“Events have been set into motion that you couldn’t possibly understand.”
If you’re thinking of joining The Flash for the first time in season six, that’s not going to work out so well for you. Hopefully you’re a speed watcher, because you have five seasons to catch up on before you start in on this release. In fact, it’s not just The Flash you might want to check out. The Arrowverse DC shows will become more interconnected in this season than they ever have before. It’s all leading to the end of Arrow, the beginning of Batwoman, and a five-part crossover that will blow your mind. This is without question the best show in the Arrowverse television family and has been since the day it aired. You’re going to love what this series has cooking, but you need to start with getting yourself caught up in order to fully appreciate what is in store for you here. In addition to Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman, you can find out what we’ve had to say about The Flash. Check out our reviews of the previous five years here.
Last season saw a lot of tragedy for Barry Allen (Gustin) and new wife, Iris (Patton). They’ve watched their daughter visit them from the future and sacrifice herself to save the world. It’s a wound that is obviously not healed as of yet. Cisco (Valdes) has voluntarily given up his breacher abilities and is no longer Vibe. Caitlin (Panabaker) has found a way to live with her alter-ego Killer Frost, and they have begun to share their body more equally. Now this season Frost, she’s dropping the “killer”, will be the dominant personality. Joe West (Martin) has been promoted to Captain, and his new wife Cecil (Nicolet) is about to leave the D.A.’s office to offer her services as a meta-human defense attorney. Ralph Dibny (Sawyer) is about to meet his comic-book wife, but a miscalculation on social media means this is the final time we’re going to see the Elongated Man. This year’s Wells character, played by Tom Cavanagh, is less irritating and will play a prominent part in that huge crossover. There’s a lot going on and the 6th season of The Flash is just getting started.
The season sees two big bads, which has become somewhat of a hallmark on this series. The first eight episodes the team faces an ex-hero as Heroes’ Sendhil Ramamurthy guest stars as the villain Dr. Ramsey/Bloodwork. He’s tried to treat himself with some bad blood, and it’s turned him into a powerful being who causes serious problems for the team and pretty much takes us to Crisis On Infinite Earths. He has the ability to infect people with this bad blood and creates an army of zombies. He sees this as a good thing, because he’s creating a race with no death. This zombie army starts, appropriately enough, with a zombie named Romero. Fans of the Living Dead films completely get that reference. The bad blood is essentially dark matter mixed with Bloodwork’s blood. These eight episodes also find Barry discovering that he’s fated to die in the upcoming crisis, and it causes him to try to prepare the team for life without The Flash. Too bad he didn’t talk to Oliver, who has been planning to sacrifice himself to save both Barry and Kara (Supergirl). He’s cut a deal, and if Barry knew that, it would have saved a lot of the early episodes’ angst. It also would have kept Barry from infecting the Speed Force with the bad blood as Bloodwork appeals to those doubts and fears his impending death is causing. Way to go, Oliver. The death of the Speed Force sets the table for everything that happens post-crisis.
“In the beginning there was only a single black infinitude. Then the infinitude found release, and finally the darkness broke, filling it with life and finally the multiverse, every existence multiplied by possibility, and spread out before space and time in infinite measure. Civilizations rose and fell. And rose and fell again across reality’s grasping expanse. Life. A precious gift persevering in the face of every obstacle until finally the age of heroes was born. Chaos, the constant enemy of life kept at bay by champions from across the multiverse. Joining forces to fight on behalf of all creation. They found each other just in time, because now the entire multiverse is about to come under attack. There is a malevolent force at work, one driven by a singular goal: the destruction of all there is. I have planned, there are some who say I have schemed, but the day for preparation has passed. The crisis is upon us…”
Batwoman joins the other shows in the epic 5-part crossover event Crisis On Infinite Earths. Give Warner Brothers bigtime credit here. They have been doing a great job of including these crossover episodes in each of the different shows’ release sets. They’ve fine-tuned the inclusion this season by taking some advice I’ve been giving for years. This time they cut a separate disc that has the entire event all in one place so you can pop that baby in and watch it all without interruption. That’s exactly what I did, and man, was that fun.
It really started with last year’s crossover and the introduction of The Monitor (Garrett) who used that crisis to test the heroes of the Arrowverse. Then the final season of Arrow used its last handful or so of episodes to lay the groundwork. Oliver becomes the central hero who makes a deal to lay down his own life to protect Barry and Kara, whom fate has originally selected to die in the crisis. The crossover event begins on Supergirl.
Lyla Michaels (Anderson) becomes harbinger and gathers the players from the various Earths and cities. Supergirl is first, because Earth-38 will be the first to be taken by the antimatter storm that is driving across the multiverse to inevitably destroy all Earths in all universes. She has to watch her Earth die along with Argos, where her cousin Clark (Hoechlin) and Lois (Tulloch) are living with their new baby, Jonathan. Both are saved along with Kara to fight the crisis. We learn there was an Anti-Monitor who was experimenting with antimatter and created this wave. His plan is to wipe the multiverse clean so that he can write his own universe of antimatter, and thanks to Nash Wells, this year’s Flash Wells, the door is opened, and the destruction is unleashed.
The second entry comes with Batwoman, and we learn that the only hope of defeating this anti-universe is through seven people called paragons. They represent virtues like truth, courage, love, hope, humanity, destiny, and honor. Four are revealed in this episode, and the search is on for the other three. That means we get to meet alternate versions of the heroes that are represented by earlier film and television depictions of these characters. Kevin Conway, who has voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne on a ton of animated shows, is one of those encounters. He’s dressed in an exoskeleton suit and is a bitter Wayne who lost everything and has become an instrument of destruction, even killing the Superman of his world. We get to see Tom Welling return as a retired Superman, and we’re back on the Kent farm from Smallville. Brandon Routh gets to jump out of his Ray Palmer guise for a short time and put on a modified version of his Superman Returns suit to show us a retired version of that Man of Steel. He’s now The Daily Planet’s boss. We even get a short cameo by Burt Ward who, of course, played Robin in the camp 1960’s television show opposite the late Adam West’s Batman.
The Flash delivers hour three, where the Arrowverse is joined by another comics hero enjoying a third season as a streaming DC show. Cress Williams brings his Black Lightning character to the show. It also marks the return of the 1990’s The Flash, John Wesley Shipp, as Jay Garrick.
In hour four Arrow spends one of its final 10 episodes joining the fun. Here we even catch up with Ezra Miller, who played The Flash in the Justice League film and the intended but beleaguered Flash feature film. Now Oliver is playing a little Jedi Master game with the team. He’s a rather mysterious hooded character who helps guide the team. Barry has to travel to the Speed Force, where he must reunite the team after the destruction of the multiverse. It’s a place outside of space and time and the only place they can exist at that point.
The final hour comes courtesy of Legends of Tomorrow. The team now has a version of the time ship which is now voiced by Wentworth Miller, who of course played the redeemed Captain Cold Leonard Snart and who was Dominic Purcell’s Prison Break brother. Purcell is Rory, Snart’s old partner, and they manage to have great chemistry even when one of them is nothing but a voice. The end of Crisis on Infinite Earths is not exactly a win. They could not save the multiverse, but they did save one of them. Now Earth: Prime contains elements and characters from various Earths so that Supergirl now lives on the same planet as the other heroes. The 1980’s comic event was the brainchild of Marv Wolfman, who had migrated over to DC from Marvel and pitched the idea to solve DC’s then really bad continuity issues. Multiple places had confused readers to such a point sales were at a decades-long low, and this story across all the DC’s titles allowed them to reset everything to free them from old continuity and issues, much like Star Trek employed the Kelvin timeline in the new films to reset everything. The entire Arrowverse will now get a chance to reboot things without completely wiping the slate clean. There will be no more “breaching” to travel between the many Earths. The timelines will also be altered so that each hero will be returning to a world somewhat changed from the one they left, and they’ll have to catch up on the new history of the consolidated planet.
Overall this was a very good event. It’s the best yet, and now I’m not sure how they are going to beat it in future years. With COVID shutting down productions, I’m willing to bet there will be no major crossover this next season. That doesn’t mean there won’t be visits, but it’s going to take heroic effort just to get the seasons back on track without the pressure and challenge that such a huge event entails. The event also sets up the establishment of a Justice League within the Arrowverse. In a wonderful homage to the old 70’s cartoons of Justice League and Super Friends, they set up in a building that looks just like the cartoon Hall Of Justice, and there’s even a nod to the alien monkey character Gleek.
Post-crisis finds Team Flash happy that Barry is still alive, but he’s about to lose his speed powers because of the death of the Speed Force. He has to ration them, which isn’t easy as various villains return to test him. Now that there is a combined Earth, old villains are showing up but slightly tweaked. We get to revisit Grodd, the Gorilla, who has been one of my favorite DC super-villains since my youth reading the comics. Plus there’s a new secret villain organization called The Black Hole. This organization is very much a James Bond kind of group that recruits meta humans to do some nasty stuff. The Bond theme is even more enhanced in an episode called License To Elongate. Once again Barry and Ralph go undercover as bad guys to crash an auction selling a space missile weapon. The Bond nods here are too numerous to even start to list. The series spent a year really developing the Ralph Dibny character, and they’ve done an incredible job only to have it all be for naught. Sawyer was fired at the end of the season for offensive social media posts. I haven’t read the posts, but it’s hard to believe they reveal a nefarious personality that overrides the one his co-stars have experienced getting to know him personally. I doubt they were any worse than the crude humor you might have found on an episode of Friends or Seinfeld. It’s a horrible waste and one that I think might not have been made, but we’re living in a culture now where entertainments number one goal is no longer to entertain. Now the prime directive is to not offend, which ironically I find offensive. Oh well.
The post-crisis episodes center on a new Mirror Master. He is now she. Eva has been trapped in the mirror world for years and has learned to manipulate that world and has been planning revenge on a husband who she believes abandoned her to it. People are captured into the mirror world and duplicates sent out to do her bidding. One of these is Iris, and Barry finds himself spending months with a creature that isn’t really his wife. It’s a good opportunity for Candice Patton to show a very different side of the character, and there are moments it’s obvious she’s having a great time doing it. It’s all pretty good stuff and makes the most use of the new alternate Earth: Prime that has changed everything in the Arrowverse.
If I have one complaint about the sixth season, it’s that the show is far darker and has lost some of the lightness and cheerfulness that had made it what it was. There are still moments when all of that sneaks through, but not enough for me. I hope to see the show return to its cheerful and emotional roots. The series has the most heart in the entire Arrowverse, and I’d like to see more of that return.
The Flash is presented in its original broadcast ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4. Colors are bright in this high-definition image presentation. You’ll find wonderful sharpness and detail. The lightning effects are brilliant and bold. The streaks are always a treat. Contrast truly stands out with the addition of Zoom and his dark nature. Black levels are as good as the broadcasts ever were.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is often a force of its own. Surrounds bring the speed images to life. Dialog is the most important element here. It is well served, to be sure. The score is frantic and helps build atmosphere. Subs even find their place from time to time. Pretty solid stuff.
Deleted Scenes on select episodes.
Crisis On Infinite Earths – The Architects Return: (11:55) Many of the DC people who were involved in the original 80’s comic story talk about that event and the impact it had on DC and comics in general. Marv Wolfman is the center of that discussion and offers a ton of inside information on the comics event.
Crisis Management: (13:08) Showrunners from each of the five shows talk about the connection between the comic event and the crossover. There’s some welcome behind-the-scenes footage, and Marv Wolfman continues to glue it all together.
Crisis Past And Present – Kevin Conway Bat Legend: (3:17) A profile of Conway and his cameo on the crossover.
Crisis Past And Present – Superman vs. Superman: (4:37) A behind-the-scenes look at the Superman fight as well as a profile on Brandon Routh’s chance to put the suit back on from his film version of Superman.
Characters In Crisis – Pariah: (4:18) A behind-the-scenes look at Tom Cavanagh’s new version of Wells, who plays a big part in the event.
Characters In Crisis – The Anti-Monitor: (4:55) A character profile on the event’s big bad.
The Best Of DC TV’s Comic Con Panels San Diego 2019: (51:05) Warner Brothers has shifted from including each show’s panels to highlights from all of the DC shows appearances. It’s the same feature on each release. Take what you can get here, because next year there won’t be any Comic Con stuff to include thanks to the pandemic.
Of course, the big story here is that real-life events intruded and the season didn’t get to play out as planned. It’s the first season where the big bad wasn’t yet defeated, and there is certainly a bit of a disconnect where things do end. It was unavoidable as the COVID 19 pandemic caused all of entertainments productions to close before they anticipated stopping. There was at least one episode nearly 90% completed and two others that were in pre-production. Now those have been rewritten to start the 7th season, and elements will need to be changed to account for the new realities both on and off the screen. We’ll never know what might have been, but I hope the tone of the show isn’t forever tainted by these events. Team Flash was taken from us prematurely this season. “We’re going to get them back.”