The Flash (2014): The Complete Eighth Season Blu-ray Review: Starting to Wear Thin

The Arrowverse is dead. Well, almost. What began with a single show, Arrow in 2012, quickly grew and grew until there were a total of seven shows all more or less tied to a single connected universe. That’s a lot of shows, and with each of them doing around 20 episodes per season that’s a lot of TV to keep up on. I don’t know about everybody else, but it was too much TV for me to keep up with. We are big fans of The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow in my family, and we’ve been working our way through Arrow. But we gave up on Supergirl after Season 4, and while I enjoyed Season 1 of Batwoman, I’ve yet to crack open the box of the following seasons (knowing Ruby Rose did not return as Kate Kane/Batwoman really flattened my interest). I’ve yet to even bother with newer shows like Superman and Lois or Black Lightning. Truth be told. we’ve kind of petered out with Arrow somewhere in Season 4, though I do think we’ll work our way through it eventually.

My point is that if I’m having trouble keeping up with all of the shows, then I suspect quite a few others are as well. This can be seen by the fact that the CW has been canceling the series right and left. Arrow came to an end on its own terms after eight seasons in 2020, and The Flash has been renewed for a ninth and final season, which is set to air next year. But the other shows were recently all canceled, sometimes without any sort of warning. Technically, Superman and Lois is still going as it was renewed for a third season, but it is only tangentially related to the other series and not actually part of the Arrowverse.

I can’t honestly say that I’m that upset about any of this. I do love some of these shows, and I always mean to start watching the shows I’ve not yet seen, but as I said it is all a bit much. The trouble with running a shared universe, especially with the demands of basic cable television, is that each series has to have a certain uniformity. They cannot be wildly different from each other or they wouldn’t seem connected to one another. While that uniformity breeds familiarity, it can also become a bit exhausting. Trying to keep up with so many episodes from so many shows that all more-or-less look and feel the same is, well, like I keep saying, a bit much.

The Flash is the one I’ve kept up with the most and for the longest amount of time. I’ve always enjoyed the way they balance the action with the humor, the character drama, and the relationships. But even it has started to wear thin. In a word, Season 7 kind of sucked. Season 8 doesn’t fair that much better.

Like the previous two seasons, this season is broken down into what they call “graphic novels,” which are like mini-seasons within the larger season containing their own story arcs and mini-Big Bads. Season 8 contains three graphic novels, one of which is the annual crossover event (which is more like a mini-crossover, we’ll get to that in a minute and I promise I’ll stop adding “mini” to everything right now) plus a couple of “interludes.”

The cross-over, “Armageddon,” begins the season and lasts five episodes. Despero (Tony Curran), a psychic alien from the future tells Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) that he will be the cause of Armageddon, a world-destroying event in the near future. In previous crossover events, a super big bad (I told you I wouldn’t say “mini” anymore, but I didn’t promise to not go big) announces itself in one of the Arrowverse shows, then characters from all or most of the other shows unite, and the story plays out over all of their shows. But since the Flash is basically the last (super) man standing all of the episodes are his, and not a lot of other heroes show up, and when they do, they don’t do a whole lot.

Ray Palmer/The Atom (Brandon Routh) arrives in the first episode. He’s there to attend a tech convention but suits up to help the Flash with his Despero problem. And then he just leaves. Seriously. They both fight the villain and lose badly, but at the last moment, the Atom is able to send Despero somewhere else in time. Then he just leaves. Even though we know Despero will be back, Ray is just like “see ya later” and he’s gone.

In another episode, Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) shows up to assist Barry in something or other but he too splits before the day is saved. There is a bit of time-jiggering which I won’t get into but this briefly allows a bunch of other characters to show up in an episode but for not much more than cameos. For a full review of “Armageddon”, you can read our coverage starting with Part 1.

Deathstorm, in the guise of Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell) shows up in the graphic novel “Death Revisited.” When Ronnie died, some part of his essence was absorbed by Deathstorm, making him want to connect to Caitlyn Snow (Danielle Panabaker). But first, he has to absorb enough grief to become ultra-powered or something. He creates ghosts from nearly every character’s past so that their grief will become overpowering and charge him even faster. It also gives each actor a chance to over-emote. It ends with one of the main character’s death which I have to admit was actually pretty emotionally powerful.

With the third and final graphic novel, “It’s All Negative,” Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) continues to struggle with her time sickness and the rest of the team once again battle the Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanah in what is billed as a special guest star, since he officially left the series last season). Barry and Iris’ kids both show up as well, which is always fun.

In my review of Season 7, I noted that I was none too impressed with the new characters on Team Flash. Those being Chester P. Ronk (Brandon McKnight) and Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton). I can’t say my opinion has really changed. They are fine. I don’t actively dislike them, but after so many seasons and so many episodes, trying to get me to love new characters in this show is difficult, and they just aren’t doing it for me.

The rest of the main cast continues to be great. The relationship stuff has always been my least favorite part of the show, and while that is still very present, I’ve learned to power through it on most episodes, and occasionally actually let my heart into the matter.

The problems I had with Season 7 continue to plague Season 8. I don’t jive with the new characters, the old ones are still experiencing the same types of problems they always have, and the series has been dipping a little too hard into the same well of villains. This is partially a problem that most shows have once they’ve gone on for this long, and partially, it is just me getting tired of the entire Arrowverse. Series like The Flash is sometimes successful as comfort food. It is nice to return to something familiar after a long, hard day at work. But it is also nice to experience something fresh and exciting. There are just too many good shows out there for me to want to continue coming back to this one. That being said, I probably will return for Season 9 as I do want to see how it finally ends. Here’s hoping they come up with something interesting.

Extras on this Blu-ray include a gag reel, deleted scenes for most episodes, and a couple of featurettes.

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Mat Brewster

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