REVIEW: The Flash – Season 8, Episode 3 “Armageddon Part 3”

The beginning of “Armageddon Part 3” scared me. I thought we were bracing for the return of one of my most hated, played-out superhero tropes, something The Flash has done several times (and several times too many). Instead, the third chapter in the miniseries surprised me by arguing against this tedious plot point, hopefully ensuring it will never rear its head on the show again. Despite a few frustrating moments concerning one of the series’ more grating characters, “Armageddon Part 3” is another good entry in season 8’s opening gambit.

Fearing that Despero’s warnings will come true, Barry enlists Jefferson Pierce, alias Black Lightning, to remove the threat he poses to the world. Iris investigates Joe’s death hoping to find evidence that Barry is not losing his mind. Cecile seeks a way to amplify her psychic abilities to find Barry before Despero does.

When last we left Barry, he was at the Hall of Justice (or whatever they’re calling the abandoned airport hangar that’s more in line with a CW budget than an elaborate superhero headquarters) asking Jefferson Pierce for help. Evidently – unless this happened on-screen at some point and I forgot about it because “Crisis on Infinite Earths” was terrible – the heroes enacted a protocol where one of the others would have the means to neutralize them if they ever become a threat. Barry chose Jefferson, and now he wants Black Lightning to take away his powers forever. As soon as he said it out loud, I deflated; I am so tired of the “hero loses his powers and discovers it was his heart that made him a hero all along” plot. It’s been done a million times, and it sucks more than most people will admit because it sounds thoughtful to say you like it. I accept that every superhero series will do it eventually, but The Flash has done it at least three times that I can remember, and I wasn’t anticipating the excellent Armageddon arc screeching to a halt to do it again.

Luckily, they were way ahead of me.


The theme of “Armageddon Part 3” is believing in yourself, creating your own future by making your present the best it can be. That’s what Jefferson teaches Barry by resisting his desire to lose his speed. Jefferson believes in Barry Allen, much more than he does a mysterious alien with murder on his mind, and he doesn’t understand why Barry is so quick to accept the worst in himself. Time and again, Barry’s proven his selflessness, his willingness to sacrifice, but he’s his own worst critic, and he overlooks those qualities – if he even believes them – because he’s afraid of what he might do. Ironically, it’s those very qualities that are pushing Barry to surrender his powers; he’ll give up being the Flash if it means saving others, putting himself in the stock so others can live.

But it isn’t just that; fear has overtaken Barry, and it’s clear as day in his reaction. Barry isn’t accepting or even melancholic; he’s frantic to divest himself of his speed, desperate to end his nightmare. Jefferson sees right through him, too, and calls Barry’s actions for what they are: surrender. Barry is giving up in the face of a possible future rather than fighting to make sure it doesn’t happen, and that’s not what a hero does. And that argument is demonstrated perfectly by invoking Oliver Queen. From the very first episode of Arrow, Oliver crafted a new destiny for himself, one of heroism and duty. He got it wrong a lot, but each time he dusted himself off and tried again until he ended up saving the universe (well, not really; “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is bad). Surely Barry can do the same. Aside from fitting thematically, this was a nice way to include Oliver even though he’s gone; his and Barry’s friendship has been the beating heart of these crossovers, and it feels right for them to bring him in as best they can.

The Flash Armageddon Part 3

That theme is present in the subplot as well. “Armageddon Part 3” finds Team Flash at cross purposes. Cecile wants to use her powers to locate Barry, while Iris wants to investigate Joe’s death to see if maybe Barry isn’t crazy after all. This could have been a good plot point, but instead of having the team split up because it’s logical to attack the problem from two different directions, Iris and Cecile have a big fight because Cecile is nuts. I understand she’s reeling from Joe’s death, but she rants and raves at everyone who brings up his potential survival (which I figured would happen, especially since Jesse L. Martin is still in the credits). Caitlin suggesting Cecile be in charge is even nuttier considering her irrational outburst. The rest of these diverging subplots is good and has everyone playing to their strengths; they even give Caitlin something to do for a change. But Cecile is unbearable, and Iris deserves a medal for her restraint.

Even better is how Despero figures into their plan. While Cecile recruits Top (remember her?) to help amplify her powers to find Barry, Despero sits back and waits, allowing the ladies to get as far as they can before invading their minds and getting to Barry first. Despero gets a little bit more sinister each week, more willing to sacrifice the innocent for the greater good. At first, he just wanted to kill Barry, but now he’s nonchalantly ready to discard Cecile and Top, and he justifies it with the same rationale. He’s actually making the argument against his philosophy as he does it: when is it too much? He’s gone from one life to three; wouldn’t saving billions be worth ten or twenty or a hundred or a thousand lives? Is there a point where Despero will pull back? And doesn’t this signal to Barry that this man shouldn’t be making a decision like that? Each installment of Armageddon adds a new layer to the theme, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

The Flash Armageddon Part 3

But the ending may just outdo everything that came before it. “Armageddon Part 3” features another time travel head-spin, and this one really comes out of left field. Barry arrives in the future Despero hopes to save and finds a bunch of people he knows attending an engagement party for Iris and… someone Tom Cavanagh is playing. It’s either Earth-1 Harrison Wells or Eobard Thawne; my money’s on Thawne because what could be worse for Barry than watching the love of his life marry his mortal enemy? Thawne has taken so much from him, but now he’s taking Iris, and not through murder; she’s choosing Thawne. Could this be the event that makes Barry lose it and destroy the world? If so, that would mean that Despero actually caused all of it by going back in time in the first place. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants? This is the best cliffhanger the show’s had in a while, and I barely have the patience to wait a week for more.

“Armageddon Part 3” is yet another stellar entry in season 8’s opening arc. A tired superhero trope is not only avoided but upended, the B plot compliments Barry’s story, the themes are expanded upon, and Despero remains a terrific villain. The killer cliffhanger is the icing on the cake.

The Flash – "Armageddon Part 3"

Plot - 9
Acting - 8
Progression - 9
Production Design - 7
Themes - 9



“Armageddon Part 3” is yet another stellar entry in season 8’s opening arc. A tired superhero trope is not only avoided but upended, the B plot compliments Barry’s story, the themes are expanded upon, and Despero remains a terrific villain. The killer cliffhanger is the icing on the cake.

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