THE FLASH Season 6 Episode 15 Review: The Exorcism of Nash Wells

No matter who the big bad of the season is, it's a given that the villain of The Flash will always be Eobard Thawne. It took no time at all for his reappearance to overshadow all the various nefarious plots Eva and her husband have been cooking up, even with a new Blackhole Assassin running around — which feels quite right, given all the tangled history between Barry and the Reverse-Flash. Their feud is now more personal than ever after Thawne’s last scheme led to the death of Barry’s daughter. That type of vendetta easily takes precedence for Barry and for the audience, as it feels much more emotionally high stakes even if Blackhole might be the bigger global threat. 

One of the things that makes Thawne and Barry’s confrontations so electric is how easily Thawne can get under Barry’s skin in a way no one else can; a few well-chosen jabs and all of Barry's ideals of optimism and self-control are tossed aside in favor of violent, lethal loathing. There's no other villain who would have the always hopeful Barry seriously contemplating murder without even the provocation of an attack, but I had no trouble at all buying that he could go down that road if Thawne pushed enough. 

Their face-off was a little undercut by the sudden reveal that Barry’s anger was using up his remaining speed (seriously, when have his powers ever worked that way?). Given how easy it is for Thawne to goad Barry into a fight and the recent loss of Nora, I felt like there was already plenty of temptation for Barry to use his powers without a sci-fi mood ring keeping him in check. 

Of course, the Negative Speed Force is drawn to people in pain, so Nash was also going through his own personal psychic torture while Thawne taking his body for a joyride. His whole mindscape felt pretty uninspired, from the glowy memory caves to the scenes from his past. We learned a bit more about his backstory, mainly the parts involving his adopted daughter Maya, but there's still not much that makes a strong case for him stepping into Team Flash. And it's so tiresome to have Maya be another female character killed off in the name of providing a tragedy for a male one to angst over. The Flash has never done great on this score, but with Nora, Cynthia, and now Maya seem to be forming an unfortunate pattern this season of disposable female characters. It doesn't help that the handling of the mirrorverse women has been so lackluster. 

As mentioned earlier, Mirror Master necessarily became a secondary presence in this episode because of Thawne’s antics, but her scheme did still inch forward a bit thanks to Mirror Iris carrying out her orders with some added exposition for Mirror Kamilla’s sake. The real issue is this whole subplot has worn thin pretty fast; Mirror Iris and now Mirror Kamilla are just one note baddies with no real character of their own. It's incredibly irritating that it took a total of five minutes for the Bloodwork possessed Barry to be sniffed out earlier this season, but now no one is doing anything about the multiple telltale signs Iris isn't herself. And it's not as if the true Iris’s character is being developed while she’s stuck in limbo. So not only are we left with crumbs of screentime for our leading lady, but her replacement is a non-entity. 

Now that Thawne has vanished into the night, there is the hope the mirrorverse plots might pick up again, but Thawne’s sudden reappearance and almost immediate disappearance also left a lot of questions. Why did Thawne choose to come back to this point in the time? Why did he seem angrier than ever with Team Flash when last we saw he defeated them handily? There’s no indication we’ll get any of those answers any time soon, since all signs point to him being gone for the rest of the season. And that's fine, to a degree. 

With a character like Thawne who’s constantly jumping around the timeline, it's good to have some unresolved mysteries. But he's not a character like Grodd who can do an easy one and done appearance; there's too much baggage between him and Barry. I’d hope that there's still some overarching plan for Thawne’s goals, and that this wasn't just a drop in for the sake of Barry making his Speed Force. The last thing the series needs is turning its best villain into someone who pops by when the plot demands it, rather than having his machinations drive the story.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer