Last week, The Flash (Grant Gustin) presented Elongated Man (Hartley Sawyer) to the people of Central City as the the city’s new champion! Later, Ralph was attacked by Ramsey Rosso, aka Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy)! Meanwhile, Iris West-Allen (Candace Patton) received a new lead on a story, and Nash Wells (Tom Cavanagh) got closer to his stated goal of exposing Mar Novu, aka The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett), as a fraud! This week’s episode, The Flash S6E7, “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 1,” sees Barry finally grappling with the enormity of what’s about to happen to him in the coming crisis, and facing internal struggles both figuratively and literally.
I Don’t Sleep, I Dream
The episode opens immediately after the end of last week’s episode, with Ralph and Rosso falling from the roof of S.T.A.R. Labs. The pair fight in mid-air, and upon crashing to the ground, both pull their elastic bodies back together and begin the fight again. Rosso hits Ralph with some spikes of his dark-matter blood, which initially weakens Ralph. After Ralph manages to get the upper hand, Rosso reabsorbs the blood, and Ralph falls to the ground in convulsions. Rosso escapes just as Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) arrives to rescue Ralph. Taking him back inside S.T.A.R. Labs, Frost lets Caitlin come out and she, Barry, and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) try to figure out what to do. Caitlin suggests a transfusion of Barry’s superspeed-healing blood might be a way to heal Ralph’s cells, and Barry phases a needle into Ralph’s arm and begins the transfusion.
Later, still in the lab, Iris wakes Barry up. They explain that A.R.G.U.S. is going to come take Ralph so he can be monitored and heal, and Barry wonders aloud what would’ve happened to Ralph if he hadn’t been there. He says the crisis is only two days away, and worries that the team isn’t prepared for him to be gone. Iris reassures him that he’s done the best he can and that the team will be fine.
Having returned to their apartment, Barry sits down and starts to relax, closing his eyes. Suddenly he opens them and turns to find Rosso in the apartment as well. Barry gives him a chance to surrender, but Rosso says he just wants to talk before revealing that he knows Barry is The Flash. As Rosso speaks, Barry attacks, his superspeed punch passing right through Rosso. Rosso seems to know everything that Barry knows, and says Barry looks scared of what’s coming. As they talk the skies outside turn red, and the wall of anti-matter appears, destroying Central City. As the wall reaches the apartment Barry wakes up, breathing heavily.
At the Central City Citizen, Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton) is drawing a Flash mask onto a photo of Barry and griping to herself about Iris keeping Barry’s identity a secret. She opens Iris’s laptop to find a draft of the article declaring The Flash missing, future-dated for December 11th. Just then Iris and Kamilla (Victoria Park) enter, and Iris shows Allegra photos they took off of Ralph’s bowtie camera last week, saying the man photographed is their best lead for finding out whoever kidnapped Allegra’s cousin and forced her into metahuman servitude. Allegra tries to get Iris to tell her about Barry and the coming crisis, but Iris says they’re focusing on the this story for now.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Killer Frost checks out Barry’s vitals and brain activity, saying that everything looks fine. She suggests that he just had a nightmare, but Barry looks concerned and says something feels off.
Elsewhere, Iris and Allegra have tracked down the man from the photos. They confront him as he gets out of his car, and he tries to blow them off. Iris shows him the photos, and he sighs, handing her his business card for Maelstrom Couriers. He explains he’s part of a delivery service for the wealthy, and that the photographed deliveries were for the government and for Meister’s rich friends, respectively. The man walks away, and Allegra asks Iris if there’s anything else they should be working on now that they’ve struck on. Iris remains undeterred, though, and says they need to keep digging into this.
Let Me In
Back at the apartment, Barry returns and does a superspeed lap around to make sure no one is hiding inside. He pours himself a glass of water, and turns to find his mother, Nora Allen (Michelle Harrison), behind him. He asks if this is another nightmare, and Nora replies that it’s much worse than that. He realizes that his mother is an embodiment of the Speed Force. She explains that Barry giving Ralph a blood transfusion has allowed Rosso to infect him, and that they’re talking in Barry’s mind while his unconscious body tries to fight off the infection. Barry asks if Rosso wants to kill him, and Nora replies that Rosso wants to take control of him, which Barry says won’t happen.
Back at the Central City Citizen, Iris talks through what they learned from the man she and Allegra confronted. Allegra tells Iris she knows Barry is The Flash, that Nash Wells told her, and that she saw the article on Iris’s computer, which Iris says she doesn’t have time for right now. Allegra tells her she wanted to become a reporter after being inspired by Iris’s first article about ‘The Streak’, before he was The Flash. She tells Iris she’ll never forgive herself is she doesn’t write the article.
At the apartment, an unconscious Barry continues to fight the infection. In his mind, all of Team Flash shares a meal around the dinner table, and Rosso appears, having made the food for everyone. Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) cuts into a lasagna, and thick black blood pours out. Everyone eats the blood food, and Rosso says he wants to offer Barry a gift. Barry backs away, finding himself in the Time Vault at S.T.A.R. Labs, the newspaper declaring his disappearance pulled up. Rosso tells Barry he can’t run away, and suggests that Barry wants to die. Barry lunges at Rosso, passing through him and finding himself elsewhere in the lab, surrounded by headstones for all of his fallen friends and loved ones. Rosso says none of those people had to die, and that if Barry joins him he won’t have to die either.
A door appears before Barry, and he opens it to find a nursery for his daughter, Nora. Barry tries to pick up Nora but his hands pass through her, and he breaks down. Rosso says all of what Barry is seeing is coming from within Barry’s mind, and he shows Barry an alternate version of the newspaper declaring The Flash having saved the world from the crisis. Rosso snaps his fingers and shows Barry a world in which he’s able to restore the dead to life using abilities similar to Rosso’s, and a world in which he and Iris are still together with their baby daughter. Barry is whisked off by the Speed Force and finds himself in his childhood bed. His mother tells him to gather his strength, and that time is running out.
Elsewhere, back at the parking lot where Iris and Allegra confronted the man from the photographs, the police have the area cordoned off. Joe tells Iris, Allegra, and Kamilla that the man they spoke to earlier was killed, and that none of the cameras in the area saw anything. Joe walks away, and Allegra finds the button the man was wearing, saying it’s coated with ultraviolet energy. Iris says things have gotten dangerous and gives them all the option to walk away, but they all agree to keep working on the story.
Bang and Blame
In Barry’s mind, Nora tells Barry that Rosso’s infection is getting stronger, and Barry says he knows why: it’s because he feels doubt over having seen the future. He confesses that he doesn’t want to die, and Nora says it’s natural to feel that way, and that the courage to move past his fear is what makes Barry a hero. Barry says Rosso’s lies were convincing, but Nora says he never lied and that everything Barry saw was true and possible. Barry turns on her, asking why she would want him to leave behind everyone he loves if there’s a way to save him.
In the real world, Barry’s vitals spike as his fever rises. Cisco and Killer Frost breach into the apartment, and Frost says Barry is being taken over by Rosso. Taking him back to S.T.A.R. Labs, they start to try to bring his fever down and treat the infection, while in Barry’s mind, he berates Nora/The Speed Force for taking over his life and caring nothing for what he wants. As he does, black blood oozes down the walls of his childhood bedroom. In the real world, Cisco and Frost don’t know what to do, and Frost has a panic attack, collapsing to the floor. Nora tells Barry that his role is “vital to the balance of all things.” Rosso appears and goads Barry on. Nora argues that the infection is twisting Barry’s heart, but Barry says the Speed Force has been manipulating him. He vibrates his hand into Nora, just as Reverse-Flash did to kill her when Barry was a child. Nora stumbles, and Rosso reaches out a hand for Barry to take to join him.
Cisco races to another room and grabs a vial of Velocity-10. Returning, he jabs it into Barry’s leg, giving him a jumpstart of superspeed and sending Rosso away in Barry’s mind. Nora begs Barry not to give in to Rosso, saying it would save his life but take his soul. Rosso appears again, grabbing Barry, thick black blood oozing out and covering Barry’s arm. Nora grabs Barry’s other arm, lightning doing the same thing on his other side. As the two meet in the middle, Barry screams. He opens his eyes in the real world, telling Cisco and Frost that he ‘beat it.’
At the Citizen office, Iris finally sits down to write the article about The Flash’s disappearance. She writes about The Flash as a beacon of hope, and calls him a hero. As a tear runs down her cheek, her phone vibrates, and she hastily exits. Meanwhile, underground, Nash Wells returns to his dig site. Using some sort of sonic device, he clears away the rock on the wall to find a metal wall behind it. This wall features the characters that were first illuminated last week, and Wells runs his fingers across them, saying Novu now has nowhere left to run.
I Took Your Name
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry thanks Cisco and Frost for saving his life. Cisco gives him credit for beating Rosso’s infection, and Barry says they still have to find and stop Rosso before the crisis, which is now in 36 hours. Cisco asks Frost if she wants to talk about what happened. Frost says she talked with Caitlin about it already, and that going forward Caitlin will handle medical emergencies and Frost will take a backseat for those.
Shortly, Iris arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs, and Barry tells her he’s okay. Cisco explains about the infection, but Barry seems distracted. Iris asks what he’s doing, and Barry tells her he’s running some diagnostics, seemingly annoyed with her that she’s asking questions. She says she’ll leave him to it, then quietly tells Cisco and Frost that that’s not Barry. Cisco tries to get Barry’s attention, and Barry turns to reveal his eyes glazed over with black, and thick blood around his lips and teeth. He knocks Iris, Cisco, and Frost unconscious before speeding out of the lab and across town. Now suited up as The Flash, Barry meets Rosso, kneeling before him as Rosso announces his plans to take over the world.
This was an intense episode for Barry, with some really solid acting work from Gustin and an ending that was both somewhat telegraphed (this is billed as ‘Part 1,’ after all) and extremely entertaining. Team Flash will get their first taste of working without their titular hero as they try to stop both The Flash and Bloodwork. Will they succeed? Should they? We’ll find out next week in the final episode of The Flash before Crisis on Infinite Earths!