The first part of The Flash’s midseason finale, which aired last week, was the heavy emotional hour. “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 2” is all about the action, but the heart doesn’t get lost amid all the scares, Bloodwork zombies, and CGI fights.
The episode wastes no time in re-establishing the scary tone from the first part. When Cisco, Iris, and Frost come to in S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco immediately turns on the Babel Protocol, which he developed in case the Flash ever went bad, and covers the entire building in a forcefield. (Look at our little Batman in the making.) At the same time, director Michael Nankin employs a few quick shots of terrified Central City citizens running away from Ramsey Bloodwork’s zombie army that effectively establish how dire the (lowercase) crisis is and make it feel like a citywide threat.
Team Flash is usually on the same page, but this situation is so harrowing that Iris and Cisco are butting heads over how to handle it. Cisco, who has embraced his role as leader, believes they need to focus on finishing his photon emitter, which in theory could cure Ramsey and Barry with a blast of radiation. It hasn’t been tested yet, though. Iris, on the other hand, is convinced that Barry is still in there and that she can get through to him. They can’t see eye to eye, but it never feels as though the script picks a side.
Outside S.T.A.R. Labs, Frost and Joe are busy batting Ramsey’s army back in the plaza, while Cecile and Kamilla, who are trapped in the office building, try to avoid being captured and infected by the zombies roaming the halls. Cecile and Kamilla use Cecile’s empathy powers to detect the zombies and sneak around them as they make their way out of the building. The entire sequence is shot as one long take, and it’s amazing because it’s clear the director isn’t just showing off; he shot it this way because he wanted to ratchet up the suspense.
Meanwhile, Dark Flash beckons Iris to meet him at their apartment. Cisco begs her not to go, but Iris ignores him. At the apartment, Dark Flash threatens to Reverse Flash Iris when she rejects Ramsey’s cure, but he stays his hand. After that encounter, Cisco finishes his emitter and heads out into the plaza to use it on Ramsey. Unfortunately, Dark Flash knocks him off his feet and the emitter shatters. Ramsey and Dark Flash don’t kill Cisco, though, because they want him to know their plan: Ramsey and his army are heading toward S.T.A.R. Labs to spread his virus via the particle accelerator.
When Cisco makes it back to S.T.A.R. Labs, he and Iris have a heart-to-heart and realize they screwed up by not working together. However, their mistakes also yielded some new information: Barry had a chance to kill them but didn’t each time. Not only that, but he repeated exact phrases he’d said them to before. They realize that Barry is still in there and he’s trying to let them know he has a plan. Their guess is confirmed when Barry and Ramsey show up outside of S.T.A.R. Labs and Barry tells them to drop the barrier and “let the light in.”
So that’s exactly what they do. As his army swarms through S.T.A.R. Labs, Bloodwork makes his way to the pipeline with Dark Flash and places his tainted blood inside the accelerator. Team Flash manages to thwart this plan by subduing Ramsey and having Allegra blast the blood in the accelerator with a UV radiation right as it collides with the particle, which spreads a cure throughout the entire city.
From there, all that’s left is for Barry to take down Ramsey, who goes Bloodwork and transforms into a monstrous blood-clot-looking monster. It’s one of the show’s gnarliest visuals. Bloodwork eventually backs down when he sees a vision of his mother, who pleads with him to stop. And here’s where the episode kinda lost me for a bit. It turns out this was part of Barry’s plan all along. He let Ramsey infect him so that he could in turn sow seeds of doubt in Ramsey’s mind, which took the form of a beyond-the-grave appearance from his mother. This twist undermines the emotional turmoil Barry was going through in the last episode, especially that visual of him being pulled from either side by the Speed Force and Bloodwork.
Anyway, the vision of Ramsey’s mom distracts Bloodwork long enough for Barry to trap him in the MAC and save the day. From there, the team transfers Ramsey over to A.R.G.U.S., which is a welcome development because it means there’s a chance Sendhil Ramamurthy could return to terrorize the team again. Most superhero shows have a bad habit of killing of villains who could, in theory, return if the writers came up with a great idea.
As the episode ends, Team Flash gathers in the lounge and wait for the (uppercase) Crisis to start. The team takes this opportunity to deliver some heartfelt tributes to their speedy friend, which were genuinely moving. My favorite moment was the revelation that Iris had Cisco vibe her to the first time she and Barry kissed in “Out of Time” when he was trapped in the Speed Force. I love that episode, and love that she’s very much aware of that moment. Then, like clockwork, the skies turn red, indicating that Crisis has started and bringing the Bloodwork arc to a satisfying end.
Wall of Weird:
- Meanwhile, underneath Central City, the door that Nash found last week, which is supposedly where the Monitor is hiding, opens and pulls Nash inside in a blinding white light.
- This episode was about everyone facing their fears. Frost has that moment when it falls on her to save a wounded Joe. Caitlin tells her to face her fears, push past them, and use her powers to heal him.
- “I don’t know. I kinda like time travel,” Iris, with a hot take.
- “The only thing more inevitable than Crisis is us.” Big Tom King energy in that quote.
- The name of the Babel Protocol is a reference to the great Justice League of America story “Tower of Babel,” in which Ra’s al Ghul steals Batman’s secret contingency plans for if the League ever broke bad and uses it against them.