The Flash Brings Armageddon To Rivervale!

I finally got my obligatory annual cat post out of the way. (Now they tell me the cat blogging tips?) That oughta keep the Meow Mafia off my lap for a little while. Now here’s SPOILERS for how the last four installments of “The Flash: Armageddon” & “Rivervale” transpired plus a bit of bonus Beebo & ZEP!

Despero is serving Waverider’s function from Armageddon 2001. Martian Manhunter became Despero’s achnemesis by default, so it’s odd he’s not the Supergirl alum guest starring. We shouldn’t have to settle for J’onn vs. Jemm. He & Kara (Is the Supergirl in The Flash movie Lara Kent? Watch her be named Cir-El for bonus confusion.) are offworld, but Clark may just be in his Smallville bubble. Are we sure Despero constantly telling Barry he’s watching him when he goes bonkers in a week isn’t what makes him break bad? Unless he’s Van Gogh or an invisible man, don’t trust Tony Curran!

After showing off that he can think faster than a telepath in part one, Barry lets himself be whammied by another in the second. Is it Gorilla Grodd, Psi, Rainbow Raider, Rainbow Raider II, The Top, Brainstorm, Psycho Pirate, or Psych? No, it’s brand new meta Xotar. Wait, like from Big? Oh that’s a really deep cut name they drew out of a hat for a completely distinct character.

An undetected radiation leak cause STAR Labs to be shut down. That seems long overdue. Gideon sacrifices herself to prevent Barry’s alter ego being doxed in the process. Couldn’t an advanced AI figure out a more advantageous workaround? Barry’s also suspended from CCPD while under investigation for federal crimes.

Barry doesn’t remember Joe West dying six months ago & Jesse L. Martin’s still in the opening credits, so there’s something fishy going on. He doesn’t trust himself anymore, so he nobly requests Black Lightning remove his powers via the Injustice Protocol. Zapping Barry with lots of lightning was somehow supposed to disconnect Barry from the Speed Force. Jeff decides that the Injustice Protocol is unwarranted, & their obligatory superhero scuffle is mercifully brief. Barry & Jefferson Pierce interact with each other so damn well!

Cecile needs a brain power boost to find Barry before Despero’s four lobed brain, so she calls in a favor from The Top. (It’d make more sense to ask one of The S-Forces.) Vomit Vixen would be a good alternate cryptonym for Rosa Dillon. If she’s The Top, would that make the late (?) Mirror Master “The Bottom?” When Chester connects her & Cecile to the neural crown, why are the electrodes stuck to their necks not temples? Although his brain is more powerful, Despero was waiting for them to find Barry for him. D’oh!

Iris’s incomprehensible time sickness (really, that’s what they’re calling it?) returned, but Dion is treating her for it. This allows her to see someone killed her father by changing the timeline via the Negative Still Force. If the Still Force is the opposite of the Speed Force, wouldn’t the Negative Still Force just be the Speed Force? Or is the Negative Speed Force just the Still Force?

Ol’ Fin-head gives himself a boost by siphoning the condemned particle accelerator, which undermines The Flame Of Pytar, after an oddly placed classic cover homage. (The Queen’s Gambit 2: Space Zugzwang will pit Beth Harmon against alien conquerors for the fate of Earth! Why are there no tribute videos of her set to “One Night In Bangkok?”) While Barry skedaddles to the future to find out what exactly will go wrong, Jeff makes Despero’s third eye blind! When Barry travels to 2031, he see Eobard Thawne engaged to Iris.

When The Flash tries to fix the timeline: “Damn it, Barry!”

When Reverse-Flash corrupts the timeline: “You’re doing amazing, Eobard!”

Eobard & Barry switch supersuits. (This would’ve been a cool surprise if it wasn’t in the promo photos a week early.) They even replaced Barry with Eobard in the opening ala Buffy’s “Superstar.” No wonder The Tale Of Despereaux got confused. Thawne’s backstory in the comics involved being a scorned Barry Allen fanboy, so it tracks that he’s usurping his life. The new Reverse-Flash outfit lacks the black smudging of the original to look more comics accurate, although oddly the red lightning is inversely vibrant to its yellow.

Flash_ReverseFlash

“Now you have to lose because you’re wearing bad guy clothes!”

Much like Gotham’s series finale, the characters have refused to visibly age during the intervening decade. Chester’s dreadlocks are a big step-up from the oily sadness wig Barry borrowed from flashback Oliver for the Savitar future. Seeing Thawne gaslight Barry is fun since the surrounding characters don’t realize anything changed. (Just like the regular timeline after he killed Nora Allen & Harrison Wells, which “Misunderstood Gideon” ought to prioritize correcting.) Who is that mystery dude next to Ryan Choi at the wedding party? Is Batwoman’s red speedster enemy an evil Jesse Quick or a female Red Death? Two-Face exists now.

Damien Darhk is the Beeboverse’s go-to magic villain, which makes him more like Felix Faust. (He guest starred on an episode of Constantine. I’m still uncertain whether that series was set on the former Earth-1 or if its universe’s Columbo cosplayer was just played by Matt Ryan too.) In this Reverse-Flashpoint, he & haslF killed Vibe & The Legends. Barry convinces him to help him undo it by appealing to his love for his daughter, whom is deceased in this future. Barry’s heart to heart with Damien is one of the better emotional beats.

On the other paw, the episode awkwardly stops for a whole conversation about Allegra’s & Chester’s troubled romance. Maybe they shouldn’t be together if she’s going to sabotage their relationship so badly? This altverse Ryan Choi isn’t married with children because he’s also a caddish bounder. Why didn’t Sentinel & Batwoman bring their wives to the West-Thawne wedding? Why did Eobard wait so long to put a ring on Iris? Ryan Wilder marries Sophie Moore. Chillblaine stopped cockblocking himself with Killer Frost. Since this is an alternate future that’s been undone, it’s doubtful any of this will matter going forward. Iris betrays her fiance when his archnemesis weakly explains they’re actually soulmates?

This crossover features twice the guest Ryans at no additional cost! (It would’ve gotten really confusing if they put all the Beeboverse’s Noras in one scene.) Since this is an alternate future, the new Batwoman still hasn’t met any other superheroes yet. Ryan Choi finally put on an Atom costume. It looks more like Ray’s classic comics suit. It makes sense that Ryan’s suit is less clunky than Ray’s armor since it’s future tech. (Meanwhile in the Rebirth comics, Ryan got saddled with Ray’s TV armor.) His costume is basically a recolored Flash suit, which is acceptable since XS once gave her dad a costume made by Choi from her timeline. Do they even count as nanites if they’re not courtesy of Ray Palmer?

Time travel is still wildly inconsistent, but I’m mostly letting it slide since it’s in service of an entertaining story. Why did Barry not have the same memory of Joe dying as everyone else did? If Thawne killed him as a baby, how did he become this timeline’s Reverse-Flash & why will he only stop existing at the stoke of midnight in 2031? Do both Thawne & Wells exist with the same face here? Why does Barry need to run around the whole world to time travel instead of doing laps inside STAR Labs? Barry’s global sprint to open up a portal to un-do all of Thawne’s changes causes a wake of destruction that destroys the planet. Eobard chases him back through time, which somehow prevents the Earth from being armageddoned. Or the world is still destroyed, but it doesn’t matter since this future won’t happen anymore.

Much like “Flashpoint” & “Doomworld,” it’s more efficient that they didn’t devote multiple episodes to this Reverse-Flashpoint. (Quit putting “reverse” & “negative” in front of everything, Eobard!) Dragging it out would’ve opened up even more paradox plot holes. Just giving us the juicy highlight was more effective. It also avoids viewers once again deciding Eobard screwed things up for the better.

What works less well is dragging the Despero conflict out so long. First he wants to kill Barry immediately, then he gives Barry a week to prove he won’t go mad, spends it constantly asking him “Are you crazy yet?,” & then decides to kill him before the week is up anyway. If his 2031 gets destroyed by Reverse-Flash disastrously racing around the world, why’d he come to harass regular Flash in the first place? From his perspective it’s the nefarious mustard speedster continuing to be evil that breaks the Earth not the heroic ketchup speedster gone mad. Da Sparrow (as one DC editor supposedly pronounced his name to great confusion) didn’t even know either was Barry until he unmasked in the present.

In restored 2021, Eobard asks Barry to keep him from dematerializing from existence. After eight seasons, we finally learn why he hates Barry so much! A time traveling Barry will accidentally undermine him to the public just as Eobard was about to unveil he duplicated his idol’s powers. In another overdue moment, Caitlin decides they should just let Banana-Flash die for good this time. Despero also advises this as the only way to definitely avert the Armageddon of 2031. It’s mentioned how hsalF mysteriously resurrected every time they thought he’d died, which reinforces how pointless this ethics conundrum is. Allegra’s & Chester’s veto is overruled until Joe guilt trips Barry & Iris into helping Thawne.

This change of plans motivates Despero to destroy Central City with The Flame Of Pytar to prevent them from endangering Earth. Visualizing it as a literal crimson flame helps differentiate him from numeous other psychic supervillains. Despero also controls the chronally displaced Green Arrow II to attack STAR Labs. Barry belatedly realizes bloodthirsty Despero was actually the despot of Kalanor. Chester upgrades Barry’s boots to finally be golden with future tech so they can redirect energy. By running around his impressive fires sepents, Barry cuts off Despero from The Flame Of Pytar & he vanishes. Since he’s a time traveling alien, it’s unclear whether he’s permanently defeated.

Barry somehow saves Eobard’s life by cutting him off from The Speed Force. Now that he’s no longer dying, Eobard is outraged he’s no longer a speedster. Then they lock him up at ARGUS so they can party. Nora Darhk cameos to bid her father farewell again.

This event never assembles a full Justice League, unless you count the penultimate part’s wedding party. Since they’ve mentioned he has quadruple lobes, I was hoping they’d replicate Connor Hawke & Ray Palmer vs. Darkseid from “Rock Of Ages” but with Mia Queen & Ryan Choi vs. Despero. Although that’s somewhat disappointing, the guest appearances were written well. They story could’ve happened without them, but I appreciate the series not being insular at the moment. Everybody felt in character (except purposefully Atom II) & there were plenty of references to other series without being impenetrable to casual viewers. If you do watch all the shows, it felt rewarding for it to acknowledge them as well as The Flash’s history. Hopefully more Beeboverse series can do low-key crossovers too. Next Dr. Caitlin Snow needs to have a talk with Dr. Mary Hamilton about being railroaded into supervillainy.

While the mechanics of “Armageddon” don’t hold up to scrutiny, it was still enjoyable to watch. That’s the big ineffable difference between it & last season. Each episode had some intriguing novelty so it didn’t stall out on the stupid. Fingers crossed that this signals the rest of season eight will be a return to form. The West-Allen kids will continue mucking with the past in March. Who will be the new Ralph Dibney? Give Allegra a supersuit!

~

Rivervale_CherylBlossom

This would’ve been an Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom reference if it wasn’t incredibly problematic.

“Rivervale” doesn’t adapt any of the horror tales including Afterlife With Archie that made people recall Archie comics existed prior to the show. Veronica isn’t a vampiress named Vampironica (If you’re not familiar with Vampirella, it just sounds dumb.), Jughead’s not a werewolf, & the Blossom twins aren’t competing to be The Anti-Christ. I’m very glad we dodged another zombie survival story, but they could’ve done an entire season of weird mysteries. Riverdale has been teeny-bopper Twin Peaks since day one, so it’s about time it finally got bizarre.

Nobody cares that the town sacrificed its inferior ginger since the maple syrup began flowing again except his mom. (Archie might’ve been murdered to give KJ Apa paternity leave.) The second episode was the least successful since its theme was looser. La Llorona may have aborted Betty’s & Archie’s child. Toni takes up her mantle to spare baby Anthony’s life. Did Betty not tell Cheryl this? The domestic Jabitha & Veggie strife didn’t even need supernatural overtones. Ronnie bashing up Bella was uncalled for.

Riverdale did Angel Heart with Kevin as its crooner. True to form, he’s quickly pushed aside. His Tom Jones cover is even upstaged by Veronica’s Lady Gaga. Veronica condemns Jonas Brother lookalike Nick St. Clair to perdition & there was much rejoicing. Now that she isn’t stuck in ruts with Archiekins & Daddykins, this is the best Veronica’s been since she stopped doing team-ups with Betty. (Do the actresses not get along, or do the writers just not know where their awesome is?) Her Babylonium has random torch guys as a fire hazard on the casino floor. Much like Preacher, I don’t think it should be possible to sell others’ souls without their consent.

Although played by a CAOS alum, Lou Cypher isn’t portrayed by Lucifer’s actor. Since He can shapeshift, that’s not a dealbreaker. CAOS had a Riverdale not a Rivervale though. (Technically The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina ought to be abbreviated as TCAOS.)

Lou Cypher gives Jughead an exclusive interview without asking for his soul. Either Jughead publishes the interview to great fame but has permanent writer’s block, or his creative juices will flow but he’ll never publish the interview or anything else. He chooses the former. When he can’t capitalize upon the universal acclaim the infernal interview brings him with any new writing, he gladly ponies up his soul to have the restriction removed.

Barchie boning was a harbinger of Armaggeddon! Betty’s going to be the fulcrum in the final battle betwixt Heven & Hell! She stabs the Trash Bag Killer to death only to discover it was her FBI ex-boyfriend who was possibly switched in by Satan. (What’d Greyston Holt ever do to The CW to get the short end of the stick on this, Batwoman, & The 100?) Jughead views Betty & Tabitha very differently. Pop’s Chocklit Shop is protected by The Virgin Mary’s tears because God appreciates its milkshakes!

More than usual, “The Witching Hours” was pure costume porn. This triptych actually has a reason for Madelaine Petsch to be playing Abigail & Popyseed Blossom in flashbacks. Rather than being Cheryl’s ancestors, all three are the same woman cursed with immortality using aliases. To circumvent the curse, Sabrina transfers her soul into Nana Rose’s dying body so she can be reunited with Thomasina Topaz (with big hair full of secrets) in the afterlife. It’s Choni endgame adjacent! (Petsch decided Cheryl was a lesbian during the pilot.) There’s even an axe murder for those vehemently opposed to Foni, plus Blossom kissing not-Betty for Shelbyville scraps. Rosemary Blossom’s soul gets transferred into the younger Blossom bod, but I’m not sure if it’s still immortal. This humongous Cheryl retcon further confirms that the Rivervale events have no direct bearing on the main continuity. (Apparently there was an American war & a pox outbreak in 1890, but it’s unclear if it happened in the mainline Riverdale alternate universe or just  Rivervale’s.)

After all that hype, Sabrina Spellman was only in three measly scenes. She didn’t even bring Salem! (Adeline Rudolph doesn’t reappear as Minerva Marble or her CAOS character either.) She makes an allusion to having come back from death, but that doesn’t make up for the terrible end of CAOS since this is an altverse tale. Although Sabrina is integral to Archie Comics, I would’ve preferred a Prudence cameo.

The end of Rivervale is also the 100th episode of Riverdale. Although it wraps up the event nicely, it also mostly abandons the storylines of the earlier episodes. Those events are shrugged off as dreams in favor of bringing back the dead in a zanier conclusion. So this event is an anthology where arguably only the bookend installments are integral. You can hop around all five based on your preferences in characters & horror homages.

Jason Blossom speaks for the first time ever in “The Jughead Paradox!? (Cheryl, Love Quinn, & Wanda Maximoff should’ve been in a “My twin brother is dead!” grief support group together.) As a mad physics teacher, Dilton Doiley finally feels like his comics counterpart. Archie, Ben Button, Clifford Blossom, & Hal Cooper come back along with Ethel, whom never died. Fred Andrews, Polly, Midge, & Joaquin stay deceased. Jughead the Rod Serling impersonator is killed, leaving another Jughead perplexed by this anomaly & his meatextual comic book collection in need of bags & boards.

The original Reggie, Ross Butler, returns to battle his replacement, Charles Melton, for Ronnie’s romance. Veronica offers to be the meat in a Mantle The Magnificent sandwich, but the would-be bread is too jealous to fulfill her erotic dream. They end up dueling each other to death on Betty’s & Archie’s wedding day.

Dead Rivervalens break the fourth wall by reading Archie Comics in The Sweet Hereafter of Pop’s. It’s a huge upgrade over CAOS’s minimalist art gallery. Much like the season one dream, the characters are dressed more like their classic comics counterparts (even if they’re modern additions). Jughead finally looks like himself again with his crown back. So why don’t they dress the cast like this more often?

Rivervale split off as a pocket dimension from Riverdale due to a confluence of Barchie love, Hiram hate, palladium, a bomb, & Cheryl’s curse. While Dilton wanted to witness both universes dying as they collided together, Ethel tells Jughead he can save Riverdale if they recreate the explosion in Rivervale. Not wanting to kill Barchie again, Jughead suggests he & Veronica take their places. Tabitha is not consulted about this. With both her beaus dead, lusty Veronica is weirdly into making Vughead canon. Yuck! Luckily crazy Archie strangles her first. Having learned the rules of this dimension whilst dead, he’s killing everyone who learns of the prime universe. He insists his dad will resurrect soon since nobody stays dead in Rivervale right before his jilted bride shoots him. This is the most entertaining Apa has ever been allowed to be.

Before Bughead blow themselves up to restore the prime universe, Narrator Jughead tells them how they can save both Vale & Dale. He says the other Jughead simply has to use his imagination to sustain both as a reality writing battery. He oddly insists there’s a distinction betwixt Writer Jughead & Narrator Jughead. Not only does this plan succeed, Writer Jughead gets Riverdale’s Betty & Archie to leave the house before the explosion. Jughead was in the garage when the bomb went off, so alternatively Rivervale is his concussion dream. Do you really want to take the boring cop-out again though? Now that the superior Rivervale is spared, why must we return to Riverdale?

Riverdale has always been a series with gorgeous cinematography & production values even if its writing rarely measured up. The “Rivervale” arc justifies that beauty. Its surreal supernatural nature feels worthier of this effort than a meanderingly dour soap opera that resolves all its potential weirdness in the most mundane ways. “Rivervale” finally made Riverdale as cuckoo bananas as people erroneously said it was! It may legitimutantly be the best the series has ever been. Now where are the videos of Rivervale Cheryl set to the songs of the original The Wicker Man? You had one job, YouTube!

~

The Flash’s & Riverdale’s last seasons were among both series’ worst. (Riverdale season five was slightly better than four though.) This season, both are off to much more promising starts. These five part events weren’t perfect (The second installment was the weakest in both.), but they didn’t overstay their welcome. Is this a Christmas Beebo Day miracle? Let’s hope both can maintain this level of quality when their seasons resume in March.

Now that he starred in his own prime-time animated special, Beebo Saves Christmas, when will plush Beebo dolls & other swag finally be available? Ernie Hudson has a perfect Santa voice. Tweebo is Zari 2.0. Beebo receives a DC’s Legends Of TomorrBo DVD. Now I want to see that! The moral about not being obsessed with your own traditions was similar to Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas. Thank you to The Roku Channel for giving ZEP-heads & ZEPrechauns such a wondrous sendoff for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist!

A Spider-Man: No Way Hope collaboreview is web-slinging to you next blog!

6 thoughts on “The Flash Brings Armageddon To Rivervale!

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