The Flash season 6 episode 1, “Into the Void”, aired 8 October 2019.
Hello and welcome back to Central City. It feels like a long time, which might be ironic because our titular character can actually time travel.
“Into the Void” is odd in terms of season premiere structures. I feel like The Flash isn’t laying out all its cards yet, but at the same time also setting some arcs up really quickly. There’s also the looming Crisis on Earth X – the level of build up to a crossover event has never been this dominant.
Within the hour, I swung between thinking I know where the show is heading and wondering what their plans are. It’s intriguing for sure.
What they did last summer
Rewinding back all the way to the end of last season, where Barry and Iris have just watched Nora’s video message. Suddenly, a weird energy surge temporarily shuts down Star Labs’ systems and unkindly fries Nora’s message. Ouch.
Fast forward 4 months. Barry and Iris are “fine”, because they know they will have Nora again in the future. Barry has become a workaholic, pushing the team to develop this and that tech faster. They’ve also been encountering various Godspeeds – but the men in the costumes can only emit weird mic feedback noises rather than speak.
Iris learns that Joe has thrown out some old boxes, and tracks them down to the junkyard. She retrieves her old jacket – Nora’s jacket – from a discarded luggage. However a black hole opens up right then and rips it away. Seems like the universe is conspiring to erase all evidence of Nora.
Caitlin splits to support her med school friend, Ramsey Rosso, at his late mother’s service. When the two later catch up over coffee, Ramsey shares his groundbreaking research – dark matter can stop cancer cells from proliferating! However, Caitlin refuses to develop this idea as the dark matter would turn people into metas. Ramsey storms out and eventually acquires some dark matter under the table.
A true mad scientist
A black hole opens up outside Jitters, nearly eating up Caitlin. Barry/The Flash sped her out in time, but Caitlin is wondering why Killer Frost – who also acted up at the service – didn’t show up to work.
“Dibny, Ralph Dibny” has travelling around as he searches for a missing person – Sue Dearborn – and returns all James Bond-esque, tux and all. Perfect timing, since there’s a black hole mystery on the team’s hands and more urgently, Killer Frost needs a “hallway chat”.
Ralph hypothesises that “Frosty Femme Fatale” is lost as she doesn’t have her own memories – they are all Caitlin’s. I love how he knew exactly how to lure Killer Frost to the surface and what to say to her. The Flash really turned this guy around last season and truly found him a place on the team.
Iris figures out that the source of the black holes is Chester P Runk – a homegrown mad scientist who tinkered with discarded lab equipment and accidentally opened a black hole. He has been catatonic since the incident – because half of his consciousness is in the black hole.
The once and future
The team debate saving Chester or stopping the black holes from eventually destroying Central City. Barry insists they have to do both. The snap forces him to admit he has been overworking himself – and the team by extension – to distract from the pain of losing Nora. Iris had an earlier moment where she confessed to an emphatic Cecile that she knows the Nora that will be would be different from the Nora they knew because of the timeline changing.
For what it’s worth, the episode justly dealt with the West-Allens facing their grief separately and together.
Finally, the team work out a way to save Chester and the city with some tech Nora left behind and the new tech Barry had Cisco working on. Cue the long, convoluted sci-fi science talk. And then it’s action time! Cisco puts on “Flash” by Queen as Barry speeds into the black hole.
We have some really cool visuals and editing as the Flash enters the void, find Chester’s consciousness, speeds out and returns it. Chester eventually wakes up, but his eyes are glowing with energy.
Oh, by the way, the Flash and Killer Frost have new suits that appear very comic book-y but are still functional. Barry’s new cowl has those wing-lightnings on the ears. Very old-school Flash.
What comes next
Caitlin talks to Frost and lets her take the wheel every now and then, live a life. Ralph enters and offers Killer Frost the Book of Ralph vol 2. I think KF is smart to avoid following whatever guidelines Ralph has.
Ramsey – who’s revealed to have the cancer marker himself – uses his shadily acquired dark matter to cure himself. However, the process starts turning him into Bloodwork. (Well, right now the effects make him look a bit like Venom from Spider-man 3.) It’s different how Ramsey is driven not by his mother’s death, but in opposition to it. He reviles that she accepted cancer instead of trying to fight it and wants to prove her wrong. No grief, no sympathy.
Barry shows Iris the jacket he retrieved from the black hole. But oh no, this couple cannot have nice things. The Monitor – remember him? – appears and tells Barry to stop hoping for the day he’ll meet Nora again. Because on December 10 he must sacrifice himself for everyone else to survive the Crisis.
Crisis, in the comics, was Barry Allen’s death. We do know that somehow, Oliver Queen is the one departing in this take on Crisis. Barry going to become the Arrowverse’s elder stateman. (Does it become the Flashverse after December?)
I do wonder how the show will juggle the set up for Crisis and building the Bloodwork story. I’m also not sure how Chester fits in right now. Some might recognise “Chunk” from the comics – though he was a human black hole and worked with Wally West’s Flash. Maybe the show is trying to have some remnant of Wally since Keiynan Lonsdale has a plethora of projects.
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