The Flash is suiting up for its final run after nine groundbreaking seasons. The series finale, titled A New World, Part Four, airs tonight on The CW, effectively bringing an end to the shared DC Comics TV universe affectionately dubbed the Arrowverse, after the Stephen Amell-starring series Arrow that started it all.
Deciding to write this review was personal to me, as both The Flash and Arrow helped jumped start my online journalistic career and, over the years, provided ample opportunities to interview the cast, review episodes and take part in events at Comic-Con, etc. These stories and characters have a special place in my heart and while it feels like the right time for the Arrowverse to go off into the sunset, it’s still bittersweet to say goodbye to a cornerstone of both my personal fandom and professional career. Now with that being said, I’ll step down off my soapbox so we can talk about how Team Flash crosses the finish line.
At The CW’s request, I won’t discuss large developments in the episode and any returning characters in order to preserve the experience for viewers. That aside, A New World, Part Four still shares the same issues that have plagued Season 9 and, honestly, most of the back half of the entire series. The production values seem low compared to other modern series like Superman & Lois, the dialogue is corny and ridden with tropes, and the comic book logic used to explain events or motivations is far beyond suspending your disbelief.
The redeeming factors in the episode revolve around the villains, some of whom have been teased in the marketing, led by Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett). Cosnett has been terrific since his return in the last string of episodes, providing a creepy, yet still empathetic antagonist for Barry (Grant Gustin). Those who join him against Team Flash are an enjoyable who’s who of Big Bads that share a criminally small amount of screen time. I gladly would’ve taken this evil crew for all four episodes of A New World.
This all leads to an arguably disappointing (and brief) final showdown with said villains versus only the current roster of Team Flash. Glaringly missing are other important members of the show’s past (Carlos Valdes has already explained his absence as Cisco here), or any other notable characters from the Arrowverse to send Barry off. Episode 9 of this season, It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To, featuring the return of Stephen Amell and other familiar faces felt like it had better elements for a superior send-off.
Despite The Flash becoming hard to watch in the final years (save a few episodes per season), there has been one constant positive for the entire run: Grant Gustin. The actor has defined the role for a generation and his portrayal never wavered, always the anchor of the show even during hard times. The series finale is no different. Gustin gives it his all one last time, sprinting through an emotional gamut from desperate, frustrated, hopeful, to finally (and the most satisfying): content. DC Comics and Flash fans are deeply in debt to Gustin’s work in making the character a household name and it’s fitting he closes his story with another great performance.
As the episode and series wind down, The Flash finale episode only pulls up from a nosedive in the very last moments. It eventually provides the characters with hopeful, yet thrown together, futures (poor Danielle Panabaker and whatever they tried to do with her characters, Khione/Caitlyn, this season). Thankfully, the final quiet moments are a lovely book end to Barry’s journey and the series as a whole.
Score: 3 out of 5