‘The Flash’ series finale review: ‘A New World, Part Four’ runs to the finish, taking the former CW with it (SPOILERS)
Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “The Flash” series finale, “A New World Part Four.”
“The Flash” ran until sunset Wednesday night, ending its nine-season run just in time for a big-screen version of the same name starring Ezra Miller to take over. Still, the DC series’ ending also represents something of a requiem for the CW network, at least as the superhero-loving showcase it’s represented for years.
The CW is operating under new management after station group Nextstar acquired a majority stake in the network from partners Warner Bros. (like CNN, a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery) and CBS, which takes the network in a different direction – more discount store TV than the fifth-largest English-language broadcast network. This includes a stronger focus on unscripted programming (such as the HBO Max series revival “FBoy Island” and a spin-off) and more international acquisitions, including shows already produced for the Canadian market.
Remaining in limbo for now are two Warner Bros.-produced superhero shows, “Superman & Lois” and the Batman-inspired “Gotham Knights,” which, based on lineup announced by The CW in recent initial presentations, do not easily fit with its current profile and strategy.
All of which makes “The Flash’s” demise more bittersweet, despite the fact that her best days were clearly behind her, and her Scooby Gang’s huge cast of characters had become almost absurdly unwieldy.
As a holdover from what became known as the Arrowverse, “The Flash” trafficked in a dizzying number of characters and subplots, jumping back and forth between alternate Earths and different timelines. .
In a small manifestation of this, when Barry Allen/the Flash (Grant Gustin) and his wife Iris (Candice Patton) finally had their baby in the finale, the adult version of the baby from the future, Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy), has actually had the mind-blowing opportunity to stand and coo to herself.
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Subtitled “A New World, Part Four”, the latest episode did a lot of business, as the resurrected character of Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) gathered old villains to fight the Flash and his gang, including the alternate Earth Flash Jay Garrick, played by John Wesley Shipp, the star of the 1989 series. “The Flash” was well sentimental in this way, never more so than in its recurring use of Shipp and nods to history of comics.
With that over, the producers found time to let Iris’ father, Joe (Jesse L. Martin), not only briefly show off his singing skills on Broadway, but also propose to Cécile (Danielle Nicolet). “A New World” also brought back Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), an original character who never really left when you count all the alter egos Panabaker has played over the life of the show.
Anyone without an advanced degree in the Negative Velocity Force should be forgiven for potentially losing track of some of “The Flash’s” many moving parts. But especially in its early days, the show exemplified a genre that thrived on The CW and took big creative swings, including multi-part crossover episodes connecting various series.
Barry ended the episode on a hopeful note, not only sharing his powers, but telling his baby girl about a future world “where nothing should be impossible as long as we believe in it”.
Even in light of the changes sweeping the television industry and the uncertainty heightened by the writers’ strike, the CW’s future looks particularly unclear. And as “The Flash” pulls away, the kind of grand vision Barry has articulated already looks smaller in the rearview mirror.