The Flash returns for Season 6 and there is no doubt this year that we are hurtling towards a crisis. Crisis On Infinite Earths – the most ambitious crossover the Arrowverse has ever done – is coming in only two short months!
Unlike past crossovers, this event seems to be much more directly tied into the individual storylines of the seasons and is being given a much bigger build-up. If you’ve been following the news about ALL of the characters that will appear in the FIVE NIGHT event, you don’t need any more reasons to be excited about this one.
But first, should you be excited about the new season of The Flash? Let’s talk about The Flash’s season six premiere, Into the Void.
All in all, this was a solid but unmemorable episode. I don’t think it suffers much in terms of writing or the direction they’re taking the characters. The main issue I have with this episode is it starts at a relative status quo for Team Flash and ends in the same place. Past season premieres had to deal with Flashpoint, Barry exiting the speed force and Nora appearing from the future. Compared to those major events, season six starts pretty quietly.
The episode starts a summer after the events of the season five finale where Nora is erased from the timeline. Flash, Cisco, and Camilla (??) are stopping their fourth Godspeed replicant of the summer, Ralph Dibny is working a missing person case and Joe is the new police Captain.
Things are business as usual until Iris goes to a junkyard looking for Nora’s old XS jacket and there is a sudden appearance of a black hole. The black hole disappears and then later reappears at Jitters. Iris discovers the black hole is linked to an internet streaming scientist/dumpster diver named Chester P Runk.
In the lab accident creates the black hole and links Chester’s mind with it, it turns Chester catatonic. This means we have only one scene to meet the meta-of-the-week and care enough about him to want Barry to save him. And…they do a pretty good job in that one scene. His internet stream is funny and energetic and reveals a crush on a girl at Jitters that you immediately start to root for. Even Team Flash is on Team Chunk as Cisco mentions he built his gravitational wave emitter “using nothing but trash..what a legend!”
In the end, they are able to save Chester without killing him by putting him in the Mental Augmentation Chamber (MAC) while Barry runs into the black hole and returns with the other part of his consciousness. This sets up a fantastic scene where Cisco plays the Flash Gordon theme song as Flash “literally runs into a black hole.” How did it take them six years to make this happen?
Hopefully, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Chester P Runk, also known as Chunk in the comics. After he is saved his eyes still glow with dark energy and we’re told he needs weeks in the MAC to re-stabilize. This definitely seems like an opportunity for him to come back with even more power. But he won’t be the big bad (at least for the first half of the season)…
Dr. Ramsey Rosso (aka Bloodwork) is introduced when Caitlin goes to support him at his mother’s funeral. It is revealed she died of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). We then learn Ramsey resents his mom for not fighting harder to find a cure and is experimenting with using dark matter to cure HLH. While Caitlin refuses to help him, Ramsey gets his hands on enough dark matter to inject himself with the cure. That’s when things go sideways and his blood starts to leave his body and form a shape around his hand before we cut away.
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes) does a good job introducing the character that will become the villain Bloodwork. He gets some good scenes to convey his anger and his drive that will soon be directed on a more villainous path. I’m interested to see where his story goes.
The past few seasons have been especially refreshing in terms of how The Flash has handled its villains. After Reverse-Flash, Zoom, Savitar, and Godspeed, the trope of a mystery speedster being unmasked near the end of the season was wearing thin. The chance to get to know villains like DeVoe and Cicada and learn their stories and motivations from early on has really improved the antagonists. I’m glad they are continuing this pattern and taking it a step further by beginning the season at the villain’s origin story.
Not only are they taking the time to develop the villain, but the creators have also reported that Bloodwork will only be the villain for the first half of the season. This will allow them to tell a tighter story with him and then bring in a new big bad for the second half. Less filler, more killer, I’m all for it.
It will be interesting to see a big bad that has more of a connection to Caitlin than to Barry. She and Frost look to be going down a great road this season. Giving Danielle Panabaker a chance to explore Killer Frost more and allowing her to develop a life and identity of her own sounds like a fun arc. And, let’s face it, we all want to know what amazing life advice is included in “The Book of Ralph: Vol 2”. The premiere also presented an opportunity to show off Killer Frost’s new costume, which has a really distinct, comic booky look.
The other side-plot this week involved Iris and Barry finally dealing with the death of their daughter. It felt weird in the early minutes of the episode that their stance was that they would have a child eventually so they haven’t really lost Nora. Them dealing with the delayed grief of losing a child made for a couple of powerful moments and will hopefully continue during the season.
Finally, we can talk about Crisis on Infinite Earths! The episode starts with a malfunction in the time vault. At the end of the episode, Barry and Iris are visited by The Monitor who reiterates the importance of the coming crisis. The ominous, future newspaper headline “Flash Missing Vanishes In Crisis” has been moved up from 2024 to December 10, 2019 (the date of The Flash’s episode of the crossover, subtle CW, real subtle). The Monitor explains that to save all worlds, the Flash must die.
If you saw the preview for next week, you know this isn’t just a final teaser to hype up the crossover. Barry is going to travel to the day after the crisis to learn what happened. Here’s hoping the impending crisis looms over the entire season and ties directly into the main plot. If the Flash actually does vanish during the crossover, it’s hard to believe the event won’t have a major effect on the entire season.
This episode laid the groundwork for some major stuff to go down this season. Frost is coming out to play, something is going on with Godspeeds, the MAC will definitely make another appearance and Bloodwork gets his origin story. Still, the episode overall felt more like a mid-season episode than a season premiere. The main storyline of Chester P Runk and the black hole didn’t have any real effect on the season arch or any real stakes for the characters and we’re still sitting at a relative status quo. Looking forward to things getting a little stranger for Team Flash next week as we start our journey towards the crisis.
What did you think of this episode? Do you think Bloodwork will make a great big bad? Are you disappointed we never got to see the Stellar Grenade go off? Reach out on Twitter @UndertheCapes.