Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Flash 8x12 Review: "Death Rises" (For Now) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“Death Rises”
Original Airdate: April 27, 2022

After a short break, The Flash is back with the continuation of that little “accidentally provided a physical body to a murderous sentient fire” issue from last episode. Many people die. Caitlin, for grand evil plan reasons, is not one of them. Is the tension of this episode undercut by knowing that the next episode is titled “Death Falls”?


The episode begins with Caitlin getting totally engulfed in black flames, but looking unharmed in the aftermath. Caitlin explains Deathstorm to the others and how he said he was never Ronnie, but Ronnie gave him life. And even though Deathstorm isn’t Ronnie, it still seems to have some kind of fixation on Caitlin, which means Frost puts herself on guard duty while the rest of the team tries to figure out Deathstorm’s plan and how to stop it.

We see Deathstorm kill an old man waiting alone at night at a bus stop with a bouquet of flowers. Aw, that’s some poignant storytelling with very limited cues. Good job, writers. Also great storytelling, from the other side of the tragedy-comedy spectrum: a bunch of CCPD officers are, absolutely straight-faced, taking calls about various attacks from “a skull-faced guy” and “a living skeleton” killing people around town. The deaths aren’t funny, of course, but just the idea that these sorts of reports are the day-to-day for these officers is hilarious. What’s the police training like for CCPD officers in this post-metahuman emergence world? Do they have to take courses in how to recognize actual reports of metahuman attacks vs. the drunken ramblings of people on street corners?

Kramer is struggling with the “weird stuff” aspect of being Chief of Police in Central City, but Joe and Barry reassure her that she’s capable of handling everything and they’re around to help. Her debriefing to CCPD includes a warning that if anyone is currently grieving a recent loss they could be a potential target, even though we established last time that the grief doesn’t have to be all that recent and could happen to people who have largely accepted it and moved on.

Team Flash is on the Deathstorm search and failing miserably because the new physical body ol’ Deathstorm got means he can’t be tracked the same way he was when he was just a lot of fire. When Cecile comes in and mentions how Caitlin is still emotionally hurt, Barry has a little eureka moment and realizes that Cecile’s powers could help because Deathstorm absorbs grief and grief is an emotion Cecile can trace. You know, on paper I would not expect the empath character to be anything more than the standard therapist archetype, but it seems like Team Flash’s plans very frequently rely on Cecile.

I guess Frost and Caitlin are sequestered from the rest of the team for Caitlin’s safety. Caitlin is beating herself up over accidentally setting Deathstorm free and she’s also hurting because experiencing the hope and happiness of getting Ronnie back only to realize he was never back is like losing him all over again. Frost tries to comfort her. Dangerous time to be feeling so much, what with a grief-eating fire demon running amok, but we’ve already established that Deathstorm has a fixation on Caitlin so I guess it’s just redundant.

Chester hooks Cecile up to a monitoring thing so they can use her to find Deathstorm by getting her to focus on “large pockets of grief.” I guess that makes sense to an empath. Not even a minute in, things start to go wrong. Cecile is possessed by Deathstorm, who still wants Caitlin and won’t let a little thing like Team Flash stop him from getting her.

Our primary hero is at a loss for what to do next and we’re in the last third of the episode, which means it’s time for a pep talk! Classic recipe this time: Joe West pep talking Barry out of his “we have no way to stop this murderous fire-skeleton” funk. Joe lists all the terrible big bads Barry has fought and won against over the years, tells him to trust himself, so on and so forth. I wonder if the writers have a quick key for this section of the script.

Deathstorm finds Caitlin, knocks Frost out, and flies away with her. We get a very brief action sequence set to Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” where Barry, well, rides some lightning. Or at least uses lightning as a staircase into the sky, where Deathstorm and an unconscious Caitlin escape through a portal. The Flash has really cut down on their needle drop action sequences this season, perhaps because news came out last year that the CW is phenomenally in debt. Anyway, Deathstorm and Caitlin re-emerge at a carnival, where Deathstorm wipes out four of the visitors and then declares that Caitlin will be his bride.

When Barry finds Caitlin at the carnival, her eyes glow with that Deathstorm silver-black fire and she relays Deathstorm’s message that she’s “not ready yet.” Back at S.T.A.R Labs, Caitlin has run tests on herself. She’s not aging anymore, she’s stronger, and she’s chock full of grief that isn’t hers. She tells the others what Deathstorm said about traveling across the stars for her, they all realize that her not being “ready” means he’s going to kill more people and like... inject grief into Caitlin, I guess? To transform her? I will say this is probably the most weird villain the show’s had in a while.

Barry thinks the portal Deathstorm goes through is a singularity and realizes that Deathstorm and Ronnie really are connected; Ronnie created Deathstorm with grief and science fiction nonsense and Deathstorm has taken seven years from the point in space where he was created to get back to Earth and Caitlin. Chester wants to use the MAC device from his introductory episode as a weapon against Deathstorm. They just need someone to serve as the “anti-Deathstorm” and Frost quickly volunteers. Yay, a new plan! How long will this one last?


A brief update on Iris’s time sickness situation, which is so disconnected from what everyone else is doing that it feels pointless even though I know it has to be a big deal later: When Iris was sucked into the Still Force after Tinya’s retaliation, she could see her past and her present but not her own future, implying she doesn’t have one. She calls on Deon, who is late showing up and comes with the bad news that the time sickness is infecting the Still Force. Deon installs a metaphysical tracker in Iris in case she disappears somewhere again, but I’m not sure how much that’s going to help because then Deon bursts into a cloud of green sparkles and vanishes.

At the end of the episode, Iris wakes up from sleeping in an incredibly uncomfortable-looking chair to find Eddie Thawne standing in the dark. He says it’s good to see her. I tell myself I should’ve predicted this when he showed up earlier this season because The CW wouldn’t waste hiring an actor back for only a single episode.

Other Things:

  • Special mention to the writing of the scene where Iris almost disappears from time sickness: Sue’s ability to go from joking about buying a castle to being an emotional anchor for Iris without seeming disjointed or inconsistent is pretty impressive. That’s a really good character, there.
  • Will Esperanza showing up to fight Allegra mean anything? Unclear. Maybe it’s connected to the Eddie thing.
  • “Trans-dimensional particles!” “Okay, now you’re just making stuff up.” Allegra, is that really your breaking point for the technobabble Chester spouts?


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