Alright, Flash, enough already. Over on Legends of Tomorrow, the Time Idiots are dealing with revived villains. They’re calling them Encores. It’s been fun and silly. When The Flash brought back Mirror Master as a new character with better effects, I was stoked, and I’m still digging it. But now it’s starting to feel like a crutch. Where Legends is mostly bringing back people like Genghis Khan and Rasputin, The Flash is just repeating early villains layered over what feel like rehashed plots. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 6, Episode 14, “Death of the Speed Force.”
Death of the Speed Force
This week marks the return of Keiynan Lonsdale as Kid Flash, though just for the one week. Wally has been off studying with Buddhist monks, learning to be present and to use his powers to help people. He’s back in Central City for a reason, though. Kid Flash feels a disturbance in the Speed Force.
Yes, the show does call this out with Grant Gustin doing a Yoda impression.
Barry has been glitching out since Crisis, his powers fluctuating in little ways; speed healing isn’t so speedy, he trips mid-run. Barry has been in denial, but Wally has been in more direct communication with the Speed Force and knows something is up.
The short version is that when Spectre Oliver gave Barry some of his power, it infected the Speed Force and has been slowly killing it while Barry lives in denial.
There’s not really a need to discuss in detail what goes on here, but suffice to say it feels like a rehash. Barry is struggling with his powers. He pretends nothing is wrong first, and then isolates himself. Then, when he admits something is wrong, it’s too late, and the Speed Force is dying. We know it’s not going to stay dead, though, because the show is called The Flash.
Now, Barry has to ponder a life without speed.
They just added a 2.0
Meanwhile, a new villain is in town, who has the power to slow down time in small pockets, just like the villain Turtle from way, way back. And they name the villain… Turtle 2.0. Again the show calls out that this is a bit silly, but you can only say “look at our dumb jobs and how dumb they are” so many times before it starts to feel lazy.
The villain is mostly perfunctory and provides very little challenge to the dual speedsters; she’s mostly there to force Barry and Wally to waste their residual power now that their access to the Speed Force is cut off. The villain does kill a person by trapping them in a time bubble and aging them a hundred years, and the show says that. But then it never deals with the existential horror of being trapped standing still in a cafe for what feels like a lifetime. That’s some nightmarish stuff, and no one even mentions it.
It’s too familiar
This should be a powerful storyline, but instead it just feels like a rehash. Barry is doing the same things and feeling the same things he’s felt before. Some concepts are swapped around, but it still looks just like I remember the last time Barry lost his speed.
The only parts of the story this week that I found interesting were the continuations of the Bizarro Iris and Reverse Flash storylines, and those saw very little movement. Kamilla snaps a picture of Iris that Evil Iris demands she delete. The cliffhanger moment at the end of the episode has Kamilla looking at the picture and seeing a mirror being in place of Iris… just in time for The Iris Who Laughs to shoot her with the Mirror Gun. I’m assuming she gets dumped into the mirror world with Iris, since that seems like a brutally fast death for a significant member of the supporting cast.
Meanwhile, Eobard Thawne is able to possess Nash Wells. I’m betting that the other Wells characters are floating around, too, and that we’ll see Harry taking him over before long. While Thawne is in control of Wells, he doesn’t have any of his speed powers, so when he goes to attack Cisco, he ends up just poking him in the chest. The show could’ve played this for laughs, and I’m a little disappointed it didn’t. For the time being, though, Eobard Thawne is back, and that’s always a good thing.
I’m not sure what the goal of this storyline is. It doesn’t tell us anything new about Barry, the Flash, or the Speed Force. So far, it hasn’t even given characters much new stuff to do. Hopefully, next week gives us more to work with, but for now I’m feeling a little worn out with all the unintentional Encores.