Last night The Flash returned for its sixth season. It was, in many ways, a season premiere of The Flash (it’s almost like the show’s done six of those!): a new villain to face, some time travel bullshit, some crossover teasing, Iris is doing a journalism again, Barry’s moody about something. You know the drill. It was good, but made even better by something the show has been dying to do for years.
The villain of the week for “Into the Void” was Chester P. Runk—a name familiar to Flash comics fans. In the comics, Chester was an overweight nerd who, after testing an experimental matter transmitting machine he created, was transformed into a human black hole. In order to stop himself from being sucked into the bizarre reality his body was suddenly connected to, Chester gorged himself on anything he could get his hands on until he was 47 times his original size. Geddit! Fat jokes! Ah, comics.
Anyhoo, Chester—going by “Chunk” because, once again, fat jokes!—had a brief life of crime in the comics, using his black hole power to imprison people who slighted him in his life, until he eventually became an infrequent ally of Wally West’s version of the Flash, reforming himself into a wealthy businessman who used his black hole powers to conveniently disappear unwanted objects.
“Into the Void”’s version of Chester thankfully ditched the body-shaming but kept the powerset with a few tweaks. As black holes suddenly started randomly appearing around Central City—which, to be fair, is basically a regular occurrence in Central City at this point—Team Flash’s investigation leads them to a catatonic Chester. Like his comics counterpart, an accident with a science experiment gone wrong gave Chester the seemingly uncontrollable ability to open black holes around himself, but unlike the comics, the accident rendered him comatose instead of, well, forced to eat himself into a caricature.
While Barry and the STAR Labs crew immediately set about finding a way to close the portals via violent detonation, Iris’ own sleuthing leads to them uncovering that part of Chester’s consciousness is trapped inside the black holes he’s creating, giving him some latent ability to manipulate them even from his catatonic state—using a grenade Cisco developed to blow the holes up would kill Chester. Unwilling to let an innocent person die in the wake of so recently losing Nora, Barry eventually figures out an audacious plan to use Nora’s own anti-Cicada gauntlet to recover the separated parts of Chester’s brainwaves from inside the black holes...which also have now merged into a singular, giant hole above the city.
Look, this show’s never been big on science that can’t be explained by either “comic books” or “speedforce bullshit.” Anyway, Barry revs up to go into action and leap into the black hole. And, via Cisco, The Flash finally, finally does something that is incredibly goofy, completely rad, and something it has simply been yearning to do since it first began: Cisco taps a key on STAR Labs’ sound system.
And Queen’s Flash Gordon theme starts playing.
It’s so dumb. It’s so good. It is, as Cisco argues, the perfect moment to deploy the 1980 classic. You don’t care that the black hole CG comes with all the questionable success CW-budget computer effects usually bring. You don’t care that this has been, otherwise, a pretty humdrum episode of The Flash, and weirdly low key for a season premiere. This is what this show has always been, and hopefully always will be, about: embracing the sheer, kinetic, camp audacity of superhero comics and just having an absolute whale of a time while doing so.
Of course after the day’s saved and Queen stops playing, we have the now seemingly mandatory sequence on the DC/CW shows these days of the Monitor showing up to portend some dire news. In this case, Barry’s disappearance/death is happening sooner than planned, and a Crisis—the Crisis—is coming on December 10, 2019. Nice of the universe to schedule itself around the CW like that, isn’t it?
But Crisis on Infinite Crossovers aside, hell, the rest of “Into the Void” aside, at least we got this one gloriously silly moment before everything really starts hitting the speedforce fan for Barry and his friends. He’s for every one of us, indeed.
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