Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Flash deals with the wreckage of the past as a new threat looms

Grant Gustin
Grant Gustin
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)

For more than six seasons, Team Flash has been zipping from one threat or crisis to another, with little time to reckon with the after-effects of any given disaster before the next one hits. “Central City Strong” acts as a bit of a corrective, aided by its place in this unusual season. This isn’t a premiere, but rather a way station between the conclusion of the Mirrorverse saga and whatever comes next.

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With Iris back from the Mirrorverse, Barry is determined to make up for the fact that he spent months believing her mirror duplicate was the real deal. How better to do that if you’re a recently revitalized speedster than whisking her around the globe for a series of mini-vacations? It’s not that easy for Iris to get over the time she spent behind the mirror, as she learns when she attempts to write an article about the whole affair. Allegra points out that her writing on the topic is shoddily researched and covering old ground, when she should be giving a first-person account of her own experiences. As Iris learns when visiting a Mirrorverse survivors support group, she’s not quite ready to deal with her trauma.

Trauma inflicted through the past exploits of Team Flash also figures into the appearance of this week’s returning guest villain Abra Kadabra (David Dastmalchian). Kadabra reappears in Central City on a mission to assemble three obelisks into an anti-matter bomb with which he plans to destroy the city. (Is this an intentional reference to the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League and its three mother boxes? Who knows.) In a retread of the “bad guy wanted to be captured” trope, Kadabra finds the third obelisk in an ARGUS facility after being too easily subdued by the Flash and Mecha-Vibe. (That’s apparently Cisco’s new moniker, as he learns from the future-dwelling Kadabra.) Yes, the Flash was tricked again—which makes you wonder if it was really such a good idea for him to ditch that super-speed brain.

Brandon McKnight
Brandon McKnight
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)

It turns out Kadabra is bent on revenge against Barry because he was able to remember his pre-Crisis life and the wife and child who were wiped out when the timeline reset. There’s no way to disarm his bomb, as it’s covered with an impenetrable material, so once again Barry has to use his heart to get the job done. (Chester even makes a comment to that effect, which leaves me wondering how often we’re going to hear the same thing this season.) He convinces Kadabra (real name: Filipe) that the wife and child he’ll never know wouldn’t approve of him destroying a whole city, especially since doing so won’t bring them back. It’s a redemption arc that’s cut almost embarrassingly short when a new threat suddenly appears. I have no clue who this is supposed to be, so I’ll just have to go with “some kind of giant CGI guy” for now. (Please, feel free to enlighten me in the comments.)

Anyway, the giant CGI guy kills Kadabra with one swipe and absorbs the anti-matter bomb without much trouble at all. Thus it’s left to Iris to confront her trauma in a way that will hopefully have a more lasting effect than the magician from the future was given. She promotes Allegra from intern to staff writer and returns to the support group, where she speaks on the importance of getting through the aftermath of their shared Mirrorverse experience together. And speaking of sharing experiences together, that’s something Caitlin and Frost will evidently no longer have to do, as they’ve been mysteriously split into two different beings. Team Flash can pause for a moment to process what they’ve been through, but there’s always a new crisis around the corner.

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Stray observations

  • So now Tom Cavanagh is gone from the opening credits, making his appearance last week even more puzzling. I guess the creative team wants to have a Wells in pocket just in case?
  • The mentions of Crisis this week prompted me to check on whether there will be a crossover event this season, and unsurprisingly, there won’t be. Pulling that off with Covid-19 protocols in place is a bridge too far.
  • Speaking of which, the pandemic isn’t happening in the CW-verse, but the effects of the real-world Crisis can be seen onscreen nonetheless. I’m thinking of the support group scenes in particular, where most of the members are seated in socially-distanced fashion.
  • I never identified with Iris more than when she was staring at that blank computer screen. Every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Central, that’s me.
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My debut novel Charlesgate Confidential is now available from Hard Case Crime.