“Pay the Piper” Review of S6 E18 of THE FLASH

Ever since THE FLASH returned from it’s most recent hiatus, the show has been on an almost unprecedented run (no pun intended). There has been more packed into every episode than anyone could have dreamed…except for the exceptional creative team for THE FLASH. This is now the penultimate episode of Season 6, thanks to the shutdown associated with the Coronavirus, and we can expect even more out of Episode 18. We know that Eva McCulloch has escaped the mirror world, that mirror Iris is no more, and that Barry’s speed is still fading away. What more can they give us tonight? From the previews, we know that Godspeed is back…and that Hartley Rathaway is no longer Barry’s friend. Is it time to “Pay the Piper”? We’ll have to see for ourselves. Wanna know more? Follow us after the jump!

SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

NOTE: This review is posting prior to THE FLASH being seen in the Pacific Time Zone USA. If you haven’t watched the show yet, STOP HERE and come back after you see it. You’ll be glad you did!

This episode is about two major concepts – forgiving yourself…and believing that your world can change for the better. There are multiple characters fighting this inner battle throughout the episode. Consider this:

  • Barry can’t trust himself because he was fooled for so long by the mirror Iris. He doesn’t know if there is any hope to save the real Iris, and he has lost all confidence in himself.
  • The real Iris can’t trust herself because she was fooled by Eva McCulloch for so long. Add to that the increasing neural dissonance she is experiencing in the mirror world, and she is giving up hope. She even sets up a goodbye video in case Barry comes to save her too late.
  • Cisco can’t trust himself, having lost the real Kamilla to the mirror world. He doesn’t know if he can save her, and he is doubting every decision he’s made…including giving up his powers.

And then, we come to Hartley Rathaway. In this new Earth Prime, he hates the Flash once again. The CRISIS changed how their much earlier battle had happened. In this new timeline, Hartley wasn’t alone during that battle. He had his “merry band of men”. One of them, Roderick, was injured severely when Flash’s lightning merged with the sonic weapon Piper had given his band. Roderick’s molecules were destabilized, and he’s been barely held together in one piece at Mercury Labs ever since.

As it turns out, Hartley can’t forgive himself…or the Flash. Roderick is the love of Hartley’s life, and Piper blames himself for what happened. He has lost hope as well, even when Flash and Nash arrive to try and save Roderick.

To add to all of that, we get Godspeed. He wants “what belongs to us”, with a seeming emphasis on the plural. If he doesn’t get what “we” want, he will kill more and more people. Flash can’t stop him alone, so he goes to Hartley to ask for help…in exchange for saving Roderick.

The first attempt to save Roderick goes badly. That’s when we start to see the low point for Team Flash, each in their own way. But, we also see some friendly advice helping the various members of the team. It’s Cecile helping Cisco. It’s Nash helping Barry. And in the mirror world, it’s Kamilla helping Iris. Eventually, it’s even Piper reminding Barry of the hope he needs to have.

Hartley eventually does help Barry. He overhears Barry getting ready to go up against Godspeed, knowing that the battle is likely lost before it starts. They figure out that the accident that hurt Roderick may be the key to stopping Godspeed. They were right – Flash’s lightning and Piper’s sonics bring Godspeed down. 

There was something else…Godspeed’s blood is now blue and glowing. It turns out that this was the key to saving Roderick. Using this “biogenic electrolyte secretion”, they save Hartley’s boyfriend. Hartley, Roderick and Barry are now friends on this new Earth Prime…and that’s a great thing to see.

Barry finds that hope, and that self-forgiveness he needed. Barry finally steps back up to the leadership of Team Flash, and they get ready to take the fight to Eva McCulloch and to save Iris and Kamilla.

We cut to the epilogue to see Eva McCulloch emerging from a strange capsule, ready to go after her husband once again…we’ll have to save that for next week.

NOTES:

  • There were two other threads here that bear mentioning. One has Iris and Kamilla finally meeting in the Mirror world. Kamilla doesn’t trust Iris at first, thinking she was the mirror version. But, once they square that away, the two begin working on a way to escape. Problem is, neither can concentrate on the computer screens they are using to help plan their escape. It’s an effect of the Mirror world. Iris is having more trouble with neural dissonance as she has been there longer. But, she and Kamilla are still determined. They want to find Singh before they leave – and to get everyone out of this horrific place.
  • Frost is getting ready to go to Caitlin’s mother for help. The patch she’s wearing is barely keeping things together for her. But, she fears going as well. Ralph meets with her and eventually reminds her of how far she (as Frost) has come. He even gives her a “Dib-Ploma” from his Life Coach School. 
  • When Piper and Flash combined sonics and lightning, both Cisco and Nash exclaimed, “They crossed the streams”.  Loved that Ghostbusters nod!
  • We haven’t seen the last of Godspeed. In fact, we haven’t even seen Godspeed. As it turns out, this was another duplicate speedster. That leaves the door open for more of Godspeed in future shows (likely next season). 
  • Next week is now the season finale. This is happening much sooner than intended, due to the shutdown of production related to COVID-19. It promises to leave us at a low point for Barry and Team Flash, with a huge cliffhanger. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us!

SUMMARY:

This was a solid episode, another great chapter in one of the best seasons of THE FLASH to date. I’m not sure anything could compete with last week’s episode, but this had a lot to admire. Getting Pied Piper back was a great plus. Canonizing his sexual orientation in the Earth Prime version of the Arrowverse was also a great thing to see. This episode was much heavier on emotion than action…and it worked here. I’ll give this one a 9/10…but of course, that’s just my opinion. What do YOU think? Leave your comments below!

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.