There are different advantages to filming shows in different ways. When NBC’s Community was airing, it was filmed while the season aired; the show was able to respond to fans by doubling down on weirdness and certain character relationships. When a show like Westworld is filmed all at once, the actors and crew are able to stay focused and potentially deliver a more cohesive product and contain filming spoilers. Arrowverse shows like The Flash film while the season is airing. This year, that ultimately forced the shows to cut their seasons short thanks to the unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. The Flash ends with episode 19. The showrunners did what they could to make what they have work, and it could be worse. This is a weird finale. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 6, Episode 19, “Success is Assured.”
“Success is Assured”
What do you do when the whole world is a mess and you have a show to finish? You work with what you have, do some magic tricks in editing, and cross your fingers. The season 6 finale of The Flash doesn’t get to tie up a single one of the ongoing story threads the show has been working with, but it does find a way to put most of them in a place that has me excited for what’s to come.
A second chance for a villain
I’ve mentioned before that there’s one element of the Crisis on Infinite Earths aftermath I especially like. By resetting the world, the show has reset many of its villains. Rather than taking that as an opportunity to monster-of-the-week them again, the show is remixing them. None moreso than Mirror Master. The first incarnation of Mirror Master, a longtime Flash rogue, was utterly forgettable. The kind of villain the Arrowverse spawned early on when they weren’t yet sure if they had something that would last and wanted to fit everything in at once. He was a petty criminal, and his time on the show was small. A quick puzzle for the Flash to solve with his friends.
And so the second half of this season has been the Mirror Master getting her due. She’s a dangerous character with motivations we can sympathize with and plans we can’t immediately understand. She has mystery, and she comes at a time when Flash is at his weakest.
Welcome to Family Feud
Much of this episode is about Eva and her husband Joseph Carver and their feud. Team Flash tries to protect Carver, but he doesn’t believe he needs protection–until Eva kidnaps his Light Assassins, Sunshine, Hoshi/Dr. Light and turns them. Team Flash has to protect Carver, a man they know is their enemy, from Eva.
Team Flash ends up at Carver’s corporate headquarters, where they encounter the trio. This is where things start to feel like a finale, and I’m going to chalk a lot of that up to some very slick editing that I don’t think I’ve seen in the Arrowverse before. This is a big fight scene, and a finale-sized one at that, featuring three villains, four heroes, and a lot of security guards. The screen splits a few different times and in different directions to let us see different pieces of the action, and ends up being an exciting way to mix up the action and keep everyone on screen. It also helps compact the scene into fewer shots, making the whole thing feel stronger.
While that’s going on, Eva confronts Joseph and Flash gets in between them just in time to take a chest full of mirror shards. Then, Eva forces one of the shards through Barry and into Joseph, killing him. The next day, she holds a press conference, telling the world that she was held captive and that her husband while she scratches at her arm, suggesting that not all is well.
No frost baby
Meanwhile, the wound Frost incurred battling Joseph Carver’s Light Assassins continues to rot, and she finally has to call in her mother, an expert in cryogenics, to help her. If this story seems a little inexplicable, it’s because it’s one of pure necessity. Actress Danielle Panabaker is–or was at the time of filming–pregnant, and the team was having to work harder and harder to hide the proof since the show doesn’t have a storyline about her getting pregnant. That’s why Frost is going away with Caitlin’s mother–to give Panabaker a break.
The biggest cliffhanger of the episode comes when we cut to Iris and Kamila in the Mirrorverse and Iris, who seems to be gaining some powers of her own in her strange world, screams in pain and turns to light before disappearing. We never find out what happens to her.
Not bad, all told.
If this was a regular finale, we’d be complaining and rightfully so. But considering everything that the team behind The Flash had to work with? They created something that feels like a finale when they were caught totally off-guard by the COVID-19 shutdown. We’re left wondering what happened to Iris, what Sue Dearbon can do now that she’s been framed for Joe Carver’s murder, and how Barry will get back his speed and his wife and friends. Seasons usually end on a more positive note than this in these shows, but with Mirror Master, a cliffhanger feels just about right.
A few random musings that don’t fit elsewhere into the piece:
- Why is all the text in the Mirrorverse reversed except computer screens?
- I still don’t understand why Eva and her goons say “Success is Assured.” Use active verbs, people!
- The effect of Ralph’s rubbery face getting punched is great
- When Frost and her mother leave, I’m pretty sure they leave Barry alone in Caitlin’s apartment. Does he have a key? Does Iris know he has a key?!