After a disappointing start to this eighth season of The Flash, the last two episodes turned my expectations on their head, putting together a great Flash/Reverse-Flash face-off that reminded me of what a great villain Reverse-Flash is, how good Tom Cavanagh is at the role, and that relationship enhances almost every other relationship on the show in some way. Barry defeated Reverse-Flash and restored the timeline, so… why is there a part 5? Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 8, Episode 5, “Armageddon, Part 5.”
“Armageddon, Part 5”
The phrase “mixed bag” is somewhat notorious among critics as being a copout term when writing a critical response to something. But with this episode, it really feels like the right term. Reach in, and you might pull out some killer costuming, or you might pull out the most inexplicable cameo of the five-episode arc.
Eobard Thawne is never fully defeated, so it’s not a surprise when he shows at CCPD. Now, though, he’s wearing the Reverse-Flash costume–probably the closest we’ll ever see to an authentic Reverse-Flash costume onscreen. Bright yellow with red boots, none of the black-fade look that the show used for those earlier appearances.
Mia from the Future
As cool as that is, though, this is also where Mia Queen appears. I enjoyed Katherine McNamara’s time on Arrow; she did a good job with both the concept of Oliver and Felicity’s future daughter and with the stage combat. Her story picks up where the backdoor pilot for the Green Arrow and the Canaries spin-off ended, with her still searching for her brother William. I’m not entirely sure, and not sure the show is entirely sure, how she ended up in 2021.
The other appearances kind of made sense. Ray Palmer would drop in on Barry during a science convention. Alex Danvers would be exactly the person to consult about a new extra-terrestrial being showing up. Black Lightning is a great mentor figure for Barry. With Mia, however, it feels like they’re throwing McNamara a bone for the fact that her show didn’t get picked up. It has to have been massively disappointing for her, but she never gels with the characters or story in the same way that the other cameos did. Everything about Mia feels off.
But we reach into the bag again and we pull out Damien Darhk. If Barry could reset a timeline, it’s reasonable that Damien could get pulled through with him. Neal McDonough, like Cavanagh, is someone who always brings his full power when playing his Arrowverse character. His storyline on Legends changed him, and so he doesn’t ham it up quite like he used to, but the emotional beats just land like sucker punches. Damien’s devotion to his daughter has been a consistent thread throughout that gave the writers of Legends and now The Flash new ways to make him pop off the screen.
Jesse L. Martin is back again as Joe West, too, after the death fakeout that the season started with, and he does such a good job as a moral compass for Barry and Iris.
Goodbye, Eobard (probably)
The episode acts as a great send-off for the Flash/Reverse-Flash rivalry. The Flash simply has to be winding down at this point, and it seems unlikely that we’ll get to see the character again. to bring him back in his comics-accurate costume and to force Barry to save him is a great way to say goodbye.
The other element that this episode brings is a fun one. After seven full seasons of television, the show gives Barry his golden Flash boots. They’re a new piece of tech put together by Chester that lets Barry handle Despero’s powers, giving them one last showdown. And there’s the other crappy thing in the grab bag: Despero. I feel a little bad dunking on him because Tony Curran worked with what he had, but the show just had so little for him to do other than taunt Barry. Barry rightly exposes him as a liar in his final moments, but not before they have a fight made up of some really bad CGI.
Armageddon was meant to be a huge event for The Flash and The CW, but instead, we get shots like these that linger way too long on some pretty gnarly CGI that makes Barry look like he’s had a rough decade:
The last shot didn’t even need to be CG. It’s just Barry standing up. Why?
Even with the complaints, this is still a much stronger episode than the first two–and stronger than much of the last season–even if it isn’t quite as joyous to watch as the preceding one. It’s just frustrating to have to pick it apart to find the good stuff.