Last week we left off with our good and pure Barry Allen under the influence of Bloodwork, with oily-black eyes and a terrifying grin. This two-part story is the final run-up to the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover for Team Flash. It’s a test of Barry’s commitment to saving the world despite knowing he’ll die. It’s also pretty disgusting. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 6, Episode 8, “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part II.”
“The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part II”
The Crisis that begins smack dab in the middle of this television season is doing interesting things to each of the shows affected. Supergirl seems to have lost its mojo from season 4 and is kind of aimless. Black Lightning is doing its own (awesome) thing. Arrow is on a farewell tour and just nailing every episode so far (I haven’t watched this week’s yet, so this is a disclaimer just in case). The Flash isn’t quite on the level that Arrow is on, but the Crisis is doing wonders for the show’s structure.
Each year, Flash has a “big bad” that lasts throughout the season. And so far, the crossovers have been vacations from the main story. This year, the Crisis is the main event, and simply picking back up after it won’t work if the hype is to be believed. Whether Barry Allen dies or not (we’re pretty sure he won’t; at least not for good), it’ll leave a crater in the middle of the season.
The Big Bad Problem
So instead of having a single villain, the show is closing out the story on its first villain with the fall finale. Bloodwork, played by Sendhil Ramamurthy (best known for his role on Heroes), has been a fun, creepy villain, but not the type to last a full season. And the show knows that.
Flash‘s problem with these big-bad characters has been a problem almost since season 2 when, fresh off a story about Barry’s speedster mentor betraying him, the show gave us a second story about a speedster mentor betraying him. Then followed it up with a third season about a mystery speedster. The Thinker was a bit better than those, but Cicada was a frustrating and unsatisfying treadmill. These villains go on too long and the solutions for defeating them never feel as satisfying as they should.
Condensing the Bloodwork storyline into the first eight episodes, while still taking Crisis-related diversions throughout, means that we didn’t get enough time to get tired of Bloodwork.
As for Bloodwork himself, I’m mixed. I’ve loved Ramamurthy so far. He has a commanding presence and charisma, and the effects for his corrupted look have been fun to watch. I loved that the character has a horror feel to him, and that the show really played up the gross factor, though less-so this week.
The conclusion to the Bloodwork storyline has been a little underwhelming. After showing us how conflicted Barry was last week, the show excused it this week, with Barry saying that he let Rosso take him over so that he could sow doubt in him. Nothing about the story really foreshadowed that.
And it might just be me, but I don’t wholly understand why Allegra’s power is the perfect antidote to Bloodwork’s intelligent infection. I also found the CG for his final form a bit offputting. Not because it was gross, but because it just wasn’t great CG. Bloodwork’s final form looked like they imported a demon from the most recent version of the Doom video games. In a show where characters like Grodd and King Shark have been incredibly well integrated, Bloodwork felt cheap.
Ready for Crisis
On the other hand, this conclusion put Barry in a perfect headspace for the Crisis. He saved someone by risking himself to appeal to their goodness, bringing his team together just in time for the Crisis to begin.
And so a result, part of me is glad it was short because the long big-bad arcs don’t work, and part of me is disappointed that the villain didn’t work better than he did. I wish the show had taken more time to endear him to us before turning him. Another hour of him being a good doctor and friend to Caitlin and more time getting closer to Barry could’ve helped make him more compelling.
As it is, we’re all set for Crisis, and I cannot wait.