The Flash 6×10: “Marathon”
Director: Stefan Pleszcczynski
Writers: Sam Charlsen and Laura Barnett
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker, Jesse L. Martin, Danielle Nicolet, Tom Cavanaugh, David Ramsey, Victoria Park, Kayla Compton, Eric Nenninger, Emmie Nagata, Tess Atkins, Eduard Witzke, Gary Starkell
Barry and Diggle investigate a potential final mission bequeathed to Barry from Oliver; Iris and the Central City Citizen fight to expose the organization known as Black Hole; Cisco questions his role on Earth-Prime and mourns those lost in the Crisis.
So, here we are: Post-Crisis and post-Oliver Queen. Themes of moving forward and identity are most prominent this week. Let’s get right to it.
Besides Iris – more on her later, Cisco Ramon – once more De-Vibed – has the most character development this week. The resident representative of nerd culture delivers his best via freak outs over Earth-Prime’s changes. The infamous white board in the background was a nice touch; it showed both the detail-oriented side of Cisco, as well as the obsessive need to understand his new reality. And while the final part of Crisis showed the Multiverse was indeed rebooted, it makes sense that Cisco would not be able to know that. New Earth means new rules and, perhaps, requiring new tech to breach those worlds since he noted extrapolators no longer work. The surprise to find a retro Superman tee in his closet and his trading card collection of rogues were very clever on the part of the writers. Carlos deliver a lot of range this week, from lashing out at Nash Wells for his role in the Crisis to his remorse over the loss of the beloved Harry Wells (nice nod to the update on his progress of regaining his intelligence post-Thinking Cap reboot).
The episode uses him above every other Team Flash member to demonstrate how the landscape has changed in this combined Earth, a subplot that’s shared amongst the Arroverse shows. It makes sense for Caitlin to be the one to encourage Cisco to find his role in this world rather than Barry; both Danielle and Carlos are at their best in this very subtle, relevant exchange. From team leader to plain old Team Flash member, he feels adrift and needs to find out how he can contribute to Team Flash and their mission. The decision to make amends and give Nash Wells his spot on the team during his sabbatical speaks to the bond he shares with every Wells he’s ever encountered. I don’t know the reason for Carlos taking time off from the show, but fans can be assured that he is still a series regular so he will return possibly before season’s end. Minor note on Nash’s character: that photograph of what can be considered an alternate version of new Team Citizen member Allegra is up to interpretation. Is she, perhaps, his daughter from his Earth? Or is it an old flame? Time will tell. The fact that he, among every other version of Wells, survived the Crisis proves that fate may have more in store for this Indian Jones-esque scientist.
Full steam ahead on Iris West-Allen’s Central City Cititzen and, I suppose, what can be called Team Citizen. Candice gets some great scenes this week. Brilliant decision to continue a subplot started prior to Crisis as a bridge to bring in DC Rebirth villain group, Black Hole. In the comics, it was formed to harness the energies released by the Speed Force storm for nefarious purposes. Black Hole is also a bridge to introduce new metahuman threats, such as an upgraded Doctor Light. Cool move in linking McCulloch’s gun from season five’s finale with Kimiyo Hoshi’s power, as well as a departure from maniacal villain to contracted sniper. Linking its start to the 2013 particle accelerator explosion gives it that Leviathan-esque depth is clever; it make it difficult to determine whether this is a post-Crisis change or if it’s always been in existence. Both her conversation with Papa Joe in a fantastically-written scene, and her dogged interrogations of Carver show the competence and courage that an investigative journalist needs. However, what ties her plot in to Barry’s is that she is moving too fast in her need to uncover and expose this metahuman trafficking conspiracy. The writing works in that, just when you think she learns that lesson alongside her husband, she rushes off into danger upon connecting the pieces of this puzzle together. The cliffhanger of Iris being pulled into the mirror world via who can best be called “Mirror Mistress” was awesome. It honestly took me the entire episode, and the nods to “mirror” to recall the second Mirror Master’s surname was McCulloch. It leaves one to ask where the original Mirror Master, Sam Scudder, is on this new world. Given Eva McCulloch went missing, it is therefore easy to understand the inspiration for Black Hole. Even the name could be a reference to the Mirror World that she inhabits. Time will tell what – or who – will emerge from that glass.
Now we come to the heart of the matter: Oliver’s mask. Fans of The Flash who did not see Barry’s initial cameo in season 2 of Arrow may not recall, but Barry did give Oliver that mask as a Christmas present just before he was struck by lightning. Having David Ramsey as John Diggle appear to give it to him was the right choice. Presumably, this is a month after the funeral for Oliver, so Barry is trying to be all lightning and smiles as The Flash, taking his fallen friend’s advice to keep going. That mask showing up, however, gives him a moment of pause and a redirection.
For the first time, we had a Barry-Diggle team up, which provided the levity via Diggle overdoing the motion sickness pills, and gravitas in what may be our final look at Lian Yu. The props such as the mask and the empty Mirakuru box definitely get the attention of longtime Arrow fans. Diggle is the right man to do what he does best: Keep the hero on the right path. The heart-to-heart in the ARGUS bunker gave fans a lot of nostalgic beats and perhaps gave closure as well. In Barry, Diggle recognizes that same desperation that he had demonstrated upon initially learning of Oliver’s death. Grant does a great job in conveying Barry’s need to keep Ollie alive in some way, chasing “a mission that doesn’t exist.” Diggle would fit right in to Team Flash if he wasn’t headed for Metropolis. I sincerely hope that this isn’t the last time we see John Diggle. This character has truly evolved from the Arrow pilot, and, if the finale indicates anything, his future may be brighter than anyone imagined. Fingers crossed he’s seen on Superman and Lois. While David has noted that he would love to see his character go on in some future incarnation, I personally cannot see anyone else answering to the name Diggle. (Or is it Stewart?)
It’s really hard for me to pinpoint any negatives this week. If anything, it’s the Mirakuru residue on the mask. Yes, Ollie and Thea travelled to Lian Yu in season three of Arrow and faced off against Slade. But that version had been cured of the mirakuru and lacked the means to recreate it. If that’s the case, and that’s not a blood stain, how could there be an active sample on Oliver’s mask? Slade didn’t sweat the stuff, so there’s a definite hole in the plot. Unless it’s a post-Crisis change. With Moira alive and well, as the finale established, it’s hard to see, even, when Thea received her training from Malcolm Merlyn since that was what also drove her into his arms. That’s the only complaint I have, aside from the lack of condolences from Iris to Diggle on the passing of Oliver. The least he could do besides the hug was say she was sorry he lost his brother in arms, certainly after he brings up the reading of Oliver’s will.
New status quo, possible new abilities on Barry’s part, new conspiracy and even a new title sequence earns The Flash 6×10 a solid 5 out of 5. The show did what very few series are able to pull off, and that is change big bads midseason. With Bloodwork locked away, Black Hole will fill that void till season’s end. Diggle and Barry’s heart to heart completes the grieving process that viewers may feel after the death of Oliver Queen, the man who started it all. Grant, Candice, and Carlos give it their best this week, and David’s performance is always welcome. And a new Mirror MISTRESS on the way! Fingers crossed she has a Scottish accent. See you guys next week.