THE FLASH - SEASON 6 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: GRANT GUSTIN, CANDICE PATTON, DENIELLE PANABAKER, CARLOS VALDES
With the Coronavirus pandemic affecting TV and film production, three of this year’s DC Comics shows on the CW were forced into premature finales. While all three managed to finish on a chapter point, there are still unresolved threads that will begin next season’s storylines when they return in the New Year.
Completing its sixth year, and now the longest-running DC show on the channel after Arrow finished for good in January, The Flash gave us a season of two halves, with major villains split either side of the line-wide Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, and was all the better for it, overcoming its main issue from previous years, a season-long villain constantly thwarting our heroes. Sendil Ramamurthy as Bloodwork, and the twin threat of estranged husband and wife Joseph Carver and Eva McCulloch, presented all manner of problems for a Flash team that was also struggling with its own issues surrounding power loss, abandonment and survivor’s guilt. Throw in the Elongated Man’s search for Sue Dearborn – his future comics wife – and there was no shortage of angst and action for the heroes this year.
And that’s where your mileage may vary; the CW shows, and The Flash and Supergirl in particular, lean heavily on emotional torment, using it as a crutch to frustrate heroes with insane levels of power. Thus Barry Allen worries he is losing his speed and his wife, (not Killer anymore) Frost frets over whether Caitlin’s mother will accept her and Cisco Ramon wrings his hands over whether voluntarily giving up his powers was the right thing to do. It’s not all doom and gloom at Star Labs, though, with Wally West popping back for a refreshing cameo, Ralph Dibny being, well, Ralph Dibny, and the temporary addition of Chester P Runk to the team while Cisco journeys to (a sadly off-camera) Atlantis.
The season’s big bads are satisfyingly different, too, unlike anything the team has faced before, and thus needing new ways to escape their death traps and sinister machinations to be discovered, although the threat of Eobard Thawne hovers ominously in the background. Tom Cavanagh revels in playing yet another version of Harrison Wells, playing a huge part in the crossover and popping up to offer his weird science opinions when they are most needed.
The unnatural end to season six serves The Flash well, and by its return in January any weariness from the cast’s constant emotional tumult should have worn off; starting a season with the resolution to one’s ills will be a refreshing change. There is little in season six of The Flash for lapsed or new fans – if you’re not on board by now, one hundred and thirty three episodes is a daunting back catalogue to consume – but it’s a good, well-made (if hamstrung by its own limitations) genre TV show, and God knows we need as many of those as we can get these days.