THE FLASH Season 6 Episode 19 Review: Success is Assured

It seems safe to say there’s never been a weirder time for television. Like many shows that were in the middle of their season when the pandemic forced filming to shut down, The Flash found itself in the unenviable position of turning a regular episode into a finale – and one that we now know will have to last fans all the way until 2021. 

That’s a tall order for any series, let alone one with a longer season that tends to drag in the middle, as is the case with The Flash. It’s easy pickings to point out the ways in which it doesn’t work as an ending: key characters like Iris and Cisco are missing or only have a minute or two of screentime, Eva’s plan is still a mystery, and we get no reunions for any the those who’ve been taken into the Mirrorverse. But at the end of the day it seems pointless to harp on the failures of an episode to be a conclusion when it was never intended to serve that role, even if it is still frustrating to have so little payoff. 

Even so, there are a few ways in which the episode is a success. We’re given updates on most of the ongoing subplots like Sue’s missing person case, Frost’s illness, or Nash’s failed attempts at parenting. It doesn't touch on everything, of course, but it's helpful to have so many check-ins close together. Even if the storylines aren't resolved, it helps act as a reminder of what loose ends are left hanging for next year, and it's nice to see most of the characters again before we take an extra long hiatus. 

The various Black Hole assassins even return so they can join forces against Team Flash, which in theory could have served as a placeholder for the final battle to come. Unfortunately, the resulting showdown between Team Flash and Black Hole is disappointing far as fight scenes go; none of the players involved have visually interesting powers (though Ralph might count as an exception if he weren't constantly thwarted by the budget), and the series’ action appeal is based on spectacle rather than fight choreography. 

Many of the twists the episode ends on - Eva making her first public reappearance, Iris vanishing in a burst of light, or Sue being framed for murder - are fine as end of the season cliffhangers, but they're introduced suddenly and without warning instead of as conclusions to ramped up tension. Iris disappearing isn't as much of a gutpunch when then the episode has spent more time focusing on Frost packing up her apartment than on the psychological impact of the Mirrorverse. And or not, I do question the choice to have Barry so hung up on whether to give up Carver. It’s painfully obvious from the outset Barry is never going to use someone as a bargaining chip, and seeing him conclude it's not his decision whether someone lives or dies doesn’t provide any new insight into his character, because he's gone through this crisis of conscience several times. 

Even when just taken as a regular episode, this story is utterly forgettable. It might be more bearable if we had the promise of having an actual finale where we’d get satisfying ends, but the series has long had an issue with its needlessly dragged out seasons - the extra scrutiny on this episode really just highlights the problems that were already there. But given the circumstances, I doubt going out on a weak episode will do much harm. 

Fans will certainly be eager for new content by the time it's 2021, and given how uncertain the future is, it could help the series to not be locked into the original ending, and instead have the flexibility to change the outcome to better suit what filming looks like next year. Having an outright win for the season at this point would have been nearly impossible, and for all that the problems in the pacing of the story have been a recurring issue, I think fans will likely look back on this whole season generously because of the circumstances. Season Six started by trying a new formula of breaking the story in two, and now its ending by splitting up far more than we could have imagined; here's to seeing how the pieces will be picked up next time.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer