Time flies, and this particular superhero probably knows that saying better than anyone. Last week, The Flash entered its eighth (yes, EIGHTH) season. But sometimes it still feels like yesterday Barry Allen was waking up to Lady Gaga and a new set of abs.
Wow, a lot has happened since. We’ve had two US presidential elections since The Flash first aired. Two Olympic games and one World Cup. And there have been TWO global health crises – the Ebola outbreak peaked in 2014 and wasn’t officially terminated until 2016.
It’s understandable if your memory of everything that conspired since Barry got struck by lightning is a little fuzzy. Let’s go through each of the seasons one by one:
Main Villain: Reverse Flash
There’s always something special about a show’s first season. And nothing has quite reached the suspense of shady wheelchair Harrison Wells.
Wheelchair Wells was actually Reverse Flash aka Eobard Thawne, a speedster from the future who got trapped in present time. To return, he fashioned a long-term plot that included killing the real OG Wells and assuming his likeness, then exploding the particle accelerator to give Barry his speed, then training Barry to be fast enough to open a time portal for him to finally return to his own time. Talk about long-term investment.
Throughout the season, Barry explored his newfound powers while hiding his identity from Iris, who didn’t return his feelings yet but was drawn to The Flash. In the end, her boyfriend Eddie Thawne – yes, Thawne – sacrifices himself to erase his evil descendant.
Main Villain: Zoom
Looking back, season 2 fades into the woodwork but for two standout episodes: the visit to Earth 2. Still, it was a super-fun introduction to the multiverse with the arrival of Earth 2’s speedster, “Jay Garrick”.
Unfortunately, this was really Hunter Zoloman, aka Zoom, in disguise (what is with evil speedsters and assuming another’s identity?) The real Jay (who’s actually from Earth 3) was locked up on Earth 2, along with Jesse Wells, daughter of Earth 2’s Harrison Wells, who Cisco fondly referred to as ‘Harry’. The Harry/Cisco duo remains one of the best Cisco/Wells pairings to date.
We also met the Earth 2 gang – E2 Barry and Iris (who were FANTASTIC), Killer Frost, Deathstorm (evil Ronnie/Firestorm), and Reverb (evil Vibe). On Earth prime, Iris found her mother and learnt she has a brother, Wally West!
At the end of the season, Zoom murdered Barry’s father. Devastated and angry, Barry ran back in time to save his mother, altering the timeline.
Main villain: Savitar
This one is special, because I started writing for Pure Fandom mid-season, and also the plot. The ANGST. The ROMANTIC TENSION. Ugh. Give it to me.
Season 3 started off in a new timeline, dubbed Flashpoint, where Barry’s family is all alive and intact. Sadly, Barry is the only one happier off in the new timeline, so he undoes Flashpoint for the sake of his friends. However, it had consequences – such as Earth Prime Caitlin getting Killer Frost powers, Wally and Jesse becoming speedsters, and Cisco losing his brother. Oh, and Tom Felton was on The Flash. Remember that?
The crux of the season stemmed from Barry’s vision of the future, where he sees evil super-armoured speedster Savitar murder Iris. Eventually, he discovers Savitar is future Barry!!!!!!????????
I’ve already gone over the angst and drama value of this plot line from the WestAllen front. Let’s also appreciate the variety of characters Grant Gustin gave along the way – from Emo 2024 “life is nothing without Iris” Barry, to the tortured Savitar, to his hilarious stint as amnesiac “Bart”. Also, we had the musical crossover with Supergirl somewhere.
Identity-swapping reared its head again when eccentric novelist H.R. Wells swapped appearance with Iris on the night of the murder, sacrificing himself but finally finding his courage.
Main Villain: the Thinker
Quote of the season: “This house is bitchin'”
The fighting with Savitar destabilized the Speedforce, and the Flash had to run into it to stop it from destroying Central City. Season 4 starts six months later, when the team extract Barry from the Speedforce to defeat a Samurai android. However, the android was planted by evil genius Clifford DeVoe to help Barry exit the Speedforce, creating an energy blast in the process that creates new metas.
But first – WestAllen get married! Okay, back to the plot.
DeVoe, aka the Thinker, created all these new metas to absorb their powers so he could build some machine to zap the Earth with dark matter. Amongst these metas was Ralph, an ex-colleague of Barry’s, who becomes Elongated Man.
Also hovering on the sidelines was the mystery girl, who, in the season’s closing moments, introduced herself as Nora West-Allen, WestAllen’s daughter from the future!
Main Villain: Cicada
Season 5 was one about family. Most prominently, WestAllen met their daughter from the future, Nora, but her attitude towards them told of a complicated upbringing. Caitlin tracked down her father, who she thought was dead, but who turned out to have the same icy powers as she had.
The main villain, Cicada, was driven to kill metahumans because they indirectly caused the death of his sister, and more recently, put his orphaned niece in a comatose state. There was also a meta-of-the-week appearance from Weather Witch, the daughter of the OG Weather Wizard, although she wasn’t too happy to see her dad.
There was also a brief exploration of “meta-tech”: technology imbued with dark matter as a result of DeVoe’s satellite exploding. And the meta-human cure was developed as part of plans to save metas from the wrath of Cicada.
Main Villains: Bloodwork, Black Hole assassins, Mirror Monarch.
Season 6 was a weird one. And unusually dark The Flash. The show tried a part A/part B format with two small plots for each half of the season. In part A, Team Flash faced off against Dr Rosso. Rosso found a way to use dark matter to cure terminal illnesses. However, his cure turned him into the bloodthirsty monster Bloodwork.
Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, where Barry didn’t die, Iris began investigating the Black Hole organisation that is hiring metahumans as assassins. Her search led her to McCulloch Tech, now run by Joseph Carver, who was actually behind Black Hole. She was pulled into a mirror by Eva McCulloch, Carver’s wife who was thought to have died in the particle accelerator explosion.
The season got cut off by the pandemic. The first few episodes of season 7 wrapped up the story, as Barry tried to retrieve Iris from the mirror plane. Eva found out that the real Eva had indeed died in the explosion, and that she was a mirror duplicate who survived in the mirror plane because of dark matter. However, she still had Eva’s memories and watched Carver use her company’s technology for Black Hole instead of the charitable projects she had planned. So she got out of the mirror plane and killed him. Yeah, they were a weird couple.
Main Villains: personified Speed Force and Godspeed.
I’ll be honest. I already forgot what happened in season 7. I know Barry and Iris renewed their vows!
But I don’t remember how that all happened so I had to do research. Bloodwork infected the speed force and it eventually died in season 6. While defeating Eva, the team built an artificial speed force, using which the Flash was able to create a lightning strike that revived the speed force. But the same strike also released three other forces – sage, still, and strength. Speed force turned on the others and tried to kill them.
Meanwhile, Kristen Kramer came to Central City with a mission: to force metas to take the cure. This led Joe to resign from the CCPD. Frost and Caitlin split into two bodies, which led to hijinks as Kramer tried to arrest Frost and Frost got her first crush.
Somewhere along the line, Barry and Iris decided to make babies. Cisco left, and Cecile was briefly haunted by the Psycho-Pirate mask.
Then, Godspeed clones started wreaking havoc on Central City as they searched for “prime” August Heart. Nora and Bart West-Allen arrive from the future, where Godspeed was their nemesis, to help stop him. Godspeed, who earned his powers from Velocity 9, was searching for organic speed. He merges with his clones. And then Reverse Flash showed up to try to kill both Godspeed and Barry (um okay??) but failed and ran off.
Eight seasons and counting…
Whew. That was a lot.
They say nothing beats the first time, and I think most of us still hold The Flash season 1 in high regard. Something about the storytelling, the mystery and twists, and Tom Cavanagh’s compelling performance gave The Flash something special. It had us on our seats every week. And yet the show had this wonderful life and heart and brightness to it that made it the Vitamin D to Arrow‘s gloomy winter.
I have a personal bias to season 3, while season 4 was also interesting with our first non-speedster villain. Plus, DeVoe did have a point when he said the human race was destroying itself and the Earth.
However, The Flash tried to pack in too much in recent years, leaving seasons 6 and 7 to disappoint with rushed and botched arcs. The Cecile/Psycho-Pirate conflict could have been a half-season arc on its own. Here’s hoping season 8 will show more control.
Which is your favourite season of The Flash?
You can also follow season 8 with our weekly recaps. Episode 1’s is already here.
(featured image: the CW)