Being the conclusion of the two-part mid-season finale, and the conclusion to this war with Bloodwork, I for one went into this having my own hesitation about the level of satisfaction this might leave me with. As some of us know, The Flash can be notorious for leaving us wanting with how some of these big bads are dealt with in the end. Either the end is too predictable, too formulaic, or too much style over actual substance. In the case of this one? I felt fortunate to say that they tried their best to do better by us.
My biggest reservation was how they planned on dealing with Bloodwork without the help of The Flash. There was only two angles they could take this from. One was trying to appeal to the part of him that could still be fighting Bloodwork, and the other was taking a more direct approach towards being the hammer to drive the infection out of The Flash the hard way. I could have been fine with either one. Definitely the more aggressive approach since you already knew that Cisco would be the one to make the hard call. While I’m sure most of us would love to see him get his powers back and simply slay, it was refreshing that instead they decided to focus on Cisco’s leadership capabilities. Even if it didn’t stand out as much as it could have, you could easily appreciate the fact that they put someone in front who actually grasped what was at stake.
I mean, they definitely had me when it came to Iris. As I have said before, her writing this season so far has been hit or miss. Sometimes when it matters the most she lets you down because she doesn’t always allow logic to steer her decision-making. They write her too much as the partner who is too quick to jump into the fire knowing exactly what the score is. If someone you know is being controlled, would you really expose yourself to danger that could in turn create more trouble for everyone else? What’s that? You wouldn’t? Unfortunately Iris would. You knew she would, she did, and thankfully this wasn’t something which could have actually brought down the excitement of the finale. What saved her involvement in this was the realization that all anyone had to do was pay attention to the queues given that there is something of Barry left to save. The form in which this took was clever, as was the way this took us from one step into the next for what Iris and Cisco needed to do in order to beat the odds.
Now it also goes without saying that the writers deserve some credit for the way that different characters made the biggest difference in the end. It’s not always that we will expect the unexpected, and they pulled it off very well here.
Fighting back against an infected city was awesome on a lot of levels. Normally this would boil down to just a one on one confrontation, but there was numerous factors between Bloodwork himself, Dark Flash, and many infected who could do a lot of damage as just individuals. This was a brilliant way to give everyone something to do beyond ganging up on the one villain. What I loved the most about Bloodwork was how the story ended for him. Way too often we will get a villain like him who is so far removed from his humanity that they think the only option is to destroy the villain. In a comicbook world, killing the villain isn’t the only option. When you remove that option, this also leaves much more room for resolution which requires thinking outside of the box.
One other thing which stood out about Bloodwork is how they did not make him sympathetic. We understood what motivated him, but they did not play games with what it means to cross the moral event horizon. When someone crosses that line to become the villain, there shouldn’t be a point of return. Bloodwork never got that room, and it worked perfectly towards making him formidable from start to finish.
The most unique scene for this mid-season finale was the one following what Cecille and Camilla experienced in the middle of Bloodwork’s growing army. This is a show where things do get intense, but it is rare when the atmosphere will actually take on a horror-like vibe. I thought that they nailed this perfectly, and there was no better character than Cecile to throw into the thick of it. Especially when everything felt around her would be magnified to brutal levels. This week in particular was redeeming after the last episode since she was given more room to explore her powers on a greater scale. It also helped having a stronger character than Chester to work off of. Camilla took the spotlight as well and ran with it. As someone new to this world and without powers, she fit right in again proving that she was far from a damsel.
At the end of the day, even being a mid-season finale some might say it is too soon to say they dodged some troublesome story choices for how to end a conflict, but that’s neither here or there. The Flash “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 2” brought this conflict here to a close, and it was worth the adventure up to this point. It was a bumpy ride considering the balance between this and the set-up for Crisis on Infinite Earths, but they made it work in the end. There was action, substance, and plenty of engagement from characters who don’t often get t shine the way they got the chance to here.