Iris uncovers a vast conspiracy, as Barry is infected with a hallucinogen by the increasingly monstrous Ramsey Rosso.
The Last Tempation of Christ (title, some of the dream-driven imagery), the Venom movie (special effects for Bloodwork's powers) and The Flash comics of Joshua Williamson.
How did Frost know Ralph was in danger?
As effective as this episode is as a psychodrama, it's still somewhat muted because we know that Barry has to survive to see Crisis.
Grant Gustin gives a startling performance here, as Barry becomes trapped inside his own head and confronts increasingly disturbed images.
Props to the chefs who made the food in the nightmare dinner scene so horrific.
The general dreamlike direction of the episode is incredibly effective.
The mobile of the infant Nora West-Allen holds many tiny XS symbols.
Bloodwork says that his powers, like Elongated Man's, operate on a cellular level.
Caitlin determines that Ramsey's powers are getting stronger, since Ralph's elastic cells are not healing at the accelerated rate they normal do.
Caitlin theorizes that Barry can temporarily loan someone his speed-healing powers with a blood transfusion. This is ultimately borne out by her experimental surgery to save Ralph's life.
Barry's blood has a small spike in cortisol following the transfusion that allows Bloodwork to infect him.
The fever generated by Bloodwork's powers taking a person over does not respond to ice.
Caitlin administers 10ccs of naproxen sodium to control Barry's fever.
(Barry has just tried to punch an intangible Ramsey Rosso.)
Barry: I don't know how you're doing this. Real or not, I'm coming for you.
Ramsey: And yet I'm not your foremost concern, am I? Not as much as your inevitable demise in a coming... Crisis? Goodness, you really are full of surprises, aren't you? So tell me...when you saw all those permutations, billions of possible futures all ending in your death...What role did I play?
Barry: You didn't. You weren't there.
Ramsey: (disappointed) Really? Not even in one? Huh. Then again, you never saw this coming did you? Frankly, neither did I. (smiling) Makes one believe in the impossible, doesn't it?
(Barry looks up and sees his mother.)
Barry: Mom? Is this another nightmare?
Speed Force: No, Barry. This is much, much worse.
Speed Force: You've answered our call before. It's always been difficult. What's changed?
Barry: I've lived more. I've gotten married, seen a future where I'll have a daughter who's the best of me and Iris combined. Most of my life has been driven by my past, but... but now, I... It finally feels like I'm living for myself. I don't wanna leave my family or my friends. I don't want to die. I know that's selfish. (sobbing) I'm sorry I let you down.
Speed Force: Barry. No person is immune to fear and doubt. No matter how brave. That's what makes you human, Barry. But the courage to move forward, even in the face of overwhelming odds... that's what makes you a hero. That's what makes you The Flash.
Barry: Thank you. I needed to hear that.
Speed Force: Don't blame yourself.
Barry: His lies.. They were so convincing.
Speed Force: That's because he never lied.
(There is a long pause as Barry ponders that and realizes what it means.)
Barry: (quietly) What do you mean?
Speed Force: That's what makes Ramsey so dangerous. He manipulates the truth to spread his disease.
Barry: What, so... so the part about his cells allowing me to save the world from Crisis and still survive is true?
Speed Force: Yes. But that path's not for you.
Barry: Why not?!
Speed Force: Barry, you must understand-
Barry: - that you want me to leave behind everyone I love when there's a way to save me?!
Iris: (writing) My name is Iris West-Allen and I once met a young man, a superhero who I called the Streak. The world has come to know him as the Fastest Man Alive, the Scarlet Speedster, the Flash. But no matter what title you choose for him, he'll always be remembered as the protector of our amazing city and its citizens, as a beacon of hope for us all, and as the man who sacrificed himself again and again so we could live. Today we say good-bye to him, not because he was taken but because he gave himself willingly. And in the end, that's what makes him deserving of the greatest title of all - Hero.
Bloodwork: I am the world's salvation come to save it from all that ails it. Soon, the entire world will embrace... Bloodwork
Elongated Man and Bloodwork fight, with Bloodwork wounding Ralph and infecting him with his blood.
Barry has Type O-negative blood. This makes him a universal donor who can donate to anyone.
Ralph's elastic skin is too strong to be penetrated by a standard needle. This requires Barry phase Ralph's body through the needle at super-speed to set up an IV.
ARGUS moves Ralph to a secure location while he recovers.
This episode takes place on December 8, 2019. Two days until the day Barry is destined to disappear.
Bloodwork learns that Barry Allen is The Flash through the connection he forms through their blood. He can apparently learn all about a person's memories when his blood is absorbed into another person's body, in addition to taking control of them.
Allegra discovers Iris' unwritten article about Barry's upcoming disappearance.
Iris determines that the man that recruited Esperanza Garcia and saw her transformed into Ultraviolet was wearing a pin with a spiral emblem and was also at Remington Meister's party in 606.
Iris found another picture of the man getting into a car, whose plates were tracked to a rented parking space in Central City.
The man claims to be a transporter for Maelstrom Couriers - a company catering to the ultra rich. He says he was hired to transport Esperanza Garcia for the government and that he was acting as a designated driver at the Meister party. Today, he's transporting a literal set of family jewels.
The Speed Force appears to Barry in the form of his mother, Nora Allen.
The Speed Force explains that Ramsey was able to get himself into Ralph's blood and because of the blood transfusion he is now in Barry.
Allegra reveals to Iris that she knows Barry's secret identity and that she was told by Nash Wells.
Allegra says she wanted to become a reporter because she was inspired by Iris's early blog reports about The Streak.
Ramsey tries to convince Barry to surrender to him, claiming that he he shared his power with him Barry would be a greater hero than ever, able to save the lives of those he was too slow to save.
The courier Iris and Allegra questioned is later found in what appears to be a bombed-out car, in the paid parking space they confronted him at earlier.
No cameras showed anyone going into or out of the car park that day to plant a bomb.
Allegra finds the spiral pin and says that it is glowing with ultraviolet energy.
Kamilla reveals that she already knew Barry was The Flash and that Cisco is Vibe to Allegra.
The Speed Force says Ramsey's powers could allow Barry to survive Crisis and heal people the way he described, but that there are universal forces that will be imperiled if Barry Allen does not die during the Crisis.
Barry begins to stop fighting the infection as Ramsey and The Speed Force fight for him.
The Speed Force admits that it does not feel pain in the same way that humans do.
As the episode closes, it is 36 hours to the Crisis.
Iris starts writing the article about Barry's death.
Nash Wells returns to the tunnel, ready to try and break through to the portal to the Monitor.
At first, it seems that Barry has beaten the infection. Iris realizes, however, that Ramsey is controlling Barry and trying to pretend to be him.
Barry knocks out Iris, Caitlin and Frost.
When The Flash is under Bloodwork's control, his eyes and mouth are stained with black blood and black blood oozes from The Flash symbol on his chest.
Ramsey officially gives himself the name Bloodwork.
The Bottom Line
A surprisingly effective episode with some strong imagery and a powerhouse performance from Grant Gustin. The only real problem with it is that, knowing that Crisis is coming up, the actual danger of the episode (and, by extension, its villain) is ineffective. Worse yet, there's really no way to separate this story from Crisis and consider it as its own entity. Still, it's enjoyable despite that.