The Flash: The Ninth and Final Season: A Disappointing Final Outing for the Beloved Hero (Blu-ray)
After eight years of defending Central City from a plethora of various rogues, the journey of Team Flash is finally coming to an end with the ninth and final season. It's been a rather amazing ride over the last several years, even more so because the show has somehow never been left wanting in terms of excitement, engaging material, and compelling characters. As it sprints for the finish line, the anticipation for the conclusion is palpable. Will "The Flash" be able to deliver a suitably action-packed, yet emotionally-charged & character-driven finale that will please the fans... or will this be where the show finally stumbles after so many years of success?
As the season opens, we find Barry (Grant Gustin) obsessed with a map book he has created that details future events, including how Iris (Candice Patton) wins a pair of Pulitzers for her writing and his own upcoming fight with Owen Mercer/Captain Boomerang. Mercer ends up trying to steal a special battery, which explodes, causing Barry and Iris to get trapped in a time loop until they are successfully able to complete the day's events. However, it turns out that Mercer was actually working for someone else, a new speedster that is trying to carry out their grand plan. As usual, it's up to Team Flash (which also includes Chester (Brandon McKnight), Allegra (Kayla Compton), Cecile (Danielle Nicolet), and Khione (Danielle Panabaker)) to put a stop to it.
The final, shortened season is split into three distinct portions: Arc One ("Rogue War," summarized above), a four-episode interlude, and Arc Two ("A New World"). The first arc, comprised of the first five episodes, is a fairly strong start. It's a little disappointing to find them using yet another evil speedster as the antagonist, but the arc goes in some interesting directions, providing plenty of excitement and intriguing twists, all while keeping us up to date on characters that aren't as directly involved with the main plot. It may not reach any new heights in terms of what we've seen before, but it certainly works well enough as a satisfying opening storyline.
If only something similar could be said for the remainder of the season. After the conclusion of the first arc, we have a rather inexplicable group of four episodes that aren't really here or there. That is to say, they don't really serve much of a purpose because they don't add anything particularly interesting to the season as a whole, nor are they even particularly compelling. Obviously the previous seasons have had interludes like these, but those seasons had a lot more episodes to fill, so it wasn't that surprising that a few contained adventures would be thrown in.
However, this final season is only 13 episodes total, making it a rather inexplicable decision to waste four of them like this (with one of them being another unfortunate crossover episode). A much wiser move would've been to split the difference and add two episodes to the two main arcs of the season, or perhaps even adding an arc in between. Either idea would've been a better use of these spots instead of having a random four-episode lull.
Then we come to the grand finale, the final four-episode arc that brings the entirety of "The Flash" to an end. The first episode kicks it off quite well, once again sending Barry back to a fateful day from his past. It provides a nice emotional springboard for our beloved hero, while also setting up two fascinating mysteries (one featuring a character from past seasons) that both have a fair amount of potential.
That said, all of that potential is what makes it all the more disappointing that the next two episodes make it feel as though the show basically shuts down, losing all of that momentum in the process. It tries to tell a story about the negative speed force creating a new avatar and using Barry's friends to fight him, but it's told in such a bland manner, with most of these two episodes dragging. They try to pick things up again for the series finale by having Team Flash battle a team of rogues from the past, but even those battles fail to become exciting because they're over so very quickly, with the resolution of the final confrontation coming about far too easily. It's understandable that they would want to try and wrap up early to have time to give closure to the other characters, but the cost is that what should've been a memorable final fight for our heroes ends up being very tame and forgettable.
Overall, it's rather sad to have to say that this final season ends up being an unfortunate letdown. This was their chance to send Flash off with a bang, but what we get instead is a very odd season that starts off well, and then kind of sputters along for the majority of the remaining episodes. Just like it was an inexplicable decision to have a four-episode lull in the middle, it was equally so to close out with such a ho-hum arc that didn't have much excitement to offer for our heroes' final battle. While this last outing didn't work out very well, it is good to know that we have eight previous seasons of good-to-great quality to fall back on and remind us of how this was one of the best superhero shows on television. It was a rather amazing streak, though ultimately a shame that it wasn't able to stick the final landing.
"The Flash: The Ninth and Final Season" comes to Blu-ray in a 16:9, 1080p transfer of outstanding quality. As with the previous seasons, the picture is crystal clear & sharp, highlighting the show's multitude of designs & special effects. Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is fantastic, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and music in excellent quality. Overall, fans will no doubt be incredibly pleased with the treatment that the final season has received for its home release.
The Flash: The Saga of the Scarlet Speedster (37 Minutes): An intriguing look at the beloved character.
Gag Reel (9 Minutes)
The final season of "The Flash" starts off pretty strong, with an arc that's exciting, compelling, and emotionally-satisfying. However, this is unfortunately followed by an inexplicable four-episode lull and a concluding arc that, for the most part, curiously lacks the qualities of the season's opening storyline, ultimately turning this final outing for the beloved superhero into a weak & disappointing finish.
Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.