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When a powerful alien arrives on Earth with dire warnings of the future, Barry Allen and the rest of Team Flash will find themselves tested as never before and call upon the help of their friends to save the world from Armageddon.
The Armageddon 2001 storyline.
Tony Curran gives a solid performance as Despero.
It's always good to see Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer.
The CGI for this episode is fantastic, from the effects for Despero's alien form to the CGI for the action scenes.
The Armageddon event is loosely based on the 1991 comic book mini-series Armageddon 2001. The storyline introduced a new hero called Waverider, who traveled back in time from the year 2001 to stop one of Earth's greatest heroes from becoming a mysterious tyrant called Monarch.
The Arrowverse Armageddon event uses Despero in place of Waverider and The Flash in place of Hawk (of Hawk and Dove) who was revealed to be the future Monarch.
Caitlin says that Barry can run at 4000 MPH. This seems to be seriously low-balling his top speed given some of his feats on the show, but may represent his usual cruising speed.
This episode introduces a new version of the Royal Flush Gang, who were reportedly the first metahuman criminals to appear in Central City following the STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion in the new timeline of Earth-Prime. They are not affiliated with the family of bank robbers from A106 or the gang of motorcycle-riding thieves from 111.
In the comics, the Royal Flush Gang name has been used by various criminals who have fought the Justice League, first appearing in Justice League of America #43. Different incarnations of the team have been led by Amos Fortune, Hector Hammond and The Joker in various comics and cartoons. Some of the members have been metahumans or armed themselves with playing-card themed weapons. One incarnation was made up of multiple "packs" with 52 members per pack. Usually, however, the gang is limited to five members, who take on the aliases Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace.
The new Arrowverse Royal Flush Gang is made up of four metahumans. Ten appears to have enhanced agility and is an acrobatic fighter. Jack has laser vision. Queen is a telepath with mild precognitive abilities who can predict what the people around her will do. King has superhuman strength.
The article about the Royal Flush Gang's first robbery from Barry's flashback was written by Mason Bridge - the reporter whose investigation into the Reverse Flash got him killed in 116.
Chester mentions that Magnus Labs has a Saturn simulator at their booth at CCTC. In the comics, Magnus Labs' founder, Dr. Will Magnus, was responsible for creating the superheroes the Metal Men.
A number of familiar names appear on the banner of sponsors for CCTC. These include Star Labs, Ivo Labs (creators of the Amazo robot from 509), Tannhauser Industries (the company run by Caitlin and Frost's mother), Opal Thermo Labs (presumably based in Opal City), and Stagg Industries (referenced in 102)
Despero first appeared in Justice League of America #1 in October 1960 and was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky. Born on the planet Kalanor, which he ruled as a tyrant, Despero fought the Justice League after rebels from his planet made contact with the heroes and begged for their help. Possessing a powerful intellect as well as psychic powers and an enhanced physiology, Despero became one of the Justice League's greatest enemies.
The Arrowverse version of Despero looks like his comic book counterpart, but he takes on the form of a human for some unknown reason. He also claims to be from Earth originally. He shows the enhanced strength, vitality and telepathic powers he had in the comics and is capable of creating complex illusions.
When Ray goes to change into his Atom suit, he rips open his button-up shirt. This is a visual tribute to Superman, whom Brandon Routh played in the movie Superman Returns and in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
When Ray shrinks himself and Barry to go through the car Despero throws at them, Barry feels nauseous and says now he knows how Diggle feels. This is in reference to a running gag that John Diggle always threw up whenever he was moved at superspeed during his encounters with Barry.
Chester says he's been a fan of Ray Palmer since reading his papers on quantum qubits.
Kristen Kramer says that her mimic powers only activate in times of stress when her adrenaline spikes and the effects are only temporary.
Barry determines that the char marks on the guards' weapons at the Mercury Labs heist match the marks on a piece of metal found at the train collision. This proves that Jack from the Royal Flush Gang was involved in causing the train collision. The burns were consistent with a pinpoint laser strike.
A beryllium-based detonation would level everything in a 10 mile radius.
Chester uses some kind of scanner to determine that Despero is incredibly powerful and possesses advanced technology.
Despero: (voice-over) Look at them - praying for a miracle that isn't coming. Who knows, maybe it's my curse to leave one betrayal behind, only to find a greater one here amongst the stars? They could've stopped this, but none of them had the strength to do what must be done... but I do.
(Caitlin and the other patrons of CC Jitters are watching the news in rapt attention.)
Reporter: Ladies and gentlemen, authorities are now confirming that despite a massive explosion, caused by today's railway accident, no lives were lost during this horrific event. It appears our city has the Flash to thank once more.
(There is a subtle flash of light and rush of wind. Suddenly Barry is sitting across from Caitlin. Nobody else has noticed his sudden arrival.)
Caitlin: That was amazing. You got everyone to safety in what, 20 seconds?
(Caitlin sips her coffee. It has the oat milk she requested before Barry left)
Caitlin: Wow, you have seriously leveled up.
Iris: (looking at all of Ray Palmer's luggage) I thought he could shrink things?
(The Flash hurriedly runs Jared Heywood out of the warehouse where the Royal Flush Gang is about to kill him and runs back in.)
The Flash: It's over, people. Haywood's back in Iron Heights. Who wants to go next?
Queen: Ah, usually, I know when to fold them.
(The Royal Flush Gang begin to surround The Flash.)
Queen: You know 50 million... it's a lot to leave on the virtual table.
King: And since my Queen is a psychic who knows everything you're going to do before you do it... go ahead, Flash. We call.
Queen: Four to one, I like these odds. Go ahead, Flash-y, pick a card, any card.
(The Flash one-punches Jack and runs for the Queen. When she blinks, she is wearing power-dampening handcuffs, as are the rest of the gang.)
Queen: What? This is impossible. I read your mind. I saw what you were planning, and then I trumped your hand by going all in. How did you...?
(Ray explains why Chester acted so strange around him.)
Ray: Chester surprised me earlier with a pitch fest to mentor aspiring scientists in the intention of forming a startup with one of them.
Barry: That sounds great.
Ray: And it would've been before, but I... I've grown a lot the last few months.
Barry: So you don't miss any of this?
Ray: I'm still a scientist, Barry. (chuckles) But, you know, if I start another big tech company, next thing I know, I get lost in all this again. This is all so intoxicating, and I... I don't want to fall back into the trap.
Barry: I get that, but, I mean, I'm not the same that I was the first time I put on the cowl either. You know I'm faster, more confident, more at ease with myself.
Ray: Yeah, you've grown too.
Barry: Yeah but one of the ways that's happened is learning to take time out to help Team Flash grow, too. Yeah, I've learned just as much from them as they've learned from me. It's like being a CSI, every day I work with all my fellow officers in all departments.
Ray: I mean, I do miss scientific collaboration. Just like I told Chester, I'm not a Legend anymore, and, uh, I don't have the CCPD.
Barry: So what? You're Ray Palmer, legacy honoree. If you want something that doesn't exist, invent it.
(Chester consults some exotic device as The Flash fights Despero.)
Chester: Oh, I'm picking up some seriously advanced tech readings.
Iris: You just had that thing in your back pocket?
(Chester gestures to a booth where several of the scanners are set up for attendees to try out.)
Despero: Prepare to die, Flash.
The Flash: Every life ends sooner or later.
Despero: Wise words from a dead man.
The Flash: Despero, I'm not gonna fight you again.
Despero: Really? I'm disappointed. Striking down a defenseless foe? Well, there's no pleasure in that.
The Flash: So you enjoy killing?
Despero: Twist my words at you own risk.
The Flash: You wanted to kill me. I'm not running anywhere.
Despero: Then neither am I. In another time, on another world, we could've fought side by side, you and I. There's great strength in you, Flash, but I've seen your future. The lives you take, the betrayals you revel in. You're the most dangerous kind of killer because you hide in the body of a hero.
The Flash: I'm not a killer. I'm not whatever you think I am. I can prove it if you let me show you the truth. Or you can take an innocent life just to prove you're right.
Despero: You're either very stupid or very brave. I can't decide which.
The Flash: Well, find out. Scan my mind. See for yourself, then decide.
(Despero scans Barry's mind. He looks stunned at what he sees.)
Despero: I see no deception in your mind. But I do see truth. And honor. Flash, you're asking me to risk allowing the future I've already witnessed to unfold. I'm sorry. But there's too many lives at stake. Don't you see? This is why I came back. This is the purpose I swore to uphold.
The Flash: What if you're wrong about me? I've spent my entire life protecting this world. All I'm asking for is a chance to prove I'd never turn my back on it.
Despero: Why should I believe you?
(The Flash removes his mask.)
Barry: Because my name's Barry Allen, and I've nothing to hide.
Despero: Your boldness impresses me, Flash... and it's earned you a stay of execution. You now have seven Earth days to prove that you won't become the monster I've already witnessed in the future. If you can't convince me in that time, or if I find any trace of a darker nature, I will end your existence.
This episode is presumed to take place in late 2021, six months after the events of 718. This is based on Allegra's comments regarding the last six months being intense and Caitlin saying Frost spent all summer and fall being angry at Chillblaine.
Barry and Caitlin meet for coffee to catch up on things.
Frost is on a two-week vacation and is still trying to get over Chillblaine, despite Caitlin insisting he's a bad guy who won't ever change.
Caitlin notes it has been seven years since Ronnie Raymond's death and she's ready to try dating again.
Caitlin takes oat milk with her coffee.
Barry is able to evacuate two trains in 12 seconds, 50 miles south of Keystone City, after getting a text alert while having coffee with Caitlin in Central City.
The Central City Citizen has officially become Central City Citizen Media and taken over an entire office building, which Sue Dearbon bought them. It is mentioned that they now have a full staff of three reporters (apart from Iris and Allegra), an IT intern and an office manager, which may explain a seeming plothole from S608 where CCC Media was identified as the #4 news outlet in the country by Andrea Rojas.
Iris interviews Kristen Kramer, who is still a Captain in the CCPD and is now an openly recognized metahuman.
Iris now runs a regular podcast called Citizentopia.
Sometime in the past six months, Kramer has disbanded the CCPD Metahuman Task Force, saying she felt it was unfairly targeting a marginalized group since most metahumans are not criminals.
Iris promotes Allegra to Supervising Editor of CCC Media. This puts her in charge of deciding what stories to cover, assigning jobs to the reporters and pre-editing the copy. Allegra protests that the new reporters are far more qualified for this work than she is, but Iris says Allegra knows the city and what the people need more.
One of the new reporters, Vanya, has 10 years of experience as a news reporter.
Another new reporter, Taylor, graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College.
The third new reporter, Aariz, was a war correspondent in Beirut. He is the same age as Iris.
Barry gets dinner from his and Iris' favorite pizza place in Milan.
Iris is still getting temporal sickness stabilization treatments from Deon.
Bart and Nora are apparently still coming back in time to visit them. However, Iris and Barry have both been so busy they haven't had time to think about actually conceiving the children they have in the future.
Ray Palmer is seen for the first time since L508.
Barry apparently gave Ray an open invitation to use their guest room anytime he needed a place to stay while in Central City.
Ray is in town for the Central City Tech Convention, where he's one of the guests of honor. Unfortunately, the hotel was overbooked, leaving him in need of a place to stay.
Barry and Iris are aware of Nora Darhk's work as a fairy godmother and ask about her. Ray says that she's busy and couldn't join him on this trip.
The Royal Flush Gang steal a microchip from Mercury Labs.
Ray says that he doesn't talk to Sara Lance or the other Legends of Tomorrow much anymore
Ray says he still met with Nate Heywood for drinks once a month, but that he hadn't heard from him in a while. This seems to be a reference to the events of Legends of Tomorrow Season 7, where the Legends became trapped in 1925 for a while.
Ray says leaving the Legends was hard, but he and Nora are closer than ever and he's been able to get back into pure scientific research, which he couldn't do as The Atom.
Chester is a Ray Palmer fanboy and was assigned to be his handler at CCTC, where he's a volunteer.
Iris plans to interview Ray at the convention at 4 PM that afternoon.
Barry never encountered the Royal Flush Gang before, as he was still in a coma at the time of their first heist in Central City. After that they moved on and hit casinos around the country.
Barry notes that stealing a microchip doesn't fit the Royal Flush Gang's usual style as they rob casinos for cash and have never been noted tech thieves.
Allegra wants to cover the Mercury Labs robbery, but the writers dismiss her orders since high-tech thefts where nobody dies aren't big news in Central City unless the Flash is involved.
The writers instead go off to work on investigating corruption in the mayor's office, a 1000 word article on the Central City Shark's new general manager and a follow-up piece on the train collision and the budget crisis that resulted from the train repairs.
Barry determines that the Royal Flush Gang caused the train derailment to cover the theft of a beryllium core power source.
Iron Heights lost power for three seconds, during which all the cell locks opened, leading to the release of 1000 inmates.
Barry is able to secure all the inmates he found outside of their cells and determines that the Royal Flush Gang was responsible for the attempted prison break.
Chester sets up a meet and greet for Ray and a dozen CCTC tech entrepreneurial hopefuls so they can try and sell him on their start-up ideas around 2:30 pm.
Ray tells Chester, tensely, that he doesn't want to start another tech business and hasn't worn his Atom suit in ages. He says he's happy focusing on his wife and his research.
Chester is crushed but says he understands.
CCTC has been running for five years. It has a number of afterparties, one of which involves filk.
Allegra tracks down Iris at the convention and tells her she blew her first staff meeting.
Iris says she believes in Allegra and makes reference to when she gained greater control of her powers.
Barry figures out that one inmate escaped from Iron Heights - a computer hacker named Jared Haywood.
Chester says there are so many applications for the stolen chip its hard for him to begin to guess what the Royal Flush Gang is planning.
Chester says that he is dead to Ray after the fiasco with the event earlier and then immediately apologies to Cecile. This suggests that something is wrong with Joe West, who does not appear in this episode.
CCTC is paying their volunteers in cryptocurrency this year.
Barry asks Chester to see if any of the casinos in Star City take crypto currency. It turns out they all do and there's 50 million in their digital coffers.
Inspired, Barry asks Chester what it would take to rob a casino virtually. Chester says it would take a computer with a next-generation microchip, a massive power source and an expert in cyber espionage.
Chester starts monitoring the casinos, waiting for the hack to start and traces it to the Royal Flush Gang's hideout.
The Flash easily takes out the Royal Flush gang, as his ability to think fast works faster than the Queen's telepathy.
Chester is still hosting his science podcast and does a livestream from the floor of CCTC.
Barry has never attended CCTC before.
Chester mentions that Magnus Labs has a Saturn simulator.
Ray meets up with Barry and Chester on the convention floor but Chester runs off before Ray can talk to him about what happened before.
Ray admits to Barry that he does miss scientific collaboration, but fears getting caught up in who he was and not who he is now. Barry suggests he might make something that suits his needs if it doesn't already exist.
Allegra lays down the law with the other reporters and makes it clear CCC media is about giving the people a voice - not just providing bare facts.
During his interview with Iris, Ray says he isn't sure what he's doing with his future but he hopes to figure it out in the next year.
After Ray's interview, Despero appears on the mainstage of CCTC and demands The Flash face him after telepathically forcing the audience to run away and clear the area.
Despero is able to survive in a vacuum and shrugs off Barry's attempt to rob him of breathable air.
Ray puts on his Atom costume to help Barry fight Despero.
Barry becomes nauseous after Ray shrinks him and comments that he now knows how Diggle feels.
Barry asks why Despero wants to kill him. Despero obligingly shows him visions of the future and how Barry is destined to become evil or mad and destroy the Earth.
Ray defeats Despero by shrinking down and activating his teleportation belt, but he has no idea where he sent him.
Caitlin says she gave Barry a full physical and he's physically and mentally healthy.
Cecile uses her powers to determine that the visions Barry saw are real, insofar as Despero really did see those events occur and believed The Flash was responsible.
Knowing Despero is an alien, the team decide to call Alex Danvers to see if they can figure out what kind of alien he is and if his species has any special weaknesses.
Allegra edits Iris' story about the battle with Despero and says she feels more confident in her new role.
Ray offers to stay in Central City until the Despero issue is addressed but Barry says they have it under control.
Ray tells Chester he plans to establish a non-profit organization to fund young scientists and asks if he can name it the Quincy P. Runk Foundation after Chester's father. Chester agrees.
Ray suggests that Barry should show Despero who he is and convince him there's no way he could become a villain.
Barry reveals his secret identity to Despero and offers to let him look through his memories and confirm he isn't planning to become a threat to the world.
Despero agrees to give Barry seven days to prove that he won't become the monster he saw in the future.
Central City - 2031
The Calvert railway, on a section of train-track 50 miles south of Keystone City.
Iron Heights Prison
Despero speaks of the future of 2031 and how The Flash becomes a great menace that threatens the Earth.
The Bottom Line
A welcome return to form on every level. If this is a taste of what is to come, Armageddon may be the best crossover event the Arrowverse has seen and The Flash season 8 will be as good as its first.