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It's Barry vs. Bloodwork in a battle of the mind in the latest Flash

By Trent Moore
The Flash Barry and Bloodwork

We learn the fallout of Dibny’s clash with Bloodwork from last week, which leads us to a full-on battle royale for the soul of Barry Allen himself this week — and the winner might surprise you.

Spoilers ahead for “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 1,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash, which aired Tuesday, November 26, 2019.

Bloodwork has made for a breath of fresh air as far as Big Bads are concerned, so it’s only fitting that the big clash with Ramsey makes for a very different type of battle as the first half of the season looks to wrap up in time for Crisis on Infinite Earths in a couple of weeks (the second half of The Flash’s season will be a different, self-contained story, similar to the mini-arcs utilized on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. the past few years). Turns out Ramsey infected Ralph (though Ralph did land an epic punch between manholes on him), and as Barry saves Ralph with a blood transfusion, a tiny bit of that infection spreads to him.

So yes — now Barry Allen is infected with Bloodwork’s seemingly unstoppable black goo.

This leads Barry to collapse (a few times) with a fever as his speed healing and the Speed Force try to fight off this sentient infection that is literally Ramsey himself kicking around in the memories and pain of Barry’s mind. It manifests in some fascinating ways and asks some interesting questions along the way. Ramsey walks Barry through a graveyard of all the people he’s lost along the way (shoutout to the dearly departed Eddie Thawne, may he RIP), gives him a peek at his future daughter as a baby, and gives him a glimpse at a possible future where he can literally revive the dead with the power of Ramsey’s black goo. It’s certainly tempting.

The counterpoint to Ramsey’s temptation is represented by the Speed Force itself, once again taking on the face of Barry’s late mother. She encourages Barry to try and fight Ramsey’s influence, but with Barry staring down the barrel of a gun (in The Flash’s current timeline, the Crisis is a mere two days away) he sees Ramsey’s offer of immortality through the power of his corrupting concoction as a possible lifeline. When the Speed Force itself confirms that, yes, Barry could survive the Crisis if he joins with Ramsey, he finally breaks. Though it’s made clear he would lose his soul to save his body, we cut away with Barry’s body literally split in two between the competing forces and ideologies.

Then he wakes up, having seemingly battled away Ramsey’s infection. But it takes Iris just a moment to realize that’s not Barry — he gave in to Ramsey’s offer, and now the Flash himself is a lightning-quick agent of Bloodwork.

Much of the season has found Barry diving into his work and trying to prepare Star City, and the team, for a world without him. It’s only now we really see Barry finally grapple with his own fear and mortality — and when a questionable means of escape drops in his lap, he caves to those fears and takes it. We’ve seen Barry make a lot of mistakes over the years (ahem, Flashpoint), but it’s rare he’s made a turn like this. Of course, he’s never faced something so uncertain and gigantic as Crisis, either.

Assorted musings

As for the rest of the team, much of the focus is on Iris and her crack journalism squad at the Citizen. They spend much of the episode looking into a case, though it’s mostly a means for iris to distract herself from actually having the write that “Flash Vanishes in Crisis” article that has been looming over the series since its launch. At Allegra’s urging, she finally does settle in to write the infamous cover story — which turns into a touching obituary of sorts for what the Flash has meant to Central City all these years.

As for Dibny, he looks to be on the road to recovery — but he’s being shipped off to an Argus safe house to finish mending up. But pics from Crisis show him back in action for the big crossover, so he’ll be back soon enough.

Timeline check-in. Yes, once again, Crisis is only two days away in The Flash’s current timeline. So once the Bloodwork story (likely) comes to an end, it’s straight into Crisis.

Nash’s dig for the Monitor’s hideout also continues this week, and it seems he’s found the door, which features a few mysterious symbols.

Next week: It feels like a season finale, as Bloodwork makes his move for Central City and spreads his infection all over the place. Will Flash return to the side of good? I mean, yeah. Probably. But it sure looks like fun.