Warning:this article contains full spoilers for The Flash: Season 9!
Flash has been on the air for almost a decade. To say that the series has gotten a little convoluted over time would be putting it mildly. Each new season introduced more speed villains, added new wrinkles to the Speed Force, and shook up the show's ever-evolving supporting cast. Lapsed Flash viewers who chose to watch the series finale may barely recognize the series as it exists now.
We hope we can lend a helping hand there. Let's break down everything that happens in The Flash season 9 finale: and how it all adds up to the show's increasingly intricate mythology. We'll even explain those three new speedsters that debut in the final scene.
Povratak Eddieja Thawnea i Negative Speed Force
The Flash culminates in one final, epic showdown between Grant Gustin's Barry Allen and the Negative Speed Force, the dark opposite of the energy source that gives Barry his speed. Although the Negative Speed Force concept has technically existed since the beginning of the series (it was the source of Reverse-Flash's power in Season 1), the series has only begun to delve into the concept in more recent seasons. We now know that there are four fundamental forces in the Arrowverse - The Force of Speed, The Force of Strength, The Force of Stillness, and The Force of Sage. Each Force also has its negative equivalent.
The introduction of these other forces has definitely complicated the mythology that has fueled the series over the past few seasons. But all you really need to know is that the Negative Speed Force was looking for an avatar to stand up to Team Flash and help them destroy the Speed Force, allowing it to grow unfettered. In the climactic four-part story "A Better World," that avatar is none other than Rick Cosnett's Eddie Thawne.
Here, The Flash circles back to Season 1, when Cosnett was still a series regular. Season 1 culminates with Eddie's decision to shoot himself and end his family bloodline, thus ensuring that his descendant, Tom Cavanagh's Eobard Thawne, is never born and never threatens the world. The forces of negative speed have plucked Eddie from 2014 and tempt him with the promise of recreating the life he gave up. If Eddie becomes an avatar of the Negative Speed Force, called Cobalt Blue, he can kill Barry and create a new timeline where he is Central City's favorite son.
As a sidebar, Cobalt Blue is another fast-paced villain drawn from the Flash comics, though as with many of his counterparts, the series only loosely adapts the source material. The original Cobalt Blue is actually Barry's long-lost twin brother who was adopted by the Thawnes and grew up to harbor a strong grudge against Barry.
The series finale features Cobalt Blue forming an alliance with all the major villains from previous seasons - Reverse-Flash, Savitar, Teddy Sears' Zoom and Karan Oberoi's Godspeed. Reverse-Flash has become an incredibly complex villain himself over the course of nine seasons, considering how many times he's supposedly died and come back. Time travel has a nasty habit of making everything even more confusing. Season 8 seemed to finally close the door on the Flash/Reverse-Flash rivalry, but Season 9 still managed to bring Thawne back more than once. In this case, this is apparently a version of Thawne drawn right before his defeat and destruction in the Season 1 finale, thus being played by Tom Cavanagh, not Matt Letscher.
Season 8 seemed to finally close the door on the Flash/Reverse-Flash rivalry, but Season 9 still managed to bring Thawne back more than once.
As we see, Eddie's "legion" is a short-lived alliance, and the Flash ends up facing Cobalt Blue inside the Negative Speed Force as he gathers a potentially lethal amount of energy. As is often the case on this show, Barry uses his empathy and compassion to break through where his speed fails him. He appeals to Eddie's inner goodness and allows his old friend to overcome the perverse influence of the Negative Speed Force.
This allows Barry to finally break the cycle of death and destruction that has driven the show since Season 1. Building on what Khione Danielle Panabaker tells him about the "natural order of things", Barry comes to understand that the two speed forces do not exist in eternal conflict, but can coexist as two sides of the same coin. As the series closes, Eddie is still Cobalt Blue and an avatar of the Negative Speed Force, but no longer necessarily Barry's enemy. He got a second chance to become a hero. It is simply an open question whether they will be able to make the most of that opportunity and whether the two Speed Forces will continue to coexist in cosmic harmony.
Khion or Frost? What's the deal with Caitlin Snow?
Reverse-Flash may be the most convoluted character in the Arrowverse, but Danielle Panabaker's three Flash roles aren't far behind. Fans who haven't watched The Flash since the early seasons may not know what to make of Panabaker in the finale, as she's no longer playing Caitlin Snow, but a completely different but physically identical character named Khione.
The TL;DR for Caitlin these days is that she discovered the existence of an alternate personality in her mind called Frost. This personality has existed since childhood. There was a period where the two personalities took turns controlling Caitlin's body, but after a confrontation with the Mirror Monarch in season 7, Frost got her own body. Caitlin and Frost existed as twin sisters of sorts, until Frost's death in Season 8. Caitlin built a machine to try to resurrect Frost's consciousness, only to end up erasing her own mind and replacing it with a new personality, Khion.
This was the basis of Khione's ongoing arc in Season 9, as she came to terms with the fact that she was actually a newborn human in an adult body. Khione discovered her primal connection with the natural world. And thanks to "The New World," we now know that Khione is a literal nature goddess with all the awesome powers that come with the job.
Khione finally embraces her role in the Arrowverse and rises as a full-on goddess in the series finale. But she leaves Team Flash with a parting gift. After leaving Caitlin Snow's body, Caitlin's mind is able to take control again. Caitlin was actually resurrected after Khione's departure. The Frost side of her mind is clearly still dead, but it's still a happy development for Team Flash in general, and especially for her old lover, Jon Cor's Mark Blaine.
Who are the new Arrowverse Speedsters?
While we see Team Flash celebrating their victory against the Negative Speed Force and the birth of baby Nora in the finale, that's not where the series ends. In the closing moments of the finale, Barry returns to Central City and summons the Speed Force lightning bolts. He decides it's time to share his incredible powers with the world, transforming three ordinary people into brand new speedsters. Think of it like the Shazam movies, where Zachary Levi's Shazam gives some of his powers to his foster siblings.
As you might expect, all three speeders are based on comic book characters. Piper Curd's Avery Ho is a character who previously appeared in a couple of Season 8 episodes, including one where she bonded with Barry's time-displaced son, Bart (Jordan Fisher). In the comics, Avery is one of several residents of Central City who gain speed powers after a Speed Force storm hits the city. She eventually becomes the designated Flash for China and helps form the Justice League of China.
Trevor Carroll's Max Mercury is a character with a long and honorable DC history. Originally called Quicksilver (decades before Marvel's Quicksilver hit the scene), Max Mercury dates all the way back to National Comics #5 in the 1940s. His modernized origin story revealed that Max was originally a scout in the US Cavalry in the 19th century, before refusing orders to slaughter an Indiana tribe. A Native American shaman gave Max the power of incredible speed, which he used to become a superhero and eventually a mentor to Bart Allen.
The Arrowverse has obviously made some major tweaks to that origin story. This version of Max is not from the 1800s, and he himself appears to be American Indian. It's probably the show's way of avoiding a white savior figure while also acknowledging Max Mercury's connection to Native American mythology.
Finally, there's Jess Chambers Hana Destiny Huggins. Jess is a relatively new addition to the DC Comics library, having debuted in 2021's Generations: Shattered #1. They are codenamed Kid Quick and use a special equation (3X2(9YZ)4A) to access the Speed Force. Kid Quick is also known for being the cousin of Jesse Quick of the JSA and one of DC's first non-binary heroes.
If DC were to continue The Flash in some form, we would undoubtedly see Barry begin to mentor these three heroes and continue to build on his superhero legacy. However, there is no indication that DC will continue The Flash or any other Arrowverse series now that the CW has canceled those shows andturned in the direction of less superheroes. The Flash is the last of the Arrowverse to be canceled. Technically, Superman & Lois and Gotham Knights still exist, but neither is part of the same universe as The Flash, and the outlook for both shows is bleak.
There is no indication that DC will continue with The Flash or any other Arrowverse series now that the CW has canceled those shows and pivoted in a less superhero direction.
It's always possible that DC will revisit the Arrowverse in comic book form, as they've done with past projects like The Flash: Season Zero andArrow: Dark Archer. But we wouldn't hold our breath for a full The Flash: Season 10. Even the decision to extend the show to nine seasons came relatively late in the production of Season 8, showrunner Eric Wallace revealedthe season 8 finale had to be rewrittento set up these last 13 episodes. The season 9 finale may leave a lot of doors open for Barry and his friends, but that doesn't mean there was ever any intention to continue the story past this point.
And maybe that's the best. As big, weird, and often confusing as The Flash's mythology has become over the years, there's a lot to be said for when to let go. And who knows, maybe we'll see Gustin's Barry cameo in the upcoming Flash movie, the same way Ezra Miller's Barry stopped by during Crisis on Infinite Earths. It would be one way of reminding viewers that the legacy of the Arrowverse lives on, even as The Flash closes the door on this era of DC's TV line.
For more on DC's cinematic future, refreshevery DC movie and series in development.
Jesse is a soft-spoken writer for IGN. Let him lend a machete to your intellectual thicketby following @jschedeen on Twitter.