Friday, July 1, 2022

The Flash 8x19 Review: "Negative, Part One" (Converging Convolution) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“Negative, Part One”
Original Airdate: June 22, 2022

The penultimate episode of The Flash’s eighth season has arrived as the first part of a two-part finale — and boy, is it convoluted! I fully expected things to get a little crazy because this season had about ten plots to tie up but not enough content in any of them to slowly roll out information in a way that was intriguing and measured, but this is... a lot. Again, I ask how this show can be eight seasons in and still so bad at pacing.


We start off in 2049, where Bart and Nora are playing some video games before being interrupted by a call from Iris. Then that call is interrupted by Iris disappearing in green sparkles and a younger version of Iris appearing in the room, having been deposited there by our old friend Time Sickness. Or, actually, Deon — but we’ll get to that stuff in a bit. Nora wants to run her not-yet-mom back to the past to get help from Barry, but the same sort of barrier that stopped her and Barry from leaving the Still Force earlier this season is preventing Iris from traveling.

Meanwhile, back in 2022, Barry and Eobard are helping Meena with her training when she decides to push herself too far and gets flung off the superspeed treadmill. Meena has a bit of a freak-out, runs off, and has to be talked down by Barry, who de-masks to reveal his secret identity in order to push the idea of heroes being ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Does Barry enjoy revealing his secret identity to people? Is it just fun for him? Meena is the fourth person this season, after Despero, Chief Kramer, and Mark Blaine. Having calmed down from her crisis, Barry dubs Meena “Fast Track” and they return to the labs.

Over on Lian Yu, Deon kills Thawne by rapidly aging him until he’s naught but a Spirit Halloween decorative mummy. This sends off all kinds of alarms to Team Flash, and Barry zips over to find the corpse. Before anyone’s hopes of Thawne being gone forever get too high, though, the Negative Forces show up to try and kill the other Eobard Thawne. Yeah, that’s right: Negative Forces. The godlike beings the show wasted far too much time on last season, slowly and deliberately converting them from villains to good guys? They’re back, they’re evil again, and they’re duller than ever.

Barry manages to keep the Negative Forces from killing Eobard, but just barely. In the fight, Barry’s speed gets messed up in the same way the accidental lightning bolt from Meena’s Negative Force powers affected him last week. Connecting the dots leads to the Negative Forces realization, and a trip Nora takes from 2049 further reveals that the reason why the Negative Forces are attacking is because cutting Thawne off from the Negative Speed Force disappeared Negative Speed Force Nora and the Negative Forces are now out for revenge. I love writing sentences that would be utterly incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t seen this show. That one’s borderline incomprehensible to people who have seen this show.

Chatting with Nora also helps Barry figure out that Iris’s time sickness was just a way for Iris to infect the other Forces and weaken them, since Negative Deon knew Deon would try to help. It’s not clear why Iris, specifically, was infected or at what point the Negative Forces had access enough to infect her, especially since no one knew they existed before this episode and their existence barely makes sense. The Still Force is the opposite of the Speed Force but there’s also the Negative Still Force and the Negative Speed Force, so they’re opposites of each other and also have extra-extra opposites… Oh, jeez, why do I keep trying to understand the mess of this show’s lore?

Team Flash has to prepare for another showdown with the Forces and Meena is stressing out again and is sorry that Eobard isn’t the one with the super speed, since she never wanted it. Meena’s reservations about being a hero seem to be the closest we get to an emotional foundation of the episode. It’s minor — which is to be expected, since the first of a two-parter isn’t going to be fully formed on levels of character or plot — but it’s there. 

The problem is we don’t know Meena well enough on this, her third episode, to fully dig into what makes her tick. Her fears even shift in the episode, going from the “I want to be a hero but I’m not cut out for it because I’m just a person” panic that Barry helps her through in the beginning to “I never wanted to be a hero, I just wanted to help other people be heroes” panic that Eobard helps her through toward the end. Being a complex person with multiple fears she can’t grasp and verbalize is great for a character, but when it’s all done in the span of an episode it seems like the writers weren’t paying attention and hoped the audience wouldn’t be either.

Anyway, Barry suddenly has the idea of sharing Meena’s powers with Eobard, a thing that has never happened and probably shouldn’t have entered Barry’s mind as possible. The entire conflict of Meena getting powers instead of Eobard is based on the fact that their speedster-generator can only grant speed to one person! And now they can just hold hands and share speed, without halving said speed’s power at all, because Barry suddenly knows that’s a thing? Whatever! Fine! Moving on! Eobard has the Reverse Flash costume and he’s a speedster now.

The fight between Team Flash and the Negative Forces commences, intercut with scenes of Iris having time sickness headaches in the future. Now three speedsters work together against the Negative Forces, while Iris gets visions of events that have happened throughout the episode, including Deon talking about how “sacrifices” must be made. It was assumed that Thawne was the sacrifice, since Deon killed him, but just as Iris realizes that’s not the case, Barry ramps up a lightning bolt to throw at the Negative Forces.

Instead, Deon snaps Iris into the path of the lightning bolt, killing her. As Barry mourns Iris, her body disappears into green sparkles that swoop into Eobard, who starts buckling over in pain. In without a doubt the grossest thing this show has ever done, Eobard peels off his own face to reveal the other Thawne’s face, laughing maniacally.

Other Things:

  • Other plotlines: Cecile can steal other psychic metas’ powers now and she’s becoming the most powerful meta ever, apparently. Maybe we’ll get more info about that next episode. Also, one scene of Caitlin stepping into a machine she and Mark Blaine built to resurrect Frost.
  • The quick-cut edits where Meena’s freaking out by a dumpster weren’t the usual style of this show, but I liked it.
  • Meena, after a Barry-delivered pep talk: “Damn, that’s good.” “I have my moments.” Roughly once an episode, in fact.
  • This episode gets a Cisco mention! I miss you, Cisco.
  • What is this show’s obsession with Tom Cavanagh playing Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne even though that makes absolutely no sense since that is NOT HIS FACE.


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