THE FLASH Season 6 Episode 8 Review: The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 2

If the focus of last week’s episode was Barry contemplating the end of his life, then the second half of this two-parter flipped the script by focusing on his friends and family dealing with a world without the Flash. While Barry was still physically present, his Bloodwork-induced mental checkout allowed Cisco and Iris to step up to the plate by saving the city and having an emotional argument about whether saving Barry so he could die a few hours later during Crisis was worthwhile. Although we the viewers know Crisis isn't really goodbye for Barry, I appreciate that the series has been playing the storyline straight, and allowing its characters to go through the grieving process without any knowing winks at the audience. Part of The Flash’s charm has always been its sincerity, and in a time where entertainment seems to be getting increasingly meta, that really stands out. 

Bloodwork himself was the least threatening as a villain that he's ever been for me, and that's largely because of the new effects used on his face and, in particular, his voice. I was hoping after Killer Frost dropped her perpetual echo this season that it could be a sign the show was ending its love affair with the synthesizer, but no such luck. Almost every major Flash villain has been a part of this overly distorted vocal trend, and while there have been certain moments that choice made sense, the series has now become over-reliant on the trope. 

Having an unnaturally deep voice isn’t a substitute for actually developing a character or establishing them as a credible threat, and it’s hard to register a human performance with that much mixing masking the vocals. Far from making him sound scary, Bloodwork immediately began to feel like carbon copy of the previous big bads, which only highlighted how unoriginal his masterplan to use the particle accelerator was. I found him far more frightening during the last episode, as the devil whispering doubts into Barry’s ear, than I did during any of his time spent as a giant ooze monster. 

His army of blood brothers felt a little underutilized given how large it seemed to be, but we still did get some classic zombie chase moments, set in a dimly lit office building no less. I appreciated the check-ins with Cecile and Kamilla throughout the episode not only for allowing more of these horror genre moments, but also for adding a sense of scale to the outbreak happening throughout the city since, once again, the main action was taking place in STAR Labs. It feels like there’s been a better balance of the cast this year, even with the new faces added, and I’m glad that the large team has started to help break up the pacing of the big showdowns rather than clog it up unnecessarily. 

I did find it pretty disappointing that we never got closure for Barry’s doubts about giving his life in the fight to come. Despite the fact these feelings led to his possession in the first place, as soon as he was cured Barry went right back to treating his death as inevitable, and none of his teammates showed any interest in how Russo took control of Barry. I suppose we can assume Barry did some soul searching during his time as Dark Flash, but the pseudo- memorial the team has at the episode’s end would have had more of a punch if Barry was affirming his resolve rather than resigning himself to the inevitable once again-- it's certainly more satisfying as an audience member to watch Barry making the heroic choice to sacrifice himself rather than submitting to a preordained act of destiny. And after all this time spent building up this event, the series really owes it to itself to milk every ounce of drama from Crisis that it can now the big day has arrived.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer