'The Flash' Offers a Glimpse at the Team's Possible 'Crisis' Future (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 6, Episode 2 of The Flash, "A Flash of Lightning."]
"The Flash must die," the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) told Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) at the end of the premiere, and in Tuesday's episode of The Flash, Barry sets out to determine if he can change that. Three guesses how he plans to do that, and the first two don't count.
Yes, Barry turns to time travel in hopes of seeing that Iris is right and the future can be changed just like that article in the future newspaper has over the years. "If a doctor told you you were dying, you'd get a second opinion," he says. "I'm going to go see this Crisis for myself."
His plan is simple: run to December 11, 2019 (the day after he disappears). He even has a mobile Gideon unit in his ear. But as he approaches that date, Gideon detects a disruption barrier, and Barry hits a wall before being thrown back to the present. According to Gideon, he was exposed to an extra-universal material that destroys positive matter on contact, antimatter. Luckily, Barry knows an expert on it: Earth-3's Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp).
Jay reveals he's been detecting antimatter signatures across the multiverse for the past year, and if his algorithm is correct, all Earths could be in danger. While Barry's body can't get past that wall, Jay does know a way to get a speedster's mind past it: a neural hyper-collider. And with help from Jay's wife, Dr. Joan Williams (Michelle Harrison) — Barry's mother's doppelganger — they use Jay's helmet to channel the tachyons into Barry's frontal cortex and ignite his synaptic pathways.
It works, and Barry experiences Central City's very grim future, in billions of new timelines. Antimatter sweeps across it, wiping out people, including Iris, Ralph (Hartley Sawyer), Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) in his Vibe suit. Then Barry sees himself running until he disintegrates.
"I saw billions of possible futures, billions of deaths, all their pain, their suffering, then they were gone," he tells Jay and Joan after they pull him out. "I felt all of it. Now I know the Monitor was right. I have to die."
That's a fact he reiterates once they bring him home to Iris, who proposes they get Kara, Oliver, everyone together and create an antimatter dampener or find some other way. "The only timeline where you all survived was if I died," he tells his wife. "Maybe this is the reason I was given powers, to save everyone."
He worries accepting that sacrifice means giving up, but Joe (Jesse L. Martin) assures him it doesn't. He recalls being a beat cop and a bullet flying by his head while on patrol. He thought that was it, and while he was scared to go back out on the streets, having the badge or wearing the emblem like Barry does as The Flash means having the strength to get back out there. They're willing to make a sacrifice, but that's called "resilience."
"If my death is the only way to save the universe, to save you, I'm willing to do that," Barry tells Iris near the end of the episode. All they can do is make what time they have left count — and prepare the team for the Crisis, possibly even a world without The Flash.
Considering The Flash's hour of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" airs on December 10, the day Barry disappears and is the last episode before the final two air in January, it's probable that what Barry saw — or a version of it — could be its cliffhanger.
But will anything from one of the other timelines he saw happen as well? And what could Barry seeing Cisco as Vibe mean for what's to come for him leading up to "Crisis on Infinite Earths"?
The Flash, Tuesdays, 8/7c, The CW