The finale of this season snuck up on me.
I thought that there were at least four or five more episodes to go, when—all of a sudden—I was watching what I was told was the season finale in the eighteenth episode. I knew that the series had already been renewed for an eighth season, and I have a feeling this season would have lasted a little longer if it hadn’t been.
With Supergirl taking her final bow in her current season, and with other DC-Comics-on-The-CW shows, such as Arrow and Black Lightning, already ending their runs, it’s likely that Season 8 will be the final season of The Flash as well. We’ll see what happens.
Still, the last episode of Season 7 had some of the hallmarks of a series finale.
Before I ruin the ending for you, let’s talk about the entire season.
The first three episodes of Season 7 rightfully belonged in Season 6. Pandemics ruin all sorts of plans, even when they don’t kill you outright. The story arc of Eva McCulloch (Efrat Dor), the Mirror Monarch, is concluded. It seems anticlimactic. Overall, I gave Season 6 a grade of B+. Getting reacquainted with Team Flash after a self-imposed hiatus (unrelated to COVID-19) reminded me of the things I liked about this series which made it my favorite of the DC-on-the-CW shows.
That feeling—closely related to nostalgia but different somehow—persists as we dive into this season at the end of the Mirror Monarch storyline. The eight episodes that follow form the “graphic novel” known as “God Complex.” A lot of stuff happens, some of it difficult for me to follow. Caitlin Snow and Frost (Danielle Panabaker) somehow become two separate physical entities because Eva used her Mirror Gun on her. We are introduced to other Forces that exist, in addition to the Speed Force, which likes to appear as Barry Allen’s dead mother, Nora (Michelle Harrison). These Forces are called Psych, Fuerza and Deon. I’m sure Deon had a cooler name as well, since he is some sort of time god, but his name is really Deon. Cisco Ramon and Chester P. Runk (Brandon McKnight) are more alike than they are different (for reasons that become apparent soon), and they travel to the past, to the day before Chester’s father died (dead parents are an important series trope), in order to retrieve some sort of technology to fight these new Forces.
Meanwhile, Kristen Kramer (Carmen Moore), a liaison from some governor’s commission, arrives in Central City. She tells Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) that she’s there to arrest Killer Frost. Caitlin Snow’s former alter ego—who prefers the moniker “Frost” these days—is being framed by a new villain on the scene, a bartender with ice powers known as Chillblaine (Jon Cor). Frost ends up on trial and elects to accept life imprisonment without parole rather than taking the meta cure. Nora, the avatar of the Speed Force, turns into a major villain, at least temporarily. In the resulting chaos, Frost somehow earns a parole from the governor, because that’s how these things work in the comic books. Frost’s life imprisonment without the possibility of parole lasted all of three episodes.
During a brief interlude between “graphic novels,” we say goodbye to Cisco and his girlfriend Kamilla Hwang (Victoria Park), who are moving to Star City. Actor Carlos Valdes made his decision to leave the series for personal reasons, saying that he needed to work on his mental health. Of course, Chester P. Runk is already on hand to take Cisco’s place as the man-in-the-chair. It begins to feel like a fatal blow after losing Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer) to the continuing wave of rabid political-correctness threatening to rip apart the fabric of our own reality, as well as Tom Cavanaugh’s departure, and the myriad Harrison Wells versions he takes with him.
Barry Allen is supposed to be the Paragon of Love. I get that. Grant Gustin is still the perfect actor to play Barry Allen, in my opinion. Still, losing all of these main cast members feels like the heart is being ripped out of the series. I have nothing against Chester or Allegra (Kayla Compton), although they feel very much like replacement characters. Chester seemed to be training to be Cisco’s backup from the moment he first appeared. We get more of Allegra’s backstory with her villain cousin Ultraviolet. But, this story is largely unsatisfying. With even more new characters being introduced, her story often gets lost in the static.
Cecile Horton (Danielle Nicolet), under the influence of the Psycho-Pirate mask, gets to spread her acting wings a bit during the interlude as well. Barry is brought into Cecile’s psychic mindscape, which is a Texas psychiatric ward where she was temporarily a patient after her mother’s death (dead parents, again). This was a good episode in a sea of less-than-good ones.
Meanwhile, Joe West is spending a lot of time with Kristen Kramer, whose past turns out—not surprisingly—to be more complicated than originally known.
Then, we’re presented with a final story arc, a “graphic novel” known as “The Godspeed Imperative.” We get all of those Godspeed clones who communicate in modem-speak. John Diggle (David Ramsey) makes a guest-appearance. The “prime” Godspeed is revealed to be an amnesiac named August Heart (Karan Oberoi). Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), Barry and Iris’s daughter from the future who is also a speedster known as XS, returns, but this time she brought her brother Bart (Jordan Fisher) with her. Also a speedster, known as Impulse. Godspeed is Bart’s Reverse Flash, we’re told, because Godspeed killed his mentor Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) in front of him.
I realize these characters have their counterparts in the comic books, but that was long after I fell out of the continuity. I have no emotional attachment to the characters. As of the moment I’m typing these words, the only thing I feel that re-introducing the children-from-the-future concept accomplishes is to further complicate what is already a confusing snarl of storylines. Time travel tends to do this.
I could tell you everything else that happened in the season, probably without ruining any surprises for you. I won’t do that. Somehow, the creative minds behind this show have managed to wrangle an eighth season out of the CW, even though the contracts of the main cast were up at the end of seven. I’m happy for the actors, who are hitting their marks and reciting their lines with conviction. Well, most of them are, at any rate. We can’t disregard the signs, however. This series feels like it’s reached a conclusion to me.
I’m not going to threaten putting the series on hiatus again. I’ll be watching Season 8 after it premieres. I suspect it will be the finale season, and there’s that collector’s jones I have to keep feeding. I’m no longer optimistic for a future beyond that.
My final assessment for Season 7?
It’s worth watching for the moments of spectacle that remind you that anything you can imagine can now be recreated through special effects. It’s also worth it for the performances of genuinely good actors who have found themselves in a hopelessly convoluted superhero soap opera. I’m sure that if you’re a later model comic book fan than I am, you’d enjoy the bits about the Speed Force, Godspeed, XS and Impulse more than I’ve been able to as well. I am aware that my perspective isn’t the only valid one.
For me, there have been too many goodbyes already, and the snarl of plot lines has become a Gordian Knot that I’m no longer interested in unraveling.
Firewater’s You’re-a-Hero-and-I’m-a-Bad-Guy-And-We-All-Do-What-We-Gotta-Do Report Card: C+
Maybe just slightly better than “just okay” for me. I’m looking forward to a real ending to this story. Preferably one that doesn’t require the Flash to sacrifice himself to save the universe.