Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Flash 6x04 Review: "There Will Be Blood" (Always Be Saving) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“There Will Be Blood”
Original Airdate: October 29, 2019

We’re dealing with death again this week on The Flash. Appropriately, to accompany Team Flash’s struggles with the probability of Barry’s demise during Crisis and Ramsey’s struggle to defeat death itself, we have more dark matter zombies. Zombies make a great metaphor for mortality and the dangers of attempting to circumvent death, only to end up a monster of your own making. Also, it’s Halloween week, so they’re great spooky decorations! Anyway, while all that is well and good, the real star of “There Will Be Blood” is acting. My goodness, there was some stellar acting this episode.


Team Flash still seems to be coming to terms with Barry’s future doom. It’s actually really sweet how much everyone — even a newbie like Ralph and the prickly Frost — cares about Barry. Say what you will about any other element of this show, but The Flash does the “found family” trope incredibly well.

Cisco is reacting the worst out of the lot. Even when Barry manages to pull a promise out of him to just accept that Barry has to die, you can tell that Cisco’s lying through his teeth when he says it. Barry catches on to Cisco’s mood and decides he can ease his friend through these dark times by giving him something else to focus on: saving Ramsey Rosso instead.

I always like when an episode of The Flash gives us a thematic center that all the plots revolve around, and this week’s version of that is: “You can’t always save everyone, but you can always save someone.” This is Barry’s approach with Cisco, trying to get him to understand that being unable to save his friend doesn’t mean forever failure — that, as a team of heroes, there is always someone else out there they can save or help in some way and in this case, it’s Ramsey. Iris delivers a little bit of the theme to Ralph, who’s working on a missing persons case (searching for Sue Dearborn) but has given up in the wake of hearing Barry’s news, and Joe practically embodies the idea as a genuinely good police officer dedicated to serving Central City.

So Barry wants to save Ramsey. He manages to get Cisco to agree, but only because the perpetually smudged Nash Wells shows up and seems to distract Barry and Cisco into making a deal with him. Nash wants Cisco to build him a circuit necessary to his plans on Earth-1, and in return, Nash will get Barry and Cisco into McCulloch Technologies. The McColloch lab holds a serum capable of healing organic tissue of anything, which is exactly the sort of cure for all ills that never, ever works in TV shows or movies. The trio breaks into McCulloch Technologies, but Cisco secretly swipes the serum and lies to Barry, saying it wasn’t in its special sub-zero safe.

Cisco’s lie backfires immediately, which I find pretty wonderful. That’s something that would usually fuel an angst-fest for at least three episodes on this show, and it lasted an act break. I hope that bodes well for this season’s pacing. Despite being found out, Cisco holds his ground and threatens Barry not to go near the serum, then gives us the first stellar acting moment of the episode. Goodness, the pain Carlos Valdes delivers when Cisco talks about the unbearable possibility of waking up in a world one day without his best friend in it — I easily forget how talented the actors on this show are because it’s a silly comic book show, but man.

Barry explains that he wanted Cisco to be his partner on saving Ramsey because he wanted Cisco to take over Team Flash after he’s gone, and being the leader means making tough decisions for the greater good. In Barry’s mind, the tough decision was ignoring the serum’s potential to protect Barry from the antimatter blast during the Crisis, and using it to save a single person, now, instead. Grant Gustin perfectly balances the empathy and disappointment of Barry finding out he’d chosen wrong in his decision to name Cisco the new team leader, by the way. (Acting! It’s the star of the episode!) Chastised, Cisco tells Barry he can do what he wants with the serum and Barry delivers a possible cure to Ramsey.

Unfortunately for Barry’s heroic dedication to saving Ramsey, Ramsey quickly turns to villainy when the STAR Labs cure fails. The dude goes from “just a man desperately trying to survive” to “I gotta murder all the people” in, like, fifteen seconds. He thinks the key ingredient in Romero’s blood that made it a viable healing solution when combined with dark matter was the adrenaline (epinephrine) coursing through Romero at the time of his death. Apparently Ramsey got his magnificent reputation as a doctor and a scientist without ever realizing that you can literally buy just about any chemical, including epinephrine, online for remarkably cheap and just combine that with his blood samples. Buying necessary testing materials from reputable online sources? Nah. Time to murder!

And murder he does. Barry is understandably shocked to find the guy he just got into a fight with his best friend about saving has turned murderous — and has turned multiple people into undead, black-fingered dark matter zombies. Barry and Frost try their best to stop Ramsey, but he gets away while his creations go all gross and melty. Why did that happen? Does Ramsey have a self-destruct button on all his dark matter zombies now?

I gotta be honest, there’s a lot about the Ramsey/Bloodwork plotline that seems... convenient, I suppose, is the right word for it. Barry just met the guy and he’s suddenly top on his list of people he can save with that serum, even knowing that Caitlin/Frost no longer trusts him and Barry himself caught him trying to steal dark matter. Then Ramsey’s turn from a well-meaning but desperate doctor to a perpetrator of multiple gruesome homicides was far too fast and, as I mentioned earlier, completely unnecessary for someone who could buy the ingredients he needs off the internet. Now his powers have expanded to being able to liquify his creations — which I assume will be his “calling card” for CCPD/Team Flash to find throughout the season in order to remind us he’s out there — and I get the impression that the writers were desperately trying to find ways of making what really looks like a metahuman-of-the-week-level villain into a season arc foe.

But I can’t criticize the show too much because then it smacks me in the face with even more stellar acting, this time delivered by the duo of Jesse L. Martin and Grant Gustin. Joe, who hasn’t weighed in much regarding the impending Crisis over the past couple episodes, finally breaks down at how unfair Barry being the Flash truly is. Joe gets to help people as a police officer and then retire and live out the rest of his life, but Barry gets to die? He saves the world over and over, never truly being recognized for his efforts, and then has to die at the end of it all — it’s unjust, and for a man who sees Barry as his son, unbearably painful. Barry tries to comfort Joe by telling him he’s thankful for all the inspiration and lessons in being a real hero Joe has given him over the years, but his kind words just make Joe sob harder while they hug.

Well, that was heartbreaking.

Other Things:

  • I’m glad the new Wells isn’t a whisper-talker or a person with a funny accent this time.
  • Maybe that cure for Ramsey would’ve worked if the actual biochemist of the team hadn’t been riding shotgun to a surly ice meta.
  • “It’s not like I’m looking to get married,” Ralph says about Sue Dearborn. Cute, show.
  • It appears that Nash is actually hunting down The Monitor. Intriguing.
  • Next time: Looks weird! Can’t wait!


Post a Comment