The Flash: Armageddon concludes not with a bang but with a superhero ethics seminar

Mia Queen, the future Green Arrow, drops in for "Armageddon, Part 5"

The Flash: Armageddon concludes not with a bang but with a superhero ethics seminar
Jesse L. Martin Photo: Jack Rowand (The CW)

“Armageddon, Part 5" plays more like a protracted epilogue to the story that more or less wrapped up last week. It ties off a few loose ends and extends the crossover by coming full circle back to Green Arrow—although not the same one we met back at the birth of the Arrowverse. Aside for a few brief bursts, the fireworks show is over and it’s time for a drink and a chat.

That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if the chatter in question wasn’t so familiar. We’re back to the old questions of what it means to be a hero, and whether killing is ever the right answer even if the result benefits the greater good. Barrels of ink were spilled on these conversations in comic books for decades before the Arrowverse launched almost ten years ago, and we’ve heard them many times on Arrow, The Flash, and other branches of the family tree. There’s no fresh spin to put on this ethical conundrum at this point, and the solution ends up being something of a cop-out anyway.

But before we get into all that, here’s the good news: Joe is back! And not just as unheard voice on the telephone this time. Jesse L. Martin makes his first appearance of the season, and he gives us the full Joe West experience. He’s moist-eyed when Barry joyfully embraces him, if a bit confused since he’s not yet aware that he was dead for a while. But he’s fired up when it comes time for his pep talk, absolutely scorching Barry and Iris for even considering letting Thawne die. Heroes are the choices they make, and Joe leaves no ambiguity about where he stands.

Is letting someone die the same thing as killing them? Especially if they caused the event that is going to bring about their demise in the first place? That’s the real ethical dilemma here, but it’s only addressed in a few throwaway lines. Joe is the voice of moral authority, and he says heroes save people no matter what, so that’s the end of the discussion. For everyone except Despero, that is. A party guest who has definitely overstayed his welcome, Despero chews down the few pieces of scenery still standing in his insistence that Thawne must die. This actually makes the quandary much easier to resolve: If Despero is against saving him, it must be a good idea.

Enlisted as his unwilling ally in this mission is Mia Queen, the offspring of Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak and the Green Arrow of the future, who has come back to 2021 in search of her missing brother. Despero takes over her mind briefly, so we get a brief burst of arrow action before Iris and Cecile get her to snap out of it. That leaves Barry to defeat Despero in one of the more cartoonish super-battles in recent memory. It’s an important one in Flash history, however, as it’s the first to feature the golden boots, a creation of Chester’s that somehow allows the Flash to sever Despero’s connection to his home world’s flame.

The anticlimactic resolution to the Thawne conundrum involves permanently (pause here for laughter) removing his speed and locking him away in an ARGUS facility. You see, taking away Thawne’s speed prevents him from disappearing from the timeline because of…reasons. I’m sure they were mentioned and made perfect sense. But don’t worry: a brief glimpse of what’s to come when the show returns from winter hiatus reveals more timeline shenanigans to come.

In the end, it’s time for Team Flash to party. And for another Barry speech about heroism. And for Damien Darhk to stick around long enough to have one final reunion with his daughter in some sort of neon limbo. And for Chester and Allegra to flirt awkwardly. And for Joe to be the dad everyone needs. The timeline bends, but it never quite breaks.

Stray observations

  • A couple of cinematic homages this week: The reveal of Barry’s new boots was preceded by Chester opening a case to reveal something unseen glowing within, ala Pulp Fiction. And the episode concluded with a close-up of a black-and-white photo revealing Bart and Nora present at New Year’s Eve 2014, in a nod to The Shining.
  • Mia Queen’s quest is left unresolved, perhaps to be continued in some other corner of the Arrowverse, wherever Diggle is being the Green Lantern.
  • It’s time for a long winter’s nap, but The Flash will return on March 9, 2022.

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