The Flash is now, well and truly, entering his final run. This final arc is entitled “A New World,” and it will act as a farewell to the character we’ve gotten to know over the last almost-decade of television. This season has been, to put it bluntly, disappointing. The first arc was at least something fresh even if it had issues, but the second batch of episodes has felt mostly like repetitive throwaway stories up until the previous episode. This is where the rubber of The Flash’s super-sole meets the road. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 9, Episode 10, “A New World, Part One”
“A New World, Part One”
As Iris (Candice Patton) receives word of a career milestone, Barry (Grant Gustin) is suddenly nowhere to be found. In trying to get back home, Barry runs across many familiar faces. Khione (Danielle Panabaker) continues to figure out her powers and Chester (Brandon McKnight) works on a suit for Allegra (Kayla Compton).
Mom & Dad
Barry Allen was already a grown man when we first met him–a college graduate working for the Central City Police. His mother died a decade before we met him, and his father died pretty early into the show. And yet they’ve played a crucial role throughout the show in different ways. The Flash of Earth-2, Jay Garrick, looks just like Henry Allen. The Speed Force takes the form of his mother, Nora. Barry names his future daughter after his mother. Like Batman, the Flash’s whole story is kind of about his parents, but has shifted from being about Barry punishing himself (again, like Batman), and more about loving and remembering them.
It makes sense, then, that we would encounter them first in this final arc.
Barry is at home with Iris when, suddenly, in a swirl of blue light, he disappears. It happens so quickly that they barely have time to contemplate it. Barry ends up in the year 2000, which he figures out by checking the tabs on a nearby vehicle–skipping right over awkwardly asking an actual person what year it is.
After seeking out Joe for help, Barry gets hit by a car and ends up in the care of Dr. Henry Allen. The show has always framed Barry’s parents as deeply giving, caring people, and they end up as his impromptu therapists as he processes his grief. They don’t know he’s their son, but they treat him with the same care that they would if they did.
This is all happening on the day that Eobard Thawne comes back in time to kill Barry’s parents and, for once, Barry doesn’t try to stop it. They actually re-do that scene from the original Arrowverse Flashpoint storyline where he stops himself from interfering while, outside, this Barry talks to Reverse-Flash to try to end the battle between them.
All three of these characters are people with whom Barry needs to try to make peace in different ways, and the episode seems to be about him finally being able to accept what happened.
It’s Eddie–or not
A whole bunch of Speed Force Stuff happens, too; Barry has a lightning battle with the Negative Speed Force as it inhabits Joe’s body. A big twist, meanwhile, bookends the whole episode. In the opening moments, we see someone getting ready for their day and heading to work, and when they get there it turns out to be actor Rick Cosnett–Eddie Thawne. What the heck is Eddie doing here? But then in the episode’s final scene, he gets hit with the same lightning bolt that made The Flash, but doesn’t end up comatose. He finds the file that shows Eddie Thawne as being deceased…and reveals that he isn’t Eddie.
It’s easy to miss, but when the security guard hands him his badge at the beginning of the episode, you can see his name on it–Malcolm Gilmore. In the comics, Barry has a twin who was taken at birth by a man named Dr. Gilmore and raised as Malcolm Thawne. This character is a distant ancestor of Eobard Thawne, and he becomes a magic-wielding character named Cobalt Blue. All of this stuff takes place in 2049, so we have yet to see how it’ll tie back into Barry becoming unstuck in time.
This is all really good setup. Barry is separated from his allies and we have some intriguing mysteries. The show uses these to bring back some beloved characters for a heartwarming goodbye. I really hope this will be the goodbye that this character deserves.