In The Flash season 5, we watched as Barry and Iris met, loved, and lost their adult daughter, who traveled through time to meet her father. The season ended with Nora sacrificing herself to save her family, rather than succumbing to the Negative Speed Force, thus defeating the Reverse-Flash and saying goodbye to her parents. In the season 6 premiere, loss looms large as Barry and Iris continue to mourn their daughter and learn about Barry’s unavoidable future. Spoilers follow.
“Into the Void”
Season 6 starts surprisingly low-key: black holes are appearing throughout Central City, sucking in matter and endangering the city. You know, standard Flash stuff. As the team investigates the mystery, it presents the show with lots of opportunities to develop characters.
The Flash has often struggled with how to handle Iris West-Allen. In a show where almost all of the characters have superpowers or guns, Iris wields the written word. As a result, she’s often saddled with being the show’s emotional core but rarely given time to deal with those emotions.
Give Iris a second
This episode, then, is more about Iris – and Barry listening to Iris – more than anything else. The intertwining plots are a little tough to wade through. Barry and Iris continue to mourn Nora. Black holes are randomly appearing in the city after an amateur genius live-streamed the construction and activation of a sci-fi contraption. Caitlin and Killer Frost are struggling to communicate their wants and needs to each other, and Caitlin is trying to offer support to a friend that will become the first of two big bads for The Flash season 6. Ralph has been out doing detective work, and Cisco has been developing his relationship with Kamilla. These plotlines all intertwine, so it’s not worth recounting the events in order.
The story kicks off with a battle. It seems that since we last left Team Flash, they’ve had an influx of Godspeed imitators. Each one is a different person, and each one emits a digital scream before dying. This one is only different in that we get to see Flash take him down, and it’s one of those great moments where we get to remember that Barry has been doing this job for five years and that he’s gotten pretty good at it. When he takes Godspeed #4 down with a clothesline, it looks great.
Meanwhile, in the wake of Nora’s death, Iris continues to try moving on. A malfunction in the time vault destroys the goodbye message she left them, however. Shortly after, Iris finds out that her father has unknowingly put Iris’ purple-and-white jacket, which Nora would eventually wear as XS, into the trash. She tracks it down but loses it pretty quickly when a miniature black hole randomly opens up at the city dump, taking Nora’s jacket and nearly Iris with it.
This gives Iris a chance to influence the work of Team Flash through her investigative and observational skills and helps her to voice her pain to Barry who is able to use both his deep relationship with her and his superpowers to help support her in meaningful ways.
Caitlin Frost? Killer Snow?
Over the last few seasons, we’ve watched Caitlin evolve. A character with very little to do has turned into two much more interesting people. And now, it’s acknowledging that Killer Frost is as much a person as Caitlin Snow. Both of these personalities, who are aware of and care about the other, want to be full people, and that will likely come to a head this season. The Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover could separate them, merge them, or give one or the other the chance to sacrifice herself. I would love to see them merge the character into a version that combines Caitlin’s smarts and caring nature with Frost’s snark and confidence.
As Ralph Dibny reenters the scene, he also gets some great moments with Caitlin. As many mistakes as Flash has made, the show has done a great job resisting mashing Caitlin together with her male co-stars. Instead, the show uses the opportunity to give us some rare male-female friendships that don’t involve romance. Ralph and Caitlin have great chemistry, and it’s fun to watch them interact.
It’s also through Caitlin that we meet this season’s big bad, Dr. Ramsey Rosso, a doctor with a genetic blood condition. He’s experimenting with the same dark matter that has created so many villains in The Flash to try to cure his condition, and we see him going down that path as Caitlin refuses to be willingly involved with dark matter again. Actor Sendhil Ramamurthy brings an intensity to this character that has me excited to see him evolve. Especially since he’ll apparently only be the villain for the first half of the season; we likely won’t get time to get tired of him (as we have Zoom, Savitar, and Cicada).
The villain of the week, though, isn’t a villain at all, so much as a problem: how to save the live-streamer’s consciousness that is, somehow, split between his brain and a black hole. It’s Speed Force Bullsh** of course, but it’s still a blast and it opens the door for two things. First, Cisco has to upgrade Barry’s suit, and that means bringing back the much-needed chinstrap and adding some cool speed lines to his costume. This is my favorite Flash costume yet.
Flash! King of the Impossible!
But also, we get possibly the most absurd moment in Flash history as The Flash leaps into a black hole to Queen’s Flash Gordon theme. This has been a long-time coming, according to an interview between showrunner Eric Wallace and TVLine: “I’ve had the idea [to use ‘Flash’s Theme’] for a couple of years now,” Wallace shared. “That line that Cisco says, ‘I’ve been waiting five years!’? Well, I’ve been waiting five years, too, waiting for the perfect moment. And what better than a premiere, in which The Flash essentially gets to go into outer space — even if it’s just for 10 seconds.”
It’s so silly, it’s so absurd, and it works perfectly. As Cisco points out, Flash is jumping into a black hole. It’s Peak Flash. he even leaps toward the screen. There’s just enough of a pause that when the lyrics kick back in calling him King of the Impossible, it feels right, especially considering that he’s literally the savior of the universe this year.
The fun can’t last long, though. At least for once, it doesn’t feel contrived. We know what’s coming as soon as the Monitor appears before Barry and Iris. Showrunners have said that they’re not playing around this season and that Barry Allen will die. We’re not sure what will happen, but we know that The Flash has a full-season order for season 6, and we’re excited to see what they do with it.