Spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of The Flash Season 6, called "Dead Man Running."
The majority of the buzz about the five shows of the Arrow-verse for quite a while has surrounded the upcoming "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover, and with good reason since it's going to be an event of unprecedented scale that sets up the end of Arrow, but the first few episodes of The Flash Season 6 have largely revolved around "Crisis" rather than the new big bad, and that may not be a good thing. Here's why.
One show of the Arrow-verse is already largely dedicated to launching "Crisis on Infinite Earths," and it makes sense for that show. Arrow ended its seventh season with The Monitor ruining Oliver's happy life with Felicity and baby Mia to collect on the deal they made in "Elseworlds," that Oliver would help The Monitor prevent the coming Crisis if it meant Barry, Kara, and more surviving. Basically, the present storylines of Arrow's final season seem primed to spend seven episodes setting up "Crisis." So why does The Flash need to more or less do the same?
Admittedly, The Flash is the Arrow-verse series that actually originally set up "Crisis" by teasing it all the way back in the first season, via the reveal of the future newspaper that established The Flash's disappearance in 2024. The timeline has of course been moved up, and the bombshell that Barry's death is (seemingly, at this point) the only way for the heroes to prevail over The Anti-Monitor means that The Flash does have to spend some time on "Crisis" before its ninth episode.
But setting up "Crisis" hasn't felt like a subplot in the first three episodes of Season 6 so far. Ever since The Monitor told Barry that he's going to have to die in the Crisis (which Oliver presumably won't be happy to hear about), that has loomed over everything. While I personally prefer the character-heavy setup of "Crisis" as Barry and Iris in particular deal with Barry's looming demise, it has meant that I really don't care too much about Ramsey Rosso as Bloodwork, and he was teased by new showrunner Eric Wallace as "the most terrifying foe that Team Flash has ever faced."
Now, The Flash doesn't always drop a ton of details about its big bads early in the season, but Bloodwork is only primed to be the big bad of the first portion of Season 6, with the end of his arc tying into "Crisis on Infinite Earths." That means that, as of the end of "Dead Man Running," The Flash only has five episodes to fully set up the rise of Ramsey as Bloodwork, explore the fleshed-out Bloodwork, and the fall of Bloodwork.
I want to care about Bloodwork. Sendhil Ramamurthy is great in the role, and I want to be on the edge of my seat in his scenes, not waiting to get back to the character-heavy stories about Barry and what he believes is his upcoming death. I want him to be the most terrifying foe that Team Flash has ever faced. Instead, Bloodwork feels like as much of as subplot as Killer Frost making a non-Caitlin life for herself to me.
Am I biased due to my preference for characterization over plot, especially when it comes to a show that deals with timelines and parallel Earths and alternate versions of characters as much as The Flash does? Sure, and of course I care more about how "Crisis" impacts the heroes of the Arrow-verse than this new villain. I'm just not even conflicted.
Until Bloodwork starts feeling more like a big bad and less like a villain of the week who happens to appear in several consecutive episodes, though, The Flash feels like the second Arrow-verse series designed to set up "Crisis" in this chunk of its season. I'm loving the "Crisis"-heavy Arrow so far, but I was under the impression that The Flash would be something different.
Did "Dead Man Running" forge a connection between Barry and Bloodwork via Rosso's realization that they're both facing death? Yes. Was that enough for a big bad who only has five more episodes to become "the most terrifying foe," when Team Flash has already faced the likes of Reverse Flash and Savitar? Not quite. I especially don't buy Season 6 attempting to sell me on Rosso and Caitlin as old friends close enough that Rosso would be offended she didn't confide in him about her meta side.
It's entirely possible that The Flash will pull it off and turn Bloodwork into the most terrifying big bad of the series to date in the next five episodes, and I hope I'm wrong about how the show is handling Bloodwork as the B-plot to "Crisis" so far. Find out when new episodes of The Flash air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.