Review: The Flash 6×08 – “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 2”
Director: Michael Nankin
Writers: Kristin Kim and Joshua V. Gilbert
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker, Hartley Sawyer, Danielle Nicolet, Tom Cavanaugh, Jesse L. Martin, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Meera Simhan, Kayla Compton, Victoria Park, LaMonica Garrett (voice)
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
Team Flash race against the clock to not only break Bloodwork’s hold over Barry, but the large portion of Central City’s population.
Cisco’s second trial by fire as the new team leader and his ability to work with Iris are synonymous in The Flash 6×08 with a common problem: Dark Flash. The choice between killing Barry or saving Central City are neck and neck and this leads to a clash between the two. Candice and Carlos work well together in the sense that both care about Barry in their own way and are trying to follow his example. There are very few scenes with the two of them together, although their characters did work together with Iris in charge at the start of season four. This is the first time there have been multiple scenes with just the two of them. The lack of resources and available hands properly increase the tension besides having nearly an entire city beating on their doors. But just as the heart of Ramsey’s agenda is the particle accelerator, the core of the episode is the theme of euthanasia. Barry is destined to die, and yet Iris is trying to ensure it’s a sacrifice rather than an execution. The brilliance of the script is that if not for Barry’s ability to communicate in code to Iris and Cisco, there was always a chance that Team Flash would be forced to do the unthinkable.
Speaking of clever writing, Bloodwork’s handling in this series is phenomenal for his belief he is a hero. He has self-deluded himself into believing he is the cure to death. In essence, Ramsey has become the disease that afflicts him. Like any metahuman, the dark matter has exacerbated the pre-existing cancer as part of his persona. A disease does not know it is a disease, much as how a toxic person does not recognize the consequences of their actions. Another way of looking at it is Ramsey is so fearful of death that he has given himself over to the cancer, which he sees as the cure. His blood brother army serves the symbiotic purpose of spreading the disease, and ensuring he is not alone in this bizarre state he’s put himself in. Sendhil’s confident arrogance in his performance sells his perfectly. He is only angered when his doctrine is challenged, and only humbled when he sees the vision of his mother. The writers are clever to visualize the parallel between Ramsey and Barry through showing our hero employ the enemy’s tactic used upon him. Where the two part ways is how Ramsey Rosso refuses to be humbled even after incarceration. He is so afraid of death he is willing to believe his own lies and betray his Hippocratic oath to do no harm. I truly hope this is not the end of Bloodwork’s threat. And incredible CGI full Bloodwork form, by the way. Although it is different from the comic, it perfectly encapsulates the notion that he has become his own disease. Rather than a flowing wave of blood, Bloodwork looks like a living, cancerous tumour made sentient. Hats off to the visual effects department for this one.
Frost’s development as a hero continues this week. Danielle seems to be injected Frost with more and more of Caitiln’s character traits and less snark, and it’s done very subtly. The scene where she has to be talked into assisting in saving Joe’s life speaks volumes as to how human she has become. This humanity is further demonstrated when she relinquishes control so that Caitlin can be with Team Flash in the final moments before Crisis. It remains to be seen as to whether we will see the pair actually merge into one being.
Character development can also be acknowledged in the case of Allegra. As the new member of Team Flash in training, making her the key to defeating Ramsey works well. As a woman afraid of being corrupted by her powers like her cousin, this was a trial by fire she needed to show the good she could do with them. Viewers are given the sense that there is a confrontation in the future between Allegra and Ultraviolet.
The lounge chat between Barry and Team Flash is strengthened by the nostalgia. The writing works well to sell the notion that he is going to sacrifice himself so that this team he has built over the past five years will go on and continue their mission. The nods to Caitlin before Barry work up and after were very touching, as well as acknowledging past friends like H.R. Wells. The red skies rolling in at the stroke of twelve is appropriately ominous and is a great lead-in to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Although it’s teased as the linking scene amongst the Arrowverse, the expansion of Nash Wells’s time in the sewer facing the Monitor’s door fails. The reason why is because his story, albeit attacked by the Blood Brother minions, does not tie in at all to the threat of Ramsey. Also, the scenes with Cecile and Camilla feel like filler. Also, why is Cisco not worried about his girlfriend? There is also the missed opportunity to see Central City turn on The Flash after witnessing him terrorizing its people. It would have been a great irony to see the home he has defended and is willing to literally die for condemn him. It would have served to enhance his sacrifice. Also, Barry’s ability to project the mental image of Ramsey’s mother before him is unexplainable. Mental powers aren’t the Flash’s thing, so if he can do this doesn’t this mean there’s a small trace of Bloodwork left in him? It is sad that what could have defined The Flash 6×08 is sadly diminished.
I give The Flash 6×08 a strong 4 out of 5. Candice and Carlos’s pro-life debate holds the episode and Sendhil Ramamurthy delivered a spectacular performance. Although the writing took some questionable routes as to how Ramsey is defeated by Barry, the quiet conversation between the original Team Flash (plus Cecile) was very appropriate. The Crisis is coming next week, people, so, to quote Samuel L. Jackson, hold on to your butts.