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Lazy Writing and Discounted Continuity Plague CW's Flash Season Finale

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Flash Season 7 Finale

When The Flash series was first announced, nobody was more excited than I was. And in every episode of that first season, I was an excited little boy from opening scene to scrolling credits.

As with any series, the show has had it's peaks and valleys as it progressed from season to season, serving as the fulcrum of the classic CW show crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which saw the multiverse collapse into a singular universe when it was finished. But never has it reached such a prolonged low point as it has with -- well, pretty much the entirety of this seventh season.

Over the course of its run, The Flash has gone from being The Fastest Man Alive (except for the many times when he wasn't, to make the villain challenging) to "Iris and Her Amazing Friends, Guest-Starring The Flash." Instead of catching bad guys and putting them away, more often than not a situation is resolved by Barry unmasking and appealing to a villain's better angels. As the writers continuously become devoid of creative ideas, decisions get reversed and powers get modifications that have no logical connection to the characters. Cisco chooses to give up his Vibe powers to live a normal life, then chooses to reproduce those same abilities artificially with technology.

And The Flash? The Flash is powered by the Speed Force, which doesn't just make him fast -- it gives him the ability to generate lightning. Now, The Flash (on the television show) has been throwing lightning bolt punches for several seasons now, and one could possibly come up with a plausible excuse for how this could be done using just the super-speed at Barry's command. Perhaps he can build up a giant charge of generated static electricity through kinetic motion and release it. That's something that, in a superhero show, could be explained in a way that made sense.

But with the final episode of this seventh season, "The Heart of the Matter, Part 2," it's painfully clear that the showrunners have exhausted their creativity, and they don't seem to even care if the viewers notice it.

Where do I even start? How about with the reappearance of Jay Garrick (still perfectly cast and portrayed by John Wesley Shipp). I love seeing the Golden Age Flash every time he appears, and he still looks great in this story. The problem? He's The Flash of an alternate Earth, and the alternate Earths -- so far as anyone on Team Flash is concerned -- are gone, wiped out in the aforementioned Crisis. His appearnce should have been an alert that the multiverse was back in action. Instead, everyone just acts like he's always been around. Even Flash's children from the future call him "Uncle Jay" thirty years in the future. But the viewers know this should impact the continuity of the show, even if the writers have forgotten.

The "big bad" of the season is Godspeed, a speedster from the future (and the nemesis to Barry's son, Impulse) who has sent back an army of clones to fight each other in Central City. Apparently this was done just to get The Flash's attention, so that the "real" Godspeed could strongarm The Flash into giving him "organic" speed instead of the artificial kind he runs on. Barry ultimately caves to this demand, and the fight is on between the two.

And so begins a series of deux ex Rube Godlberg machinas that, each on their own, make a fan's head hurt. Collectively they should be considered a health risk.

Needing help to take down Godspeed, Barry orders the four other speedsters -- Jay, Nora, Bart, and (yes) Iris -- to stay out of the fight, opting instead for the Speed Force (now a living entity and the spiritual child of Barry and Iris, along with a few other universal elemental forces; don't ask, it's too painful) to reconstitute Barry's deadliest enemy: Eobard Thawn, played once again by Tom Cavanagh. Flash's thinking is that Thawne won't let anybody else kill Flash but himself, and wouldn't have any limitations about what to do to make that happen.

Let's boil that down: Barry apparently does think that all his friends, including his wife, would let a speedster psychopath kill him, because they have limitations on what they would allow themselves to do. So he gets Thawne because Thawne won't have those limitations. Basically, Barry hired a hitman who has already killed so Barry and his friends won't get their hands dirty -- then gets righteously indignant when Thawne nearly does kill Godspeed in...

(Are you sitting down for this? Because you really need to be sitting down for this.)

...a lightsaber duel. Well, technically a lightning saber duel, with each of the three speedsters generating a solid bolt of lightining in their hands and clashing together like D'Artagnan against the king's soldiers. This falls right in line with Nora generating a lightning whip/lasso earlier, and Jay charging his hat with speed energy and sending it careening into a mass of clones like Captain America's shield.

Okay, the hat part was actually pretty cool, and given Jay's years of experience, a plausibly learned attack method.

Post-battle, Godspeed finally gets locked up in Iron Heights prison. But wait! For the first time in seven years, the team actually cares about a villain knowing The Flash's secret identity! What are they going to do? Well, because Godspeed is a speedster, the living Speed Force reaches into Godspeed's mind and removes that knowledge from Godspeed's memory! Okay, Flash writers, at this point you're just pulling script bandaids out of your plothole, because if you're just giving characters the powers they need whenever they need them, you've essentially turned them into gods.

For decades, The Flash was a character of The Flash had one unique ability: he was fast. And, for decades, comic book writers found a new way ever month to use that ability in unique and exciting ways to apply it to whatever problem Barry Allen had to face down -- usually alone, mind you. The CW staff barely went a full season before they had to come up with new powers for The Flash to possess, as well as a support team to serve as a cavalry. I think it's time to pull the curtain down on this show before it overwhelmingly taints the memories of when the series used to be good.

Grade: 
2.0 / 5.0