Last week, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Iris West-Allen (Candace Patton) were visited by The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett), and learned that The Flash is destined to die! How will Team Flash handle the news? Is there anything they can do to stop it? The latest episode, “A Flash of the Lightning,” finds Barry seeking help from a friend on another earth, while the rest of Team Flash investigates a metahuman murder mystery.
A quick note before we get into the recap: “A Flash of the Lightning!” was the title of the story contained in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, where Barry Allen died destroying the Anti-Monitor’s antimatter cannon, saving the five remaining Earths of the Multiverse. The title was taken from the first stanza of a William Knox poem, which was also featured in the issue, and which makes an appearance in this episode. Even before the episode begins, there’s a lot of portent in just those five words.
A Second Opinion
The episode opens with Barry and Iris still in the time vault at S.T.A.R. Labs. Barry muses on the newspaper from the future that proclaims the Flash missing following a crisis, saying that he’d always held out hope that even if it came true he would still be out there somewhere, trying to find a way home, which is not the case according to The Monitor. Iris argues that they’ve been able to change the future before, and Barry decides he’s going to time-travel to the future to see the crisis for himself.
Elsewhere in Central City, Ramsey Rosso (Sendhil Ramamurthy) meets with another shady character to buy another dark matter-powered weapon. When the deal goes south, Rosso defends himself by lashing out with his newly-acquired metahuman abilities. A tendril shoots out of his arm, connecting to the gunseller, who goes white.
That evening, Cisco (Carlos Valdes), Ralph (Hartley Sawyer), and an out-of-costume Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) are out at an art gallery for the opening of an exhibit of photography by Cisco’s girlfriend, Camilla (Victoria Park). This is Frost’s first outing since making a deal with her other half, Caitlin Snow, to have more freedom to do things for herself and not just be a passenger in Caitlin’s body. Frost hates it, and Ralph tries to explain that art is important for understanding the human condition, etc. Frost has none of it, insulting all the art, including Camilla’s photographs.
At the Central City Courthouse, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and his wife, District Attorney Cecile Horton (Danielle Nicolet) are collaborating on a case against a metahuman named Allegra Garcia, who killed a driver with her metahuman abilities to control radio waves. In a meeting with the judge, Garcia’s attorney says they want to plead out, knowing that a jury would surely convict Garcia. Cecile, who has an empathic metahuman ability herself, senses something from Garcia, and immediately asks the judge for more time, and for Garcia to be released on bail with metahuman dampeners in place.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry and Iris are preparing for his trip to the future. He plans to run to December 11th, 2019, the day after he’s supposed to have disappeared. Iris asks if they should loop in the rest of the team, and Barry says not until they have more information. Barry puts in an earpiece with the Gideon computer built in, and tells Iris he’ll return to that very moment before taking off for the future. As he approaches his target date, a barrier of white energy appears in the way, which sends Barry careening out of the Speed Force. He tumbles to a stop back at S.T.A.R. Labs, his leg injured. The wound doesn’t heal normally, and Gideon says Barry was exposed to anti-matter, which destroys positive matter. In order to get past it, Gideon says, Barry will need the help of an expert: Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp), The Flash of Earth-3.
More Than My Life Is At Stake
On Earth-3, Jay says he’s been detecting anti-matter signatures across the multiverse for the past year, displaying a map of the multiverse and saying he believes all earths could be in danger. Jay says a human body would never be able to get past the anti-matter wall, but with a device he’s built called a neural hyper-collider, he can project a speedster’s consciousness across spacetime. As Barry agrees to try it, Jay’s wife, Dr. Joan Williams (Michelle Harrison) enters. Barry is taken by surprise, as she is the Earth-3 doppelganger of Barry’s mother, who died when he was a boy.
Back on Earth-1, in Iris’s office, Cecile lays out the case of Allegra Garcia for Iris, Camilla and Ralph. Camilla is unconvinced that Garcia is innocent, but Ralph agrees that she might be innocent based on burn marks on the victim in the car crash, which are not consistent with Allegra’s power set. The group agrees to find new evidence to help Cecile’s case, and Iris and Ralph go to visit the eye-witness to the murder. They arrive to find the lock on the witness’s door broken. Inside they find Garcia standing over the body of the witness. Garcia freaks and, seemingly accidentally, fires her powers in Ralph’s direction, burning his face. She takes off and runs into Joe, who fires a power dampener onto her and arrests her for violating her parole.
On Earth-3, Jay and Joan hook Barry up to the neural hyper-collider, using Jay’s helmet as a conductor for the tachyons. Barry acknowledges the risks, and Jay flips the switch to turn on the device. Suddenly Barry sees a wall of anti-matter destroy S.T.A.R. Labs and consume the rest of Central City, including all of his friends. Barry’s vitals spike as he witnesses Iris’s death, then the deaths of billions of other possible futures, and finally his own, running himself to death until he disintegrates into nothing. Jay and Joan shut the machine off as Barry convulses from the shock.
As Barry recovers, Joan reads the aforementioned William Knox poem aloud, saying she’s found poetry can help restore collapsed neural pathways. Barry has suffered a neural shutdown that’s causing him immense pain, which should subside in a day or two. Jay asks what Barry saw, and he tells him: he saw—and felt—billions of worlds die. He says he needs to get back to Iris.
On Earth-1, Cisco treats Ralph’s burned face, and explains that the blast Garcia fired at Ralph was ultraviolet radiation. Frost is entirely unsympathetic to Ralph’s sunburn, even after Cisco explains that, if not for Ralph’s powers, the blast would have killed him. The team theorizes that Garcia can control not only radio waves, but all wavelengths along the electromagnetic spectrum, which means she may be the killer after all.
At the CCPD, Joe interrogates Garcia about what she was doing at the witness’s apartment. She explains that she wants to be a reporter, and was following a lead in the case to try and get a story and exonerate herself at the same time. Garcia maintains her innocence, and when Cecile enters and demands to know who did kill those people, Garcia says they wouldn’t believe her if she told them, and then lawyers up. Outside of the interview room, Cecile insists she knows that Garcia is innocent, even though Joe says the evidence all adds up to her being guilty. Cecile argues that she’s the only one who can help Garcia, and Joe reminds her that’s not her job.
Fear and Resilience
Back at Barry and Iris’s apartment, Jay and Joan have brought Barry back to Earth-1 to be with Iris. Jay warns that Barry’s mental state may take a while to recover from what he saw. They leave, and Iris talks to Barry about what they can do next, but Barry says there’s no other way. The only timeline he saw in which everyone survived, he says, is the one in which he died. Iris gets mad, saying that the Barry she knows would never give up. She storms out, leaving Barry to recover on the couch.
Later that day, Joe stops by the apartment looking for Iris, who’s still out. Barry offers to help him, and Joe explains the Garcia case to him. As Barry takes the case file, he winces in pain, and Joe asks him how he hurt himself. Barry confesses that something is coming, and that he’s torn between knowing he has to make a sacrifice and the feeling of giving up that comes with it. Joe makes a Classic Papa Joe Speech about courage and duty in the face of danger, and how cops like him—and heroes like The Flash—keep going even in the face of that danger because they’re resilient. It seems to get through to Barry, because no one delivers a motivational speech like Joe West.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco calls out Frost for her bad attitude before spying a drawing she’s been working on. Turns out Frost has been so cranky following Camilla’s art show because she wants to be able to express herself that way, too, but she thinks she’s a bad artist. Cisco tells her she’s not, and she should draw or paint or sculpt if she wants to. Frost says she feels guilty for being insulting at the art show, and Cisco tells her guilt can be helpful in telling someone when they need to make something right.
At the CCPD, Cecile talks to Allegra Garcia. Garcia says she has powers that she can’t control, and Cecile confesses that she does as well. Garcia finally admits that, the night of the particle accelerator explosion, she and her cousin, Esperanza, were both caught in the blast. Esperanza apparently died, but Allegra believes she’s actually alive and responsible for the crimes. Cecile calls Iris and Ralph, who confirm that Esperanza didn’t die in the explosion, and was instead taken into custody by a shadowy organization. As they talk Cecile’s phone cuts out, as does the rest of the power in the building: Esperanza, now going by Ultraviolet, has arrived to take her cousin. She fights her way through the cops in the office before being held back by a gun-wielding Joe West, who provides cover while Cecile and Allegra try to escape. Meanwhile Iris calls Barry to tell him the CCPD is on a total blackout, and Barry tells them he’s on his way.
Ultraviolet finds Cecile and Allegra and prepares to kill them, but The Flash rescues them, taking them up to Joe’s office. He races back to confront Ultraviolet, dodging her blasts the best he can before finally being hit by one. In his ear Gideon suggests he retreat, but Barry remembers Joe’s speech and struggles to his feet. He races straight towards Ultraviolet, absorbing the full brunt of her ultraviolet blasts, but ultimately taking her down with one punch.
“What do we tell them?”
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry’s ultraviolet burn is already nearly fully healed. Ralph summarizes the case—Ultraviolet was hired to killer the driver, and then had to take out the witnesses who knew she was still alive. Cisco interjects that she was also trained to be an assassin by a shadowy organization, which Ralph says is on his ‘to-solve’ list. Frost has decorated the lab with art she purchased using Caitlin’s credit cards, and Cisco presents a framed drawing that Frost did herself, adding it to the display.
As the West-Horton household, Joe gives Cecile credit for standing up for Allegra when no one else would. Cecile says she thinks the justice system doesn’t always work for metahumans, and she wants to become a defense attorney for metahumans, which Joe says is a great idea. Meanwhile, Allegra arrives at the offices of the Central City Citizen, where she’s welcomed by Iris and Camilla for her new internship.
That evening, at Barry and Iris’s apartment, Iris returns home to find Barry, Jay, and Joan discussing next steps. Jay says they’ll continue to scan for anti-matter anomalies, and he and Joan return to Earth-3. Barry apologizes for his attitude earlier, and Iris says she was scared too, but that she knows he’ll never give up. Barry says he would never choose to die, but that he’ll do it if it’s the only way to save the universe. They decide they need to start preparing the team for the coming crisis, and the possibility of a world without The Flash.
Later that night, Rosso begins performing an autopsy on the gundealer, who he apparently killed earlier. Rosso examines the victim’s blood across the room, and as he does the gundealer sits up on the table. Rosso realizes something is wrong in time to be knocked out by the former corpse.
In all, this week’s episode was more subdued than last week’s was (he fought a black hole last week, so just about anything would be subdued in comparison), with less of a focus on superheroics and more on the relationship at the core of the series. We’ll find out just how much Barry and Iris tell the rest of the team about the coming crisis, and how everyone reacts to the news, plus hopefully how Ramsey Rosso fits into the grand scheme of this half of the season, next week.