Monday, May 22, 2023

The Flash 9x12 Review: "A New World, Part Three" (Cross Road Blues) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“A New World, Part Three”
Original Airdate: May 17, 2023

It’s the penultimate episode of the season and the series, and this is usually when The Flash drops the pacing ball and deflates all the tension that’s been building but I’m happy to say that isn’t the case! “A New World, Part Three” is probably the weakest of this final arc so far because of few logic fumbles and some bizarre choices, but it’s still not bad. And I’m still pretty interested in seeing where all this goes. Accept a polite golf clap and a hum of interest from me, The Flash, because I remain intrigued.


We start right where we left off, with Eddie having just dug a bullet out of his chest to prove his identity (hope that form of identification doesn’t catch on) and Captain Korber trying to make sense of whatever’s happening. “I believe you,” she says, “but this city is a lightning rod for insanity. You could be a clone or a cyborg.” I guess a few decades of comic book nonsense does wonders for a Central City citizen’s self-awareness. Before Korber can rein in the still-reeling Eddie, though, she gets sucked into a blue vortex in the sky. Lightning rod for insanity, you say?

Back at present-day STAR Labs, Team Flash is trying to figure out how to get Barry back before his baby is born but they don’t have much to go on. Thankfully, Speed Force Nora is able to drop in briefly, explain that Barry’s in 2049, and that Barry’s death means the destruction of the entire timeline. Too-da-loo! Wait, is that last part true just for this occasion, or all occasions? Like, will Barry die of old age and destroy the world?

Team Flash of 2049 is celebrating a victory while Nora (daughter-Nora, not Speed Force Nora or mom-Nora) leads the team in her father’s off-world absence. They should also be celebrating the fact that none of them appear to have aged at all in the almost thirty years that have passed. Either the costume and makeup departments decided to take the week off when they were filming the future episodes or The Flash is implying some stuff about anti-aging technology within the next three decades.

Searching for the Flash leads Eddie to the Flash Museum, which is of course right on top of Team Flash’s “secret” headquarters. Eddie starts to freak out because a screen in the museum breaks the sad, sad news that his season one death was all for naught, but he’s interrupted by Nora in a blonde wig, claiming she’s his daughter. Okay, the goofy blonde wig is definitely a point toward the theory that costuming just wasn’t around for the filming of this episode and everyone had to make do. Another vortex appears and Blonde Nora tries getting Eddie to follow her in, but Actual Nora speeds in and saves him, bringing him to Team Flash for investigation.

“Eddie Thawne died 34 years ago. How is he alive and why hasn’t he aged a day?” asks Allegra, who also hasn’t aged a day in almost thirty years. None of you have aged a day! I’m pretty sure Chester still has the exact same hairstyle! Whatever. The team thinks Eddie is triggering the vortexes with his emotions while the writers’ dedication to returning again and again to the Eobard Thawne well gives poor Eddie an existential crisis, since he realizes he died “to stop a supervillain that didn’t stay dead.”

The blue crystal gets Nora just in time for Barry to show up in 2049, but Team Flash of the past has a plan to figure out what’s going on in the future by projecting Cecile into the body of her future self. The plan encounters a hiccup when Cecile learns she no longer spends time with her family in the future, freaks out, and bounces back to the present. This gives Negative Speed Force Nora some time to manipulate Eddie a little bit, fight Barry a little bit — generally cause an echo-voiced ruckus a little bit.

Barry stops Eddie from taking the blue crystal from Nora and they end up in the West home, where Eddie had been living as Malcolm Gilmore. Barry picks up an award for Gilmore that glows blue and briefly shifts into an award for Joe West, which Barry recognizes as a sign of negative tachyons. He theorizes that everything in the life of “Malcolm Gilmore” is made of negative tachyons, as part of the crystal’s plan to make Eddie the avatar for the Negative Speed Force. Why create Malcolm Gilmore in the first place, though? Why not just drop Eddie into the future? I suspect the writers wanted a nod to some comic book Cobalt Blue canon and didn’t fully think that one through, but we’ll see.

While Barry is optimistic that Eddie will work with him to defeat the Negative Speed Force, he underestimates the power of angry disembodied voices and rejection from Iris West. After Eddie looks up 2049 Iris (the only cast member who gets a gray wig, although that’s as far as the aging makeup goes) and she tells him she’s sticking with Barry, a red lightning storm rolls in and he’s stuck on the villainous path.

With her doubts about her future assuages thanks to a pep talk from Chester, 2023 Cecile inhabits her 2049 body again and manages to push the Negative Speed Force out of Nora before Barry has to hurt her or she manages to hurt him, but again the crystal disappears and there’s still that red lightning to deal with. Chester explains that it’s the timeline fracturing, and Cecile promises to warn the team in the past while Barry is pulled away by that glowy blue light once more.

Meanwhile, yet another cover of “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” plays as Eddie rages against fate and then finally succumbs to the voice in the crystal, which has appeared in a glass box in Malcolm Gilmore’s lab. It shows Eddie his potential life, with goofy blonde Nora and Iris, and then shows him all the speedsters of the past. He reaches toward it and opens a swirling blue vortex. Boy, I sure write weird sentences when reviewing this show. I’m gonna miss that.

Other Things:

  • I will admit to a brief moment of finding Mark endearing when he said he loved Barry. Cute.
  • “If by this you mean, just go on and astrally project myself into my future body, protect Barry from the Negative Speed Force, and save all of temporal existence before coming back and teaching Jenna her multiplication tables...” Jenna’s on multiplication tables? Isn’t she like five?
  • Rick Cosnett is a much more charming actor than I remember him being. Some of his facial expressions in this episode are brilliant.
  • It is very sweet how Barry immediately hugs Eddie when he sees he’s alive again and there’s no real awkwardness about the whole Iris thing. And when the awkwardness about the Iris thing does set in, it’s implied that’s mostly because of the angry crystal voice growling at Eddie. Both of them are good dudes.


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