The Flash is back for a sixth season. Considering how frustrating I usually find this show, I sometimes wonder if I’ll give up on it before the network does. Probably, but I suppose not quite yet.
The season premiere opens with a power surge in the Time Vault room and a brief blackout at S.T.A.R. Labs. Barry then has to go chasing a speedster in a white suit who appears to be the meta-human villain Godspeed briefly introduced (and dispensed with) last season. Barry captures him and pulls off his mask, and it’s just some random dude underneath. The guy opens his mouth, but instead of words, all that comes out is a piercing shriek that sounds like an old fax-modem. Cisco comments that this is the fourth Godspeed wannabe to appear recently. None of them can talk, and it’s unclear where they’re coming from. This storyline will not be mentioned again in this episode, but will presumably be revisited later in the season.
Black Hole Sun
In the meantime, Cisco is developing a Mental Augmentation Chamber to help Barry with “speed-thinking.” Iris is having a lot of trouble getting over the loss of their daughter, Nora, but Barry seems to be taking it better. When she finds out that her dad threw out a box of old crap from the house, Iris tracks it down to the dump and retrieves her old purple jacket that will become the basis of Nora’s eventual X-S uniform. However, a mini black hole mysteriously opens up at the dump and sucks up a bunch of junk, including the jacket, then suddenly closes and vanishes.
After a similar black hole incident wrecks Jitters, Iris makes the connection to a so-called “mad scientist” vlogger named Chester P. Runk (Brandon McKnight), who performs crazy experiments for a social media audience. In one of his last videos, he accidentally made a black hole. Now Chester is catatonic in a hospital and can only tap one finger.
Cisco invents a “stellar grenade” that will destroy the black hole the next time it opens, but Iris and Caitlin deduce (for nonsense pseudoscience reasons) that the black hole is connected to Chester and contains half of his mind, including his consciousness. It’s been appearing at places Chester used to hang out, such as the dump (where he salvaged supplies) and Jitters. Destroying the black hole will kill Chester. Barry has to weigh the importance of one life over the potential danger to thousands of others.
That dilemma comes to a head when a much larger black hole opens over the city. For cockamamie reasons I can’t begin to comprehend, Barry comes up with a plan to jump into the black hole and use lightning as a magnet to rescue Chester’s consciousness. Somehow, the Speed Force will protect him from being instantly compressed to sub-atomic nothingness. Also, he needs to use Nora’s backup gauntlet. I have no idea why that’s important. The characters all talk as if any of this makes some sort of sense, and it’s a credit to the actors that they sell it enough that viewers will hopefully not think about it too much.
It helps that Cisco cranks up a stereo and plays “Flash’s Theme” by Queen from the Flash Gordon movie during Barry’s heroics. That’s hilarious.
Anyway, Barry leaps into the black hole and comes out again carrying a big flashing ball of energy, which he deposits into the M.A.C. machine and reintegrates it into Chester. The black hole instantly disappears and Chester wakes up, feeling great – though his eyes are glowing a disturbing color. Caitlin says he’ll need to spend four to six weeks in the M.A.C. for his atoms to recover, which I gather means we’ll see more of him in subsequent episodes.
Barry shows Iris that he also pulled the purple jacket out of the black hole.
Caitlin reconnects with an old med school friend named Ramsey Rossa (Sendhil Ramamurthy), whose mother just died of an obscure form of cancer. Although Ramsey seems like a nice guy at first, it should be totally obvious to viewers that he’ll turn into a supervillain.
Ramsey had been working on a cure for his mother’s cancer, and believes he’s found it. However, it involves using dark matter to mutate cells, which could create meta-humans. Caitlin finds this worrisome and refuses his plea to give him some dark matter.
Ramsey is pretty pissed. He buys a big-ass rifle from a shady contact. At episode’s end, we learn that he has the same cancer as his mother. He injects himself with a serum that appears to reduce the cancer levels in his system, but causes his hand to mutate into something gooey and scary.
Caitlin’s also been having trouble controlling her powers or the Killer Frost side of her personality. Frost doesn’t want to come out anymore for some reason. Ralph helps her through this, and Caitlin has a heart-to-heart with Frost in which she agrees to let her take control of their body from time to time, even if they’re not in danger. Frost doesn’t have any idea how to live a normal life, but Ralph offers to be her life coach.
Another power surge hits the Time Vault. This one brings along the seemingly omnipotent alien a’hole called The Monitor who was so annoying during last season’s Elseworlds crossover. He informs Barry that the date he’s destined to disappear forever has been moved up to this December, and he can’t avoid or survive it. He must die to save billions of lives.
I’ll be honest that I’m feeling burned out on The Flash. I still passively enjoy the show, but I just can’t get excited about it. About the most enthusiasm I can muster for the Season 6 premiere is to say that it’s perfectly adequate.
The science stuff is extremely dumb, as always. That’s nothing new. The action bits are fine if a little run-of-the-mill. This Ramsey guy isn’t a particularly interesting villain so far, but we’ve barely seen him so it’s probably too early to pass judgment. The Flash Gordon music gag is pretty funny, so that’s good.
You know, it’ll do. I haven’t jumped ship yet, and that must be some sort of minor accomplishment.