REVIEW: The Flash, S6E1 – Into The Void

flash 601 into the void westallen

The Flash appears slower paced than usual throughout “Into The Void,” but perhaps that’s because the lead-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths should be a marathon rather than a sprint. The sixth season premiere is not explosive or cosmic, regardless of how many black holes may appear, but it is solid and steady. There’s also a lot character work done and plot laid out, from Iris (Candice Patton) and Barry’s different ways of mourning Nora to Killer Frost’s (Danielle Panabaker) longing for a real life. And let’s not forget the villain of the next several episodes: Ramsey Rosso (Sendhil Ramamurthy).

flash 601 into the void crisis

Leave Westallen alone!

Villains in general have had a spotty record on The Flash, especially the baddies of the week who often up one forgettable and onenote. “Into The Void” makes an inspired choice to introduce a problem that can’t be solved by defeating a criminal, but first it throws in a few red herrings. A blackout that destroys Nora’s final recording seems sinister enough, but no connection appears until the devastating twist at the end. Godspeed, from Nora’s future in and his eponymous Season 5 episode, has been sending animatronic copies of himself; but it’s just background setup for now. Even Ramsey is introduced as an old friend of Caitlin’s who has suffered a recent tragedy, and he makes his plan pretty explicit from the get-go. It’s quite a refreshing change of pace to meet the Big Bad without any subterfuge, and to see his linear progression instead of using an alias and jumping into a flashback episode down the line.

Meanwhile, the villain in “Into The Void” can’t even be called one, as The Flash finally acknowledges that sometimes powerful accidents happen. As it turned out, a vlogger named Chester P Runk accidentally opened a black hole while performing an experiment. In a catatonic state due to his consciousness being separated from his body, he began opening similar black holes in Central City locations that held meaning for him. Thus, for once, saving the day consisted of literally saving someone without having to punch anyone out in the meantime. As a delicious bonus, Iris was instrumental in uncovering his identity and understanding his situation, thanks to her investigative work. And Chester was unknowingly instrumental in getting Barry to face the truth: that he wasn’t over Nora’s death (“erasure from existence” is too much to type), and that his denial was preventing Iris from grieving properly as well.

Iris’ grief was, in fact, one of the strong suits of “Into The Void.” Given that The Flash has been notoriously bad at allowing Iris her point of view in the past, it’s wonderful to see her work through her emotions onscreen and be supported by other characters. As much as we’d all love to see Barry fulfilling his husbandly duties from the get-go, Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) playing mother to Iris was so touching that I almost forgot she’d left her actual baby Jenna “napping” offscreen the entire episode. Iris’ last remaining momento of her daughter – the XS jacket she wore – paralleled beautifully with Chester’s beloved locations, helping to tie the episode together into a coherent whole. Every scene showed off Patton’s talent, as she alternately held in Iris’ pain or let it out and cemented that she’s the strongest actor in the cast. And of course, as soon as Barry stepped up and promised Iris a happy future together, the Monitor came to ruin it and announce his impending disappearance in Crisis. But thankfully the trial Westallen went through this week proved that they’re stronger together, and they know it.

flash 601 into the void team

The gang’s all here.

The other storyline this week was Caitlin’s, which dovetailed with Ramsey’s origin story. A funeral for his mother awakens Killer Frost’s awareness of her own mortality, making her want to live a little. With Ralph’s (Hartley Sawyer) help, the two strike a deal to let Frost take the wheel for awhile. This plot probably didn’t require as much screen time as it got, but it’ll be fun for fans of the icy antihero to see her for longer than the seconds she spends on the floor during a fight sequence. Meanwhile, the sense of mortality awakened in Ramsey courtesy of that same funeral led to a very different result. After failing to get Caitlin’s consent for a dark matter-fueled cancer cure, Ramsey steals some dark matter for himself and injects himself in the hopes of eliminating his HLH. And that was how The Flash welcomed Bloodwork.

The rest of the crew get some moments to shine, such as Cisco (Carlos Valdes) standing his ground when it comes to his work-life balance and Ralph being more “devoted” to his pursuit of Sue Dearbon than he’s ever been to anything in his life. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) didn’t have as much to do, but seeing him healthy and surrounded by his loved ones was more than enough for now. All that The Flash needs to do to have its most successful season in years is keep building on this week’s groundwork, and continue to value heart and humor over spectacle.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.