The Flash – Season 6 Episode 16
“So Long and Goodnight”
The Flash returns from an extended production hiatus with a threat to Joe’s life and the continued degradation of Barry’s powers.
Not only has The Flash been off the air for a while but I have also missed my reviews for two episodes. The reason for the gap from me is that life got in the way and by the time I would have been able to catch up on my reviews it had been so long that there was little point in joining the conversation so long after it would have moved on. My opinion of the past two episodes echoes my views on the season as a whole so far with some elements working for me and some not. Having Wally back for an episode was good and the insight into Nash’ inability to process his own grief by using the -sort of- ghost of Eobard Thawne worked well enough for me. The death of the Speed Force idea is something I actually like a lot because it provides an excuse for Barry to be challenged by villains that isn’t the usual tendency to ignore what he has the power to do in order to manufacture tension. Now that his speed is finite any action sequence has so much extra added jeopardy because he is limited at this point. I’ll get onto that in my coverage of this particular episode.
The main focus of this episode is Carver putting the word out to get Joe out of the way because he’s getting in the way of his plans. Unfortunately this only becomes a problem because the writers go back to the well of having a character be unreasonably stubborn. It doesn’t make sense to have Joe be so flippant about the constant attempts on his life especially when he has Cecile and Jenna to consider but if he does the sensible thing right away then the episode is basically over so we have a series of scenarios where Joe is placed in mortal danger because the episode needs to be filled before Joe finally makes the decision to remove himself. Ragdoll being the one to continually stalk him and attempt to kill him in different ways works as his skillset is used well and he comes across as a formidable enough threat because he can show up at any point with little warning and threaten Joe in a variety of ways. He also continues to be incredibly unsettling which adds to the tension.
Barry’s diminished powers plays well into this as Ragdoll suddenly becomes a much bigger problem than he normally would be. The different colours on a wristwatch representing how much residual Speed Force energy Barry is burning through is fairly simplistic shorthand but it is undeniably effective in key moments. Barry’s powers failing him periodically is a great way to ramp up the threat level in a given sequence. I mentioned above that the current situation provides a reasonable excuse for tension to be created because Barry now has limits that he has to work around. When he’s at full strength we as viewers are just supposed to accept that he has the ability to do certain things because otherwise almost no villain would be able to challenge him. Now that he has to ration his speed and think about how he’s going to use what little he has to protect people. It adds a natural layer of tension and strengthens the action beats in this episode significantly.
Unfortunately Carver isn’t up to much as a villain. It’s difficult to believe that he is able to hid his villainy from the public because of how obviously evil he is all of the time. His casual confession to Joe that he’s trying to have him killed before he threatens Cecile and Jenna isn’t how a shrewd businessman covering up criminal activity should behave. This could be a reference to the fact that rich people in society seem able to do and say whatever they like while always getting away with it no matter how overt they are. If that’s the case then the show should lean into it more as it’s a worthwhile piece of social commentary that is absolutely worth exploring.
Joe’s decision to go into witness protection after endless encouragement makes for a strong farewell scene. It’s confusing that Jenna and Cecile aren’t going with them as there’s nothing really stopping Carver going after them in order to coax him out of hiding. There could have been a whole witness protection subplot involving Joe and Cecile that could have given them something meaningful to do and enhance their dynamic but it seems this isn’t to be the case. I can’t help but think that this will be undone fairly quickly and result in little of consequence to any of the characters. We’re supposed to believe that the threat level is at its highest point now that Joe has been forced to leave but it just doesn’t come across that way because of how uneven everything surrounding it is.
Barry failing to involve Iris in Joe’s departure leads to a great deal of friction between them. We’re still dealing with Fake Iris here so any extreme reaction can be attributed to the fact that the Iris that Barry shares a bed with isn’t the real Iris but the funny thing is if the real Iris had behaved this way then I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. The reason this Fake Iris plot works so well is because she does largely behave just as the real one does so it’s easy to accept the interactions as being something other than disposable. In many ways I find this Fake Iris to be more interesting because it is at times more difficult to predict how she will act in given circumstances. In this case if the real Iris had reacted in this way it would have facilitated the same cliffhanger ending that we got here but it would have been quickly undone in the following episode by a heartfelt conversation that led to a reconciliation whereas here that is a less certain outcome. My thinking is that this will lead Barry to become suspicious and begin to realise that she isn’t the real Iris. It feels about the right time for Barry to become suspicious and I really hope that the writers don’t drop the ball on the opportunity to explore just how like the real deal this version of Iris is. I’m still holding out hope that she has all of the same thoughts and feelings that the original has but is free of the same inhibitions which means that she is a lot more direct in expressing them. Much of what she says in the context of Iris and Barry’s relationship makes sense and feels like an extrapolation of thoughts and feelings that Iris has held at different points so if this plot ends with Barry waking up to a few buried home truths about his relationship with his wife then it will have been worthwhile.
The reveal that Singh is another mirror duplicate was an effective surprise. Singh has been featured a fair amount in this season and has complimented Joe’s investigation into corruption within the CCPD nicely. There was no need to telegraph this reveal as his input so far could easily be read as working to prevent Joe from becoming suspicious while setting things up off screen to undermine him at various points. It’s not entirely clear what Eva’s master plan will turn out to be but for now it’s good enough that she has one and is taking the right steps forward when it comes to achieving her goal.
I’ve been very critical of the approach taken in previous seasons as well as the first half of this one in building up the central antagonist but I really like what is being done here because the elements that make up the story are intricate. Carver may not be up to much but Eva is interesting and complex so far while also having enough lackeys to keep her plan going without her being an active obstacle for Team Flash. This removes the issue of constant encounters and defeats as she works largely in the shadows with little to no suspicion placed on her agents at this time. Fake Iris and Fake Kamilla haven’t been identified yet and Singh has only just been revealed as an agent of hers. It stands to reason that there are more so there’s a general atmosphere of mistrust created for the viewer who is now conditioned to be suspicious of pretty much everyone.
This episode marks the welcome return of Sue Dearbon and allows Cisco to meet her. It would appear that Natalie Dreyfuss has natural chemistry with anyone she comes into contact with which so far makes any scene featuring her a joy to watch. Her presence remains formidable as well and the impact she has on Ralph who doesn’t quite realise how obsessed he is with her because of how much she challenges him makes for the beginnings of a fun dynamic. She is definitely a breath of fresh air into the show and I hope a lot more of her is seen next season. Ralph and Sue share a moment in this episode that suggests they are growing closer due to a mutual respect that exists between them so there is a clear avenue for development here and it’s definitely something I want to see progress.
A good episode that has plenty of intrigue in its villain plot, another strong Sue Dearbon appearance and achieves impressive tension in the action set pieces. The major drawback to this episode is that Joe has to act out of character in order to have his predicament fill the running time. He behaves unreasonably so that there can be repeated attempts on his life before he realises that it’s too dangerous to continue pursuing the current issue. It’s somewhat jarring to see him behave so recklessly particularly after Cecile and Jenna are threatened. The decision to place him in witness protection makes a lot of sense though it’s bizarre that Cecile and Jenna don’t go with him. There’s a missed opportunity to begin a plot that exclusively revolves around them and it makes me think that this will be resolved quickly with very little fanfare. Another issue is that Carver is quite simply lacking as an antagonist as he’s so obviously evil that it’s impossible to believe that he’s fooling anyone. If the idea was to show that the rich are untouchable no matter what they do or say then the show really needed to lean into it rather than making it seem clumsy as it does now. The abundance of set pieces make good use of Barry’s diminished abilities as this provides a natural excuse for him to have difficulties rather than the usual problem of him seeming to forget how to use his powers. The fact that his speed is finite is adding extra tension to what would normally be straight forward problems and his inability to rely on it introduces impressive randomness into the situations. He now has to plan carefully and be constantly aware of his limitations when approaching problems which adds to the excitement.
Fake Iris continues to be a compelling presence. Her extreme reaction to being absent during Joe’s farewell causing her to kick Barry out is interesting because it’s believable that the Real Iris might do the same thing under the same circumstances though the resolution would be far more predictable in that instance. I suspect that Barry will start to become suspicious from this point on which feels about right but I hope that the writers use this opportunity to explore the idea that the Fake Iris has the same thoughts and feelings as the real one while also having no problem expressing them. It will be a worthwhile plot if it makes Barry realise a few home truths about his relationship. The build-up of Eva as a villain has worked really well so far as there are a number of distinct elements to it that make it less tedious than the usual formula of several encounters leading to several defeats over the course of the season. She has a collection of lackeys that further her plan while she operates in the background so it has a different feel to what has come before and it’s believable that it would take this long to move forward. Sue Dearbon’s appearance is most welcome as she remains as engaging as she was before. Her interactions with Cisco are a lot of fun and Ralph being ignorant of his obsession with her because of how much she challenges him is a nice touch. The moment they share that suggests they are growing closer is a clear avenue for development and it’s definitely something I’d like to see progress.
- Barry’s diminished powers greatly adding to the tension in the set pieces
- strong and varied development of the villain plot that makes use of several elements
- Fake Iris continuing to be a compelling character
- Sue Dearbon continuing to make for a welcome presence
- Joe acting unreasonable to artificially create tension
- Carver amounting to a fairly dull villain
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