If you knew you had six weeks left how would you spend it? Barry Allen knows his life is limited; not only has the Monitor appeared to him and laid out the truth, Barry looked ahead for himself and saw the one future among billions that ended with his universe in one piece. For Barry this is definitive (for now, at least). The hard part is convincing his loved ones that the future is unavoidable. After all, they’ve changed the future more than once. And even though his world is literally ending, it hasn’t stopped. There’s a new perfectly spooky villain on the loose. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 6, Episode 4, “There Will Be Blood.”
“There Will Be Blood”
While The Flash is often a villain-of-the-week series, the show is laser-focused on its two main plotlines this week, and just about everything that happens this week feeds directly into them even as they feed into each other. The Flash‘s cast also offers up some seriously good performances this week.
Barry has informed his team of his inevitable future, and Cisco is having a difficult time accepting that they can’t science their way out of it. Dr. Ramsey Rosso, meanwhile, is degrading quickly due to his terminal illness. He got a taste of survival last week, though, thanks to his Dark Matter-infused serum, and isn’t ready to give up.
Even the background stories tie into the main plotline here. Ralph Dibny doesn’t know it yet, but the woman he’s trying to track down will one day be his wife. Like Cisco, however, Ralph knows that one of the most important people in his life is going to disappear soon. Barry lifted Ralph out of obscurity, gave him reasons to live, and taught him to be a hero. Ralph is becoming who he’s meant to be because of Barry’s support. His response is to slip into old habits. Iris walks in on Ralph with about 3 dozen cupcakes in his arms; she hands him a huge lead on his case—tracking down Sue Dearbon—but he’s more interested in pigging out. Meanwhile, Harrison “Nash” Wells, interdimensional explorer and adventurer, is the source of this week’s Macguffin and a good portion of its action. But even he helps push the Crisis storyline forward.
Save the doctor, save the world
Barry has decided that while he can’t save himself, the time he has should be used to save those who can help the world. Case in point is Dr. Ramsey Rosso, played by Sendhil Ramamurthy. Dr. Rosso is a brilliant scientist who could save countless lives, but his time is just as limited as Barry’s. A rare form of cancer is ravaging Rosso’s body, and if they could find a cure, they could save him.
It’s an audacious idea, and Cisco calls it out right then. If countless researchers can’t cure cancer, how can Team Flash? That’s where Nash comes in. Nash knows about a regenerative serum being stored by a biotech company. In exchange for some electronic wizardry from Cisco, Nash will help Cisco and Barry get the serum which should, in theory, cure Dr. Rosso. This year of Flash is all about the Crisis, so there’s a particularly fun reference here. The serum uses material solved from an “invasion a few years back.” That, of course, is a reference to the “Invasion!” crossover that brought Supergirl into the Arrowverse for the first time.
The Nash Infiltration
After a cool (but short) fight scene, the trio finds the serum, though Cisco hides it, believing he might be able to save Barry with it. Back at base, it’s not long before Barry figures out what happened, and he and Cisco butt heads. This is just one of a whole batch of genuine emotional scenes in the episode. The pair faces off, and Cisco doesn’t hold back. He’s deeply hurt that Barry won’t even entertain the idea of trying to save himself (all of this reinforces that Doctor Strange was right not to tell Tony or anyone else about the future he saw in Avengers: Endgame). Cisco relents, giving up the serum so that Barry can bring it to Dr. Rosso.
Rosso tries out the serum, and it fails. It has to fail since he’s the “big bad” of this first part of the season. But the serum acts as a kind of cliff, and when it fails, Rosso falls over the edge. His fury inspires him, though, and he realizes that the missing part of the equation is the chemical that extreme emotion releases into the blood. He’s missing the most Halloween-y of emotions: fear.
Blood zombies, that seems okay and normal
Rosso goes on a rampage in the hospital, and we get a better idea of how his powers work. He can infect anyone’s blood simply by touching them and, once it’s infected, he can control their bodies at almost any distance thanks to the Dark Matter infused in the blood. Flash and Frost show up to fight him and though they contain his blood zombies, they ultimately can’t stop him. Rosso can also completely liquify his zombies, retrieving their blood and incorporating it into his body. He can then use it as a semi-solid extension of himself, as we see when he dives out the window and zips away on stretched limbs like some kind of “elongated” man. It’s real gross, y’all.
With Rosso in the wind, team Flash heads back to Star Labs to figure out their next steps. Ralph is ready to start looking for Sue Dearbon, who will eventually become Sue Dibny if The Flash follows long-running comic-book history. Cisco and Barry have another emotional conversation. Cisco is ready to stand behind Barry’s decision and take his place as the leader of the team when Barry is gone.
But the real emotional core of the episode hits right at the end when Joe (Jesse L. Martin) finally opens up to Barry about his fear of losing Barry. Barry is strong; he’s wholly inhabited his role as a superhero, and he’s ready to support even his father figure. Joe breaks down, and I went right with him. Joe has been an incredibly stable character throughout The Flash. Even in some truly dire circumstances, he’s been all but unflappable. To see him break down and cry is a huge moment for the character, and Martin pulls it off perfectly. This show has some really good actors on it, and Martin is among the best of them.
We linger on this scene for a long while before cutting to Nash Wells down in a sewer and using the chip Cisco built for him. Here we find out that Nash is hunting the Monitor and plans to “pay him a house call.” There was never any doubt that the latest Wells would play a major part in this season, but I’m glad we’re going to see him in the run-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths as well.
This episode was particularly strong just on the basis of the performances. Jesse L. Martin, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Carlos Valdes and, of course, Grant Gustin all do a lot of great work to make this episode land.