Does The Flash Season Eight Run On Empty?

Move over, Superman & Lois season two review! Now it’s time for the rest of The Flash season eight! This has been mostly downhill since the fun XS & Impulse team-up, but we’ll run through those SPOILERS momentarily. This one’s gonna take a while to read since there was so much nonsense, which means I have to complain even harder that Legends Of Tomorrow deserves better!

While there are strong arguments for why superheroes shouldn’t be cops, The Flash makes a solid case that superheroes & law enforcement need to at least coordinate to accomplish anything. Captain Kristin Kramer is frustrated that Flash keeps dumping off crooks at the police station without indicating what he brought them for in. CSI Barry Allen thinks he can fix it just be doing extra forensic work. Similar to Superman’s relationship with the DOD, this didn’t use to be an issue since the position’s predecessor was the superhero’s father in-law. Fortunately Kramer is on a better redemption track than Lt. Mitch Anderson. She deduces Barry is the Flash just before he unmasks to her. Like the previous Goldface appearance, the rest of the runtime is filled up with supporting characters’ romance woes of dubious interest.

We keep getting told about Barry & Iris being the best couple, yet we hardly see them interact. The romantic escapades of the supporting cast get more screentime despite not being as compelling. Do the leads have some behind the scenes beef where they want as few scenes together as possible? Or do the writers have their romantic priorities out of whack? Showrunner Eric Wallace has complained about writing West-Allen on podcasts, so it’s more likely the latter.

I was surprised at how moving the unrequested return of Jaco “The Hotness” Birch was. Even though the death of Henry Allen is old news, Grant Gustin deserves kudos for so successfully selling Barry’s grief. Even the subplot about values in journalism was unexpectedly nuanced. Unfortunately it was afflicted with some sloppy plotting like Jaco somehow getting free of his meta-cuffs offscreen & the team believing he’s a murderer contrary to Barry. How did Birch not get charged with escaping custody, assaulting city employees, & property damage from inadvertently almost erupting a volcano beneath Central City? It’s nice to see a successful redemption arc though.

Iris & Sue Dearbon are an unexpectedly good duo. Iris finally has a lady friend who’s not family or an employee. She actually asks Iris how’s she’s doing. Sue ought to become a permanent fixture on the series.

Phantom Girl exists without her connection to LOSH much like XS. Tinya Wazzo is a silly name. It’s growing on me. Is she going to be in the potential Justice U series starring Diggle? (Is that still happening? It doesn’t sound like it should still be happening.) Iris accidentally banishes Wazzo’s estranged mom from the present due to her malignant time sickness. Does anyone understand time sickness?

Iris leaves Allegra in charge of The Central City Citizen while she’s in Coast City. Allegra spends the whole time in STAR Labs instead of the office. (Allegra Garcia is a main character because Wallace invented when he did a grimdark stint writing Titans. It’s strange that he changed nearly everything about this obscure villainess when her adapted her to TV, but kudos to him for pushing his creation.) This is why Iris should’ve hired Linda Park instead.

Caitlin’s botanist boyfriend took the ludicrous explanation for why she’s preemptively dumping him surprisingly well. (Or he left his job to work construction in Riverdale.) Now she probably regrets it since she didn’t resurrect the right Ronnie Raymond. Caitlin makes a good point that Barry & Iris constantly do high risk stunts to save each other. It’s a much clearer double standard parallel than Scarlet Witch calling out Doctor Strange. Unfortunately for her, her mission backfires spectacularly.

This mysterious Black Flame is the show’s attempt at doing Blackest Night without being able to use Black Lanterns. Allegra did say “Blackest Night” the same episode we got Deathstorm (not of Earth-2). They’re using his later Brightest Day design, a distinction that McFarlane Toys didn’t grasp. At first he seemed like he was killing the grieving with cold fusion fire, but then it turned out he was just going after those closest to Caitlin who weren’t ever seen before. The actual main characters are plagued by mocking ghosts instead. (“Eddie Thawne” notes his suicide to stop Reverse-Flash was pointless.) Once he’s fully corporeal, his victims don’t matter much.

Deathstorm

Why can’t’ it deliver fire writing worthy of these visuals?

Barry turning lightning into stepping stones is cool use of his upgraded boots that unfortunately solves nothing. He just finds out that Deathstorm comes from the same place as Chester’s black hole. He only copied half of Firestorm’s form when he got sucked into the singularity between seasons. (That isn’t something I’d ever wondered about.) He alludes to being Nekron without saying the name.

Romantic Deathstorm wants to transform Caitlin Snow into bride of Deathstorm. Why is she so attractive to supervillains when her personality can best be described as beige? (Danielle Panabaker does her best acting when she does a confused face.) To thwart him & protect Caitlin, Killer Frost volunteers to be transformed into an anti-Deathstorm by beaming extradimensional sorrow particles into her brain. Deathstorm tells her he can’t feed off her because she’s not a being that has any unique grief of her own. He talks about Icicle creating her in a lab like a clone, which does nothing to clarify the ongoing confusion of Killer Frost’s origin.

Chillblaine realizes he can unlock Frost’s new powers by making her weep over Caitlin’s predicament. She powers up as Hellfrost, which disappointingly manifests as just a darker wig. Although she now has his powers, Hellfrost defeats Deathstorm by tearing the fusion splicer off his chest. Couldn’t someone have done that without the fuss? Then she collapses. Caitlin literally injects Killer Frost with cold fusion, which is apparently on hand in their med lab, to restart Frost’s healing. She dies anyway, but it’s a fitting end for her.

The funeral for Killer Frost made me feel like we were really mourning Legends Of Tomorrow. Vibe & Elongated Man didn’t even attend, unlike dialogue-free Sue in Wednesday Addams attire. If you blinked, you would’ve missed her though. Where’d Sue go afterwards?

Sue references Ralph Dibny once, but we don’t see him this season. There’s no in-story explanation why he can’t swing by to help or be with his sweetheart either. His omission is awkward. It’s like the fictional character is being punished for his actor, albeit less gruesomely than when Ruby Rose quit being Kate Kane. Why havenn’t they just recast Elongated Man already?

I don’t care that they made Blockbuster a one scene baddie in a mocap suit minus the mocap because knockoff Hulk was only slightly interesting once Underworld Unleashed turned him into knockoff Kingpin. Allegra calls Chester “Condiment King” (Batwoman says he exists in the Beeboverse.) for Runk-splaining hummus, whereas Barry wins a CCPD hot dog eating contest. Barry & Joe go out of their way to honor Frost’s legacy rather than comfort Iris as she grapples with potentially fatal time sickness. Did they switch minds with Dr. Carla Tannhauser, who cares more about Iris’s ailment despite not interacting with her before than her quasi-daughter’s demise? Iris vanishes again for four consecutive episodes!

Why did Deon betray Barry in his fruitless search for Iris through The Still Force with XS? The next episode he & Joe barely have a conversation about Iris being missing since XS says she didn’t blink out of existence in 2049. It really deflates the tension having confirmation this isn’t permanent. Why can’t XS ask Iris how they rescued her in the future?

Iris disappearing due to time sickness is a lousy retread of her being stuck in the Mirrorverse minus everything that made that arc work. Not only did Candice Patton get to stretch her acting chops as the secretly sinister Mirror-Iris, regular Iris was proactive in enacting an escape. In this arc, Iris is absent altogether. Whereas Barry became frantic to recover his wife when he discovered the ruse & thrashed his own friends to yank her out, now he’s just glumly resigned that it’ll work itself out eventually. Remember in season three when he was obsessed with averting her death despite it seeming like a fixed point? This season devalues Iris. Candice Patton deserves better!

Dr. Snow is barely present for the final arc, yet her absence is shrugworthy. Caitlin & Chillblaine try to clone Killer Frost in her apartment. I appreciate her perseverance in doing mad science until something works regardless of consequences. That’s how I approach art. Barry ruins that project. So I guess she either has to turn evil or fall in love with Mark. Their next plan is to stick Caitlin in a pod they somehow snuck into her apartment to give her cryokinesis & hope that reignites Killer Frost’s psyche. We don’t find out to what degree they fail until next year.

There a a variety of nifty speedster effects like superspeed forensic research in Caity Lotz’s episode. (Now if only there was someone who’d greenlight more Legends Of Tomorrow episodes for her to direct too…) Various characters keep saying Flash has leveled up to be faster than ever, yet he still has difficulty battling non-speedster foes. Barry gets whammied by a scientist stealing youth like Vulture in the 90’s. The effects of this accelerated aging are considerate enough to be mostly internal to avoid dubious old age makeup. Barry’s vanity is struck by barely noticeable gray temples. You’d think he’d ask Jay Garrick for help with fading powers. The medical evaluations were outsourced to Gideon so I didn’t miss Caitlin. While it seems like a zany transformation episode, it’s largely about the crushing inevitability of mortality. So Abra Kadabra turning Barry into a marionette would’ve been more fun. Joe gets the most meta moment of existential despair during the opening D&D game. David Singh gets to be more than generic police chief for once.

The Arañas are named after spiders, get yin-yang tattoos, & are run by light metas. Could they be any thematically less consistent? Sunshine dresses like The Ray. Cutting Iris out of the journalism-centric episode is as awkward as insisting snitching to the press about already wanted murderers is the thing that’ll directly topple their criminal empire. Allegra’s fight was was cool because she fights scrappy for for someone with a luminous cardiovascular system. Why can’t she teleport through light like Sunshine? She works better as suerheroine than a substitute Iris.

It still feels fatophobic to cast a trimly muscled actor as a character that’s obese in the comics. Calling a rotund character Chunk wasn’t a sensitive move in the first place, but this causes a different issue. Casting a fat actor as Chester Runk wouldn’t have offensive so long as they toned down the stereotypical awkward nerd dialogue. He could stand to be more Stefan Urquelle & less Steve Urkel regardless of his weight. Somebody hacks Chester’s files, but it never comes up again.

Although they have negative romantic chemistry, a romance between Chester & Allegra keeps being teased. Since nobody is invested in their will they or won’t they dance, the writers need to give it some resolution & focus on other threads. Either decide they work better as platonic pals or write them into a compelling couple.

Why do people keep calling Barry a natural speedster? He got his powers from the particle accelerator sabotage. He’s just as artificial as the rest of them. Only XS & Impulse are natural speedsters.

It feels like they waited until the antepenultimate episodes to cram in as many disparate plot threads at breakneck speed. Cecile is Rainbow Raider, Meena is Trajectory, & Diggle isn’t Green Lantern. The episode had plenty of flashbacks to assorted cancelled series, which may’ve been more overwhelming than edifying.

“The Man In The Yellow Tie” isn’t Robert Kanigher. It’s Eobard Thawne with his original Matt Letscher face. Getting killed before WWI by evil Robo-Legends didn’t slow him down! Ray Palmer cameos to explain that to Barry without actually clarifying anything. He got the info from Nate after he retired, which is confusing since Heywood was last seen entering the Air Totem before its current bearer was arrested by time cops. So that presupposes the Legends will be freed for Nate to be able to leave the Air Totem in 2022. Unless they meant during the team’s overall retirement brokered with Misunderstood Gideon, which means it’s not a continuity error yet their former teammates may be jailed indefinitely. DAMN AMBIGUOUS PARADOX!

After losing his memory & speed, the still mysteriously alive Thawne got a job at Fast Track Labs & fell in love with his boss, Dr. Meena Dhawan. Villains being redeemed by love is an interesting notion that unfortunately gets less development than Lex Luthor falling for Nyxly. Didn’t we just do this arc minus the romance with Godspeed? Unlike Singh, Dr. Dhawan is played by a genuine Desi, Kausar Mohammed.

Thawne’s resume is even more pitiful than Clark Kent’s. They build a machine that will grant exactly one person superspeed, & Thawne uses it on Meena to save her from a heart attack. Barry takes her on as an apprentice, but the Negative Speed Force powering her swiftly turns her into an evil speed junkie as usual. Thawne saves the day with an obligatory speech about love. If she’s powered by the Negative Speed Force, why isn’t her lightning red? She gets a very spiffy supersuit as Fast Track.

Diggle asks other Thawne to help opening his mysterious space box that has too many sides to be a cube. It opens to show him a space slideshow once Thawne says “Cosmic Odyssey” & “Source Wall.” Then Diggle says he’d rather spend time with his family than play cosmic cop & the box vanishes. Thawne the audience surrogate is pissed off that he didn’t even get to see the Green Lantern ring after all that foreshadowing. WB must’ve wanted this plot threat nipped in the bud since an HBO Max series is incoming.

2022 Iris gets dumped into 2049 where it’s discovered her time sickness is from being filled with negative tachyons. They were put there by Negative Deon, who knew they’d poison positive Deon & the other S-Forces when he was treating her. Oh, apparently there are Negative S-Force avatars that are played by the same actors in the same costumes. They never bothered mentioning this very confusing yet crucial plot point until the penultimate episode. There was a Negative Speed Force Nora, but she was killed offscreen when Barry cut off Hsalf from his powers.

Negative Deon kills Cavagh-Thawne. Barry tells Fast Track that she can empower Letscher-Flash just by holding hands & thinking about love, as if that’s something he’s done before. Before Barry can destroy the Negative Forces with lightning, Negative Deon teleports Iris in the way as a sacrifice. Her being fridged by her husband would be a huge downer if it wasn’t obvious she’d be saved in the season finale. Iris’s temporal energy is beamed into Letscher-Thawne, & Cavanagh-Thawne claws his way out of him. This is a very convoluted way to repower Reverse-Flash. It’s a cool visual, but why wouldn’t restored Thawne keep his original face? Why wouldn’t the Negative Forces just make Meena the Negative Speed Force’s new avatar & screw over Eobard?

From Barry’s rage to Eobard’s sinister grin, Grant Gustin & Tom Cavanagh pull out all the acting stops in the first scene of the season finale. Unfortunately the rest of the episode doesn’t live up to that. His kids implore him not to kill the Hater Olympics gold medalist as if that’d make him just as bad. The Negative Forces give Thawne their combined powers so he’s the avatar of all of them at once. Reverse-Flash’s bulky new costume looks like it’s made of black licorice, but I can’t take Eobard Thawne seriously unless he’s dressed like a banana. Now he looks more plodding than menacing.

Iris got transported into Damien Darhk‘s time-stone. He’s a better surprise cameo than some boring guesses. His ghost tells her that she’s a survivor, so she instantly exits by reactivating her connection to Barry. This is sadly the most impressively thing Iris got to do all year.

Now that Cecile can project Lantern Corps color-coded emotions into others, she’s more of a Rainbow Raider than both Bivolo & Bates! (Why does The Flash insist on bringing back comedy relief robber Sterling Brooks instead of the original Rainbow Raider? He’s been at large since season one! Roy G. Bivolo is a legacy foe?) After inadvertently stealing Top’s & Queen’s powers, Psych asks Cecile to save the positive S-Forces. So she does easily. Then she manifests telekinesis. I miss when Cecile was only empathic while pregnant. Much like Barry & Iris, Cecile barely has any scenes with Joe either.

With quadruple avatar Hsalf on a rampage, the restored S-Forces power up Barry too. (Neither version of Fuerza uses her monstrous form, either to reduce CGI costs or because the cowards were duped by critics of her design.) Barry & Eobards fight each other with pretty rainbow effects. Iris warns Barry that their battle is going to destroy the city, which is her big contribution. Barry meditates to reverse Thawne’s onslaught, & he’s erased from time again due to his powers overloading. It’s foreshadowed the Negative Forces will just pick a new avatar in the future, possibly Cobalt Blue. Have I mentioned how much I dislike the S-Forces?

Fast Track no longer has her speed, but volunteers to help on a technical level in the future. What was the point of giving her such a cool costume if they’re just going to instantly retire her? (Barry made Oliver a mask right after meeting him, but hasn’t done the same for Cecile & Allegra?) Just like Iris, her arc was never about her.

XS, Impulse, Dr. Joan Williams, & Jay Garrick also barely contribute to the finale. (I don’t understand why real Jay couldn’t wear fake Jay’s cooler costume, at least on Stargirl. Are the actors’ jacket measurements that different?) Why bother cramming in fan favorites into finales if they don’t get moments to shine? The elaborate solutions involving guest stars fizzle out, while the crucial scenes of the main cast are rushed through without.

Iris’s stupid time sickness is finally gone! HUZZAH! That brings Phantom Girl’s mom back too. The big West-Allen reunion has hardly any passion. That payoff was supposed to be rewarding after all the misogynoir?

If Superman & Lois doesn’t take place on Earth-Prime after all, The Flash is the last Beeboverse series standing. It’s also the longest running. More Bloodwork in season nine, or is that a comics exclusive plot? Now that both LOT & the Wonder Twins movie are cancelled, will next season pay off the Gleek tease from “Crisis On Infinite Earths?”

It’s kind of amazing how far this program has fallen under Wallace. It’s surprising too since his first season, six, was solid. I used to think season three was my least favorite despite the Grodd two-parter because of the main Savitar arc, but seven & eight may have replaced it. They’re especially bad if Iris is your favorite. She’s moved up in my rankings just to spite how she’s been mismanaged. Technobabble & schmalz have always been in its DNA, but now they’re metastatic & insincere. Thankfully there is at least one keen scene per episode to keep it bearable. At least the colors are prettier than S&L’s!

~

Wallace doesn’t know if he’d have time to rescue The Legends next season? Surely The Flash can speed through his plot points to get to theirs. Many LOT acolytes would hate this as this show deserves better!  I’m not completely against compromise though. LOT is important enough that it should derail both The Flash & Superman & Lois next year! I’d get a kick out of standalone SAL bending over backwards to integrate LOT since its tone is so different. This probably won’t happen since SuLo is apparently set on another Earth now. (Maybe it can also show us what Earth-Prime’s Kent-Lane family has been up to since Crisis?) It could work so long as this crossover arc is written exclusively by LOT’s writers. The F-Lash’s writers aren’t up to snuff.

Not getting a proper finale for LOT has made me more bitter & angry, which is the opposite of the show’s mission. Now I’m filled with disdain for The CW, WB TV, & WB Discovery! You ruined something that was improving my life! WB TV had the nerve to tweet this after cancelling Legends Of Tomorrow & Batwoman during Lesbian Visibility Week. WB Discovery’s Pride strategy was to frustratingly delay confirming Our Flag Means Death season two until June just to distract from The CW cancelling its best queer shows in April & May. Celebrate Wrath Month against them! 

#SaveLegendsOfTomorrow crew flew a plane over Warner Bros headquarters on the first day of Pride. Imagine all that money that that fans could’ve spent on season eight box sets, Beebo dolls, & Cards To Save The Timeline! They’ve even got billboards abroad! When fans do more to advertise LOT & Batwoman internationally than The CW & WB TV ever did, then the problem was their marketing departments.

Legends Of Tomorrow will live up to its name in the future. You’ll have to be reincarnated as a Hawkperson to find out.

“If I only could,

I’d make a deal with Grodd,

And I’d get him to save Legends Of Tomorrow.

Be running up that road,

Be running up that hill,

With no problems.”

“Maybe the real Legends Of Tomorrow were the friends we made along the way?” That’s how the show’s real series finale ought to end.

What is #saveLegendsOfTomorrow if not Legends Of Tomorrow persevering?

~

All the TV stuff is happening this week! I have to blog the belated finale of Stranger Things 4 before my Thor 4 collaboreview!

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