The Flash season 9 ending explained: How does the Arrowverse end?
Stop, Barry. Stop.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Flash series finale
After nine years and 184 episodes, The Flash has finally reached the finish line – and it's the end of an era in more ways than one. Not only has Barry Allen's journey come to an end, but this long-awaited series finale also brings the Arrowverse to a close as well.
For viewers who first tuned in for the premiere of Arrow way back in 2012, few could have predicted that this world would expand to include hundreds more episodes across other fan-favourite shows like Batwoman, Supergirl, and Black Lightning.
As the last man standing, there's been a lot of pressure for The Flash to deliver a fitting end to this wider saga as well as its own story. It's rather fitting then that the series finale chooses to leave the door open for our scarlet speedster and all the other heroes too instead of saying goodbye for good.
The Flash ending explained: What happened to Barry and Eddie?
Barry Allen is renowned for messing up the timeline at any given opportunity, so it's no wonder that The Flash has built up quite a dense, convoluted mythology over these past nine years. But if you don't have time to zip through every season as fast as Barry does, all you need to know at this point is that there are four fundamental Forces in the Arrowverse which all have their own negative equivalent.
There's the Strength Force, the Still Force and the Sage Force, as well as the Speed Force which is where Barry draws his power from. At the culmination of this final four-parter, an old friend-turned-foe named Eddie Thawne has become the avatar for the Negative Speed Force.
Back when season 1 ended in 2015, Eddie shot himself in the heart to prevent his descendant, the villainous Eobard Thawne, from ever being born, thereby saving Team Flash from disaster. Except, Eobard came back time and time again, making Eddie's sacrifice pointless. When the Negative Speed Force brings him back to life, a resentful Eddie who's mad that Barry stole Iris from him takes on the role of Cobalt Blue as a new avatar.
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The plan is to kill Barry and destroy the Speed Force, but Eddie can't do it alone, so he enlists the help of all the other major speedster villains from previous seasons – Reverse-Flash, Savitar, Zoom, and Godspeed. It's a veritable who's who of men who hate Barry and died trying to beat him, so they're all pretty chuffed at the prospect of teaming up to take him down for good.
Eddie's "Legion" doesn't work out though. Villains who once took an entire season to beat are now vanquished with relative ease thanks to Barry and his powered-up friends who make for a far stronger version of Team Flash than we've ever seen before. Shout out to Cecile Horton for embracing her "Virtue" codename and kicking ass with a combination of TK and telepathy, Jean Grey-style.
In the end, Barry and Eddie face off one last time inside the Negative Speed Force, where our scarlet speedster does what he always does when his powers aren't enough. He reaches out using compassion to help Eddie see the error of his ways, reminding his old friend that he was once better than this. And maybe, just maybe, he shouldn't unleash all that timeline-destroying energy to kill everyone he ever knew?
Eddie's heart wins out, enabling him to overcome the influence of the Negative Speed Force. That's not to say he's been depowered though. As Khione explains, the Positive and Negative Speed Forces can now co-exist moving forward instead of always battling it out. It's a shame no one told them that earlier though as they could have missed out on nine seasons of relentless pain, conflict and death.
So that means Eddie is still Cobalt Blue, but he's no longer trying to kill Barry. As it stands, he's one of the good guys again, or at least not a total douche. And with that, Team Flash have finally broken the cycle that's plagued Central City since day one.
What happened to Khione?
There are still some tears to be had though. Long story short, Khione was a new alternate personality who's taken up residence inside Caitlin Snow's body after she and her other Frost personality were both destroyed through various hijinks we don't have space to get into here. Khione's journey in season 9 led her to realise that she represents a primal connection to the elements, which basically gives her cool, god-like powers.
In the finale, Khione decides to embrace this role as a nature deity in the Arrowverse, but in a surprise twist, her departure results in the return of Caitlin's mind to her body, which means she's resurrected just in time for a party at the end. That's especially good news for lover boy Mark Blaine, who's been mourning Caitlin for the better part of a year.
How did the Arrowverse end?
All the major players return for one last send-off to celebrate the birth of Nora, including Nora herself who hangs out at her own party, even holding her baby self at one point, paradox be damned!
With Nora's arrival and the team's victory sealed, Barry decides that it's time for a new beginning. In a touching voice-over, he explains to Baby Nora that Oliver Queen AKA Green Arrow once told him that the lightning chose Barry, so now it's time for Barry to do the choosing:
"Maybe if we can share a piece of ourselves, we can break out of our old cycles of violence and create a new world for you, Nora. A better one. One where we can co-exist, all of us together. A world where nothing has to be impossible. As long as we believe in it."
And with that Barry hurls the Speed Force's lightning out into Central City where it finds three new people to transform into speedsters like The Flash. All three are key characters from DC Comics who the Arrowverse never got round to bringing on screen, until now.
The first, Avery Ho, previously appeared briefly in season 8, but this is the first time her superhero identity has been introduced. Comic book fans will know Avery as China's Flash who helps form the JLC AKA Justice League of China.
Next up is Max Mercury, a DC hero who first appeared way back in 1940’s National Comics #5. Originally, he was a US Cavalry scout who was granted speed powers by an Indigenous American shaman after he refused orders to slaughter his tribe. Since then, he's fought alongside various iterations of The Flash under a bunch of names, and even went on to mentor Bart Allen, who's known as Barry's son on the show.
Finally, there's Jess Chambers, a very recent addition to the comics who debuted in 2021’s Generations: Shattered #1. Kid Quick, as they're known, uses a special equation to channel the Speed Force. It's a shame that we won't get to see more of the Arrowverse's Kid Quick now though as their comic book counterpart is one of DC's few non-binary heroes, which would be another win for the Arrowverse when it comes to positive, meaningful representation.
And in that regard, it's also a shame that the Arrowverse as a whole has come to an end now too. Despite a recent dip in quality, this shared universe remained a hugely impressive feat for TV, one which consistently fought to represent marginalised voices in ways that big screen Marvel and DC ventures could learn a lot from.
But maybe there's still hope yet for the Arrowverse to return one day, whether it be on TV or in the comics that inspired this world in the first place. Superheroes never stay dead for long, after all.
The Flash seasons 1-7 are available to stream on Sky and NOW. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.
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