The Flash – A New World, Part One – Reunions review S9 E10
A New World, Part One – Reunions is a fairly solid episode, but one that shows how often The Flash squandered emotional moments to the point there no more heartfelt beats to squeeze. The problem with going back to the same well over and over is the writers can’t lean on it for this kind of arc that would have benefited from restraint over the last few seasons.
It’s the random appearances from Barry’s mom in flashbacks, her showing up with another Earth doppelganger or the Speed Force deciding to co-opt her likeness for no good reason. To a lesser extent that’s true for his father, who has the exact likeness of Barry’s Earth-2 ally Jay Garrick, home of Stargirl and the JSA. The Arrowverse’s Crisis sure didn’t accomplish much of anything in terms of “clearing up” continuity, did it?
And of course, there was the writers’ in case of emergency terrible story arc, break glass to bring back Reverse Flash crutch. There’s a cost to relying so heavily on what used to work so well, and the bill felt due this episode.
A familiar face is back somehow, but Eddie Thawne is dead so who is this guy?
Since they’re in the home stretch of episodes, the writers have to lightly touch on subplots they started before realizing they’ve run out of episode equity and can’t waste any more episodes. That means the headline of “Who is the Light-Meta?” won’t ever result in anything. Ditto for the Mystery of Kihone, who pens a recap letter to her “sisters” Caitlin and Frost while yearning to tell Mark about all of her exploits discovering the powers he insisted she had all along.
Again, introducing a new Caitlin variant who needed time to get developed in an abbreviated season made absolutely zero sense. And Chester’s first take at Allegra’s costume is so bad that teenage Kitty Pryde wouldn’t be caught dead wearing it.
Joe is back (!) Or specifically, Cecile is hanging at her part-time home with Joe. And that made so much sense to spend so many episodes on Joe and Cecile’s Crisis on Infinite Moves to have this limp a payoff.
Iris is far into her pregnancy. And (spoiler) her weeks old story on Red Death’s invasion actually did gain her a Pulitzer nomination. I still don’t think anyone on this show appreciates how writing and the news cycle works.
Before Barry can spazz out further as a first-time father, he fades out and is teleported to…the distant past of 2000. Barry actually has a great line wondering what he did this time.
With little clues, Barry heads to CCPD and runs into Det. Singh and Officer Joe West. For whatever reason, Barry decides now to check the date and sees that it’s the day before his mom gets killed.
I appreciated Barry calling Martin Stein, a now dead ally that might be down to help him even though they don’t know each other yet. No go there, but while striking out at the pay phone Barry does see some familiar faces in Jay Garrick and the Speed Force Nora…wait, hold on. (Checks notes) Barry spots his parents before a red blur (Smallville’s Clark Kent?!?!) knocks him out into the street.
The Allens help Barry at the hospital and offer to take him to lunch while he awkwardly avoids hiding his true identity. It’s a nice bit, but we’ve seen this play out countless times, best done way back in Season 2 with the Kevin Smith-directed Runaway Dinosaur, so it’s not like Barry having one sweet encounter with his folks is this groundbreaking moment.
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After leaving them, Barry encounters Eobard Thawne. It’s too bad the show went through these bogus motions of acting like he was dead last time because the writers can’t help but put Thawne in every season. I suppose they have somewhat of a loophole by having it be the “original face” Thawne played by Matt Letschler. He didn’t bring Barry to this timeline, but that’s not stopping him from his plan of killing young Barry.
Before Barry can resolve issues with Thawne, he’s got to deal with a possessed Joe, who is acting as an avatar for the Negative Speed Force thanks to a random gem he found on the ground. Barry has some small issues as the thought of hurting Joe pops up for a moment, but it’s quickly shoved aside so Barry can get a renewed spark thinking about Iris and Nora. That’s enough to knock out NSF Joe. Powered back up again, Barry heads to face Thawne one final (?) time.
Reverse Flash complains that Flash stopped his chance of being a hero. The Flash has never devoted any time showing the good in this version of Thawne so it’s hard to find his monologue more than a whiny villain looking for a scapegoat for his problems. Barry offers to save Thawne so they can stop bringing each other pain was a weird line. What pain did Barry bring to Thawne exactly?
Thawne doesn’t buy the hard emotional pitch and goes into the Allen house to kill young Barry. In a cool moment, Flash sees his Season 1 counterpart and gestures for him not to interfere so he can save young Barry as Thawne kills his mother. Rather than introduce 30 other speedsters it might have been fun to see Flash helping his younger hero self.
There’s some weird retconning here as the writers are trying to spin it like this was the last time Barry got to see his parents. His mom was killed, but his dad was imprisoned and eventually got to spend some time with Barry before he got killed much later on. In getting a chance to spend extra time with his parents, Barry says he’ll always be grateful to Thawne, the guy who killed his mother. I don’t think that’s how that works…
Anyway, that’s good enough for the mysterious force teleporting Barry as he fades away again. These teleportation sequences remind me of Crisis on Infinite Earths — the comic version — when The Flash would randomly appear interacting with his allies in the past before fading back to stopping the Anti-Monitor’s device. I keep thinking back to how in spite of how massive and ambitious it was, the CW’s version of Crisis didn’t do as much as it could have with the source material as its guide.
Not Eddie watches the sky erupt with red thunder and lightning (another Crisis visual cue) as a lightning bolt puts him into a shelf of chemicals. He sees the file of deceased police officer Eddie Thawne and asks “Who is Eddie Thawne?” Indeed.
So, the first chapter of this four-part finale is in the books. I wish the emotional beats were stronger, but the writers maxing them out earlier rendered them nice but largely unimpactful. Hopefully these final three episodes will help end the series on a positive note or else I’ll just consider the Green Arrow team-up the true conclusion of The Flash.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Photo Credit: The CW