Why The Flash Needs To Start Killing Characters Off
Spoilers ahead for Episode 13 of The Flash Season 5, called “Goldfaced.”
The Flash has never been the darkest or most deadly show in the Arrow-verse, but it does manage to serve up a seriously scary supervillain every year. Nevertheless, Team Flash has mostly been able to stick to its no-killing stance, and Barry has fought to keep himself on the straight and narrow without taking any lives at various points over the years. Now, after the events of “Goldfaced” and considering how Season 5 has progressed, I’d say that the time has come for The Flash to start killing characters off.
To be specific, The Flash needs to start killing off characters and keeping them dead. This show has the unfortunate habit of bringing characters back after ending their lives, and the trailer for next week’s episode points toward one member of Team Flash (who has already died and been brought back) being temporarily killed again. Moving forward, people need to die and stay dead if Season 5’s twists and turns are going to feel truly impactful. Here’s why.
For one thing, Barry and Team Flash are already quite violent, but The Flash doesn’t really acknowledge it. It’s not all that surprising, as The Flash also never really acknowledged how sketchy it was of Team Flash to illegally imprison metas in tiny cells in the pipeline early on in the series. Nor has The Flash acknowledged that Barry aged Griffin Grey to death when he was only a confused teenager who didn’t have to die.
They cross lines all the time, but it seems that they’re all okay with what they do as long as they don’t take lives. If killing is what it takes for Team Flash to really look at themselves and for The Flash to acknowledge lines being crossed, then that’s what needs to happen.
What brought me to this conclusion after “Goldfaced,” which actually saw Barry’s powers inhibited for the majority of the episode? Well, it’s what Barry did to a non-meta when he didn’t have his own meta abilities. When Ralph was on his back, being overpowered by a goon of the week, he yelled “Brick!” at Barry, intending for Barry to toss a brick his way. Instead, Barry chucked the brick at the goon’s head, hitting him and knocking him down hard.
This goon was obviously a bad person who needed to be taken down so that Ralph could get back on his feet, but he was a non-meta without any kind of shielding or healing powers. And Barry threw a brick at his head. Honestly, I would have been shocked to see Oliver Queen do that to a random goon over on Arrow, and Oliver loves his blunt objects! Even Ralph called Barry out on it, although gently, by saying that he only meant for Barry to give a brick to him. Barry didn’t bat an eye.
And yet Barry maintains that he doesn’t want to go so far as to kill people. Bricks to heads can result in death, Barry! If The Flash is going to have Barry and Co. using deadly force on characters, then those characters should die. I still haven’t forgotten Team Flash’s horror at Oliver’s dark tactics in the first Arrow/The Flash crossover. Shouldn’t they take a good look at themselves sometime?
I’m not suggesting that Team Flash is comprised of murderous monsters or sociopaths, but The Flash lets them go hard on the importance of not killing while still using what amounts to deadly force. The show should go with one or the other.
Team Flash should also really face the fact that killing Cicada would be the logical move, even if they would struggle with it. Cicada has already murdered a bunch of metas, and we know from the future that Cicada will kill at least 152 people, putting his kill count above Barry’s other villains, including one from Batman lore who has yet to make an appearance.
Admittedly, I’ve made a similar argument about Team Flash sacrificing their own comfort for the greater good and killing off their annual baddie in the past, but “Goldfaced” reinforced the need for either Cicada to die or The Flash to stop putting Team Flash is positions where they could kill him. In the episode, Iris gained the upper hand on Cicada in his own home, in what was a pretty violent fight. She had what seemed to be a prime opportunity to take him out; she did not.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Iris should have gone full American Psycho on Cicada in his kitchen, but it was a prime opportunity for some lasting damage to be done to Cicada, and it was impossible to overlook the fact that she had him at her mercy. She didn’t even seem to consider ending him, and it pulled me out of the action. The stakes didn’t feel high.
Of course Team Flash doesn’t want to kill him, especially after learning about his niece/daughter, and of course they’re working on a nonlethal way to take him out. What’s the point of the fight scenes of the good guys vs. Cicada if we know they don’t have a way to stop him yet and they’re not going to kill him? If characters are killed off and death on the table, the stakes can be raised again, and the suspense can build.
Finally, Nora really needs to face some consequences for her actions throughout Season 5. I’ve enjoyed Nora as a character and I understand her motivation as she’s gotten in over her head with her lies, but there’s no denying that her mistakes are piling up, and she’s almost certainly being led around by Reverse-Flash. That said, her decisions are her own, and after the 100th episode, she can’t claim not to know what Reverse-Flash has done.
In “Goldfaced,” she followed Reverse-Flash’s advice about how to get Sherloque off her scent. Sherloque has been the only member of Team Flash to suspect that Nora is up to something other than her usual shenanigans, and he’s been getting closer and closer to connecting her to Reverse-Flash. So, the latest episode saw Nora distract Sherloque by bringing back his ex-wives, theoretically to give him advice for dating their Earth-1 counterpart.
Sherloque did successfully connect with the Earth-1 version of the woman he’s married on various other Earths, and he realized that she’s a metahuman. Driven by the need to protect the woman he’s loved in other universes, he ended the episode by closing Nora’s file and preparing to work on Cicada again. Nora’s secret is safe, which is good for her, but is Sherloque being distracted by personal issues really the best for Team Flash and Central City?
Distracting Sherloque is dangerous, and even though Nora is arguably more lovable than Sherloque, he was really the one on the up-and-up in their dynamic. This is all on top of the dangers Nora has already created by racing back in time and changing the timeline. Yes, a bunch of metas have already died, but they’ve been Metas Of The Week. Somebody (or somebodies) we have reason to care about should die.
I’m not saying that one of the key members of Team Flash should bite the dust, nor am I saying that we should celebrate if somebody we care about dies to raise the stakes. But the season and storytelling could be improved by some deaths that pack emotional punches, especially with Nora digging herself deeper and deeper. Would Reverse-Flash really be satisfied with manipulations that don’t involve deaths that will haunt a member of the Allen family?
Only time will tell. New episodes of The Flash air on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. The show has officially been renewed for another season (along with all the other Arrow-verse shows), so there’s plenty of Scarlet Speedster action still to come, including the “Crisis On Earth-X” crossover that The CW President promises will be great.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.