cure him? If he swallowed poison of his own volition, would they be morally required to find and administer the antidote? That last question is actually mose fitting in this case because Thawne is disappearing from the timeline because he messed with it — furthermore, he’s disappearing because the timeline has objectively decided that he does not belong in it.

Oh, hey, I’ve got Caitlin on my side too! She determines that Thawne has about two hours left and implies that she could totally let Thawne die. Because he’s a moron, Thawne mocks the person holding his life in her hands and then Caitlin shoots back at him a speech that is honestly the best thing Caitlin has done or said on this show in years. It boils down to her knowing, as a doctor, that death is a part of life and she’s always accepted that — and also, she really hates Thawne. I can’t do it justice in a recap.

Barry visits Thawne and asks him why he’s so obsessed with destroying his life, to which Thawne replies that “Destroying [Barry] is [Thawne’s] life.” Again, not a great thing to say to someone you’re trying to convince to save you, my guy. Thawne’s actual story isn’t much better. Almost 200 years in the future, Barry meets Thawne for the first time while Thawne was about to show off his speed or something and it is legitimately such a bad villain origin story I don’t even care about the details. Barry agrees, calling Thawne a sociopath for having such an extreme reaction to something inconsequential. Barry then asks Thawne what he plans on doing once he’s saved, and Thawne tells him he’s gonna keep on tryin’ to murder him. Wow. This guy is really bad at negotiating for his life.

Despero pops up as Barry is leaving Thawne, like an annoying Shakespeare reject jack-in-the-box, and tells Barry Thawne’s gotta die. We know, dude! We all know! Barry tells Despero to kill him himself but Despero says he might come back if he does that. Uh... how? What? Why? If the timeline is erasing him, what does it matter if he dies before it happens? The timeline will still “solidify” or whatever we’re calling it now, so he’ll be erased regardless of whether he’s actually alive at the time or not. But, fine. Add more unnecessary drama.

Speaking of unnecessary drama: Allegra and Chester are against letting Thawne die, because they gotta speak for the stupid side of this argument for some reason. Caitlin, who’s on Team Kill Thawne with Barry and Iris, brings up the same thing I did and mentions that Thawne did this to himself and he’s getting killed by a timeline correcting his mistakes, but Allegra and Chester still think Team Flash has some moral obligation to save a murderer who 1) made his own bed and has to lie in it, and 2) fully admitted that once he’s in the clear he’s going to keep trying to kill Barry for basically no reason.

Frustratingly, Joe is also on the side of saving Thawne and comes equipped with Dad Voice, which is devastating to Iris and Barry’s willpower.

Barry admits that he could save Thawne by taking away his speed, which doesn’t make sense to me because Thawne’s dying as a time anomaly, not because of his speed. But, fine. Before anyone can implement any plan, Despero reappears to make vague threats again and declares that he’ll take matters into his own hands, and Barry calls him out for being a villain and not the hero he claims to be. Since Despero has also mind-controlled Mia into killing Team Flash for not killing Thawne, Barry has a point.

Thus proceeds a fairly annoying parallel fight sequence between Mia and Team Flash and Despero and Barry, in which a character I don’t know (Mia) has to be pep-talked into breaking Despero’s connection to her and a character I don’t like (Despero) does a lot of blabbering. Despero plans on wiping out the city to kill Thawne, Thawne’s time is running out in minutes, and Barry gets some new shoes to help him disconnect Despero from the Flame of Py’tar, which he does — and, of course, Despero vows revenge. Barry then solves the problem of Thawne by taking away his speed.

Ironically for an episode all about doing “the right thing” and being heroes, Barry saving Thawne’s life but taking away his speed seems to have been the cruelest solution in Thawne’s mind. Hm. Funny how stuff ain’t so black and white, huh?

At the celebratory party post-everything, Darhk shows up and is sad he’s not dead yet. Barry tells Darhk he’s really sorry he’s not dead yet, too, and Darhk appreciates the sentiment. Later, Joe chats with Darhk about parenthood and Darhk hands over the Time Stone before being pulled elsewhere. In a bright world of desaturation, he’s reunited with Nora briefly before disappearing and Nora is deposited in his place at the Team Flash party. Joe comforts the distraught Nora Darhk, and Barry makes a nice speech about destiny to everyone else.

Everything seems like it’s over, but then we cut to CCPD and a photograph of officers on the wall, dated 2014. Some little lightning buzzes fade in and out to reveal Bart and Nora West-Allen in the photograph with CCPD officers.

Other Things:

  • Joe: “Barry, why is there a super villain standing in my living room?” Darhk: “Thank you.” I feel like if Damien Darhk were Barry’s arch-nemesis instead of Speedster Obsessed with Speed (Original Flavor) I’d have a lot more fun with this show.
  • This story arc was mentally exhausting. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come for the rest of the season.


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