The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover is done, but thanks to the state of the world we’re in a Crisis on Infinite Television Shows. Shows are ending seasons early and moving storylines to next year, while others are just big question marks. After going on hiatus due to COVID-19, The Flash is back. I’d argue that this is one of the stronger episodes this season, but it was still weird to watch it not knowing if the season is going to get any kind of ending, let alone a satisfying one. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 6, Episode 16, “So Long and Goodnight.”
“So Long and Goodnight”
This week is a Joe-focused episode and a horror-themed one at that. Joe West is continuing to pursue McCulloch CEO Joseph Carver, who he (correctly) believes is responsible for all the light-themed baddies that the Central City PD and Team Flash have been fighting. Sensing he needs a win, Joseph takes a different approach. As he and his assistant talk, we hear a sickening creak from above. Joseph looks up to see that his newest hire–offscreen for us–has arrived.
Elsewhere, Iris is still trying to escape the mirror universe and thinks she may have a way out. Ralph, meanwhile, enlists the help of Cisco to not just track down Sue Dearbon, but to stop her from getting away again, too.
Trapped in a Mirror
Of these three stories, the only one I’m really worn out on is Iris being trapped in the mirror universe, and that’s only because it feels like the show has put Iris on hold for too long. The actress, Candice Patton, has plenty to do. As Reverse Iris, she gets to play a part she’s never done with Iris. Eva tasks her mirror clone with pushing Barry to drain his powers. Iris manipulates Barry into using his powers that much faster, and it culminates with her cursing him out and kicking him out. That’s definitely not something we’re used to from Patton. It still sucks to see her main character relegated to reading tablets in a pocket universe.
With that said, Eva has the potential to be a fun villain that lasts a while. She has interesting and unique powers that separate her from the cheap Mirror Master we saw in an earlier season. I like that the current and previous Mirror Master echo the way comics have changed over the years, too. Not only have multiple Mirror Mastered appeared in the comics, comic books portray villains differently than they did back in the golden and silver ages. The first Mirror Master was a pretty cheap villain with a cool gimmick, but he didn’t go much deeper than being a criminal and an enemy of the week.
Eva, on the other hand, has some actual pathos. We have a reason to root for her and to be afraid of her. She’s already put one of the show’s main characters on ice a quarter of the season and captured a few other people, too. She seems to have plans beyond revenge, too. I’m hoping she lasts past this season.
A Joe Episode
The other two stories this week are both great, though. The main story benefits from featuring lots of Jesse L. Martin. He’s always been one of the show’s better performers. The tearful conversation he and Grant Gustin had before the Crisis was powerful. Joe knows that Joseph Carver is hot on his heels, but he’s committed as police captain to catching Carver and putting him behind bars. Police Chief Singh wants Joe to take care of himself and his family and go into witness protection.
Meanwhile, Carver has sent Ragdoll after him. So we have this great actor playing an emotional part opposite this creepy villain, and it all works together really well. Ragdoll has some truly terrifying moments, such as when Joe is interrogating Sunshine and the file box behind him starts to move. You know that that tiny box is full of creepy villain, and it’s truly unnerving to watch it move. Along with some of the creepy Bloodwork stuff, these are some of my favorite moments this year.
Further, all of these events force Barry to whittle down his remaining speed at an accelerated rate. He figures out what’s happening just in time to stop Ragdoll from killing Joe but his powers glitch out and Joe still takes a shot to the arm. After Ragdoll gets away–with Sunshine–he ends up kidnapping Cecile. While things turn out alright, because this show isn’t going to give Joe a cheap death, Joe has to make a sacrifice that pushes Barry even further. Joe eventually relents and joins the witness protection program, and Reverse Iris blames Barry for not using his speed to let her say goodbye.
A Girl Named Sue
While all that is going on, Ralph and Cisco chase down Sue Dearbon. Hartley Sawyer and Natalie Dreyfuss have great chemistry every time they’re on-screen together, and Cisco gets the chance to be a goofball. The main story is intense, emotional, and horror-tinged, so the rapid-fire flirtation between these two is a perfect break.
Aside from Iris being on ice for too long, my other complaint with this season is how long we’ve watched Barry deal with dwindling powers. I’ll admit that some of that eternity is a result of the state of the world–a month between episodes makes everything seem longer–but it’s also not the most interesting storyline for Barry. We’ve seen him lose his powers before, and I’m not terribly interested in reliving that. But here we are.
Even with the downsides, this was still a fun episode to watch thanks to Jesse L. Martin, Ragdoll, and Ralph and Sue. I’m looking forward to seeing how Eva develops. The preview for next week suggests that Barry finally realizes Iris ain’t Iris, and I’m excited to see how that plays out.