As Barry and Iris cope with the loss of their daughter, Nora, Team Flash faces their most dangerous threat yet, as small black holes begin opening up all around Central City. Meanwhile, Killer Frost has a brush with death that may forever change her relationship with Caitlin Snow and a new villain is born.
The 1980 Flash Gordon movie (music and the black hole sequence) and The Flash comics of Mike Baron (character of Chester P. Runk) and Joshua Williamson (character of Ramsey Rosso/Bloodwork)
How did Godspeed get to the past when he can't run faster than sound, according to Cisco?
Iris lies about why she was at the junkyard for no good reason. Surely Barry of all people would understand her wanting to save the jacket she eventually gave to their daughter in the future? Besides, that, this sets up a major plot convenience as Iris starts investigating junkyard robberies to hide her lie and stumbles across the story of Chester P. Runk.
How does Ralph know about Superman's Fortress of Solitude? (Maybe Barry told him about it after the events of Elseworlds?)
Team Flash shouldn't be surprised they don't hear from Barry while he's inside the black hole, given that the radio signals (or whatever they use to let Barry hear them when he's moving faster than sound) wouldn't be able to escape the pull of the black hole.
It must be noted again what a fantastic job Danielle Panabaker does in playing off herself and in having made Killer Frost and Caitlin into two distinct characters with different body language, even ignoring their different physical traits.
The entire sequence where Barry enters the black hole is brilliant, stylistically made to resemble the slow-motion fight scenes from Flash Gordon.
The title of the episode is taken from a line in the 1980 Flash Gordon movie - "Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here."
As the episode opens, Ralph is out of town, tracking a missing woman named Sue Dearbon. This is the maiden name of Sue Dibny, aka Mrs. Elongated Man in the comics.
Chester P. Runk first appeared in The Flash #9 in February 1988 and was created by Mike Baron and Jackson Guice. A morbidly obese but brilliant cosmologist, Runk felt isolated from the world and grew to hate the popular people around him. After earning a full scholarship to MIT, Runk developed a matter-transfer machine. While testing the device, intending to teleport himself across the city, the machine imploded and wound up inside of Runk, somehow bonding with him.
This gave Runk the ability to create a controllable black hole, but he had to keep feeding dense materials into the hole to prevent it from devouring him. This brought him into conflict with the Wally West version of The Flash, whom Runk sucked into the black hole along with several other people who annoyed him. This led to the discovery that Runk's black hole led into an otherwise empty universe. After convincing Runk to let him and the other people trapped in his universe go, Wally helped Runk to find a positive use for his power, starting a legal business to dispose of garbage, toxic waste and other things people wanted to disappear forever. Runk and West became friends and lived together for a time after Runk became wealthy enough to buy himself a mansion.
The Arrowverse version of Chester P. Runk is not morbidly obese, but is a brilliant scientist who hosts a show about science on a Twitch-style streaming network. Building his own equipment out of abandoned gear he finds in a junkyard, he develops a controllable black hole in his final episode. As in the comics, the black hole bonds with Chester and his conscious mind causes it to manifest in places that are important to him until Team Flash helps reunite Chester's mind and body.
Ramsey Rosso first appeared in The Flash #29 in October 2017 and was created by Joshua Williamson, Pop Mahn and Christian Duce. Born with severe hemophilia that limited his ability to play as a child, Rosso was brilliant but his inability to survive in the world limited his academic pursuits so that he eventually took a job with the Central City morgue. It was here that he began researching a cure for hemophilia, using blood samples from metahumans that were taken as evidence. Rosso developed a formula that gave him a number of superpowers relating to controlling the flow of blood.
As Bloodwork, Rosso is capable of transforming his entire body into a living flow of blood. He can constrict or enhance the flow of blood in others' bodies, causing it to congeal or burn instantly. He also claimed to be invulnerable and did appear to be resistant to cutting implements. The Flash was able to stop him, however, by shocking him with a controlled lightning blast. His chief weakness is that his powers are tied to his own heart-rate and he loses control the more agitated he becomes, transforming into a hulking monster with little sense of reason if he becomes too worked up.
The Arrowverse version of Ramsey Rosso is a research oncologist rather than a coroner. An old friend of Caitlin Snow's from medical school, nothing is said about him being a hemophiliac in this episode. Instead, he is motivated by the death of his mother to cancer and her acceptance of death as inevitable. While we do not see the results of his experiments to create a cure for her type of cancer in this episode, it is clear that he will become this universe's version of Bloodwork.
When Ralph returns to STAR Labs, he reveals that he just came from Opal City. In the comics, Ralph and Sue Dibny eventually settled in Opal City to become that city's protectors after the 7th Starman Jack Knight elected to retire from being a superhero.
Joe retrieves a theft report from the Leawood and New Brighton junkyard for Iris. Leawood and New Brighton are the names of districts in Central City in the comics.
Ralph makes reference to Superman's Fortress of Solitude, when he calls Killer Frost out on isolating herself in a "Snow-tress of Solitude."
The music Cisco plays as Barry enters into the black hole is Flash's Theme by Queen. As Cisco notes, this has never been more appropriate as the plot of the Flash Gordon movie saw Flash Gordon travel into a black hole and another universe.
Cisco is working on building a Mental Augmentation Chamber (i.e. The MAC) which will allow Barry to tap into the Speed Force to boost his cognitive abilities. This would allow him to see every possible outcome to a scenario at the same time, effectively allowing him to "speed-think" even faster than he can now.
Cisco says that the junkyard where the black hole first manifested is awash with gamma rays and magnetar fields.
Rachel Rosso is said to have HLH - Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocystosis. HLH is a rare disease, sometimes acquired by cancer patients. There are two types of HLH: familial and acquired. Familial HLH accounts for about 25% of cases and the condition is passed from parent to child. HLH causes certain kinds of white blood cells to attack other blood cells, resulting in the body slowly failing as it destroys itself. Ramsey claims the median survival rate after diagnosis is 2-6 months.
Chester P. Runk builds a gravitational wave emitter powered by a modulated neutrino charge in his lab. It is this device that allows him to create a small black hole.
Cisco creates an inverse mass angular momentum disruptor - i.e. the stellar grenade. He believes it can be used to collapse a small black hole safely, making it implode by reversing the mass-collecting properties of the black hole.
Normally, stimuli enters the brain through the sensory area, goes up to the temporal lobe, and then back around through the rest of the brain. In Chester's brain, the impulses start in the right area, but halfway through their rotation they just vanish, becoming an energy pulse of negative ionic energy inside the black hole. A negative ionic energy map Cisco makes of the black hole shows this pulse moving halfway around the black hole. This proves that the energy pulse is Chester's conscious mind.
Since Chester's synaptic energy has a negative charge, Barry theorizes he can use the positive charge of the lightning he generates as The Flash to act as a magnet and attract Chester's mind to him.
Containing the energy of a human mind requires the superconductive wiring and filaments from a quantum computer. Cisco retrieves this from Nora's spare gauntlet and threads it into Barry's costume, so that he can retrieve Chester's mind from the black hole.
According to Barry, The Speed Force is a billion times stronger than any gravimetric force. This may not be a precise measurement, but it is strong enough to allow Barry to run into a black hole without being crushed to death instantly.
The structural integrity of The MAC is such that it can be used to contain synaptic energy, making it a handy container for rejoining Chester P. Runk's mind and body.
Chester has to remain inside The MAC for 4-6 weeks for his molecules to restabilize at the subatomic level.
Ralph: Having Caitlin's memories isn't the same as having your own.
Killer Frost: Like you'd know anything about that.
Ralph: I know it sucked sitting cour-tside for "The Thinker Show" when he hijacked my body, and I think that you've been going through something similar since Thomas died. And after being at that funeral, seeing that woman live the last days of her life to the fullest, I think that made you want want to start living your best life right now.
Killer Frost: (sharply) That's not my gig! Okay? (quieter) I fight the bad guys, keep Caiti safe, and then go back in my cage. I just have to deal with it.
Ralph: Have you thought to ask Caitlin how she feels?
Killer Frost: What's she gonna say? "Go ahead, Frost, take the wheel." (scoffs)
Ralph: There's only one way to find out.
(Barry begins running around the black hole, picking up speed.)
Cisco: I've been saving this for the right moment - since day one.
(Cisco hits the space key on his keyboard. Flash's Theme from Flash Gordon begins blaring through STAR Labs' sound system.)
Iris: (rolling her eyes) Really, Cisco?
Cisco: The guy is running in and out of a black hole!
(There is a long pause as Iris considers this.)
Iris: Good point.
(The Monitor appears before Iris and Barry.)
Barry: What do you want?
The Monitor: For your universe to survive.
Iris: The plinth you destroyed it. You destroyed Nora's message.
The Monitor: An unfortunate side effect. But I needed to discourage you.
Barry: From doing what?
The Monitor: Hoping. Your determination is boundless, Flash. It is one of your greatest qualities but you cannot avoid the coming Crisis.
Iris: Barry has five years before he vanishes.
The Monitor: No longer. December 10, 2019. On that day, he will answer the call and make the ultimate sacrifice. Soon this world will fight for the fate of all the known universes.
Barry: I'm not gonna leave my family. There has to be a way to stop what's coming.
The Monitor: I am sorry, but events have been set into motion that you cannot possibly comprehend.
Barry: I don't need to understand them! Just tell me what I can do.
The Monitor: To survive? You can't. In order for billions to survive this coming Crisis, the Flash must die.
Cecile: Baby Jenna is napping like a little angel and I have creamed corn, I have candied yams, I have collard greens. Baby, let's eat! (The delivery of this line is just indescribable and mere text cannot do justice to how badly Cecile tries to sound cool while saying it.)
Apart from the opening scene, which takes place immediately after the ending of 522, this episode takes place four months after the Season 5 finale.
The final message Nora left for Iris and Barry seemingly causes a power surge at STAR Labs that seems to short out Gideon and destroys the data drive the message was saved on. This is presumably a side-effect of the paradox of Nora's existence being resolved, but is later revealed to be the work of The Monitor.
Godspeed, last seen in 518, makes an appearance. In the four months since Nora's death, Godspeed has apparently traveled back in time and begun plaguing Central City.
The Godspeed Barry catches is the fourth one Team Flash has stopped in the past four months. None of them have been the real August Heart. All of them have been unable to speak except in odd electronic-sounding noises, which Cisco calls "modem speak."
The Central City Citizen has a couple of hundred-thousand subscribers.
Ralph is a vegetarian.
Ralph is still out of town, tracking a missing woman named Sue Dearbon. He is either in Peru, Monaco or Texas.
Barry has become a workaholic over the past few months and is anxious to test the Mental Augmentation Chamber Cisco is working on.
Barry leaves the party early to investigate a break-in at Eastside Industrial.
Iris leaves the party to take a call, after asking Joe what happened to several old boxes she kept in his garage.
Caitlin leaves the party early to go to the funeral of one of her old teachers, Dr. Rachel Rosso. She was one of Caitlin's mentors in medical school, who reportedly saw a lot of herself in Caitlin, as they were both overachievers.
Dr. Rachel Rosso had a son, Ramsey Rosso, who is also a medical doctor, specializing in oncology.
At the funeral, Ramsey describes his mother as having always pushed him to keep going no matter what pain he experienced, telling a story about her helping him get back on his bike after he fell and hurt himself. This story is later revealed to be a lie and Ramsey was truly disgusted with his mother's acceptance of her cancer diagnosis as untreatable.
Iris goes to a junkyard in search of the boxes Joe threw out. She retrieves the purple jacket she wore when she had speed powers in 416, which would eventually be given to Nora and become part of her XS costume.
While Iris is at the junk yard, she is nearly swallowed by a mysterious black hole.
Iris lies about why she was at the junkyard, saying that she was following up a tip on a series of junkyard robberies.
The data Cisco retrieves from the first black hole site results in more data than anyone has ever acquired about black holes before.
Ralph returns wearing a tux, saying that he just came from Opal City, where he was working undercover among the wealthy elites all summer.
Ralph apparently agreed to take the case to find the missing Sue Dearbon after her parents begged him to take it when every other private investigator said it was hopeless. Ralph says he took the case because they looked so sad and desperate. In a reflection of how Ralph's character has changed in the past years, the fact that they're ludicrous wealthy and paying all his expenses does not come up.
Caitlin has been having random "frost outs" with her powers suddenly flaring up all summer. She had two in the days following Rachel Rosso's funeral.
Iris eventually does go investigating reports of thefts at the junkyard to see if there's a connection to the black hole that nearly ate her.
Caitlin likes her lattes with a bit of cinnamon. According to Ramsey, this is the same way his mother liked them.
Caitlin credits a letter of recommendation from Dr. Rachel Rosso for getting her a job with STAR Labs.
Ramsey said that his mother developed HLH as a result of her cancer and her blood literally boiled her insides to death. This inspired him to start working on a cure for the condition.
Ramsey did develop a cure for HLH, but it requires dark matter as a bonding agent. He asks Caitlin to help him get the dark matter he needs for a trial but Caitlin refuses, saying his process could turn people into metahumans against their will.
A second black hole opens at C.C. Jitters. Barry just stops Caitlin from being sucked into it as The Flash.
Iris discovers the connection between the two black holes, finding that the one person arrested for stealing from a junkyard who didn't fit the profile of a thief was a man named Chester P. Runk, who has a science show on-line.
In his last show before being hospitalized in a catatonic state, Chester apparently (and accidentally) created a small black hole in his lab.
Chester has a crush on a waitress named Natalie, who works at C.C. Jitters.
Caitlin says the last time Killer Frost refused to take over her body and her powers went wonky was right after her father's death in 519.
Ralph theorizes that Killer Frost is afraid of dying in the wake of so much recent death, having never really had the life experience to cushion the blow of the revelation that she is mortal and won't live forever like Caitlin has.
Ramsey acquires a black market dark-matter gun from an illegal weapons dealer.
Iris finally tells Cecile about how she was at the junkyard trying to get her jacket back.
Iris realizes that the throbbing of the black hole's corona corresponds to the beat the catatonic Chester is drumming out.
Ralph gets Killer Frost to emerge by faking an emergency in STAR Labs' reactor.
Ralph changes his assessment, guessing that Killer Frost wants a life of her own outside of being Caitlin's alter ego.
Caitlin led her debate team in high-school to back-to-back championships.
Barry admits that he's been throwing himself into his work the past four months to avoid having to think about Nora's death.
Cecile is able to bench her own body-weight and is able to carry Chester into The MAC by herself.
Cisco has been saving Flash's Theme from Flash Gordon to play for the perfect occasion. He decides that Barry going into a black hole is that occasion.
Barry is able to enter into the black hole and retrieve Chester's mind.
Chester's mind is restored but his eyes now glow with orange energy.
Chester has to remain inside The MAC for 4-6 weeks. Thankfully, he is more than happy to hang around STAR Labs in the meantime. He plans to ask Natalie out as soon as he can.'
Caitlin agrees to let Killer Frost take over their body and live her own life outside of being a superhero.
Ralph takes up the job of Killer Frost's life coach. He has a newly written Book Of Ralph Vol. 2.
Ralph suggests Killer Frost pick a new name for herself. He suggests Anne, which is the middle name of his mother.
Ramsey Rosso is revealed to have 99% of the cancer markers his mother did, suggesting the real reason he is so desperate to find a cure. He injects himself with his cure and it does seem to start removing the cancer markers from his DNA. It also causes his arm to become coated with some kind of black liquid, which causes him to scream.
Barry sets up a display case in the Time Vault to hold Nora's jacket.
The Monitor appears to Barry and Iris and tells them that the date of Barry's disappearance has ben pushed up to December 10, 2019. He also says that for the multiverse to be saved, Barry must die and this fate cannot be avoided.
August Heart (aka Godspeed) apparently traveled back in time at some point in the past four months and began causing damage around Central City. He has also apparently been giving super-speed to other people, having created four decoys under his control, who are incapable of speech.
The Bottom Line
A solid season opener, mainly sold by the fantastic Flash Gordon sequence and the chilling tie-in to Crisis at the end. The subplots are being set-up but Bloodwork is a largely underwhelming big-bad in the face of what we know this season is building toward. Still, a good start overall.