With only two "days" left until "Crisis" hits The CW's Arrowverse, on The Flash we're getting down to the wire on how much Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) can prep his family and team to live without him. And building off of last week's cliffhanger of Dr. Ramsey Rosso (Sendhil Ramamurthy) attacking Ralph (Hartley Sawyer), we jump right back into the action. Oh, and did you notice this was a "Part 1" episode? You betcha there's a big cliffhanger at the end of this one, too.
Our supervillain, who by the end of the episode is calling himself "Bloodwork," steals some of Ralph's blood to absorb his powers and also infects him with the same disease that's killing him, prolonging his life at the expense of our Elongated Man.
While there are typical Flash superheroics to save him, the most profound and most interesting choice in the episode is when a suddenly very self-aware Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) recognizes she can't save Ralph, but Dr. Caitlin Snow can. Reversing their agreement, and letting Caitlin "drive" for even a few hours is such an interesting bit of character growth for the normally narcissistic Frost. I miss Caitlin and it was nice to have her back, even for just a moment.
But the episode really amps up when Barry returns to his apartment and finds Rosso there waiting for him. It seems Ramsey is quite literally in Barry's head. He figures out Barry's identity as The Flash and about the coming Crisis, offering that perhaps he has a way to save them all. Of course, that involved Barry joining him. He awakes and it seems as though it's been a nightmare. . . or has it?
Meanwhile, Iris (Candice Patton) is on the trail of a giant criminal enterprise, but it's mostly a way to distract herself from the upcoming Crisis. Her intern Allegra (Kayla Campton) and Kamilla Hwang (Victoria Park) are also on the case. They're a really fun trio and a nice distraction from the heaviness of what's happening in the main storyline.
Specifically, that is the eponymous temptation of Barry Allen. Ramsey offers a choice: use his blood and join him, which would allow him to survive Crisis. Barry spends much of the episode on a surreal journey inside his own head as he battles this temptation while also being reminded/manipulated of all of the things worth living for.
To counter this particular shoulder devil, The Speed Force manifests itself into the form of Barry's mother Nora (Michelle Harrison). A literal battle for Barry's soul is waged which includes some incredible and sometimes disturbing visuals.
But in the final climax, as Barry takes out his aggression on the Speed Force, he literally re-enacts the Reverse Flash murdering his mother. It's such an effective and powerful moment with massive payoff in the final moments of the episode when you realize what has happened.
This is such great character work on the part of the Flash writers. It also helps balance the stakes of what's happening. Crisis is cosmic. This is personal. Both are potentially earth-shattering– literally.
This is Part 1 of 2, so buckle your seatbelts for next week's conclusion. Then mark your calendars: Dec 10 is the official date of the Crisis hitting Central City