THE FLASH Season 6 Episode 1 Review: Into the Void

Barry really can't catch a break with these headlines, can he? 

The CW’s ambitious “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover promotion has already started, with near weekly announcements adding more members to a cast that has more DC heroes than you can shake a stick at---but I think it's fair to say there's no character with more at stake than Barry Allen. THE FLASH has been building towards a Crisis this storyline since its very first episode ended with the now iconic “Flash Vanishes” newspaper headline. The show’s audience has dwindled some after two lackluster seasons, but the promise of finally adapting the saga properly has definitely made a stir and given new showrunner Eric Wallace a real chance to recapture wandering fans’ imaginations. The question then is: does this season premiere make the most of this opportunity? 

The answer probably depends on whether you find the show’s basic formula to be played out or part of its charm. While the trappings have changed, the scheme Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) has to achieve immortality by becoming the metahuman equivalent of Voldemort is basically the same as the evil plan the Thinker and Savitar before him attempted. Team Flash is still extremely crowded, and as always, you can tell exactly how much danger Central City is in at any given moment by glancing at the episode timer. If this punctures your enthusiasm, there may not be enough in the premiere to keep you entertained. 

But if you like the familiarity of THE FLASH's story beats and enjoy the campy superhero action it has to offer, the fact that the drawn out Cicada plotlines’ ending cleared up the space for sequences like Barry jumping into a black hole to the tune of Queen’s “Flash” is probably quite heartening. Indeed, one of the potential causes for optimism is that this season will actually be split into two self-contained arcs, instead of the typical year long story. This could help a great deal with the pacing problems that often plagued the back half of recent seasons, leading to many dry exposition dumps. 

Those who've remained faithful viewers will also likely appreciate the more down to earth moments present in the episode. A common criticism of the series is that all the characters seem to live at STAR Labs (a fact the show seems to playfully acknowledge with the introduction of Chester, a character who is literally physically incapable of leaving the building). Watching the crew gather at the Wests’ for a cookout or Caitlin take to time to reconnect with a med school friend isn’t just a nice change of pace, it makes the characters feel more relatable and well-rounded as people. 

Special mention has to be made of Candice Patton, who’s often been the show’s unsung hero; she has a wonderful ability to ground the more fantastic elements of the show, and this naturally lends itself to the complicated dilemma of mourning your adult daughter from an alternate future. Her gradual loss of the ability to keep a stiff upper lip was moving in a way. 

Barry's workaholic coping mechanisms aren't after seeing them in action over everyone from Ronnie to Henry to poor old Nora Sr., who has never been allowed to rest in peace. The spectacle of the big events to come this year will be far more effective if the show's creative team if Iris and Barry’s other non spandex clad loved ones are not once again pushed to the side once the action begins. After all, if the end of the multi-verse isn't the perfect opportunity coping with a sudden loss, I don't know what is.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer