This week, another season comes to a close, as both The Flash and Superman & Lois had their finales.
In some ways, these season enders were similar, with lots of cosmic crap going on, involving asspull technobabble, different realities, entities fusing together, last minute powerups, and even a villain who’s tricked into absorbing too much power until they explode. But where this mostly all worked for me on S&L, The Flash‘s take left me cold.
The key difference is, the Superman & Lois finale might have had all that weird ass reality bending stuff going down, but it was very much focused on the characters and how they cope with being thrust into something beyond their comprehension (notably, more than a third of the episode takes place after the day is saved, just showing everyone dealing with what they went through).
Superman getting thrown into the Sun, going Super-Saiyan, and punching the two Earths so hard they separate might be nutso bullshit, but that’s not what the story’s about. It’s about Clark’s decision to throw himself into the fire, about John Henry and Nat spending what might be their last moments together, about the Cushing family realizing how much they mean to each other when their worlds separate. The fact that Jon and Jordan get into a “No way!”/”Yuh huh!” sibling argument in the middle of world colliding devastation … that’s the sort of little moment this show gets so right.
The Flash certainly tried for a fusion of character and grandiose spectacle, but it got so wrapped up in talking about big ideas and forces of the universe, the characters ended up feeling less like people and more like avatars for concepts of love and determination and all that crap.
Once again, the bond between Barry and Iris is what saves the day, but rather than delving into what these two mean to each other, and what they bring out in each other, in any way that feels human … this ep decides they just have a literal mystical bond. When Iris gets punted out of reality and into a Time Stone, Barry can no longer feel Iris’s presence, and Iris can’t feel Barry’s, like they’re Jedi that have been cut off from the Force.
That may seem like a little thing, but it’s indicative of how this episode (and many recent Flash stories) handle emotion. Rather than trying for something we can relate to, everything is blown up into this larger than life epic, where thinking good thoughts bends reality to make what you want happen, and any hope of feeling for the characters like we did in seasons past is shot to hell.
Best way to watch this finale is to enjoy the pretty light show and not think about anything more than you have to.
- Presumably, the Negative Forces came into being at the same time their positive counterparts did. That means they’re Barry and Iris’s kids, too, right? That’s what we were repeatedly told the Forces were back when they were introduced. Funny that Barry never tries getting through to his wayward kids here like he did then.
- Come to think of it, giving the Forces opposite numbers who are driven by negative emotions is an odd route to go, given the Forces were all villains when they were introduced, and were channeling negative emotions just fine.
- As expected, Iris’s death causing Cavanagh Thawne to come back to life and crawl his way out of Letscher Thawne’s flesh: no satisfactory explanation. All we’ve got is the Negative Speed Force did it, somehow. ‘Cause the Negative Speed Force needs an avatar, even though the regular ol’ Speed Force has never bothered with one.
- So killing Thawne is bad, as this episode reiterates (Nora even quotes the “you’ll be no better than him” chestnut). And earlier this season, letting Thawne die when they knew how to save his life: that was unacceptably immoral, too. But tricking Thawne into using so much energy attacking you that he self-destructs … everyone seems to have zero qualms with that.
- With Sam Lane’s little speech about other worlds having Leagues of superheroes, but their Earth just having one … Superman & Lois has decided to cut the cord and declare themselves a separate Earth from the Arrowverse. Given most of the other shows have been cancelled, it’s not like they’re losing crossover opportunities, and people did keep asking why Kara or other heroes never got involved in these world threatening crises (even though that’s a question all the shows got, and mostly just ignored). Still a bummer, though, especially given they went through the trouble of having John Diggle, but I guess not our John Diggle, show up at the end.
- Different Earth or no, can we please get a Hoechlin Superman vs. Cryer Luthor story next season?
Question of the Week: What villainous plan to conquer/destroy the world has been your favorite?