2020 is the darkest timeline, which is why The Flash season finale came three episodes earlier than it was supposed to, with little to no idea of when the show will return to finish the story, or tell any others. (Thanks a lot, coronavirus.) This is especially unfortunate given the fact that The Flash Season 6 has been one of the strongest overall outings of the show in recent years. It’s introduced not one, but two intriguing and complex new villains. It brought on one of the most long-awaited characters in series history. It remembered it had female characters, and gave them stories accordingly. Almost every major player had something significant to do this year, and the entire show seemed to radiate a new energy and sense of purpose.
Naturally, this is also the year that a global pandemic would shut down production.
“Success is Assured” wasn’t initially intended to serve as The Flash season finale, so perhaps it’s not very fair to judge it as one. But despite this fact, the episode works remarkably well as a stopping point for the season, dropping a major cliffhanger, leaving multiple major plot points unresolved and unleashing a villain that’s unlike anything that Team Flash has faced before.
It also leaves plenty of room for a broader, more intricate conclusion to the Mirror Master story in The Flash Season 7 than we could have ever gotten with just three episodes to go. So, there’s a surprising amount of good to be found in this unplanned finale, and “Success is Assured” generally feels like a worthy conclusion to what has been a rather remarkable season.
Of course, some fans will inevitably feel dissatisfied with this installment. There isn’t a ton of closure for many of our faves in this episode and there are more than a few dangling plot threads that are still unresolved. If you have questions, you aren’t alone – but there’s every reason to believe that The Flash will deal with these issues when it returns next Fall. Fingers crossed.
Eva McCulloch Accomplished Her Mission
It’s super interesting to have a finale of The Flash wherein it feels like the villain basically won. This wasn’t intended of course, but accidental or no, it’s something the show has never done before. And other than the fact Eva McCulloch decided to frame Sue Dibny for murder – which, admittedly, sucks – I’m not sure that any of us are that mad about it.
Eva came into her own as a character and an opponent for Team Flash this episode, and got an amazingly awesome costume to boot. Honestly, it still feels a bit incorrect to 100% label her a villain. She’s not Savitar or Zoom, after all, and while she definitely murdered a guy in cold blood, that guy was a dirtbag who hurt a lot of people on top of ruining his wife’s life and stealing her technology for his own nefarious shadow organization. No one’s crying for Joseph Carver.
She didn’t hurt anyone else, and she reclaimed her company with a vow to do good and help others, not to take over Central City or destroy the world. Granted, it’s not a great look that she hasn’t released Iris and friends from the mirror, but it’s an equally weird twist that Barry didn’t just ask her to (I sincerely wonder if she might have said yes).
It seems obvious that Eva and this Mirror Universe storyline will have to be a fairly significant part of at least the first half of The Flash Season 7, whenever the show comes back. There are too many dangling plot threads that can’t be neatly tied up with a “What We Did on Our Summer Vacation”-style recap, and Eva deserves more than a quick ending that clears the decks for next season’s storylines. The idea that this additional time might allow the show to explore this character – who is probably The Flash’s most complex Big Bad since Season 1 – in greater depth is extremely appealing, and one we all should hope the folks in charge really consider before Season 7 kicks off.
Eva Also Has More Goals Than We Know
As Eva calmly tells Barry she’s not planning to hurt anyone else – over her husband’s dead body, what an icon – she also ominously declares “I’ve accomplished my goal for today.” Which, cool, and all – but that sort of implies she has others to take care of tomorrow.
Her performance at the press conference that ends the episode seems to validate that conclusion, as does her decision to frame Sue Dearbon for her husband’s death. Apparently, Eva has plenty of second-tier items on her to-do list that will get her attention now that Carver’s dead, and the idea of her as a powerful businesswoman who operates in the real world as easily as she does in the meta one opens the door for a lot of intriguing new stories. (And at the end of the day, that’s another kind of villain – the kingpin-esque figure who runs business deals as well as gangs – that The Flash has never faced before.)
What Happened to Iris West?
At the end of “Success is Assured”, Iris vanishes. We aren’t sure where she’s gone, though to be fair we were never quite sure where Eva went when she left Iris alone either. (The Mirror Universe is apparently very mysterious and also possibly quite vast?) So, while we wonder where Iris has disappeared to – and whether she’s still alive, and how she’s ever going to manage to get out of the mirror next season – we also have to ask ourselves whether Iris is somehow becoming a Mirror Master herself.
Before she disappears, Iris manages to control some of the computers and other items in the mirror version of STAR Labs, and uses what appear to be powers to locate Singh. While Kamilla is stoked that Iris can now somehow control their surroundings, it seems worth asking what these newfound abilities mean.
For several episodes now, Iris has been displaying many of the same symptoms Eva herself did – headaches, neural dissonance, that bizarre compulsion to scratch her arm. Is her extended time in the alternate dimension changing her in some permanent way, as well? And what will that mean when she eventually escapes the mirror? Will these strange new abilities come with her? And, if so, might Iris be becoming something Team Flash might have to fight?
Barry’s Speed is Still Missing
Unfortunately, Team Flash appears to have made little progress on its Build Yourself an Artificial Speed Force project, and Barry’s speed is weaker than ever during this episode. Of course, his wildly fluctuating emotions over everything from Iris being missing to momentary waffling about whether to trade Carver for his wife’s safe return don’t help much, and by the end of the hour he’s basically running on empty.
It’s part of what makes his confrontation with Eva so thrilling to watch – she’s really rather overpowered compared to him at the moment, which makes their fight feel legitimately dangerous. Well, that and Eva also forces a mirror shard through Barry’s body and kills a man with it. But she’d never have been able to do that if Barry was functioning at top speed, so it’s another example of the show being forced to get creative without the ability to have Barry run around something until it’s defeated (which, by the way, is a good thing).
There’s also something intriguing about the idea of a new season of The Flash in which Barry isn’t operating at full capacity. Grant Gustin is as compelling an actor out of the Flash suit as he is wearing it, and perhaps it’s his less overtly superhero-ish side which will wind up saving the day here.
Mirror Master and the Villainous Girl Gang
One of the most entertaining sequences in “Success is Assured” is the six-way fight between Allegra, Ralph, and Sue and Eva’s new girl squad of C-list minions: Dr. Light, Ultra Violet, and Sunshine. The panelizing special effects during this sequence looked awesome, Sue and Ralph got to fight side-by-side in battle stances and Allegra….forced her sister to relive the worst memory of her life via a magic stone. Cool, I guess?
This girl gang is largely comprised of women who’ve been mistreated in some form or other – Eva actually turns Carver’s metas against him precisely because he’s abused them so terribly – so it feels inevitable that they’re going to stick together in some fashion, and depending on how this story is handled in Season 7, there’s room to turn that into something extremely interesting. Eva’s definitely not a faceless henchpeople kind of baddie, so it makes sense that she might choose women who share similar difficult experiences.
And since Eva basically walks out of this episode a winner, so do all of her new minions. (One of which – Dr. Light – appears to actually have been next to her during the press conference that closes the episode.) Where they go from here remains to be seen.
Joe West Returns
Joe West gets released from witness protection at the end of this episode, ostensibly because Carver is dead, but mostly because his presence is definitely required for Team Flash’s search for Iris and inevitable face-off with Eva. This is a relief, not just because seeing Jesse L. Martin is always great, but because The Flash has so little concept of how witness protection works that keeping him offscreen felt almost laughably pointless. (If Barry knew where he was and could just go there, Carver could have found out where he was. Particularly since wherever he was hiding was nearby enough that Barry could get there presumably without super speed)
Here’s hoping Joe will get to play a more pivotal role in the team’s attempt to get Iris home – or help her regain her sanity once she is.
Where did Caitlin Go?
Caitlin’s lingering light injury from her battle with Sunshine a few episodes back means that she needs to seek out some help from her super scientist mom, Carla, to properly heal. In the real world, The Flash needed a reason to write the character out of Central City for a bit so that star Danielle Panabaker could go on maternity leave. In “Success is Assured”, her mother arrives to bundle Caitlin off to her Arctic lab, and though the scene between Carla and Frost is rather sweet, it still feels sort of superfluous to everything else going on in this episode.
The upside of this sudden early end to Season 6 means that there’s every chance – provided Panabaker doesn’t want to take a few extra months off to be with her child – that Caitlin could return for the beginning of Season 7 in time to help with the Speed Force problem, the Iris search and everything else that’s going on. Although one does have to wonder how Frost would fare in a battle with Eva, since ice itself is sort of a reflective surface…..
The Nash and Allegra Problem
It seems worth saying that Nash and Allegra have had an entire episode devoted to their relationship, and to his bizarre obsession with her, and it’s still not entirely clear what’s going on or how we’re supposed to feel about it all. Is Nash’s dogged determination to earn her affection – or at least something that isn’t open disdain – meant to be charming? Or desperately creepy?
Things seem to thaw between the two a bit when Nash gifts Allegra with a semi-magical gemstone, but to be quite honest The Flash hasn’t done the work required to make any of this feel meaningful. (though at least Allegra’s insults toward him are fun).
In fact, the more interesting aspect of Nash’s story here is the revelation that all the other Wells-es haven’t quite been jettisoned from his head. A version of original recipe Harrison Wells pops up to tell Nash that Barry would never consider a trade for Iris that would cost someone else their life, and brings with him a lot of questions. Is this meant to make Nash suspicious of Barry? Or is this simply a sign that Thawne remains a threat in the background of all this, just waiting for his chance to strike?
Sue Was Framed for Murder
The one big downside of Eva’s plan to kill her terrible husband was that for some reason she decided to frame Sue for Carver’s death, rather than just make up a faceless vigilante or criminal and let everyone get on with their lives. It’s a choice that seems very deliberate, as well as one that must tie in with Sue’s family or rich socialite roots in some way. After all, Carver thought Sue’s parents were useful. Maybe Eva thinks Sue might be too. (Though on some level one has to wonder how Eva knows who Sue even is. But that’s a question for Season 7!)
On the plus side, getting framed for a crime she didn’t commit will definitely pull Sue even further into the world of Team Flash, which means more time for Sue and Ralph scenes and banter, which means we all win.