Bloodwork gets inside Barry’s head in a somewhat frustrating episode…
Given this season’s near perfect record, it was inevitable that it would, at some point, dip in entertainment value. Ladies and Gentlemen, that time has come, and while this instalment wasn’t terrible, it was the least entertaining so far, full of clichés and mundane superhero tropes we’ve seen a million times before. The effects and performances were once again outstanding, but the lack of surprise and edge of your seat unpredictability left a sour taste.
The Last Temptation of Barry Allen Part 1 began at the proverbial cliff-hanger from last week, showing the confrontation between Ralph and the newly appointed Bloodwork (Ramsey). This sequence, however brief, showcased a lot. The previous episode focused on Barry prepping Ralph for when he “bites the bullet” in the coming crisis. The fight between Ralph and Bloodwork showed that the Elongated Man is more than up to the task of protecting the city in the Flash’s absence; he might have lost, but nevertheless he held his own. The CGI in these scenes portrayed some impressive effects for both parties, proving you don’t have to be a Hollywood blockbuster to look good.
In an attempt to save Ralph from Bloodwork’s poison, Barry inadvertently gets infected, and it’s at this stage that the episode began to stumble. Barry, inside his own mind, had to fight the psychological effects of the poison and resist the urge to join Bloodwork’s crusade. This plot, which was the main focus of the episode, was overly familiar and tiresome, not to mention a little confusing as, throughout, the line between reality and fiction is blurred. I gathered the idea was to execute something akin to Inception, but instead it was just annoyingly unclear.
Putting these annoyances aside, the performance from Michelle Harrison as the speed-force, taking the form of Barry’s late mother, was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the idea that rather than be the actual speed-force, she could well have been another manifestation from Bloodwork, leaving something mysterious to be solved next time. Ramsey also continued to cement himself as a great villain with a superb performance that never felt forced or nonsensical.
Iris’ character has been absent these past few episodes and she’s back at the forefront here, in a very frustrating sub plot. If you knew your husband was soon to be gone forever, wouldn’t you want to be by his side no matter the situation? Instead, Iris and her rag tag group of reporters, “Team Citizen”, go off investigating a seemingly pointless case about who knows what and god knows who, which was painstakingly dull. It’s also surprising that the conversation of Nora has yet to arise. If you knew you were going to leave your wife a widow, and new born daughter fatherless, would you avoid even making a baby?
The meat of the “Team Citizen” subplot centred on Allegra’s revealing Barry’s secret identity and ultimate demise (which might I add she took in her stride way too easily), and awkwardly attempting to talk to Iris about it. This entire story felt like a huge waste of time. Allegra’s speech about Iris writing her article about the Flash vanishing, which surely could wait until it actually happens (if in fact it does), especially added nothing. This was simply added drama that didn’t have the intended dramatic effect. It’s assumed that now Barry is on team Ramsey the tension between him and his wife will play out in the next part; the question is how satisfying will it be?
The Last Temptation of Barry Allen Pt.1 had a great looking climax and has successfully built excitement for next week’s instalment, including Nash Wells finally finding his way to the Monitor. Unfortunately the ‘villain gets inside heroes head’ trope has been overplayed throughout the Arrowverse, leaving little to the imagination. Luckily, great performances and good looking effects kept the pace flowing nicely and ultimately saved this episode from being more of a failure.
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