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The Flash season 8 “Armageddon, Part 1” recap: Evil Barry Round Two?

The Flash season 8 eased into its five episode crossover event with “Armageddon, Part 1.” Showrunner Eric Wallace told Entertainment Weekly that this year’s crossover would focus on our heroes’ emotional journeys and the season opener didn’t disappoint on that front.

It might take some adjusting to for fans who were expecting the grand scale of previous Arrowverse team-ups but the track that The Flash has been set on for “Armageddon” is an intriguing one fueled by personal growth.

Spoilers ahead of The Flash season 8, episode 1

If there’s a central theme of season 8’s premiere, it’s the concept of leveling up. It’s unclear how long it’s been since the season 7 finale but there are many changes, big and small, that Team Flash, their friends, and even some meta-villains are navigating.

There is, however, one character who may be on the path to a de-evolution and that’s Barry. He’s the reason Despero has traveled from 2031. The future he’s from is one full of chaos, pain, and destruction and, somehow, it’s all Barry’s fault.

What happened in The Flash season 8 “Armageddon, Part 1”?

The season 8 premiere opens with Barry and Caitlin on their way to Jitters for coffee. The two are bantering about Frost who is currently out of town. Caitlin sent her sister on a two week vacation to help get her mind off of Mark Blaine aka Chillblaine, the thief she fell for in season 7.

While she’s not at all enthused by her sister’s taste in romantic partners, it does have Caitlin thinking about her own love life. The Flash writers conveniently sidestepped the good doctor’s romantic entanglements after her late husband’s passing to make a point about her finally being ready to date.

Since they’ve seemed to have tossed Caitlin’s ill-fated romance with Zoom and her relationship with Julian Albert into the ether, I guess we shall, too. Perhaps this means Caitlin’s track record with love is about to take a positive turn in season 8.

Barry and Caitlin’s talk about her heart being open to love, however, is tabled when they receive an alert that two trains are about to collide. Quick as lightning, Barry speeds off and saves the day, making it back to Jitters in mere moments.

Meanwhile, across town, Iris is finishing up her podcast interview with Captain Kramer.

Last season Kramer had been gunning for any metahuman who dared to break the law. She tried and failed at setting a legal precedence that would allow the court system to force the metahuman cure on any meta-criminal who was found to be a menace and a danger to public safety.

But since her discovery of her own latent meta-abilities, Kramer has stepped away from the extreme measures that could have taken Central City into a very dark era. The metahuman task force she spearheaded has been dismantled, but she’s still focused on keeping the city safe.

After the interview concludes, it’s apparent that Iris’ podcast, Citizentopia, is a part of a larger media brand. She now runs Central City Citizen Media, the very news network that we got a glimpse of in the penultimate episode of season 7 except that was the 2049 version, and we’re seeing it now in The Flash‘s present.

Thank you, Sue Dearborn for the amazing building. This level-up has been a long time coming for Iris though she’s not the only one seeing a come-up.

Iris promotes Allegra to supervising editor which has the young reporter quite frazzled and unsure. It’s a plot point we’ll see expanded on later but first we’re treated to a Westallen pizza date at home.

As hard as Barry and Iris try, they’re often not given much room to romance one another in their busy lives. There’s always some fire to put out or world to save or team member to help but tonight is their night.

Bart and Nora stop by from time to time, but they’re currently in 2049. No one is calling their phones. It’s the perfect opportunity for alone time. Maybe they could even try for a baby or at least have fun doing so…and then Ray Palmer rings their doorbell.

The Flash — “Armageddon, Part 1” — Image Number: FLA801a_0100r.jpg — Pictured: Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Ray Palmer pays Westallen an unexpected visit

He’s in town for the Central City Tech Convention and taking Westallen  up on their offer to house him if he’s ever in their neck of the woods. He, like many people who drop by their home, didn’t call ahead of time to see if the offer was still open. So now Westallen have a house guest, yay!

Ray also mentions that his wife Nora is doing fine which once again makes it glaringly obvious that there are too many women named Nora in the Arrowverse.

His Nora, however, is Nora Darhk who is not an incarnation of Barry’s mother or Westallen’s daughter but rather the child of Damien Darhk, the former leader of H.I.V.E. who is set to make an appearance in “Armageddon.”

In the morning, Ray makes Barry and Iris green juice for breakfast and gives them a run down of what’s been going on since he left Legends of Tomorrow. He tells them that his life is better balanced now, and he has time to research and connect with his wife. But it’s clear that he misses the Legends and being a part of a team. He’s also sad that they don’t really talk anymore.

Cue Chester’s arrival. He’s set to put Ray on the right track toward filling that collaborative void in his life but not before the two hit some speed bumps along the way.

Chester is a big fan of Ray’s work and excited to be his liaison at the tech convention. He’s also very eager and prone to taking the initiative with ideas without running them by someone first. Ray will learn that the hard way later.

Westallen beat a quick retreat before they’re forced to choke down Ray’s green juice in the name of being polite and have to listen to Chester and Ray fall down a geeky rabbit hole. They do have an excuse though, it seems the Royal Flush Gang are up to some new tricks.

They’re thieves, but Barry knows that stealing a highly advanced piece of tech isn’t their usual M.O. and tells Kramer as such. She suggests that they’re leveling up.

Speaking of leveling up, Allegra’s tentative beginnings with the journalists she’s meant to supervise gets off to a pretty bad start. Her attempt to assign one of them to the Royal Flush Gang’s robbery falls flat as all three seasoned reporters ignore her and start talking about stories they believe Iris would want more.

Looks like Allegra’s growing pains aren’t over yet. As for the robbers, well, they’ve moved onto Iron Heights. The break-in put the prison in the dark for a very short time, but it was long enough for the inmates to be let out of their cells. Thankfully, Barry is able to put every prisoner back in their quarters without issue.

There is, however, an issue set to brew between Chester and Ray at Jitters. The two men hit it off when they met, and Ray praises the itinerary Chester put together that’s efficiently gotten him from event to event with no hassle or fuss.

But that praise dries up when Chester reveals that he’s gathered a group of young entrepreneurs for them to interview in the hopes that Ray would want to mentor them and take their tech-startups under his wing.

Ray awkwardly but kindly explains that he’s not interested in starting another tech business. Embarrassed, Chester fumbles over himself in apology and sends the group along but the damage is done in terms of his happy feelings concerning his time with Ray.

He believes that his overstepping has cast him in a bad light and goes out of his way to avoid Ray so that he’s not in the man’s way. But all Ray wants to do is reassure Chester that his gesture, while not accepted, wasn’t something that bothered him. Team Flash’s tech genius, however, doesn’t stick around long enough for Ray to do that.

Allegra is also feeling down at this point in “Armageddon, Part 1.” She expresses to Iris that she doesn’t believe she’s fit for the job of supervising editor. Iris disagrees.

She chose Allegra because she’s the voice of Central City. She knows that the Citizen provides more than the news, they give space for the people of the city to be represented and for their stories to be told. Allegra understands that better than anyone.

As Iris explains, that doubt Allegra is feeling, that fear is just a part of growing. It’s no different than when she let her powers evolve because she knew that’s what needed to happen.

The Royal Flush Gang’s evolution, however, is something that needs to stop. Once Barry figures out the reason they kidnapped Jered Heywood from Iron Heights, it becomes clear the thieves never changed their M.O. they just switched from looking to score cash to looking to steal cryptocurrency from big casinos.

Barry takes them down quickly, flexing his new speed abilities that see him moving so fast that he can actually walk between each member of the gang to turn their attacks against each other. It’s a rather impressive moment in “Armageddon, Part 1” and yet such a simple visual.

With plenty of time left to enjoy the convention, Barry takes in the booths before Ray takes him aside to talk about Chester’s gesture. Their talk sparks an idea in Ray after Barry suggests that he create what’s missing in his life as he’s always done. It doesn’t have to be taking on another business, but it could still fulfill his desire to collaborate.

It’s food for thought and a good piece of advice from Barry. Allegra also serves up a dish for her reporters though hers is full of the editor’s equivalent of ‘tough love.’ Armed with copies of their articles that she has made notations on, she makes it clear that their stories need to have a point of view.

They can’t be so focused on chasing the biggest news and talking to those in authority that they forget the angle of the story that brings it back to how everyday citizens are reacting to the events unfolding in their city. She’s not gruff or mean about it, but she does state what her expectations will be concerning their work and doesn’t back down from it even when they try her on it.

Iris would be proud if she saw Allegra get her team together like that but she’s finishing an interview with Ray at the convention where he teases that they all will be privy to what’s next for him by next year. (I’m not going to lie, that had me wondering about Ray Palmer getting his own Arrowverse show or joining another one.)

Then Despero arrives and all hell breaks looks.

The Flash — “Armageddon, Part 1” — Image Number: FLA801a_0174r.jpg — Pictured: Grant Gustin as The Flash — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Despero warns Barry about the future

After inducing fear in the crowd, sending them to run for their lives, Despero tells Barry that he intends to kill him. In a confusing turn of phrase, he says that even those who were once good fall easily.

Barry, however, has no intention on falling. With Ray Palmer by his side suited up as The Atom, he launches into an attack.

Despero is a formidable foe. After tossing Barry out a window, he messes with his and Ray’s minds to confuse them about his whereabouts. Then he proceeds to throw a taxi at them.

It’s a good thing Ray is able to shrink both of them as they pass through the cab in a thrilling sequence as miniature versions of themselves. But even Barry using his speed mirage against Despero isn’t enough to stop him.

The alien tells Barry that The Flash created Armageddon and goes as far to show him the destruction his future self unleashes. However, Despero isn’t able to land a killing blow because a miniaturized Ray causes his belt to malfunction, sending him off to a random time temporarily.

It buys Ray and Team Flash enough time to assess next steps. Ray suggests that they find out what kind of alien Despero is. Caitlin say’s she’ll fill Alex Danvers in on their situation in Central City, and see if she can help identify Despero’s alien species.

Meanwhile, across town, Iris lets Allegra know that she did a good job getting her team together and that their annoyance is expected. She’s management now. It comes with the job.

Speaking of jobs, Ray is off to return to his own work. But before he leaves, he lets Chester know that he’ll be creating a foundation to fund young scientists just like the ones Chester had initially tried to introduce him to.

He asks Chester’s blessing to name the foundation after his father, Quicy P. Runk. It’s a moving moment that heals what broke between the two men.

Honored, Chester says yes and offers his consulting skills to Ray if the foundation should need one. Ray has every intention on taking him up on the offer when the time comes.

“Armageddon, Part 1” ends with Barry taking Ray’s parting advice. He shows Despero his true identity and promises to get to the bottom of what happens in 2021 so that he can stop it from happening.

Despero grants him a stay of execution. Barry has seven Earth days to prove that he won’t end the world. If he fails, Despero will kill him.

How will Team Flash get out of this perilous situation? We’ll learn more in “Armageddon, Part 2.”

New episodes of The Flash season 8 air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW and are available to stream next day on The CW app.