The Flash -- "Family Matters, Part 2" -- Image Number: FLA711a_0043r.jpg -- Pictured: Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss

Sometimes a show jumps the shark all at once. Other times, it’s a slow, gradual thing and you don’t notice it even though it’s happening right in front of you. As Season 7’s first new storyline ends, it seems like The Flash may have truly and irrevocably done just that. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 7, Episode 11, “Family Matters, Part 2.”

“Family Matters, Part 2”

When your storyline is literally relying on the concept of Love as the thing that will solve all the problems, something has gone terribly wrong. This whole storyline has been full of low points for The Flash, but virtually nothing about this episode makes sense for the characters or the story. It’s full of plot twists and near-instant reversals that make the time JJ Abrams killed Chewie twice in Rise of Skywalker seem less egregious (only a little) by comparison.

One thing that’s really weird is the continual reliance on the weird family dynamic that they settled on. It feels like the writers either never log onto the internet or they didn’t realize what had happened until they were too deep to turn back. Speed Force Nora killed the Forces and Iris last week, apparently because she–wearing the body of Barry’s mother–sees Iris, the woman Barry grew up with from childhood, and is now married to, as competition. Meanwhile, Barry and Iris are unironically referring to the adult strangers they just met as their “children.”

If the Forces were just personifications like Nora, that wouldn’t be so weird, but they’re intended to be actual people, and it really is weird. It’s one thing to say that friends are your family, and this is something entirely different.

Ctrl+Z

So, remember how at the end of last week’s episode, Nora killed Iris and the Forces, as referenced above? Well, that was a fake-out, because Psyche made an illusion to save them.

Thinking that they need to keep Bashir and Alexa safe from Nora, Barry deposits them somewhere Nora can’t find them, which is putting them in the Speed Force during a time when the Speed Force was dead. I’m still trying to dissect how that works. But just as soon as they get there–visualized as Barry’s childhood home, but covered in cobwebs–Bashir and Alexa decide they need to take Nora on themselves, and they leave just as quickly as they were put there.

Back in the real world, Team Flash is racing to find a solution for the Nora problem. As things progress, though, Nora tells Barry that the quakes that have been happening in Central City as a result not of her, but of the Forces themselves, and that they’re the bad guys. Meanwhile, Nora grows more and more goth the eviler she gets. Which is truly boring costuming. They then realize that Nora isn’t the bad guy and the Forces aren’t the bad guy (Billie Eilish is the bad guy).

But because the answer to everything is love, Barry and Iris talk Nora down from her evilness and they get all the Forces together. The quartet decides to go into the Speed Force together and become the cosmic forces entirely. These humans, who had lives, probably houses or apartments, coworkers, are suddenly just going to go into a cosmic time bubble and be super okay living there. Again, if they were just the Forces personified, this wouldn’t be weird, and would totally make sense. But instead, it’s just a bunch of people.

Even by comic-book logic, this is nonsense. Even by soap opera logic, this is nonsense. None of it lands well or hits home.

Wasted Time

And that doesn’t even get to what happens with Killer Frost. The Force Storm that was rocking Central City apparently cracks open a hole in Iron Heights Prison, and all the prisoners escape (a storyline that I’m sure Kristen Kramer will be part of in the back half of the season), including Killer Frost. If you remember, just a couple of episodes back, Frost agreed to go to jail without opportunity for parole to prove that she was a good guy and that you can’t just take away metahuman powers against peoples’ wills.

Frost encounters Chillblaine again, who has broken out and recovered his tech. I’m pretty sure I heard the show refer to him as a metahuman, which seems really weird. The two fight, and Chillblaine taunts Frost about her attraction to him. The fight concludes off-screen, and eventually, Frost shows up at Caitlin Snow’s apartment, where she explains that turning a bunch of metahumans back into the prison got her paroled on probation, which her sentence specifically excluded, and also that she has a crush on someone. Guess who it is. It’s the ice guy.

What was the point of a whole episode about her trial if they were going to undo it two weeks later?

This was dumb. All of this is dumb. I don’t want to blame the writers, because they’re just a bunch of people. COVID-19 likely complicated filming the first half of the season, and they had fewer episodes to work with than they planned, but the end result is a bunch of nonsense that we’re told we should care about but never given any reason to do so.

Hey, The Flash, what’s going on?