THE FLASH Season 6 Episode 4 Review: There Will Be Blood

Part of the new season’s emphasis on Barry’s death march seems to giving him a last hurrah with each of his teammates — the trend started with Killer Frost last week, and continued this time around with Cisco. It's a little bit contrived in its neatness, but so as the set up long allows Barry to have meaningful moments with each of his loved ones before the big day then it serves its purpose. As it happens, Barry and Cisco haven't had any real quality time together over the last two seasons. Barry’s preoccupation with mentoring first Ralph and then Nora didn't often leave time for his older friends, so it was nice to see their old bond resurface. Perhaps influenced as his time as a mentor, however, Barry turned their caper into an opportunity to help groom Cisco into becoming the new team leader of Team Flash. 

The position of team leader feels like a pretty empty title given how often it's changed or been done away with (when exactly did Iris step down, anyways?), but I appreciate the recognition of how vital Cisco is to the team’s success. In fact, I found it odd that the episode still seemed to genuinely suggest Cisco may have a ways to go before reaching Barry’s level as a leader. Cisco’s not perfect, of course, but Barry’s judgement is equally often as flawed, and this episode gave us one of the best examples in recent show history with his gift to Bloodwork. 

I'm sort of wary anytime the show blends real world diseases with fictitious ones — there's been a nasty trend of Flash villains going evil because of their illness or even invoking the cringeworthy “bad guy faking a disability for sympathy” trope, and Ramsay has already ticked many of the same boxes in his short tenure on the show. The writers don’t seem to be able to balance the real world gravitas of illness with the more fantastical stories they want to tell. In the case of this particular episode, Barry discovering an available cure for cancer is a massive bombshell, and even with the excuse of TV logic, it's pretty astonishing he’d be happy to hand it off to a guy he barely knows with nothing but the hope he’ll use it the right way. What’s supposed to be a great selfless moment for Barry instead feels like him overlooking the massive implications of his discovery at best; the fact that the person he gives it to ends up being a supervillain only highlights how little thought seems to have been put into the choice. 

Nevertheless, Sendhil Ramamurthy has been giving an enjoyably hammy performance as Bloodwork, and his first proper fight show how interesting his vampiric set of powers can be when put into action. His army of zombies was suitably creepy for the Halloween season, but I liked there was an emphasis more on his need to feed rather than creating minions for himself. So far, what’s set him apart the most from other villains the show’s had is that his focus is purely on survival, not any crusade or evil master plan. 

But more than any fight, it’s the ending heart to heart between Barry and Joe that really steals the show thanks to an incredible performance from Jesse L Martin. It's a potent reminder of how much the series lost when their father-son relationship was paused as Martin went on his extended medical leave last year. It was an unexpectedly tender and grounded moment between in an episode with hospital zombie attacks. Barry's never more likable than when he leans into the family man part of his character, and the situation because a million times more heartbreaking when seen through the perspective of Joe, a parent watching his child make the ultimate sacrifice.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer