It makes sense that an episode largely dealing with Joe West’s supposed death would strive for big emotions, but “Armageddon, Part 3" pushes the emote-o-meter far into the red. Full-blown hysteria is demanded of Danielle Nicolet in three different scenes, which is probably at least one too many. It’s certainly understandable that Cecile would react badly to both Barry forgetting Joe’s death and Iris speculating that it never really happened, but when you combine her frenzied performance with Tony Curran’s Beyond Ham turn as Despero, there’s a near-constant need to reach for the remote and turn down the volume.
Maybe that’s why Cress Williams is such a welcome presence this week. His Black Lightning serves as a calming, unflappable center to the histrionics swirling around him. When Barry shows up at the Hall of Justice demanding that he implement the Injustice Protocols that will rob the Flash of his speed forever, he doesn’t freak out about it. He tries to reason with Barry and find a rational alternative. Since that’s not how Barry operates, it isn’t long before they’re throwing lightning at each other, but at least Jefferson tried.
Last week Barry lost both his job and his headquarters, but what he’s really worried about is losing his mind, especially since he couldn’t remember Joe’s death. I speculated last week that Barry might actually be right for once and that some time meddling could behind Joe’s absence, and lo and behold, Iris backs me up this week. Security footage of Joe’s accident at the train station seems to reveal him blipping out of reality right before the train runs him over, but Cecile isn’t hearing any of this, so Iris and Allegra set off to investigate on their own.
Iris changes her mind when a look at the full security footage appears to confirm Joe’s death, but when the strange particles she spotted hovering over the train tracks later reappear, she starts to suspect her time sickness is allowing her to see some sort of anomaly. This is confirmed when Dion the Still Force shows up for their regular time-therapy appointment and is also able to see the temporal isotopes. He deduces that someone has tapped into the Negative Still Force in order to change the timeline. But who could it be?
In an effort to track down Barry before Despero can, Cecile enlists Rosa Dillion, previously the Sam Scudder associate known as Top. They combine their psychic forces via a Chester-engineered gizmo and are eventually able to pinpoint Barry’s location despite Cecile’s initial meltdown over being privy to so many minds at once. Over at STAR Labs, it’s hard to believe there’s anything left of the set at the rate Curran is chewing the scenery. His Despero reactivates the particle accelerator and absorbs its power, which only pushes him to greater heights of comic book acting. The man knows what part he’s playing.
Meanwhile at the Hall of Justice, Black Lightning is skeptical of this whole Despero story and wondering why Barry is determined to give up so easily. They zap each other for a while until the Arrow memorial gets knocked over and Jefferson takes the opportunity to remind Barry that Oliver Queen didn’t sacrifice himself for the Flash just so he could give up his powers. Despero arrives to finish Barry off, but Jefferson is able to keep him occupied long enough for Dion to lend Barry the Still Force energy he needs to find the weird temporal activity he seeks.
He finds it, and this is where the real fun starts...alas, two minutes from the end of the episode. In 2031, he follows signs for a West party into a restaurant where a celebration is in progress. Some familiar faces are gathered to honor the happy engaged couple: Eobard Thawne and Iris West. This is a moment that could come straight off the cover of a Silver Age Flash comic. You can almost see the thought bubble over Barry’s head as he sees his wife embracing his greatest foe.
It took three weeks to get to the point where I actually feel invested in what happens next on “Armageddon,” but the return of Tom Cavanagh is welcome indeed, and the prospect of his Thawne teaming with Neal McDonough’s Damien Darhk to torment Barry has me hopeful that “Part 4" will kick things up a notch or two.
- Did you catch all the party guests at the end? I’m sure I didn’t, but I definitely did a double-take at Chester with long dreads.
- Can Barry really be permanently severed from the Speed Force? They know each other pretty well. I think she owes him one.