‘The Flash’: An Enlightening Chat With Despero, Plus What’s Next for Ray? (RECAP)

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom in The Flash
Spoiler Alert
Katie Yu/The CW

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Flash Season 8 premiere “Armageddon, Part 1.”]

In the five-part event “Armageddon,” it’s Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) vs. Despero (Tony Curran) in an attempt to save the world … but who’s aiming to do just that exactly? That’s the question by the end of The Flash Season 8 premiere.

The episode opens in Central City — in 2031! Ten years in the future, Despero arrives in the middle of the destruction that is now the city. (“The end is nigh” is written on one wall.) “Look at them, praying for a miracle that isn’t coming. Who knows? Maybe it’s my curse to leave one betrayal behind only to find a greater one here amongst the stars. They could’ve stopped this. But none of them had the strength to do what must be done. But I do,” he says before leaving — for the present.

And when he arrives in the present-day Central City, he comes in just as Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) is wrapping her interview with Ray Palmer (Legends of Tomorrow‘s Brandon Routh) at a tech conference. “You should all run,” he warns everyone. They only listen after he projects into their minds, “while you still can.” He then calls out the Flash, who arrives on scene.

“I came a long way to find you,” Despero tells him. “And now that I have, I’m going to kill you. … You’re nothing like I expected. Not that it matters. Those who were once good die just as easily.” With a touch of his belt, he goes from looking human to being a 10-foot giant alien — who, as Barry and Ray (suited up as the Atom) learn, is super strong and can mess with their minds, making them see him where he isn’t. (Ray shrinks Barry down at one point to fly him through a taxi thrown their way. After, Barry remarks, “Now I know how Diggle feels,” referring to David Ramsey’s Arrow character throwing up whenever he’d run him anywhere.)

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen in The Flash

Katie Yu/The CW

Despero even sees through Barry’s speed mirage. “You said I was good once. What happened to me? You owe me that,” Barry says, and Despero shows him Central City 2031. “Bear witness to a coming Armageddon that you create 10 years from now,” the alien says. “One that destroys your own planet. It’s already happened, Flash, that’s why I, Despero, have to kill you. It’s how I save our world.” But then Ray shrinks, goes into Despero’s belt and sends him … somewhere. (The tech was too complex for him to choose.)

Cecile (Danielle Nicolet), using her meta powers, scans the residual feelings Despero left in Barry’s mind and confirms that the alien believes he’s telling the truth. So how do they fight him? Figure out what kind of alien he is and then his weakness, Ray suggests. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) calls Alex (Supergirl‘s Chyler Leigh, appearing during “Armageddon”) for help.

Then, off Ray’s advice to “show [Despero] who you really are” to prove he won’t destroy the world, Barry summons the alien to STAR Labs and refuses to run. “In another time, on another world, we could have fought side-by-side, you and I. There’s great strength in you, Flash, but I’ve seen your future, the lives you take, the betrayals you revel in,” Despero tells him. “You’re the most dangerous kind of killer because you hide in the body of a hero.”

Brandon Routh, Brandon McKnight, Danielle Nicole, Grant Gustin in The Flash

Katie Yu/The CW

Barry has him scan his mind to see that he’s not a killer, and while Despero confirms there’s truth and honor in him, there are too many lives at stake. And so Barry unmasks, revealing his identity and asking for a chance to prove he wouldn’t turn his back on the world he’s spent his life protecting. “Your boldness impresses me, Flash,” Despero admits. “And has earned you a stay of execution. You now have seven Earth days to prove that you won’t become the monster I’ve already witnessed in the future. If you can’t convince me in that time or if I find any trace of a darker nature, I will end your existence.” So no pressure, Barry!

So what’s Ray been up to since we last saw him on Legends of Tomorrow? Well, he doesn’t talk to the other Legends very often, and he hasn’t heard from Nate (Nick Zano) lately (hinting at their time travel issues). But he and Nora (Courtney Ford) are more connected than ever, and he got back to his other true love: research. “My life’s more balanced. It’s not just I’m the Atom and science takes a backseat,” he explains.

Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer in The Flash

Katie Yu/The CW

Unfortunately, no one clued Chester (Brandon McKnight) in on that. As a huge fan of Ray, he appoints himself as his handler for the tech conference. He even organizes a pitch fest for start-up ideas from entrepreneurial hopefuls. But that’s not what Ray’s looking for anymore. “Ray Palmer’s priorities are his wife and working in his own lab,” he explains to Chester. But after a talk with Barry — who points out how much he’s grown and learns from those around him — Ray reconsiders his future. He’s going to find a middle ground and create a nonprofit organization to fund scientists like at the pitch fest, and he’s naming it after Chester’s father.

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That opens the door for any of the Arrowverse shows to mention what Ray’s up to. Maybe Chester will mention the nonprofit, given his connection to it. The team could turn to Ray (offscreen) to help with the latest crisis, and at the same time, we’ll get an update on how that attempt at balance is working out for him. While Ray makes it clear in this episode that he’s no longer a Legend, he did mention check-ins with Nate, so perhaps once the Legends fix their time travel issues, he’ll mention he’s reaching out to Ray to make up for what he’s missed.

The Flash, Tuesdays, 8/7c, The CW