The Flash Post-Crisis Midseason Premiere Is All About Survivor’s Guilt

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BY February 4, 2020

Since the finale of Crisis On Infinite Earths, the biggest question has been about what changes will come to the Arrowverse series. The Flash post-Crisis midseason premiere remained the last unknown quantity since its return ended up delayed until after the Arrow series finale. This series, the flagship of the CW’s DC Universe, needed to address a lot of situations, which it did nicely. We know that Oliver saved the entire multiverse, however it seems that Earth-Prime is not aware of this fact. Rather, they believe they are the only universe left. While this streamlines things for crossovers and the like, it does leave the characters with a lot of guilt. We’ve mourned Oliver Queen, and marveled at how Earth-Prime changed on Supergirl and Black Lightning. So, the post-Crisis midseason premiere of The Flash focused on guilt, specifically survivor’s guilt.

Because this episode was likely filmed around the same time as the crossover, Grant Gustin is absent for most of it. This gives Candice Patton’s Iris West-Allen and Carlos Valdes’ Cisco Ramon opportunities to shine in the episode. A fun appearance from David Ramsey also allows Barry to accept that he now lives in a world without his superhero mentor. He also doesn’t have a huge crisis looming over him. The use of the mask Barry gave Oliver at the end of the first-ever crossover (before The Flash was a show) was particularly significant to the episode’s message for Flash and all the survivors. Life is short, don’t forget to live it.

Spoilers for the episode below, so bookmark this and come back after you’ve seen it. There is a lot to talk about.

The Post-Crisis Midseason Premiere Examines the Flash Without Green Arrow

The Flash Post-Crisis Midseason Premiere Diggle and Barry Image via CW

Diggle shows up STAR Labs with a gift for Barry. Well, not a gift, but something Oliver left to him in his will, the first Arrow mask. In the second season when Grant Gustin first appeared as Allen, he gave Oliver a mask to remind him to keep a line of separation between the Arrow and Oliver Queen. As soon as Barry sees it, however, he assumes it’s a clue to one last mission from his old mentor. Giving us one last instance of Diggle not liking super-speed, they go off to Lian Yu to complete the quest. Of course, there is no final quest. The clue Barry found was just some detritus from Oliver’s own nonstop quests for justice. The mask is a reminder to Barry to not just live his life crisis to crisis.

While this might seem like the main story in the episode, it’s actually the C-story. It’s all about how Barry was prepared to die in the Crisis but not prepared to live. The loss of Oliver, who he always looked to as his lodestar, makes his survival doubly troubling. Barry doesn’t know what to do without the crisis and his death hanging over his head. The climax comes during a lovely scene with Barry and Diggle in a bunker. (A set surely cheaper than a location shoot up in Squamish, British Colombia where the Lian Yu scenes are filmed.)

Diggle gets Barry to accept that Oliver is gone, and they have to find a way forward without their friend. The extended mourning process for the character seemed as much about the show as him. This story thread was easily the most personal one, perhaps because for us Arrow is finally gone for real.

Sorry, but Iris West Is Kind of a Bad Reporter (It’s Not Her Fault)

The Flash Post-Crisis Midseason Premiere Iris is a Bad Reporter Sorry Image via CW

The main story in this episode was Iris and her reporter squad on the case of a terrorist organization lifted from the comics called Black Hole. This was a proper Iris-as-the-hero episode and the many fans of the character on social media (checks notes) “lived for it.” It does set up how Iris can make the most of Team Flash and isn’t just a damsel waiting to be rescued. This will provide tension in future episodes, as it seems that Iris got body-snatched at the end of the episode. Yet, it does seem that Iris as a kind of aggressive, heroic Lois Lane (from the comics) type is the new status quo for her. The only problem with this, however, is that she’s not a great reporter.

Look, I love Iris and Candice Patton (no relation) is the definitive version of the character for me. Still, no one TV seems to understand how journalism actually works. Iris’s determination that the villains are the villains is correct (which we know because she’s the hero and they are clearly evil). However, she definitely deserved that defamation suit for such a weakly-sourced story. Also, the resolution suggests she has a bunch of hard evidence to expose the main villain, yet she’s keeping it under wraps for, uh, reasons? One area where this show struggles is giving the heroes a “win” while keeping the big bads out of prison. However, as a former reporter, the journalism logic in this episode was far tougher to swallow than a black hole weapon that can only be fired by a specific metahuman.

This makes sense, because Iris can’t beat-up bad guys. So her conflict looks different than Barry’s. It’s great to see Iris become a force on her own and hopefully it continues, journalistic bad practices aside.

It Took Until the Flash Post-Crisis Midseason Premiere for Cisco to Mourn Vibe

The Flash Post-Crisis Midseason Premiere Cisco and Superman Shirt Image via CW

One of the biggest changes to the status quo of The Flash happened last season, but it didn’t get dealt with until the post-Crisis midseason premiere. Cisco took the metahuman cure and was no longer Vibe. It seems his powers are gone again (despite the Monitor giving them back for the Crisis). Yet, because he was the hero most connected to the multiverse, he feels immense guilt about the destruction of the other Earths. Earth-2 specifically. Destroyed early in Arrow’s season, it meant that Jessie Quick and Harry Wells were dead. (They may not be, though Earth-2 is where the forthcoming Stargirl is set, meaning it may be different than the Earth-2-that-was.)

While Flash mourned his mentor and his pre-Crisis life, Cisco mourned the people he believed died because he gave up his powers. Because, just like Iris, Cisco is a hero. He may have wanted a more normal life and a girlfriend, but he feels a sense of duty. And he feels that he failed that duty, and his friends, by giving up his metahuman abilities. (Abilities he only got because of the Flashpoint season.) It’s unclear why he’s leaving Team Flash for the time-being, but it was nice that the character got to mourn his heroic persona despite losing his powers being his choice.

What did you think of the post-Crisis midseason premiere of The Flash? Share your thoughts and theories about where Cisco is going or what happened to Iris in the comments below!

Featured image via CW

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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