The Flash: 6.10 Marathon
With the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths now over and a new world to explore - bringing with it a plethora of new antagonists - The Flash has its work cut out. Marathon, the opening episode after the mid-season break (the last episode aired in the US before Christmas), has some fantastic performances, good tension and tone. But the story felt overly crowded, as if multiple episodes worth of content were being condensed into one, and not necessarily for the better. Splitting this season up into two distinct mini seasons however brings with it a refreshing feel, with nothing to catch up on in terms of villain schemes and no pre-established feuds to contend with.
The tone of the opening sequence, showing a light-hearted upbeat Barry saving Jitters from being robbed, was altogether nice to see but that joy only lasts only for that one scene. Soon after, the episode turns to become glum and downbeat. It may have been executed well and made sense to address the effects the Crisis had on individuals, in which people would naturally be upset, but the deceit is slightly jarring. At least the new opening credits are slick and easy on the eyes.
After everything that happened during Crisis, you would think that the team would want to stick together and discuss a plan moving forward, but shockingly the opposite took place. The entire cast was horribly distant from one another, with Barry off on a quest with Diggle after he cameos to bring a gift from a deceased Oliver, Cisco emotionally exploding and ultimately leaving on a self-discovery mission, and Iris and her band of misfit reporters investigating the new threat that will presumably be the big-bad for this part of the season. Granted, each side-story had its good and bad points, but their actions felt unnatural and not reminiscent of the characters we have come to love. Also, where was Ralph?
Arguably, Cisco steals the entire episode with a powerful performance depicting his frustration over the loss of the multiverse, feeling guilty and responsible after taking the Meta cure and having resentment towards Nash Wells. His departure was a natural progression for the character but the way it was handled was simply bizarre. Would he really up and leave without saying goodbye to his girlfriend, to the team and most of all Barry? I don’t buy it and didn’t like it. His nonchalant way of shoehorning Nash Wells into the team wasn’t overly fun to watch either as his current characterization is very unclear.
The antagonist this week was easily the weakest element. Dr Light, a previously seen villain from season two gets a makeover, boosted powers and takes orders from an organisation called Black Hole. The lack of a menacing tone surrounding the antagonist didn’t help progress these scenes; all-in-all the villain is an assassin who has shiny futuristic armour and a neat looking weapon, but that’s it. Speaking of, the projectile, capable of obliterating anything it comes into contact with, initially creates some nice tension and showcases good effects, but as soon as Frost gets hit and pulls the bullet out, it ultimately dragged down any menace it had surrounding it. By the end Dr Light was nothing more than another mundane run-of-the-mill villain we’ve seen a hundred times before.
On a more positive note, David Ramsey’s Diggle cameoing brought some well-timed emotion, as he assists Barry in coming to terms with Oliver’s demise during Crisis. The mystery as to the meaning of Oliver’s parting gift kept the suspense flowing, and once unravelled, made for a heart-warming moment and was a nice homage to commemorate a friendship that helped build the Arrowverse into what it is today.
Marathon effectively tackles the emotional turmoil and huge change brought forth by the crossover event. While the current path seems unclear, the established threat in Black Hole shows promise, and with a verbally shocking final scene has, if nothing else, surrounded itself in mystery, the kind that keeps you guessing and theorising. It’ll be interesting to see how Nash Wells fairs taking over from Cisco but for the time being I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. For a mid-season premiere it was entertaining in segments, and while it never felt cohesive, it established enough to get going and has shown a rough path moving forward which I for one look forward to watching.