Tuesday, May 9, 2023

The Flash 9x10 Review: "A New World, Part One" (Everything Is Blue) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“A New World, Part One”
Original Airdate: May 3, 2023

It’s the beginning of the end! We’re in the home stretch now, with the first part of a four-part arc that will close out the season and, ultimately, the series as a whole. And I’m happy to say that we’re off to a good start with this part one episode, which delivers some intriguing mysteries, decent emotional moments, and enough of a complete storyline to make it feel like both the start of a multi-parter and a decent story in its own right. Also, there’s a lot of blue. For reasons.


The episode opens on a bouquet of fake blue flowers, then pans over to a man in a blue suit getting ready and singing an off-key rendition of “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” by Elton John. We don’t see the man’s face, but he’s leaving from the West family house. He arrives at his work and it’s more obvious that the color grading has a distinctly blue hue to it. The building security guard hands over the man’s forgotten ID badge, which is also blue. That’s when we get the big reveal that the guy’s played by the same actor as Eddie Thawne.

We get some quick scenes of our usual characters which don’t factor much into the episode, but I do want to mention that Khione’s scene heavily leans on blue and green, including a strange and obvious fade to green transition. Her hair is blue, her ice powers are blue, but her apartment is painted green and has a lot of green plants. I mention this because green also comes into play throughout the episode, though not as obviously as blue. Just thought it was noteworthy.

It’s been nine months since the start of the season and Iris is now super pregnant. As Barry explains that he’s meta-baby-proofing the loft with dampeners, Iris gets the notification of her Pulitzer nomination. Before they can celebrate too much, Barry is transported by a blue light to the year 2000. “What’d I do this time?” he asks upon arrival. Well, we can’t say he’s not self-aware.

Attempting to travel back to the future by super speed yields poor results, so Barry goes to CCPD to get Joe to help him find Dr. Tina McGee. While Barry’s acting suspicious and contemplating a fake name to give Joe, he looks over at a desk calendar and sees that it’s March 18, 2000 — the day his mother was killed by Eobard Thawne. Is killed? Will be killed? Time travel is really hard to write about.

Trying to call Professor Stein from a payphone also doesn’t get Barry anywhere, but the payphone does happen to be located across the street from where his parents are walking. Barry starts toward them but a speedster blur knocks him into the road, unconscious. The Allens see him and Henry runs to stop a car from hitting his future-son, while Nora comments that Barry looks just like her father. Nora calls 911 on a flip phone. Those were the days.

Waking up in the hospital, Barry starts freaking out because his parents are still hanging around and he doesn’t want to upset the timeline. Dr. and Mrs. Allen invite the anxious, sketchy stranger they found in the middle of the road out for pizza, which Barry can’t help but accept because when else would he get the chance to have pizza with his dead parents?

Meanwhile, CCPD investigates Barry’s accident site and Joe hears a disembodied, growling voice. He turns to find a blue crystal, and when he picks it up his eyes glow blue.

After dining on pizza, Nora and Henry invite the anxious, sketchy stranger they found in the middle of the road to stay at their house for the night. I know they’re probably overwhelmed by “this is our son from the future” vibes but holy moly, guys. Inviting people you don’t know to crash at your place is not safe behavior, especially when you have a kid at home.

Barry flees, stopping in an alley — where he’s found by Eobard Thawne. It’s Original Face Thawne, too! That’s a nice surprise. In the heat of the moment, Barry threatens to kill him with the ol’ vibration hand but stops for hero reasons. Thawne takes Barry out for a beer, which is actually pretty funny. As is his wont, Thawne tells Barry he’s going to kill him and there’s nothing Barry can do about it. Barry agrees, which seems to throw Thawne for a loop.

Upon finding his parents in the hospital room where he’d woken up, Barry tells them how grateful he is for their love and how it made him the man he became. Well, he frames it as something his alias “Bart” would say to his dead parents, who are actually his dead parents, who are actually alive to hear him say it. It’s confusing but it’s sweet. The Allens and Barry say goodbye, and Barry hears the same mysterious growling voice that Joe heard earlier.

He finds Joe standing in an empty hospital hallway, lights flickering ominously overhead and speaking in a way that indicates he’s aware of Barry’s time travel mess. Despite all signs pointing to this being a bad situation, Barry is relieved that Joe knows who he is and only realizes something’s wrong when Joe’s eyes glow blue. “You’re not Joe,” he says. Duh-doy, Barry!

At first, Barry thinks he’s the Negative Speed Force Avatar, but Not-Joe says he isn’t because Barry killed that entity. Instead, he’s “the real deal” — the actual Negative Speed Force — and he’s going to make Barry pay for what he’s done. Not-Joe blasts Barry into a wall, which is heard as an explosion in the rest of the hospital. In a cute little bit of continuity, the doctor who helps evacuate the hospital by calling a “code green” (told you there were green mentions as well as blue!) is Rachel Rosso, mother of Ramsey “Bloodwork” Rosso.

More blasts and tremors happen throughout the hospital as Barry and Not-Joe fight. Barry can’t kill Not-Joe because it would mean killing actual Joe, but Not-Joe really wants to kill Barry. As Not-Joe is about to make the killing blow, Barry uses the power of love (i.e., remembering Iris and baby Nora on the way) to channel his speed and blast the Negative Speed Force out of Joe. Barry sees the blue crystal that had possessed Joe next to his unconscious body, but the crystal disappears before he can investigate further. Joe gets a superspeed trip to his patrol car, where he comes to in understandable confusion, hands shaking.

Barry runs to cut off Thawne in front of the Allen residence. Thawne thinks he’s there to save himself, but Barry declares that he’s there to save Thawne, which earns him an incredulous look in response. Barry brings up Thawne’s absolute joke of an evil origin story: 170 years in the future, Thawne wants to make his debut by saving a crowd but gets usurped by Barry and henceforth declares the Flash his nemesis. Barry apologizes (even though it’s stupid) and asks Thawne to simply walk away, or else risk losing everything. 

Of course, Thawne doesn’t and Barry’s own origin story proceeds, with Thawne attacking and killing Barry’s mother in a scene we’ve seen dozens of times since the series began. We even get Barry encountering himself from one of those other instances of him traveling back in time, which is a nice touch.

Thawne runs from the house, but his speed has been depleted. Barry finds him in the street and Thawne figures out that Barry living and his mother dying is a fixed point, which Barry already knew about. He also knew that Thawne would wind up trapped in Barry’s timeline. While Thawne rages at Barry for being a big mean meanie, Barry thanks him for giving him one last day with his parents. I guess Barry still thinks Thawne was the one who sent him back in time? The blue transportation light hits Barry again, ripping him out of the year 2000.

In the final scene, the man from the cold open is listening to a cover of “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” while working in his blue-tinted office. Thunder rumbles and the power goes out. He walks to the window, where a distinctly Speed Force-y storm is brewing, and is struck by lightning. When he wakes up, he finds a classified police file for Eddie Thawne and wonders who that man with his face could be.

Other Things:

  • Another mention of blue this episode: Cecile says Joe feels like he’s “singing the blues inside.”
  • I love the delivery/timing of Barry’s “I call everyone Captain. Hey, Captain. Morning, Cap. It’s a weird thing I have.” bit. Grant Gustin’s comedic chops should’ve been utilized more on this show.
  • The lighting for the section of the hospital where Barry and Not-Joe are fighting is graded green and blue. Thematic! But why?


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