The Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover coming this fall isn’t a vacation from the rest of the season like other crossovers have been. It’s the main focus. While Batwoman, Black Lightning and Supergirl have yet to be pulled in, the first episodes of both The Flash and Arrow both hinge on the coming crisis, and this week’s episode of The Flash is all about how Barry will handle his pivotal role. Spoilers for The Flash, season 6, episode 2 follow.
“A Flash of the Lightning”
After a surprise visit from the Monitor, Barry and Iris are talking about what to do about the Crisis. In past years of Flash, the team has repeatedly altered their timeline for better and worse, so it’s pretty normal for Barry and Iris to think they could find a way to avoid Barry’s supposedly inevitable death. And so Barry tries to race into the future to see what happens, only to be thrown out by antimatter not a second later. That leads Barry, now equipped with an earbud-sized Gideon computer, to visit Jay Garrick on Earth-3.
While he’s doing that, the rest of Team Flash has stuff going on. Caitlin has stepped back to let Killer Frost live a little, and Killer Frost is making the most of it by dumping on everyone’s art at a gallery showing (including Cisco’s girlfriend, Kamilla’s photography). Meanwhile, District Attorney Cecile Horton, detective Ralph Dibny, and Iris West-Allen are working together on a case about a young repeat offender where the facts and Cecile’s meta power don’t agree.
Barry talks to Jay and discovers that while he won’t be able to run past the antimatter barrier, he might be able to think past it. Of course, Jay has just the thing: a device to project Barry’s brain into the future. Oh, and Jay has a significant other that just happens to look exactly like Barry’s mom, the same way Jay looks exactly like his father.
And so Barry lays down on the bed and astral projects his way into the future where he does like Doctor Strange and looks at a billion different futures, screaming in pain as he watches his friends die over and over. He comes out terrified and in shock. There’s no way for him to live; either everyone dies, or he dies. He takes it about as hard as you’d expect and has his own crisis: one of the commitment and conscience.
He struggles, talking to Iris and Joe in turn, and it’s Joe who, as usual, has some wise words for him: people who make a vow to protect those who can’t protect themselves aren’t choosing to die, but rather are choosing to live up to their oath. If someone dies living up to that, it’s not because they chose to.
Over on Cecile’s side, the team is investigating this young woman who has the power to control radio waves. She looks guilty from every angle, but Cecile’s power tells her that the girl believes herself innocent. This segment is very monster-of-the-week, with Cecile, Ralph, and Iris all investigating in their own ways to eventually discover that the young woman has a cousin who looks a lot like her, who has the same tattoo as her, and was hit by the original dark matter wave in the same building she was in. You know, that old chestnut.
Run toward the light, Barry
But this gives Barry the chance to make good on his oath because the cousin shows up at CCPD to roast her sister with ultraviolet waves. When the would-be assassin attacks, she knocks Barry over with ultra-violet light that moves far faster than his fastest speed. He can’t outrun her.
And so he runs toward her, even as his skin tries to burn off in the harsh light, and knocks her down. The young woman, proven innocent of her crime, is free to go and, apparently, wants to join Iris and Kamilla as an intern at Iris’ extremely improbable (but optimistic) newspaper.
This microcosmic moment has given Barry a perspective on the bigger one to come, and he comes out looking a lot less scared and a lot more ready. Oh, and Killer Frost learns that making art and expressing your feelings can both be really hard, and she learns a nice lesson about not being a jerk all the time.
It’s not a vacation
I love that the Arrowverse is treating this event like a culmination rather than a vacation. The crisis is already affecting these characters’ lives, and we know it’ll have irreversible effects on the Arrowverse. It’s going to be as huge as it looks, and it’s not something we’re going to spend just a few hours with. It’s going to loom in the background all fall and into winter.
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