Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 23, 2022)
When I wrote up Season Seven of The Flash, I mentioned the character’s feature film due to arrive in 2022. A mix of complications – such as the lead actor’s bizarre shenanigans – delayed it to 2023.
At least we still have the continued TV adventures of The Flash. All 20 of Season Eight’s episodes appear on this four-disc set. The plot synopses come from IMDB.
Armageddon, Parts 1-5: “When a powerful alien threat arrives on Earth under mysterious circumstances, Barry (Grant Gustin), Iris (Candice Patton) and the rest of the team are pushed to their limits in a desperate battle to save the world.”
To say the least, the launch of Season Eight with a five-part tale seems audacious and ambitious. I wish I could claim that “Armageddon” lives up to the scope of its 200-or-so-minute storyline, but the end result feels surprisingly meh.
Okay, “meh” is too harsh, as “Armageddon” comes with decent drama and excitement. Still, it seems oddly erratic and less than engaging for a big season-launching, multi-episode spectacular. While moderately engaging, “Armageddon” doesn’t excel.
Impulsive Excessive Disorder: “Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and Bart (Jordan Fisher) travel back to the future, only to discover that their actions in 2021 have altered 2049.”
After the underwhelming “Apocalypse”, S8 rebounds somewhat with “Disorder”. On the negative side, Nora and Bart offer annoying characters, but on the positive side, the episode offers some fun threads. The good mostly outweighs the bad.
Lockdown: “When a criminal invades the CCPD, Barry and Kramer (Carmen Moore) must trust and rely on each other if they are going to make it out safely. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) learns a valuable lesson while out with Snow and Mark (Jon Cor).”
Over the years, these DC series tended to favor season-long narratives rather than essentially standalone episodes. Following “Apocalypse”, S8 seems to want to follow that path, and I support this, as it’s nice to not have one long story dominant.
S8 also seems to favor a lighter tone than the melodrama of the last few years, which becomes another positive. “Lockdown” gives us an entertaining adventure.
The Fire Next Time: “Barry trusts his instincts during a murder investigation, believing the suspect, despite the overwhelming evidence against him. Iris gives Allegra (Kayla Compton) an opportunity to be a mentor.”
Although my last recap implied S8 lacks any form of overarching narrative, that doesn’t prove totally accurate, as we find a theme of netas who “level up”. So far, though, this feels more like a general vibe than a concrete story.
Which I appreciate, though “Fire” becomes a less than terrific episode. It engages in too much schmaltz for my liking, as I came to enjoy the sassier tone of the last few shows.
Phantoms: “Barry and Team Flash get closer to figuring out the Fire Meta but no closer to finding him. Iris, needing a distraction, follows a story to Coast City.”
Chester used to offer a fun, peppy character, but as the series became more serious, so did he, and that made him less engaging. The same goes for “Phantoms”, as its attempts to advance the general narrative feel kind of blah. Bring back the fun tone of earlier episodes!
Reckless: “Barry's desire to keep the team safe is tested when Frost recklessly courts danger while trying to stop the Black Flame. Iris tries to help a teen girl reunite with her mother but unintentionally does more harm than good.”
I’ve always been critical of Panabaker’s acting skills, and I don’t now view her as better than in the past. However, at least her work as Frost brings a needed frisky touch to the increasingly too-serious S8, and that helps make this a spotty but generally interesting episode.
Resurrection: “Barry and Chester (Brandon McKnight) may have found a way to stop the Black Flame from hurting anyone else. Caitlin decides to handle a situation on her own, possibly putting more innocent lives in danger.”
The whole thread about the “living fire” has already felt semi-silly, and the twist we get makes it even goofier. While Flash hopes this thread will add emotion and drama, it just comes across as ludicrous. Hopefully S8 will bounce back from here, but I feel pessimistic.
Death Rises: “With a new Meta terrorizing the city, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) lends a hand to the local authorities. Barry gets an assist from Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) who helps to track the mass murderer.”
So much for my dream that S8 might return to the lighter tone I think works best for Flash, as “Rises” sends us into an even darker vibe. That doesn’t make “Rises” – or the Deathstorm thread in general – bad, but I still find it less than scintillating.
Death Falls: “Team Flash is under attack, and each must fight to save not only themselves but each other.”
The problem with the Deathstorm plot stems from the villain himself. While intended to be terrifying, a combination of iffy CG and campy dialogue just makes him goofy.
The whole “emotional vampire” theme simply fails to pack the punch desired, and the general silliness of these shows harms them. The “shocking” death at the end just feels desperate. “Falls” ends the narrative, at least, so hopefully the rest of the season will fare better.
Funeral for a Friend: “Team Flash uses the distraction of a bank robbing Meta to detract from the grief of losing someone they love.”
Given the aforementioned “shocking death”, the mention of enduring grief in the synopsis and the first word in its title, one shouldn’t expect “Funeral” to restore the light tone that works best for Flash.
I can’t fault the episode for its somber tone, but I can remain convinced that Flash doesn’t offer the right character for so much mopiness, as he seems better suited for lightness. “Funeral” actually provides some levity despite the theme – maybe I can dream that S8 will favor that for its final batch of shows?
Into the Still Force: “The Flash gets an assist from XS. CCPD enlists Chester for help when a mysterious device is found at a crime scene.”
Any hopes that “Force” would “go light” go poof right off the bat when Iris disappears and we go into Serious Crisis Drama mode once again. Yes, I’m obsessed with what I perceive as the wrong tone for the character, but I suspect I’d focus less if the series pulled off the tone better than it does.
The constant somber, dreary vibe just gets old. Even Gotham seemed friskier and more fun than this!
The Curious Case of Bartholomew Allen: “The Flash gets blasted with a shockwave forcing his body to age prematurely.”
Hey hey – an episode with a comedic bent! It’s a Christmas miracle!
Okay, “Case” doesn’t offer pure lightness, as it can’t resist some overbaked drama. Still, it manages relief after the somber feel seen across so much of S8, so that helps make it a pretty engaging episode.
Keep It Dark: “The Flash goes off the grid to look for answers about a new Meta in town. Allegra tries to protect a friend at CC Citizen Media.”
We go back to the melodrama with “Dark”, especially as it comes to confrontations about Allegra’s past. A few good moments emerge but this feels like a generally blah episode.
The Man in the Yellow Tie: “A new speedster in town gives The Flash more than he bargained for. Cecile's powers experience a growth spurt, allowing her to aid Team Flash on an entirely different level.”
Issues related to that “new speedster” give “Man” greater impact and intrigue than most S8 programs. “Man” resolves some of these more quickly than expected, but it still offers a decent lead-in to the two-part season finale.
Negative, Parts One and Two: “A fight looms for The Flash and team. Iris discovers the cause of her time sickness.”
S8 concludes with the two-part “Negative”. Unfortunately, this doesn’t become a rousing finale.
“Negative” bites off a lot of plot threads and fails to meld them in a satisfying manner. Though it comes with plenty of attempted drama, it feels muddled and like a fairly lackluster end to the season.
And it feels like an erratic collection of shows. On the positive side, S8 works better than the prior few years, but it still lacks the consistency I’d like from the series.