The two-part fall finale of The Flash season 6 began this week, and the first installment is one of the show’s best episodes ever. As Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) prepares for Crisis on Infinite Earths, Ramsey Rosso (Sendhil Ramamurthy) made his biggest move yet as the big bad continues to achieve his goal. The first half of the season has been following Ramsey attempting to defeat death itself and make immortality possible. As the character has grown into his role as Bloodwork, the foe decided to go after the Scarlet Speedster, being aware of Barry’s impending death. “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 1” took The CW drama into deeper territory with Barry being challenged on a psychological level.
Knowing that he is soon sacrificing his life in the coming Crisis, Ramsey was determined to win Barry over. After battling with Bloodwork, Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer) had to be saved through Barry’s blood. But during the events, Barry ended up being infected by a piece of Ramsey’s blood, which kicks the main plot into motion. This took the show inside Barry’s mind where he had to overcome the temptation of Ramsey’s offer to oppose death itself. Through a journey with the Speed Force, in the shape of his dead mother, the 7th episode helped the series raise the bar for itself. Rather than relying on super-speed to stop Ramsey, Barry was pushed to questioning everything he stands for and believes in since becoming The Flash. The story, ultimately, becomes about the battle for Barry’s soul, which will carry into part 2.
Not only does it showcase how far the series has come, but it became one of Gustin’s finest hours in the Barry Allen role. From start to finish, the episode highlights Gustin demonstrating what he has and can still bring to the table as one of DC’s most iconic heroes. With less focus on speeding around in a super-suit, viewers got to go on an emotional rollercoaster with the leading character. From every scene where he goes from scared to angry, hopeful to doubtful and, ultimately, determined to broken, Gustin gets to own the spotlight in a new refreshing way. Despite the first part of the mid-season finale having other strong arcs, Barry’s internal battle is what makes the episode stand out as one of The Flash’s strongest hours ever.
Critics and fans alike have made clear about Gustin’s performance as it becomes a reminder of how far the actor, the character, and the series as a whole, has gotten since 2014. The show began with Barry being in the early days of his coming-of-age story that has had a through-line season after season. Now in its 6th year, it has become clear that The Flash is now following a Barry Allen that has embraced adulthood and evolved as both a superhero and a man. What this episode also adds to the character’s overall arc is the reminder that despite his powers, Barry is still human in every way possible. One of the biggest emotional beats is Barry, literally, being tugged between the Speed Force and Bloodwork, serving as his personal angel and devil respectively.
It’s episodes like “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 1” that helps The Flash elevate as being more than a comic book TV show. The way Ramsey has been executed through the first half of the season is also another bonus for the show. It makes Bloodwork the strongest non-speedster villain because it forces the main hero to confront a foe’s philosophy rather than stopping a weapon or a plan to destroy Central City. As Crisis on Infinite Earths arrives, viewers will first get to see how The Flash tackles Barry having turned into Negative Flash as the Bloodwork saga comes to an end.