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As Barry and Jefferson Pierce meet to discuss Barry's problems and the possibility of removing Barry's powers, Iris begins to investigate her father's death and the possibility that maybe he didn't really die.
Armageddon 2001, The Flash comics of Geoff Johns and The Flash comics of John Broome.
Jefferson Pierce makes reference to living in Atlanta. In the Black Lightning series, Jefferson lived in Freeland - a fictional city based on Atlanta. (It's possible Freeland was a specific suburb in Atlanta. Or Jefferson may just be making reference to the largest major city, like how Dallas is often used to describe all the cities surrounding it, not trusting Barry to know where Freeland is.)
The character motivations are all over the place in this episode. Iris jumps between thinking Barry is right to thinking Joe is dead from scene to scene. Despero decides to wait for the heroes to lead him to The Flash only to suddenly boot up the STAR Labs particle accelerator to boost his own powers so he can do it himself.
It also beggars belief that neither Despero nor Cecile/Top would require a nation-wide telepathic scan when Barry was in Central City at the Hall of Justice the whole time.
Also, wouldn't Team Flash be aware of the Injustice protocols, in case one of them needed to call in the other heroes if Barry were too far gone to request it himself?
Cress Williams give a great performance as Jefferson Pierce that will leave you wishing for a fifth season of Black Lightning.
The special effects are of cinematic quality, particularly during the Black Lightning vs. Flash fight.
Barry says that the Injustice Protocols were created by all of the major heroes working together after a battle with a villain named Faust. This seems to be a reference to Felix Faust - an evil magician and classic Justice League villain in the comics, who had the ability to trade souls between bodies. Faust appeared in C110 where he was killed by Chas Chandler, but since this occurred before Crisis on Infinite Earths, it's possible Faust was one of the villains resurrected on Earth-Prime. It's also possible that Faust found a way to escape from Hell, which he also did in the comics.
The Injustice Protocols, which are used to take out a superhero who has gone rogue, seem to have been named after the Injustice games and comics, where Superman went rogue and took over the world.
The basic idea of the Injustice Protocols is similar to the plans created by Batman in the JLA: Tower of Babel storyline, which allowed him to neutralize any member of the Justice League. Batman devised the plans after a group of villains (including Felix Faust) swapped bodies with their enemies in the Justice League.
Chester makes reference to Cerebro - the psychic-power boosting computer used by Professor X from the X-Men - in describing a device that could boost Cecile's empathy powers to counter Despero. This is one of many occasions where the Arrowverse reference Marvel Comics characters as being fictional creations in their reality.
When Despero attacks the government agents at STAR Labs, he is briefly seen toying with a chess set. The shot where this occurs is a mock up of the cover of Justice League of America #1 (November 1960) where Despero first appeared.
The scene in which Barry and Jefferson discuss soul music is based on an idea proposed by Black Lightning showrunner Salim Akil. In an interview with EW.com, Akil discussed his idea for a Barry Allen and Iris West-Allen appearance in Black Lightning, where Barry would discuss having been raised in a Black family and how Joe West had shared his love of soul music with Barry. While the cameo never happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was intentionally referenced here.
The idea of the Negative Still Force is unique to the Arrowverse. Presumably it acts in a similar manner to the Negative Speed Force, mimicking the regular Still Force but being more destructive in nature. So far the only difference between them is that the Negative Still Force seems to allow the wielder to alter the timeline without creating paradoxes.
In the comics, in the New 52 era, the Reverse-Flash originally had the ability to alter the flow of time rather than being super-fast. His newfound command of the Negative Still Force seems to convey the same ability.
The ending, in which Eobard Thawne marries Iris West, is a nod to The Flash Vol. 1 #165 (November 1966) in which the Reverse-Flash took Barry Allen's place at his own wedding.
The name Robern's, the restaurant where Iris and Thawne's wedding reception is held, is a nod to Eobard Thawne's younger brother in the comics, who was a police officer who tried to thwart his brother's crimes before he traveled back in time. Eobard Thawne altered the timeline so that his parents never had any children after him, according to The Flash Vol. 3 #8 (February 2011).
The Injustice Protocols were designed to neutralize the most powerful heroes on Earth-Prime in case they should go rogue. Each member of the team was assigned a teammate to be the one to step in for one another. In The Flash's case, the designated teammate is Black Lightning.
Kalanorians have four hemispheres in their brain, as opposed to humans, who only have two hemispheres. This makes Despero effectively twice as powerful as any human telepath by sheer virtue of having double the processing power.
The security officer at the Scott Railway depot confirms the missing frames on the footage from when Joe died, but explains that is because of the CCT system being on the same power grid as Sharks Stadium and their upload always being interrupted on game days.
Barry alters the conduits in Jefferson Pierce's costume to enable him to generate enough voltage to disrupt Barry's connection to the Speed Force.
Chester's Neural Conjoiner allows telepaths and empaths to pool their powers and amplify them. This allows Cecile and The Top to search for The Flash across a continent, allowing Chester to triangulate his location using the visual data they pick up. Part of the device is a pair of television rabbit-ear antennas.
Unlike Still Force isotopes, the Negative Still Force isotopes don't decay; they linger.
Black Lightning: My father had a saying, one that I even teach my students today. "Where's the future? Right here. "Whose life is this? Mine. "What are you gonna do with it? Live it by any means necessary." So don't worry. I will honor my promise. I will do whatever is necessary to keep folks alive. But remember... when we take away your powers, they are gone permanently.
(Jefferson refuses to help Barry lose any more of his power.)
Barry: Fine, you want to ignore the protocols? Now imagine millions dead all because of me!
(Barry throws a lightning bolt at Jefferson. He side-steps the bolt, grabs it and spins, throwing the energy back at Barry and knocking him down.)
Black Lightning: It's your lightning. You keep it.
(Barry ran Jefferson around the room in a rage and accidentally destroys the case holding Green Arrow's costume. Barry sees the broken case and is stunned.)
Black Lightning: You think this is what he would have wanted? You told me that before Crisis, Oliver went to the Monitor to trade his life for yours. Now, I never met the man, so you tell me: why'd he do that? 'Cause he was afraid? Nah. A man like him lays down his life for a man like you for one reason: because you are the best of us. Now, Oliver Queen wasn't a quitter. He'd never quit on you. So don't you dare quit on yourself.
Black Lighting: It's okay. Just tell me this. Where's the future?
Barry called Jefferson Pierce to the Hall of Justice to enact something called the Injustice Protocol.
Jefferson is hesitant, saying that the Injustice Protocols are a one-way trip and meant to be used as a last resort.
Barry tells Jefferson about the events of 802 and how he is apparently losing his mind and attacking his friends and city.
Jefferson suggests they call in Kara, J'onn and Sara to discuss this, referring to Supergirl, Martian Manhunter and White Canary.
Jefferson finally agrees to go forward with Barry's request after he says that he forgot about Joe dying six months earlier.
Despero is shown to be psychically scanning Central City looking for Barry.
Cecile makes reference to the mental health crisis she had in the past, revealed in 713.
Cecile can sense Despero's presence and his watching Team Flash.
Joe West reportedly died after falling onto the tracks at Scott Railway after tripping.
Iris started looking at the evidence connected to Joe West's death and discovered a glitch in the video. Joe seemed to disappear before the train hit him. This leads Iris to theorize that something might have happened, like he was taken by a metahuman or swapped with a mirror clone.
Allegra makes reference to the fight with Bloodwork in 708 and how Iris trusting in Barry paid off before.
Cecile loses it and tells off Iris for even daring to think Joe might be alive.
Iris goes off to research her father's death on her own. Allegra goes after her.
Cecile, Caitlin and Chester go to work on trying to find Barry.
Chester says he can build a device to boost Cecile's powers.
Cecile says she can get someone to help further boost her abilities.
Iris is revealed to sometimes see things because of her time sickness. In this case, she sees some kind of green pixelated energy, similar to the Still Force, around the spot where Joe died.
Iris has an appointment with Deon Ownes to stabilize her that night.
On the day that Joe died, the Red Line train arrived 15 minutes early.
Iris suddenly changes her mind when the security officer at the depot offers to let her see the backed-up local files of the security footage of Joe's death.
Cecile recruits The Top, last seen in 701, to help her search for The Flash.
The Top has been reduced to hustling pool at O'Shaughnessy's in Keystone City.
The Top has recently been released from Iron Heights and tells Cecile that cheers broke out at the prison when they heard about Joe West's death.
The Top agrees to help in exchange for Cecile working to get her parole restrictions lifted.
Barry plays "Blue Monk" by Thelonious Monk while working on fixing Black Lightning's costume.
Barry loves soul music, which Joe West introduced him to when he was a kid.
Barry says Joe's favorites were Miles Davis, Johnny Hartman and Ella Fitzgerald but Thelonious Monk was his very favorite.
Jefferson tells Barry about the death of Bill Henderson in B316 and how he was a cop, like Joe, who Jefferson saw as a brother.
Jefferson makes reference to Peter Gambi, his foster father, who created his costume.
Jefferson says he's sure Joe is proud of Barry.
Allegra does some investigating on her own and determines that the Red Line never runs early. In fact, it almost always runs late. More, she determines that the train that hit Joe passed a routine inspection two days earlier, yet somehow had the hydraulics fail. Additionally, dozens of other little things went wrong that could have prevented the disaster, even ignoring Joe's tripping for no apparent reason.
The files on Joe's accident Allegra assembled show the same particles Iris saw at the site of Joe's death.
Top advises Cecile to close herself off from her emotions and her sadness over Joe's death to focus her powers more effectively.
Top and Cecile overload the Mark I. version of Chester's neural conjoiner.
Despero senses what Cecile and Top did and decides to let them lead him to The Flash.
Deon Owens, the Still Force avatar, finds Iris at the site of Joe's death and is surprised because they usually meet at the STAR Labs Speed Lab.
Deon says that nobody has been screwing with the timeline, because he would sense it if they were.
Iris asks Deon to undo all her treatments, thinking that her time sickness is tied to whatever is altering reality and leaving these particles behind.
Deon says the particle Iris is seeing are temporal isotopes, but instead of decaying they are growing. He says the reason he couldn't sense them until Iris pointed them out was because someone was using the Negative Still Force to rewrite the timeline. He confirms that Joe West wasn't meant to die six months earlier, but someone changed the past so that he did.
Caitlin tells Cecile she thinks Top is wrong about closing herself off, saying that didn't help her when Ronnie Raymond died and that Cecile's strength comes from her connections to those she loves.
Chester's phone alerts him that someone turned on the particle accelerator at STAR Labs.
Despero is revealed to have done this, so he could use its power to boost is own psychic abilities.
The second time Cecile and Top use the neural conjoiner, Chester is able to get a picture of Barry with Black Lightning, but doesn't know where they are.
Chester recognizes Jefferson Pierce and knows he is Black Lightning.
Despero shows up at Chester's garage and demands to know where The Flash is.
The Top betrays the heroes and tries to bargain with Despero, trading the information for a chance to help him kill The Flash. Despero denies her and attacks her psychically. She is left alive, but comatose.
Cecile is able to drive Despero away by thinking about Joe.
Barry tells Jefferson that Despero is from the future and offered convincing evidence that Barry will destroy the world ten years from now. Jefferson does not believe it.
Barry accidentally destroys the case holding Green Arrow's costume and bow as he and Jefferson fight.
Despero finds Barry at the same time that Deon and Iris show up.
Barry no longer has the power to travel in time.
Deon sends Barry forward in time to find out who really caused the end of the world in 2031, as Black Lightning holds off Despero.
Barry arrives in 2031 outside a restaurant called Robern's, which is hosting a "West Party." This turns out to be a wedding reception for Iris and Eobard Thawne.
The West Party includes Cecile, Allegra, Chester (who now has dreadlocks), Alex Danvers (Sentinel), Ryan Wilder (Batwoman) and Dr. Ryan Choi. At the time of this episode, it had never been indicated that Ryan knew Barry Allen or any of the Central City or National City heroes.
Ryan Choi last appeared in L501.
O'Shaughnessy's - Keystone City - 2021.
Central City - 2031
Barry makes reference to a battle between multiple heroes with Faust, which led to the creation of the Injustice Protocols.
The Bottom Line
An odd episode that seems to be running in place and padding out the crossover. The scenes of Grant Gustin and Cress Williams interacting as The Flash and Black Lightning are magical and will leave you wanting to learn more about their off-camera adventures together. Unfortunately, most of the episode is centered around Cecile and Iris arguing and more of the Force God nonsense from Season 7 nobody wanted to see return. It is worth it, however, for the final two minutes and the reveal that everybody saw coming but still hits like a brick wall.