Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Flash 8x02 Review: "Armageddon, Part 2" (Mind Games) [Contributor: Deborah M.]

“Armageddon, Part 2”
Original Airdate: November 23, 2021

Who’s ready for part two of the end of the world, as caused by Barry Allen? Well, let’s be real and accept that there’s no way Barry is actually going to go crazy and destroy the world, but presumably figuring out why he gets the blame for that in ten years’ time should be fun. In order for that truth to roll out, though, we need to get through five parts of this big event and I need to be further confused by the characters and stories of a DCTV universe about which I know increasingly little.


“Armageddon, Part 2” starts where “Armageddon, Part 1” left off: Barry, unmasked, facing Despero after Despero has called a truce between them. Once the show is finished with some comically edited fast cuts between close-ups of Barry and Despero (complete with “THUNK!” noises on the soundtrack), Despero yells and slams Barry on the ground. Understandably, Barry is very confused by this and Despero explains that he was testing out a theory on Barry super-healing, which segues into a speech about pain, and I suspect I’m going to get really sick of Despero’s melodramatic way of talking really fast. Three more episodes of this guy!

Despero says Barry will go evil due to “madness” and then basically calls Barry an emo little wuss because of all the times Barry has let his own pain and suffering almost crush him. Harsh. Despero further monologues about how Barry’s recent influx of power means he’s even more susceptible to falling into madness, which is definitely a new one. So, super speed gives a person super healing, super metabolism, time travel powers, the ability to throw lightning, the ability to phase through walls, speed-thinking, self-replication, and a propensity for going bananas. Cool. Good to know this show is every kid I played superheroes with on the playground when I was little, making powers and weaknesses up as it goes along.

Later, Barry is called in by CCPD to the scene of, as the debriefing officer puts it, “your typical makes-no-sense bank robbery in Central City,” where the on-duty security guard was hospitalized for a supposed mental breakdown. The guard fired his gun in the air, clearing the bank, and when people returned the vault was empty and the guard was “stark-raving mad.” Before Barry can get to CSI-ing, though, Captain Kramer stops him, informs him that he’s been suspended, and tells him that he’s under investigation for federal crimes. Barry tries to get Kramer to let him stick around and investigate, but she decides against it, only promising to make sure the investigation is thorough.

After all that, Barry has told Cecile about his suspension and Cecile is furious. She basically promises to tear CCPD to the ground with a wrongful termination lawsuit, which Barry thinks is a bit extreme and asks if she’s feeling alright. Cecile admits that things have been hard “lately” and that Barry “[knows] why” but before Barry’s obvious confusion over that statement can be assuaged, Cecile gets some kind of psychic feedback from something else in the room with them.

It turns out to be Despero, appearing only to Barry in order to “assess [Barry’s] mental stability.” Hey, Despero, you know what doesn’t help with mental stability? Forcing visual and auditory hallucinations on a person! Anyway, Despero confirms that Barry is not yet crazy enough to destroy the world and disappears. Even Cecile wonders if maybe Despero is what drives Barry insane. But Barry mentions the whole security-guard-losing-his-mind situation and Cecile agrees that Barry’s impending insanity and that guy going cuckoo on the job can’t be a coincidence.

Good thing Barry’s ability to phase through walls means hospital visiting hours are 24/7, baby! Barry goes to the security guard’s hospital room to investigate. As Barry’s reading Security Guy’s medical chart, the dude starts muttering “Xotar” and abruptly jackknifes off the bed. Barry’s phone rings and he starts telling Caitlin about Xotar being their first lead, but he’s interrupted by the news that STAR Labs is getting shut down. The hits just keep on comin’ for Barry Allen today, huh?

Apparently STAR Labs hasn’t had updated radiation scanners in over a week and the city is shutting them down because they’re leaking radiation and are headed for a meltdown. Chester confirms that some of the equipment necessary for proper safety measures has corroded and they are, indeed, in dangerous levels of science stuff I don’t (and will not attempt to) understand. Not only does this mean evacuating STAR Labs and sealing it up, but the end plan is to completely demolish the building. To add an extra level of uh-oh to the situation, STAR Labs is littered with things that would ping it as HQ for the Flash, so Barry orders everyone to clear as much super secret stuff out as they can and skedaddle. This also means getting Gideon to self-destruct after hiding secret sections from the investigators with holograms.

Everyone gathers at the West-Allen loft, where Barry finally tells them about the security guard going crazy and Xotar. At the Citizen headquarters, Barry puts investigative reporter Iris in charge of figuring out who or what Xotar is (or, at least he lets her delegate to her team of reporters) while he talks to his wife about his worries. Iris comforts Barry with the fact that, last time his speed got into his brain with that speed-thinking situation, it had been the prospect of hurting his loved ones that snapped him out of it. Whatever might drive Barry to madness, Iris is certain nothing would push him so far as to hurt the people he cares about.

Iris’s underlings sure work fast. A minute into their conversation, Iris gets a text saying that Xotar is a meta who uses psychic abilities to get into the minds of her victims and make them go crazy. Barry quickly finds Xotar stealing diamonds, attacks, and suddenly finds himself in a semi-destroyed West-Allen loft with Allegra, Caitlin, and Chester all on defense against him. Barry has faced how many psychic-based metas at this point? And he went after Xotar — someone he thinks interacting with will eventually lead to the end of the world — with absolutely zero psychic defenses? Either he’s suddenly very dumb, the writers are very dumb, or absolutely nothing we think is happening is actually happening as we think it’s happening.

After cooling off and double-checking that Barry’s back in his right mind, everyone makes plans to capture Xotar and set up various STAR Labs alternatives. Barry zips around the city looking for Xotar, but is interrupted by the reappearance of Despero, who finally gives his tragic backstory: the planet he’s from was under the rule of a despot, he was a rebel staging a coup, his side won but Despero chose to spare the overthrown leader and the evil leader regained power and unleashed worse horrors. Despero lived but was banished, so he adopted Earth as his new home. Will we get an explanation for why Despero chose to meddle in the timeline of Earth instead of just going back and killing that evil leader on his home planet? Only time will tell.

In Chester’s garage and after he’s just finished telling Allegra a dramatic story about how he’s a pacifist but Frost wants him to build a weapon against Despero, some alarms go off and Chester gets in contact with Barry. Xotar is doing an art heist mid-transport. Barry runs to stop her, but it turns out Xotar also has telekinesis on top of psychic powers and she tries to bend Barry into a pretzel as she holds him fifty feet up in the air.

Barry wins against Xotar by blasting her with lightning (and damaging everything around him as well, but whatever). She gets cuffed, all her victims are returned to their non-crazy state, and it’s smiles all around until Barry mentions getting Joe to whip them up some lunch. Caitlin, Allegra, and Chester are all confused and the cinematography starts to go all floaty as each of them inform Barry that Joe West died six months ago.

Alas, it’s not increased super speed powers that will lead Barry to madness but tragedy, and it seems to have hit him well before Xotar entered the picture. Barry has completely forgotten the death of his father-in-law despite giving the eulogy at his funeral. When Barry zips over to the West household and starts babbling to Iris about investigating what really happened to Joe, Cecile interrupts and begs him to stop and just let everyone move on. The “ominous music” (as described by my closed captioning) ramps up until Iris gets an alert that the Flash is all over the news, having gone on some lightning-throwing rampage through the city.

Now with proof that Barry’s gone crazy, Despero shows up to kill him with his creepy third forehead eye. Cecile gets knocked out when she stands up to him and the next attempt gets stopped by one of Chester’s gadgets when he and Allegra suddenly appear. Despero is confused by why everyone wants to protect Barry when it’s clear he’s going to destroy the world, then promises that he won’t spare anyone who gets in his way next time.

Other Things:

  • There is just something really funny about Barry looking into a crowd of normal looky-loos at the bank robbery crime scene and seeing Despero staring back at him, wearing that ridiculous space-age Ren Faire costume he’s got on.
  • Very limited crossover stuff this episode: just Alex from Supergirl on a monitor and an ending scene at the Hall of Justice in which Black Lightning shows up to frown as Barry dramatically says he needs his help with “injustice.”


Post a Comment