REVIEW: The Flash – Season 8, Episode 2 “Armageddon Part 2”

Is the Flash losing his mind? “Armageddon Part 2” sure makes it seem so. The second in the five-part event that launches season 8, this week’s episode finds Barry trying to prove to Despero that he won’t cause the destruction the alien visitor fears, which may be harder than he thinks. While lighter on the action and laughs than the premiere, “Armageddon Part 2” ups the intensity bit by bit till we believe we’re watching another Crisis-level story – and, thanks to all the psychic mumbo jumbo, we don’t know what to think.

Barry is determined to prove Despero wrong about the danger he poses, but as seemingly all aspects of his life crumble at once, he feels the pressure of stress. A metahuman thief named Xotar exhibits psychic powers during her robberies, leading Barry to believe that she’s the source of his future actions. Frost encourages Chester to build a weapon that can kill Despero if he decides to go after Barry again. A beloved character’s glaring absence is explained.

Immediately following last week’s ending, “Armageddon Part 2” begins as Despero knocks Barry to the ground following their agreement. Despero is testing the Flash, determining exactly how much power he’ll need to kill him should it come to that. This opening scene reveals much about the show’s new villain; he’s methodical, and he’s prepared for any eventuality, or at least any he can foresee. Despero is fighting to save the world, and he won’t be caught off-guard by his temporary truce with Barry. This is in direct contrast to Barry, who cannot fathom being the threat Despero insists he is. As a result, Despero – though he wants to murder our hero – seems more reasonable than Barry, allowing for different possibilities without abandoning his preparedness for the worst. This contrast shapes the rest of the episode, specifically Barry’s actions.


Barry spends “Armageddon Part 2” looking for, essentially, a quick fix. He’s so sure Despero is wrong that he’s on the lookout for an outside factor that may cause the tragedy for which Despero thinks he’s responsible. He comes up with Xotar, a (pretty lame) villain-of-the-week psychic who causes anyone in her path to have a mental breakdown, like a security guard in a catatonic state at the hospital. And his first encounter with Xotar bears this out: he’s caught in one of her psychic who’s-it-whats, and he wakes up in what, to him, feels like an instant, but is the aftermath of some savage attack he conducted on his loft wherein he almost killed Caitlin, Chester, and Allegra (a third of which would have been a tragedy). When Caitlin uses some sci-fi STAR Labs device to determine that Barry is okay and stable – between the psychic stuff and the science stuff, there’s a lot we just have to go with this week – that seems like that. It must be Xotar, right?

But Barry is making a classic blunder (not those ones) in assuming so. Throughout “Armageddon Part 2,” Barry’s life unravels bit by bit; he loses his job, he finds out he’s being investigated for a crime he didn’t commit, he loses STAR Labs, and he loses control of himself to Xotar. But he either ignores or rationalizes all of these things, fixating completely on Xotar, even when his friends try to refocus him. Xotar is a symptom, not the disease, and it isn’t until the very end that Barry finally realizes this. Once he’s defeated her, Barry watches himself tear up his city in a Hulk-like rage, and since Xotar had been arrested at that point, he couldn’t have been under her influence. This means that his similar outburst at the loft likely wasn’t her doing either. But when he finds out that Joe has been dead for months and he has no memory of it, Barry truly accepts that there’s something wrong with him. Barry has lost all of his parental figures at some point, and while he’s made mistakes in their wake, none of them truly broke him; losing Joe could well have been the final straw, the death that he couldn’t overcome.  But is it too late for him to prevent what Despero believes is coming?

The Flash Armageddon Part 2

As with last week, as with so many episodes and seasons before, the conflict between the greater good and the immediate good is the crux of “Armageddon Part 2.” Barry’s devotion to the immediate good has always manifested as his belief in others, or in helping others. Now, it arises in Barry believing in himself, in his own goodness; that makes sense and feels like a believable development for his character. Barry has doubted himself before, but he’s done enough good that even he should be able to recognize his own heroism. But selfishness – even if it’s justified – doesn’t come naturally to Barry Allen. He isn’t able to compartmentalize it the way Despero is with his determination to carry out the greater good. The idea of losing Joe and not even being able to remember it is what slaps him in the face with reality, or at least the possibility that he’s wrong. Maybe that trauma was too much for him, and Despero was right about the fragility of his mind.

But can we trust Despero? I rather think not, and one of the more fascinating aspects of “Armageddon Part 2” is that it posits that Despero may be just as determined to prove he’s right as Barry is. Whatever is going on, I don’t think it’s the result of losing Joe – in fact, I’m not convinced that Joe’s really dead (which is why I’m not throwing things). And Despero’s presence throughout the episode indicates that he’s more involved with what’s going on than we may think. Is he so sure of Barry’s turn that he’s willing to exacerbate it to make sure he can kill him and save the future? He does have psychic abilities, and they’re more powerful than Cecile’s and, likely, Xotar’s. And in that terrific scene where he tells Barry how he came to live on Earth (which has more than a few shades of Thanos’ story from the MCU), he laments his past mercy, his embrace of the immediate good, and the resulting destruction of his home planet. Maybe interfering with Barry’s trial period is his way of dispensing with his merciful tendencies while rationalizing that he gave the Flash a chance. Despero is growing into one of the most compelling villains in the show’s history – maybe even that of the whole Arrowverse – and Tony Curran is wonderful in the role, scary, determined, but also sad and eminently human. That CGI is still the worst, though.

The Flash Armagddon Part 2

There aren’t many subplots in “Armageddon Part 2,” and that’s for the best. The only one here is tied into the main plot and theme: Chester is faced with his own ethical dilemma when Frost suggests he make a weapon capable of killing Despero. Chester is a self-professed pacifist who doesn’t believe in making weapons, especially ones that kill. On the other hand, Barry’s life is on the line; Despero is extraordinarily powerful, and the Flash probably won’t be able to defeat him. If he doesn’t make the weapon, is he effectively killing Barry himself? If so, he’s got no choice; he has to choose who lives and who dies, and inaction is as proactive as building the ray gun. He gets off easy this week, repelling Despero so Barry can escape, but this is bound to come up again before the three-eyed monster is gone for good. Chester is still kind of annoying, but I liked this plotline, and it makes him more thematically joined to the show.

“Armageddon Part 2” is another good entry in season 8’s opening salvo. Barry’s ethics are framed in a less-positive light, Despero becomes even more interesting, and the stakes feel like they’ve been raised for the next three installments. Some lousy special effects and an underwhelming mini-boss don’t put much of a dent in this one.

The Flash – "Armageddon Part 2"

Plot - 9
Acting - 9
Progression - 9
Production Design - 5
Themes - 9



“Armageddon Part 2” is another good entry in season 8’s opening salvo. Barry’s ethics are framed in a less-positive light, Despero becomes even more interesting, and the stakes feel like they’ve been raised for the next three installments. Some lousy special effects and an underwhelming mini-boss don’t put much of a dent in this one.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our mailing list to get the new updates!