Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 18, 2020)
Though its fourth year disappointed, Season Five of The Flash worked pretty well. That leaves me with hopes that this positive progression will proceed with Season Six, and all 19 of its episodes appear on this five-disc set.
That fifth disc includes all five programs that comprise the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” “crossover event”, one that also included shows from Arrow, Batwoman, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. The plot synopses come from the package’s insert.
Into the Void: “Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) deal with the loss of Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy).”
That’d be Barry and Iris’ future daughter Nora. While I liked Season Five, Nora became a weakness, as she provided a persistently annoying character.
With no Nora in sight, S6 kicks off on a positive note. We get an interesting new threat and a fun character named Chester P. Runk (Brandon McKnight) who I hope appears again.
A Flash of the Lightning: “Barry faces the news of his impending death.”
As mentioned earlier, S6 offers one-fifth of a crossover called “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, and “Lightning” offers a hint of that tale yet to come. Toss in an exciting – and sexy – new villain and the episode works well.
Dead Man Running: “Barry prepares Team Flash for life without him.”
Hey, it’s time for a new Wells! That always becomes a lively twist to each season, so I feel happy to greet this one. We get plenty of other good plot elements that push along the show in a satisfying manner.
There Will Be Blood: “Dr. Ramsey Rosso (Sendhil Ramamurthy) uses his deadly new abilities to save his own life.”
From the second we met Rosso, it seemed obvious that he’d become a baddie, so I’m glad the tease ends and he finally goes that way. He’s not the most interesting villain, though. Add the continuing mopefest related to Barry’s apparent imminent demise and “Blood” becomes a less than great episode, though it still comes with good moments.
Kiss Kiss Breach Breach: “Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) investigates a shocking murder close to home.”
At this point I look forward to “Crisis” just to end the incessant pre-mourning for Barry. Despite that drag on the show, “Kiss” offers a decent mystery.
License to Elongate: “Barry preps Ralph “Elongated Man” Dibny (Hartley Sawyer) for life without him after Crisis.”
As the title implies, “Elongate” comes with a James Bond vibe – accentuated by comedy since it emphasizes the goofy Ralph. That choice entertains, and the return of the fun Chester P. Runk adds to the show.
The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 1: “Barry stands on the threshold of his own death in Crisis.”
When I come to two-part episodes, I save my discussion for the finale. So leap ahead to that section of the review.
The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 2: “Team Flash fights to reclaim Central City from Bloodwork.”
With “Crisis” on the horizon, it seems gutsy to preface the crossover with a two-part story. Honestly, it feels like the tale on display could’ve been told in one episode, but “Temptation” nonetheless offers a pretty good mix of action and drama, even if I still don’t much like the Bloodwork character.
Crisis on Infinite Earths: “The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) sends Harbinger (Audrey Marie Anderson) to gather the worlds' greatest heroes – Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), The Flash, Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), Batwoman (Ruby Rose), White Canary (Caity Lotz), The Atom (Brandon Routh) and Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) - in preparation for the impending Crisis. With their worlds in imminent danger, the superheroes suit up for battle while J'onn (David Harewood) and Alex (Chyler Leigh) recruit Lena to help them find a way to save the people of Earth-38.”
As mentioned at the start of the review, “Crisis” offers a five-episode “crossover” that spans Flash and four other DC series. Disc Two of this set presents “Hour 3”, the portion that ran in S6 of Flash.
As also noted, this 5-disc S1 set includes all five episodes of “Crisis” on the fifth disc. It makes sense that this package offers “Hour 2” on its own, since that’s how it appeared during the season, but I can’t imagine many will watch it isolated from the other four shows. That’s how I viewed it, as I skipped the isolated “Hour 2” and took in “Crisis” all in one fell swoop on Disc Five.
I’ve enjoyed prior crossovers, and this one comes with a decent level of excitement and fun, some of that sparked by clever cameos. However, “Crisis” also comes burdened with messy storytelling, a factor that means it can become tough to follow and semi-incoherent. “Crisis” still entertains, but I don’t dig it as much as I hoped.
Marathon: “Barry must face the consequences of Crisis.”
Given how much mopiness we got in the lead-up to “Crisis”, I worried “Marathon” would continue that trend. While it does address some of the crossover’s ramifications, it finally starts to point us away from it, and I appreciate that. “Marathon” provides a good relaunch.
Love Is a Battlefield: “Love is in the air for Barry and Iris – and Amunet Black (Katee Sackhoff)!”
With a Valentine’s Day theme, “Love” goes a little sillier than usual, especially when it indulges in the campy Amunet. Some of the aspects work well, but too much of it feels goofy.
A Girl Named Sue: “Ralph finally comes face-to-face with his client.”
The alluded-to-in-the-title character Sue Dearbon (Natalie Dreyfuss) adds spark, as Sue seems sexy, fun and dynamic. The rest of the episode fares less well, but enough of “Girl” succeeds to make it worthwhile.
Grodd Friended Me: “Gorilla Grodd (David Sobolov) asks for Barry’s help with a new villain.”
Try as they might to make Grodd a scary villain, he still seems ridiculous much of the time. That becomes a drag on “Friended”, as does the murky overall narrative.
Death of the Speed Force: “Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) – aka Kid Flash – speeds back into Central City.”
Wally’s return feels like a bust, as Zen Kid Flash provides a dull, pedantic version of the character who exists as a brief plot device. Otherwise, though, various developments flesh out “Death” well and send it on an intriguing narrative path.
The Exorcism of Nash Wells: “Cisco Ramon sets out to help Nash Wells.”
“Exorcism” feels heavier on exposition than much else. That means it movies along different elements but it doesn’t become as dynamic as I’d like.
So Long and Goodnight: “An imperiled Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) refuses to stop investigating Joseph Carver (Eric Nenninger).”
Has Joe always been the series’ least interesting character? Maybe not, but he’s been a drag during S6, and the focus on Joe saps “Goodnight”. At least the return of spicy Sue Dearbon adds life.
Liberation: “Barry takes a closer look at his life with Iris.”
As much as I whined about S6’s pre-“Crisis” mopery, that lead-up seems preferable to the semi-turgid “Mirrorverse” plot in the season’s second half. Like other episodes, “Liberation” offers some drama, but the flat nature of the overall narrative remains a lackluster point.
Pay the Piper: “Godspeed (BD Wong) and Pied Piper (Andy Mientus) return.”
If nothing else, at least “Piper” packs some good action. It moves along narrative points as well and becomes a reasonably effective lead-in for the season finale.
Success Is Assured: “Barry considers a plan to save Iris from the Mirrorverse.”
Given that “Success” finishes S6, one expects it to wrap up the overall story. One would anticipate incorrectly, as “Success” finishes only a couple of arcs and leaves us with a big old cliffhanger that won’t resolve until Season Seven.
That feels like a cheap choice. I feel fine with a tease for S7, but the decision to leave open a whole bunch of story domains frustrates too much.
Though I guess it makes sense for an inconsistent season. Overall, S6 works fairly well, as it provides entertainment most of the time. However, it doesn’t quite hit the way I’d like, so this becomes middle of the pack Flash.