Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Flash 6x14 Review: "Death of the Speed Force" (Not So Happy Returns) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Death of the Speed Force”
Original Airdate: March 10, 2020

We have an episode of returns this week: the show returns from a brief hiatus, Cisco returns from his travels around the newly created Earth Prime, Wally returns from wherever he’s been since we last saw him in season five, and Barry returns to his natural state of screwing everything up and feeling really bad about it, then coming up with a stupid plan that’ll probably make it all worse somehow. We love a speedy idiot.


The episode opens with a crashing helicopter. Why? Unclear. All we know is there’s a helicopter, it’s crashing, and Team Flash spots a speedster on radar, rushing to its aid. They assume it’s Barry, but it turns out it’s Wally, who is back in Central City and full of zen.

Cisco also returns from his travels, accidentally crashing Wally’s welcome party. No hard feelings, though. It saves Team Flash from having to throw a second party, so everyone’s happy! Well, except for Iris — who is still behind the mirror, missing out on seeing her brother again for the first time in years. I’m not sure how much the show intends the Mirror Iris story to be pathos and how much they want it to be intriguing mystery, but the pathos is winning out for me while the mystery is merely frustrating. Just like Iris missing that real connection with Barry during the Valentine’s Day episode, her not actually getting a reunion with Wally is such a miserable missed opportunity.

After the party, Barry and Wally offer to put their speedster powers to use in cleaning up the mess. While zipping around, Barry seems to lose his powers and trips, adding that little “hiccup” to a growing list of similar events he’s been experiencing (but not telling anyone about) since the end of Crisis. Wally confronts Barry and confesses that he didn’t just show up in Central City to reconnect with his family; he wanted to talk to Barry about the issues he’s been sensing in the Speed Force.

Meanwhile, the lady from the helicopter crash at the beginning is being rude to a Jitters barista. I would generally be intrigued by why a person might get targeted by a metahuman villain, but being rude to service workers? Yeah, that’s all I need. This lady can get mummified. Which is exactly what happens, when a meta in green shows up, freezes time, and in a flash of green power, Russian Lady is dead on the floor, having aged about eighty years in a second.

When CCPD (and Cisco) arrive on the scene, it’s Cisco’s new post-Crisis anomaly knowledge that gives them a culprit. Jumping off the pre-existing meta named Turtle, Cisco names this one “Turtle 2.” It’s really not his best work. This plotline is also not all that compelling when you’ve got another storyline going on that (if stuck to) could potentially alter how this show’s universe works completely. So, suffice to say, Turtle 2 gets apprehended by the end of the episode and that’s all you need to know.

Wally thinks he’s just having a conversation with his sister, but Mirror Iris clearly sees an opportunity to sow a little discord and subtly hints that the Speed Force problems may stem from Barry’s confrontation with it while under Bloodwork’s control. Kamilla comes in and takes a picture of the two of them together, but Mirror Iris tells Kamilla she should delete it for “security” reasons. Both Wally and Kamilla exit their conversations with Iris feeling like something is off about her.

Using his ability to mentally project into the Speed Force, Wally pulls Barry in with him and they end up in the copy of Barry’s childhood home — the last form the Speed Force took with Barry. The representation of the Speed Force still looks like Barry’s mom, too, and she’s dying. Well, that’s gotta be awkward. After the Speed Force says they’re dying because of something Barry did, Wally and Barry return to reality.

Wally is furious, and for good reason. Barry, in his usual “if I ignore it it’ll be fine” fashion, has known something was wrong with his powers (and the Speed Force, by extension) for months but didn’t tell Wally, even though he would also be affected. Actually, every speedster is affected — all the way down the line, well into the future. Wally’s projections into the Speed Force gave him visions of his children and his children’s children all having speedster powers, but when the Speed Force started acting up, that line of speedsters ended.

To a small amount of credit, Barry tries to right his wrong as soon as he realizes the full scale of what he might’ve done. He goes back into the Speed Force via a tachyon enhancer and apologizes to it, but it turns out that the Bloodwork situation wasn’t the cause. For a moment, Barry thinks he might be off the hook. Then the Speed Force clarifies that it was during Crisis, when Barry took some energy from Spectre. So... yeah, Barry. Still your fault. Oops.

The Speed Force, still wearing the form of Barry’s mother and essentially acting like his mother, dies. Yep. That is indeed very awkward, and sad, and I know I call Barry an idiot and a screwup a lot but the dude really doesn’t deserve to watch his mom die multiple times in one life.

In the aftermath of the Speed Force’s death, Barry and Wally have a finite amount of speedster power before it’s all gone forever. On the one hand, I guess it’s a bit of a challenge for the writers to slip into every episode — on the other, it’s going to severely diminish all the fun the show can have with Barry zipping around, doing stuff. But then again, maybe this dramatic element won’t last very long at all: when Nash is revealed to be possessed by Eobard Thawne and the necessity for speedster powers becomes even more necessary with his “I’m going to kill you and everyone you know” threats, Barry gets the bright idea to model an artificial Speed Force after Thawne’s Negative Speed Force. Oh, taking inspiration from your arch nemesis, Barry? No way that’ll end poorly.

Finally, Kamilla is in the Citizen offices looking at the photos on her camera. She notices the one Mirror Iris told her to delete is still on there, throwing some alert that causes the image to shift and reveal Mirror Iris’s mirror-ness. Somehow, Mirror Iris knows the picture Kamilla is looking at is the one that tells her secret, and she shoots Kamilla with the mirror gun she got a few episodes ago.

Other Things:
  • We’ve all accepted that Cisco is filthy rich, right? There’s no other logical explanation for how he could finance his trip around the world. The breaching device they used to use to get places doesn’t work anymore and Cisco had his powers removed again after Crisis was done, so no free travel there.
  • So, Mirror Iris has all Iris’s memories and can tap into her emotions for any given scenario, doesn’t have a complete connection with Eva but is physically affected by what Eva does, and she doesn’t appear to have any personal motivation for anything. I am very confused about... everything to do with her. Fingers crossed the show actually clarifies things.
  • Still don’t get why Eobard Thawne has anything to do with the multiverse of Wellses. He shouldn’t be possessing Nash. That doesn’t make any sense.


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