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TV Recap: THE FLASH S6 – How CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS split the season’s story arc

Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis are now part of the Arrowverse vernacular.

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BY SAJIDA AYYUP

The most recent seasons of The CW‘s Arrowverse shows finally brought the epic Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline from page to screen. The Flash Season 6 was, similar to its fellow Arrowverse shows, essentially split into two major plotlines, pre-Crisis and post-Crisis, defining the weight of this cataclysmic event unlike any other crossover. The full (albeit abbreviated) sixth season of The Flash is now available to view on Netflix, so let’s look at how the season was structured around Crisis, and where it ultimately ended up. 

From SUPERGIRL S5E9, “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One”; Photo: The CW

“Why is it every time I come to visit, there’s always a crisis?” Kamilla Hwang (Victoria Park) asks Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) at the beginning of The Flash Season 6, Episode 1, “Into the Void.” Cisco’s girlfriend hasn’t officially joined Team Flash’s mission control yet and is booming with questions that nobody has the time to answer. Godspeed (voiced by BD Wong), the “fake” fifth-season speedster, is back to causing chaos in Central City, and is the fourth robot the team has captured. Until the Crisis, Godspeed doesn’t have much to contribute to the story arc and only serves as a continuity thread.

Godspeed in THE FLASH S5E18; Photo: The CW.

But the real precedent for this episode is Nora Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and her devastating farewell from this timeline, having been erased from existence at the end of season 5. Both Barry and Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) avoid grieving at the absence of their future-daughter by diving into work: Barry at CCPD/S.T.A.R Labs and Iris at her newly formed paper The Central City Citizen. This is the first anomaly; bringing the Citizen into existence before 2021 means the Crisis is much closer than expected.

Barry Allen and Iris West-Allen with Nora Allen’s jacket in THE FLASH S6E1; Photo: The CW.

The first adversary Team Flash tackles is a giant black hole trying to swallow the City. While demonstrating the use of a gravitational wave emitter to his streamers online, a part of Chester Runk’s (Brandon McKnight) consciousness gets trapped inside the black hole a.k.a the void, leaving him in a trance (Flash Fact: In 1988’s The Flash Vol.2 #9, Chester goes by the name Chunk and helps discern the workings of this “pocket-dimension” which he has the ability to control). 

The Monitor/Mar Novu inside S.T.A.R Labs’ Time Vault in THE FLASH S6E1; Photo: The CW.

While Chester starts healing in a M.A.C (Mental Augmentation Chamber), Barry and Iris discover a video message from Nora inside the Time Vault but it fuses. In that unlikely moment, the Monitor a.k.a Mar Novu (LaMonica Garrett) visits the couple to dissuade Barry from preventing the coming Crisis. “December 10th, 2019. On that day, he will answer the call and make the ultimate sacrifice,” the Monitor tells them. “I am sorry, but the events have been set into motion that you cannot possibly comprehend.”

Barry visits Jay Garrick and his wife on Earth-3 in THE FLASH S6E2; Photo: The CW.

To understand what the Monitor meant, Barry decides to run to the day after his predicted disappearance only to be pushed back to the present by a wall of antimatter. Gideon advises Barry to meet with Dr. Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp), the Flash from Earth-3 and ask him why antimatter is clogging up the Speed Force — something that has never happened before. Upon arriving on Earth-3 in Episode 2, “A Flash of the Lightning,” Barry discovers Jay married his mother’s doppelganger Joan Williams (Michelle Harrison) and is taken by surprise. Jay has been detecting antimatter signatures across the Multiverse, explaining to Barry that a speedster’s body cannot penetrate the antimatter wall but their mind can. Using a neural hyper-collider, Jay and Joan project Barry’s consciousness across space-time, past the antimatter wall, through the Crisis on different timelines to see if there’s any that let Barry survive. Unfortunately all timelines indicate his disappearance, and this little stint exhausted him beyond what his speed-healing could catch up with. 

Nash Wells reveals everything about the Multiverse to Allegra in THE FLASH S6E6; Photo: The CW.

This episode also introduces two new characters: Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton) and her cousin Esperanza Garcia a.k.a Ultraviolet (Alexa Barajas), both of whom had turned into metas when the particle accelerator exploded six years ago. Allegra spent an awful period of time in prison for crimes unrelated to her powers. When Esperanza starts working as an assassin for an organization called Black Hole, her victims get tied to Allegra after an eye-witness confirms the tattoo on her neck, coincidentally shared by Ultraviolet. But if it weren’t for Cecile Horton’s (Danielle Nicolet) empathy-meta powers, Allegra wouldn’t have been cleared.

Barry and Frost visit Ramsey at his lab in THE FLASH S6E3; Photo: The CW.

“Into the Void” also sets the stage for Dr. Ramsey Rosso a.k.a Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) who grows stronger throughout the first half of the season — yes, he comes back to visit Team Flash often. Initially he attempts to persuade Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) to give him access to dark matter from S.T.A.R Labs but she refuses despite knowing that it could help him cure his HLH cancer, which he reveals he has in Episode 3, “Dead Man Running.” He becomes so desperate that exchanging pleasantries with black-market dealers comes to him naturally. His dark-matter cure developed from weapons backfires and turns him into a meta who needs regular injections of the same to stay alive. 

Barry gets infected with Ramsey’s dark-matter infused blood in THE FLASH S6E7; Photo: The CW.

“You’re a dead man, too. Aren’t you, Barry?” Ramsey asks Barry after noticing his remorse during an emotional banter. “My mum had the same look on her face when she was first diagnosed.” To which Barry says, “I’m marking my calendar with the days I have left to live. I’m gonna spend them saving as many people I can.” When Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer) gets infected by Ramsey in Episode 6, “License to Elongate,” Barry undergoes a blood transfusion process to save Ralph from dying. During which a small portion of Ramsey’s infection enters his bloodstream, giving him control over Barry’s body. Ramsey’s revelation doesn’t just end here. In Episode 7, “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 1,” he finds out The Flash’s identity and everything about his life, including the Crisis.

Nash tells the team about Anti-Monitor’s trap that he fell prey to in THE FLASH S6E10; Photo: The CW.

Cisco and Iris set out to find a new Harrison Wells detected by S.T.A.R Labs facial recognition in Central City, only to find Nash Wells (Tom Cavanagh) who’s in search of a multiversal-particle called ‘eternium.’ The radiations emanating from eternium indicate the location of Monitor’s portal on Earth-1. But Episode 10, “Marathon,” reveals that portal was a trap set by the Anti-Monitor/Mobius to lure Nash into setting off the Crisis. 

Barry throws a birthday party for Frost in THE FLASH S6E3; Photo: The CW.

This season also explores Killer Frost’s human half after she begins experiencing a series of “frost-outs” due to suppressed traits. Caitlin decides to let Frost take the wheel and build a personality beyond being just a meta. Another interesting story arc in this season is Ralph trying to solve the missing-person case of Sue Dearbon for his detective agency. Besides new developments, we also witness Cecile become a defense attorney for metas, with her first two clients being Allegra and Chester. 

Cisco and his girlfriend Kamilla plot to catch Echo in THE FLASH S6E5; Photo: The CW.

In Episode 4, “There Will Be Blood,” Barry tells Team Flash about the impending Crisis. Instead of having the team work on saving him, Barry asks everyone to focus on developing a cure for Ramsey. This episode also explores McCulloch Technologies, a scientific research organization that Iris believes to be selling illegal arms. Amidst all that’s going down, Barry takes Iris on a vacation in Episode 5, “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach,” leaving Cisco in charge. A slight tangent from the storyline, but we learn about Cisco’s ex-girlfriend Cynthia a.k.a Gypsy (Jessica Camacho)’s death brought upon by Cisco’s Earth-19 doppelganger Echo, whom Cisco helps catch. 

Barry talks to the Speed Force who occasionally takes the form of his mother in THE FLASH S6E7; Photo: The CW.

The two-part episode leading to Crisis, “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen,” explores the possibility of a weakened Speed Force. With Ramsey gaining absolute control over Barry’s mind and body, and the clock racing towards the Crisis, Barry accepts defeat and joins Ramsey’s army of zombie-like people (Blood Brothers and Sisters), and attempts to convert the entire city for him. Barry’s subconscious mind talks to Ramsey the same way he did, using his mother’s words to distract him while he gains consciousness. After handing off Ramsey to A.R.G.U.S., the Team now awaits the Crisis.

The Flash from Earth-90, Killer Frost and Vibe in THE FLASH S6E9; Photo: The CW

Since Episode 9, “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three,” begins abruptly, here’s a little detour for understanding: When Nash decodes the portal entrance key, he finds out the Anti-Monitor faked his identity as the Monitor to begin the Crisis and escape his confinement. He turns Nash into “Pariah” and makes him witness the destruction of other Earths in the multiverse. At the same time, the Monitor assembles a team of superheroes from across the multiverse. We see Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), White Canary (Caity Lotz), Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer), Martian Manhunter (David Harewood), Batwoman (Ruby Rose) and Ryan Choi (Osric Chau) who make up the “Paragons” along with the Flash, destined to defeat the Anti-Monitor. Other exciting appearances include John Constantine (Matt Ryan), Atom (Brandon Routh), Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara), Earth-38 Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch), John Diggle (David Ramsey), Lucifer (Tom Ellis), Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), Harbinger (Audrey Marie Anderson), and Earth 96 Superman (Brandon Routh). The Flash episode unveils the power source for the antimatter cannon to be the Earth-90 Flash (John Wesley Shipp), who sacrifices himself to destroy the weapon, making him the “Flash Missing, Vanishes in Crisis.”

The seven Paragons destined to salvage the Crisis in THE FLASH S6E9; Photo: The CW

The second half of the season dubbed as “post-Crisis” has a mixture of Ramsey, Reverse Flash (he’s back!), Godspeed, and the Black Hole. The Citizen team discovers solid evidence to tie McCulloch Technologies with the Black Hole but the company’s CEO Joseph Carver (Eric Nenninger) refuses to comment. Joseph orders Black Hole assassins-for-hire Kimiyo Hoshi, a.k.a. Doctor Light (Emmie Nagata), Sunshine (Natalie Sharp) and Ultraviolet to kill Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), Iris, and Ralph, since these three got the closest to uncovering his real business as an arms dealer on three different story arcs. In Episode 10, “Marathon,” Iris gets pulled into a mirror dimension by Joseph’s wife, Eva McCulloch (Efrat Dor), while snooping around in his office. Eva got stuck in the Mirrorverse during the particle accelerator explosion, leaving her husband the sole proprietor of the company and her research.

Eva McCulloch and Iris in THE FLASH S6E12; Photo: The CW

Unbeknownst to Iris, Eva sends a Mirror Iris into the real world to execute a master plan of escaping the Mirrorverse, killing her husband Joseph and taking over McCulloch Technologies. Kamilla gets pulled into the Mirrorverse in Episode 14, “Death of the Speed Force,” with her mirror version helping mirror Iris to “assure success.” Captain David Singh (Patrick Sabongui) of CCPD suffered the same fate in Episode 16, “So Long and Goodnight,” while his mirror version convinces Joe to sign up for a witness protection program after Rag Doll attacks Joe to finish what Black Hole started. And as previously hinted, the Speed Force has been constantly deteriorating and reducing the Flash’s response time.

Grodd takes over Barry’s mind in THE FLASH S6E13; Photo: The CW

Around Valentine’s Day, Mirror Iris goes undercover to find Amunet Black’s (Katee Sackhoff) lair in Episode 11, “Love is a Battlefield.” She even teams up with Amunet to fight against Goldface (Damion Poitier) to prevent an underworld gang war over a rare flower, Rappaccini’s Daughter, that blooms once in 25 years. In the previous episode, Cisco embarks on a worldwide journey to catalog everything that the Crisis changed, ultimately making trading cards for every meta out there. Meanwhile Frost finds out Nash is Allegra’s adoptive father on Earth-719. Nash has also been silently suffering from hallucinations after the Crisis, with Wells from different Earths questioning his every decision for Team Flash. Sherloque Wells tells him “he’s coming” in Episode 13, “Grodd Friended Me,” referring to Eobard Thawne, who’s attempting to take over Nash’s body to become Reverse-Flash again. And as the title suggests, Grodd (voiced by David Sobolov) is back, but this time he pleads Barry to relieve him from the A.R.G.U.S mindscape prison.

Sue and Ralph in THE FLASH S6E12; Photo: The CW

While the Team is separately doing about its own business, Ralph finally solves his missing-person case to find Sue Dearbon (Natalie Dreyfuss) in Episode 12, “A Girl Named Sue,” where she shares her elaborate plan of “getting home” by clearing her parents’ ledger (Flash Fact: Ralph marries Sue in the comics!). In the Mirrorverse, Iris finally meets Eva, who pretends to be lost, waiting to reunite with her husband Joseph. When Joseph sends Esperanza to kill Sue, Ralph figures out that Black Hole is extorting Sue and her parents for unclear financial reasons. 

Kid Flash saves the day in THE FLASH S6E14; Photo: The CW

The Speed Force finally ceases to exist in Episode 14, “The Death of the Speed Force,” which leads Team Flash to attempt to rebuild it. The Speed Force was infected by energy from The Spectre (Oliver Queen, who assumes the role during Crisis), which its revealed is slowly poisoning the power source. Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) returns to Central City because he sensed a “disturbance in the Force” and confronts Barry about it. To overcome its total deterioration, the team leans on Nora’s journal, which contains a step-by-step procedure to build a Speed Force from scratch! Thawne taught her everything about the Speed Force while “mentoring” her during season 5. And so in Episode 15, “The Exorcism of Nash Wells,” the Team not only focuses on building the artificial Speed Force but also on curing Nash from the Crisis side-effect that eventually paralyzed him.

Eva McCulloch before the particle accelerator explosion THE FLASH S6E12; Photo: The CW

The final three episodes of the season, “Liberation,” “Pay the Piper,” and “Success is Assured,” feature a push-and-pull between Eva and Team Flash. Ramsey makes a small appearance, along with Hartley Rathaway (Andy Mientus) a.k.a. Pied Piper. Eva uses Ramsey’s dark matter-infused blood to escape the Mirrorverse, while Godspeed tries to steal the last remaining Speed Force energy from Barry using vibrational frequencies. In return for stabilizing his boyfriend Roderick Smith (Joel Semande)’s perpetually vibrating body, Hartley helps Team Flash defeat Godspeed and makes peace with Barry. Eva escapes the Mirrorverse, kills Mirror Iris for displaying emotions towards Barry, and leaves Barry heavily injured in his house.

In the season finale, it’s revealed that Joseph, revealed earlier in the season to be the leader of Black Hole, had turned McCulloch Technologies into an underground arms dealing company, which is why Eva wants to get rid of him. And she successfully does so, killing Joseph Carver, despite Team Flash’s efforts to keep him safe. Eva frames Sue Dearbon, who has come around to helping Ralph and Team Flash, for Carver’s murder, and takes over McCulloch Technologies. Iris is still stuck inside the Mirrorverse with Kamilla and Singh. Joe is released  from the witness protection program and begins plotting a way to save the “people we love.”

Previous seasons of The Flash have had a majority of their storylines wrapped up by season’s end, but with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down production before the final episodes could be completed, The Flash season 6 has left three major story arcs waiting for completion next season, which won’t debut until early 2021. What are your theories for how things might wrap up? Share them with us in the comments!

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