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Barry Allen’s Legacy Lives On as ‘The Flash’ and the Arrowverse Come to an End

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash in The Flash series finale

The CW’s The Flash has finally come to an end after nine seasons, marking the end of Grant Gustin’s run as Barry Allen and the end of the entire Arrowverse as we’ve come to know it. Whatever you may think of the quality of the storytelling (which, let’s be honest, was often rocky), it’s hard to deny what the Arrowverse managed to achieve. 10 years, six shows, and 699 episodes later, The Flash brings this ambitious superhero universe to a standstill with a finale episode that provides a satisfying farewell for its central couple, some major villainous callbacks, and even a few teases for the future of Barry’s world.

Let’s break down The Flash‘s final episode, “A New World – Part Four: Finale.”

Old foes return in The Flash season 9, episode 13

From left to right: Teddy Sears as Zoom, Karan Oberoi as Godspeed, and Tom Cavanagh as Reverse Flash in 'The Flash' series finale
(The CW)

The last few episodes of The Flash season 9 have all been leading to this moment: Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), thought to be dead after The Flash‘s season 1 finale, was brought back to life by the Negative Speed Force so that he could become its avatar and be reborn as the villain Cobalt Blue. To take Barry and Team Flash down once and for all, this resurrected version of Eddie Thawne decided to bring a few other old rivals of Barry’s back into the fold.

Teddy Sears returned as Hunter Zolomon/Zoom, the main villain from The Flash season 2, and Tony Todd returned to voice the masked version of Zoom; Karan Oberoi returned as an older version of August Heart/Godspeed from The Flash season 7; and Tobin Bell came back as the voice of Savitar, the self-dubbed “god of speed” from The Flash season 3.

But of course, it isn’t a finale of The Flash without an appearance from Tom Cavanagh, who returns in this episode not only as Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash but also as a Wells, one of an infinite number of Harrison Wells doppelgangers that have been prominent allies of Team Flash since season 4.

Team Flash, being who they are, manage to defeat each of Eddie’s recruited villains in turn; future Nora West-Allen/XS (Jessica Parker Kennedy) takes down Savitar with his own blade, Allegra Garcia/Accelerant (Kayla Compton) blasts Reverse Flash with a powerful electromagnetic wave, Cecile Horton/Virtue (Danielle Nicolet) uses her—somewhat OP—abilities to defeat Godspeed’s many copies, and Khione (Danielle Panabaker) uses her deity-level nature powers to defeat Hunter Zolomon.

In all honesty, these fights felt much too easy, considering the difficulty Barry had in defeating these villains in previous seasons. But it is Cobalt Blue who wipes them off the face of the Earth completely, stealing their speed after Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) turns up out of nowhere to help Barry during his final confrontation with Eddie.

In the end, with a little encouragement from Khione, Barry manages to appeal to Eddie’s kinder nature and convince him that the Negative Speed Force and the (positive) Speed Force should bring balance to the universe, operating as two sides of the same coin as opposed to constantly fighting for dominance. It’s a nice moment between Barry and Eddie, and a conclusion that, while rushed, is certainly in keeping with Barry’s character.

Iris and Barry get their happy ending

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Candice Patton as Iris West-Allen holding baby Nora in The Flash series finale
(The CW)

At this point, most fans of The Flash should agree that Barry and Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) are the series’ highlight. No matter what crazy storyline may have been happening in the background, their relationship and love have been a consistent and powerful throughline for the show. As such, it’s nice to see them get their version of a happy ending: baby Nora is finally born, the future they fought so hard for is within their grasp, and most of their friends and family are by their side as they celebrate their new baby—and Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Cecile finally getting engaged.

There’s a lovely montage in The Flash‘s final episode, one which briefly depicts the trials and tribulations Iris and Barry went through to get to this point, a highlight reel that proves exactly why they were the Arrowverse’s best couple by a country mile.

Somehow, Caitlin returned?

Khione, having finally accepted her true purpose and power, ascends to become some kind of goddess of nature for the Arrowverse. In return, she brings Caitlin back to life in her old physical body, after Caitlin (sort of) died trying to bring back her alter-ego/twin sister Frost at the end of The Flash season 8. If this sounds convoluted, that’s because it is. Danielle Panabaker has now played three separate roles throughout The Flash, each one more powerful than the last. But Caitlin Snow’s return shines a sad spotlight on the absence of another O.G. Team Flash member—Cisco Ramon, played by Carlos Valdes, was sorely missed throughout this final episode.

You can never have enough speedsters

As Barry bonds with baby Nora by telling her a story that nicely parallels Grant Gustin’s episodic introductory monologues, he explains to her that he chose three new people to become speedsters by gifting them his powers. These three soon-to-be heroes are Avery Ho (Piper Curda), Max Mercury (Trevor Carroll), and Jess Chambers (Hana Destiny Huggins).

Avery Ho was previously introduced in The Flash season 8, in an episode where adult Nora and her brother Bart had an adventure in 2013 that brought them to Avery, an extremely talented scientist specializing in time travel. In the comics, Avery Ho is essentially known as The Flash in China, becoming an important hero in her own right and eventually joining a multiversal Justice League.

Max Mercury, though never seen before in The CW’s The Flash, has a long and storied comics history. Mercury was introduced as one of DC’s first speedsters in the 1940s, originally going by the moniker Quicksilver before Marvel introduced their own version of a Quicksilver character. In his modernized origin, Max Mercury was revealed to be a time-displaced superhero from the 19th century who eventually becomes a mentor to Barry’s son, Bart.

Jess Chambers is Barry’s third and final chosen speedster, a relatively recent addition to the DC comics universe. Using the moniker Kid Quick, Jess is one of DC’s first non-binary superheroes. They use a special equation to access the Speed Force and eventually join a team of heroes called Teen Justice on Earth-11.

Whether these three new speedsters mean the Arrowverse is holding the door open for future shows remains to be seen; currently, The CW is winding down its scripted TV offerings. Superhero shows are expensive to produce, and The CW is still deciding whether to renew Superman & Lois and/or Gotham Knights, the latter of which is significantly cheaper to make. The future of the network, in any case, seems to be a lot less superhero-focused. This makes sense, considering James Gunn’s plans for the DCU haven’t involved the Arrowverse or CW shows so far.

In any case, seeing Grant Gustin come back in a mentor capacity for these three new speedsters in a possible future project would certainly be welcome. He’s undeniably cemented his legacy as The Flash—forever.

(featured image: The CW)

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El (she/her) has been working as a freelance writer for various entertainment websites for over a year, ever since she successfully completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including franchises like Marvel and Pokémon, but she is happy to pitch in with gaming content once in a while if it concerns one of the few video games she actually knows anything about. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.