This week on The Flash, Barry Allen faces the hardest temptation of his life: the chance to choose life instead of sacrificing himself to stop the upcoming Crisis. But the choice comes with a terrible cost.
When Ramsey attacks Ralph and infects him with his dark matter, Barry offers himself for a lifesaving blood transfusion. Ralph is in critical condition and transferred to a secure facility for recovery, but Barry’s speed healing blood stopped the infection. He heads home to rest up, but is surprised when he discovers Ramsey lurking in his house.
Ramsey knows Barry is the Flash and that Crisis is coming. According to Barry, Ramsey doesn’t feature in Crisis events and Ramsey is somewhat disappointed. Barry looks out the window and sees Crisis destroying the city, but when he wakes with a start he discovers it was all a terrible dream.
Barry gets checked out at STAR Labs just in case, but Frost thinks it was just a normal nightmare. Who could blame Barry for having bad dreams? She gives him a sleep monitor and tells him to get some rest, but Barry knows something isn’t right.
It turns out that Barry’s intuition is pretty good, because he gets home again and is confronted by the Speed Force in the form of his mother. She tells him that he’s been infected by Ramsey’s dark matter and that he’s trying to take over his mind.
Barry tries to fight it, but it’s difficult when Ramsey is offering him the chance to have a future with his family. Barry is tormented by visions of a baby daughter he can’t touch and it is the most heartbreaking moment of the entire series. Someone give Grant Gustin an Emmy, please.
In the real world, Barry has collapsed at home. His sleep monitor alerts Team Flash to his condition and Cisco brings him back to STAR Labs for treatment. At a critical moment, Frost breaks down in a panic attack and Cisco has to act fast. He injects Barry with Velocity 9 — the dangerous speed enhancing drug developed by Caitlin — to strengthen his abilities.
The Speed Force tries to help Barry fight back, but makes a crucial misstep when she tells him that what Ramsey offers is real. Barry can fight Crisis and live if he accepts Ramsey’s offer to join him, but he will lose everything that makes him Barry Allen in the process. An epic battle between the Speed Force and Ramsey ensues, basically pulling Barry’s brain apart.
Barry awakes suddenly from his struggle and seems to be fine. He tells Cisco and Frost about his experience and how Ramsey used all of his doubts against him.
It took a lot to win, everything that makes life worth living, but with Cisco and Frost’s help he beat it. But this episode is called The Temptation of Barry Allen Part 1, so I think you can guess how this will end.
Meanwhile, Iris and Team Citizen track down a lead on the guy who kidnapped Allegra’s cousin. Allegra wants to draw the truth about Flash out of Iris, especially after discovering an unfinished article about Flash’s imminent disappearance on her laptop, but Iris is focused on a totally different story.
Team Citizen tracks down the guy, but he turns out only to be a high class courier and has nothing to do with who’s behind Esperanza’s kidnapping. However, that same night and in the same parking lot where Team Citizen cornered him for an interview, he is found dead in a car explosion.
Cameras near the scene didn’t catch anyone coming in or out — Joe ominously comments that it’s like a ghost did it — and Allegra finds a symbol with UV energy emitting from it. It was probably Esperanza who killed him.
Allegra confronts Iris about the Flash and Crisis. Iris has been focusing on other stories because she’s avoiding writing the fated “Flash Disappears” article. But she finally settles down and tearfully writes a beautiful tribute to the man who will give his life to save the universe. Only she will know that she’s saying goodbye to her husband.
Cisco calls Iris to tell her about Barry’s close call. She rushes to STAR Labs to be with Barry, but he is acting strange. He’s distracted, cold, and aloof, barely offering her a glance as he works on the computer.
She says she’ll let him get back to work, then quietly tells Cisco and Frost, “That’s not Barry.” It’s a chilling moment. Cisco approaches him as Barry turns around to reveal his black eyes and teeth.
He speeds out of the room, blowing everyone back and knocking them out. He meets up with Ramsey, who proclaims himself the savior of the world. Soon everyone will come to embrace Bloodwork.
Oh yeah, and Nash Wells uncovers the Monitor’s lair.
The Flash is a pretty consistent show as far as quality goes. Even when it’s not so great it’s still pretty good, but this episode was off the charts good.
Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost) directed a tense and moving story with beauty and style. The whole mind trap plot could easily have been stale and cliched, but in Panabaker’s hands felt urgent and fresh.
And I cannot give enough praise for Grant Gustin’s heartbreaking performance, especially that moment when all he wanted was to hold Nora in his arms and couldn’t. In a history of moving performances on the show, this is the best he’s ever been.
Watch The Flash Tuesdays at 8/7 C on The CW.