February 22, 2024

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for The Flash Season 9 Episodes 1-6]Batwoman fans rejoiced when the news broke Javier Leslie would return for the ninth and final season the flash. Meanwhile Batwoman It fared better than other shows in the Arrowverse with its cancellation and ended with its story mostly resolved, making it an exciting prospect for a fitting epilogue for Ryan Wilder. But now Leslie’s brief tenure the flash is complete, it’s clear the show never intended to give Ryan Wilder a final farewell. Instead, he used it as a prop for his characters’ stories at the expense of the story and Ryan himself. The result is an unsatisfying epilogue that fails Batwoman as a show and a character.


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‘The Flash’s Red Death is not ‘Batwoman’s Ryan Wilder

Image via The CW

The first problem is that the flash He brought back Leslie not as the Earth Prime version of Ryan Wilder we already know, but as a version of himself from another timeline. Specifically, it is a crossover of the Reverse-Flashpoint timeline from Season 8’s “Armageddon” crossover. This version of Ryan is a vicious antithesis to the character’s fans Batwoman already know The Red Death is a violent vigilante who sees himself as the only thing standing between order and chaos. He is willing to kill, considers criminals as lesser beings and uses his philosophy to justify doing terrible things. In the second part of “The Mask of the Red Death,” he calls upon an army of psychic projections of himself to act as ever-vigilant sentinels, maintaining his version of “law and order” throughout the world. He describes himself as “judge, jury and executioner”.

Meanwhile, Earth Prime’s Ryan Wilder is a strong advocate for social justice, fighting corruption, organized crime, and anything that unfairly affects Gotham’s outcasts as Batwoman and the CEO of Wayne Industries. One of the show’s main recurring antagonistic forces is the Crows, a private security firm hired by Gotham to create an authoritarian police state similar to the one the Red Death sought to establish. Simply put, Ryan is against everything the Red Death stands for.

‘The Flash’ gives Ryan Wilder barely any screen time

Javicia Leslie as Red Death/Batwoman in The Flash Season 9
Image via The CW

On paper, it sounds like it could be a fascinating premise. The Red Death is a dark mirror for Ryan, a great role that can force him to examine himself and his beliefs from a new angle. But the flash it’s not a show about Ryan – it’s about the truly massive amount of characters the show has assembled over its 9-year run. And the Earth Prime version of Ryan doesn’t appear until the final minutes of the story, just in time for the final showdown. There’s no time to explore the characters in depth if you haven’t seen them Batwoman in any case, you might struggle to name anything specific about his character based on what you see in these episodes.

There are several problems with this. First, it robs the Red Death story of any emotional impact it might have had on Team Flash in particular. The story of the Red Death in the comics has a lot of its emotional weight because Flash and Batman are friends, and the terrible things Bruce does to take Barry’s speed and become the Red Death is a terrible betrayal of their friendship. . But in the Arrowverse, Ryan barely knows Barry (Grant Gustin), much less any of the rest of Team Flash. The show tries to realize that by making this version of Ryan good friends with Iris (Candice Patton) in his timeline, but it’s vague because it’s not a relationship that Iris or the audience have any investment in. If Ryan from Earth Prime was around for an entire episode or more, he could become that emotional anchor. Seeing him trying to win the trust of these established heroes as his evil doppelgänger running around the city killing people would make for a compelling story.

‘The absence of Real Ryan on The Flash hurts the story

The Red Death in The Flash Season 9
Image via The CW

Second, it means that the emotional weight of the story must be carried by the weaker characters. “Mask of the Red Death” chose to anchor itself emotionally around Chillblaine’s story (Jon Cor), recently added to Team Flash. the flash has struggled with believable and consistent characterization in recent seasons, and Chillblaine is one of the worst offenders. Her love story with Frost (Danielle Panabaker) never quite proved that he turned over a new leaf, so when he sided with the Red Death in “Rogues of War” with the promise of helping him bring Frost back from the dead, Team Flash’s reaction falls flat. The emotional core of “Mask of the Red Death” is Chillblaine not realizing that Team Flash has his back, even though he’s never done anything to earn that position or Team Flash has ever done anything to help him in a meaningful way up to that point. . This story is good in concept but poorly executed. It’s a particularly odd choice for episodes featuring another major Arrowverse star at the end of a 5-episode story arc.

Finally, and most importantly, keeping Ryan on the sidelines for so long robs her (and Leslie!) of a chance to have one last meaningful appearance as Batwoman. Instead, he becomes a prop in the stories the flashthe characters of The Red Death offers an opportunity for Chillblaine’s betrayal. It’s also a microcosm of the things that make Joe West persuasive (Jesse L. Martin) to leave the Central City. It offers no significant philosophical challenge to Team Flash; he’s a badass, and Ryan only shows up to help beat things up. Compare this to the previous Arrowverse crossover super girl“The best in the world” or the flash“Dueto”, where the main characters of both shows are essential to the story being told. There’s a better hypothetical version of “The Mask of the Red Death” that involves Team Flash finding and bringing Earth Prime’s Ryan Wilder to help track down and defeat the Red Death. And that version of the crossover would have been a much better epilogue for Ryan’s character, highlighting him as a hero one last time instead of being pushed to the sidelines.

“The Mask of the Red Death” really feels like a missed opportunity. Javicia Leslie clearly had a lot of fun taking on a more sinister role for these episodes, but there was no need to limit herself to that. If there is the flash‘s final season is trying to be a departure for the Arrowverse as a whole, it needs to be ready to tell the stories of the characters it stars in. Even though the show has been lined up for countless cameos and guest appearances for this season, it still seems too late for Batwoman.

new episodes of the flash Airs Wednesdays on The CW. You can watch the promo for the upcoming episode “Wildest Dreams” below.

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