Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Flash 9x09 Review: "It's My Party and I'll Die If I Want To" (Hello Again!) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“It's My Party and I'll Die If I Want To”
Original Airdate: April 26, 2023

The Flash producing two episodes with titles that get songs stuck in my head was unexpected for this grand finale season, but here we are. This week: some familiar faces, a lot of angst, and just a sprinkle of nostalgia makes for an episode that’s more thoughtful than fun but still pretty entertaining.


We open the episode with the reminder that — thanks to some de-aging gamma rays last season — Barry is only twenty-nine on a cellular level and about to turn thirty for the second time. His friends want to throw him a surprise birthday party, which should open the doors for some shenanigans but, unfortunately, I was right on the money when I predicted the previous episode to be the last bit of levity for the season. How did this show manage to take a throwaway gag about Barry gaining a few extra years and make it into such a bummer?

Good news, though: the guests at the party include Wally West and John Diggle! We haven’t seen them in forever, so that’s nice. Well, it would be nice if Dig didn’t bring the vibes down by presenting Barry with dead Oliver Queen’s bow. Then he reminds Barry that Caitlin and Frost are also dead. Jeez, Dig, who taught you how to celebrate a birthday, the Addams Family? You wanna take over the A/V system and run a whole “In Memoriam” segment listing all the people in Barry’s life who kicked the bucket?

While everyone else makes a valiant effort to keep the festivities actually festive, things really go downhill when they all toast to Barry and pass out after a single sip of champagne. Probably thanks to speedster metabolism, Barry and Wally are the only ones left standing when the culprit, Ramsey Rosso, a.k.a. Bloodwork, arrives to boast. Bloodwork’s still singing the same old song as before: he wants to save people from grief by stopping death. It doesn’t make sense in so many ways, but we’ve already set the theme for the episode on “death” thanks to Dig’s awful birthday party etiquette so, sure, why not. 

Oh, Chester is also still around, since he didn’t toast with the rest of the party! He’s left to deal with everyone turning into Bloodwork zombies while Bloodwork takes Barry and Wally on some mental guilt trips. Thus proceeds a disjointed series of scenes in which Bloodwork berates Barry for all the people who have died around him and turns Wally against him hard enough that Wally phases his hand into Barry’s chest and kills him.

Barry wakes up outside and we get another surprise: Oliver Queen is in this episode too! Apparently Oliver’s afterlife is that island he spent years stuck on, which sounds like it really sucks. He’s still all in tune with the multiverse or whatever thanks to being a Spectre, though, so he probably doesn’t care? Anyway, Oliver tells Barry that the multiverse is back, Wally’s been connecting to other worlds and not other timelines like originally thought, and Bloodwork wants to use his connection to Wally to spread his “lifeblood” across all universes. Ugh. There’s something so gross about the way they keep calling it his “lifeblood.”

Barry’s upset because he got three extra years while his loved ones died. Oliver tells Barry that people will always die, but he should honor their sacrifices and continue being a “guiding light” and a hero for everyone. It’s what Barry needs to hear in order to become more sure of himself and give Oliver the power to bring him back to life. Which Oliver does by punching Barry in the face.

Barry wakes up on the floor of STAR Labs and is helped to his feet by Oliver, who gets a temporary trip to the land of the living because the multiverse is in danger. Barry accuses Oliver of having missed him, but Oliver mostly seems to have missed his bow, which he retrieves from the case that Diggle brought. He dramatically invites Barry along to “go kick some ass.” Before the commercial break, there’s a cute bumper graphic of the Arrow green arrow surrounded by The Flash lightning flashes.

Bloodwork’s caused a breach in the sky over Central City that’s infecting the multiverse, and Barry says they need an ultraviolet pulse to clear the infection. Bloodwork appears, with Wally under his control, and Barry’s attempt to get through to his brother-in-law fails because Wally now “worships at the altar of Bloodwork.” Again, the name makes it sound like Wally has a religious fervor for diagnostic testing.

Wally zips Barry away while Bloodwork sics his zombies on Oliver, who makes some hilarious annoyed expressions before diving into a quick fight sequence against the zombie horde. Yeah, Ollie, I also find zombies to be severely overplayed in pop culture.

Meanwhile, back in STAR Labs, Khione has found a way to freeze the Bloodwork zombies and manages to clear the “lifeblood” (ew) out of Diggle’s system. Chester and Khione recruit Dig to help Barry out by handing over his Spartan helmet. I think? I’ve had to look up so much Arrow-related stuff in order to understand what’s going on in this episode, people, so I’m only like 50% sure I’m right about anything.

After a quick speedster chase sequence through the city, Barry gets through to Wally by apologizing to him and telling him he’s strong enough to fight whatever darkness he feels is inside. We know it’s working because we get several heartwarming flashbacks to previous Wally moments in the show, and then Wally is himself again. Huzzah! He apologizes for killing Barry. Barry’s pretty chill about it.

Oliver wins a fight against more zombies, but then Bloodwork himself challenges him... only to be blasted away by Diggle. Oliver and Diggle hug. There’s sweeping music and everything; it’s very sweet, but is interrupted by Bloodwork in his “gross giant monster” form. Barry and Wally arrive to lasso Bloodwork with speed lightning, giving Oliver the opportunity to tell Bloodwork that he has “failed this city” and then shoot the breach with a glowing green arrow. I would normally mock how Oliver’s “You have failed this city” catchphrase makes no sense in this context, but you know what? I’ll give it a pass for nostalgia’s sake.

All the Bloodwork zombies are gone, and even Bloodwork is no more: Oliver cleared the entire multiverse of his evil cells, making him just regular ol’ Ramsey Rosso again. Ramsey’s upset because it means his HLH will kill him, but Oliver barks that he took care of that too. I don’t know if it stands out because it’s been so long since I watched Arrow or what, but the way Stephen Amell delivers some lines in this episode is absolutely hilarious. He keeps saying things like the director told him to act like consonants cause him physical pain.

Even though Oliver can really only be alive so long as the multiverse is in danger and it’s no longer in danger, he sticks around for the rest of Barry’s party. It seems happier than the first attempt, but we still get some emotional little moments, like when Diggle talks to Oliver about Felicity and the kids and Oliver says he can’t visit them. Diggle’s just glad he can tell Oliver goodbye this time, and the two hug again. Aw!

Before the episode ends, Oliver and Barry share a drink at O’Shaughnessy’s and we get a cute little moment where Barry says he’s saved Central City 180 times, the current episode count for The Flash. The meta continues, with Barry giving Oliver all the credit for starting his path as the Flash. Before disappearing, Oliver wishes Barry a happy birthday.

Other Things:

  • How does Bloodwork know everything that’s happened in Barry’s life? Has he been watching the show?
  • “If you’re really here, that means I’m—” “You’re dead. Otherwise why would I let you hug me that long?” Hee. Did Oliver gain a sense of humor after dying?


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