The Flash: Did "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen Pt. 1" Set Up Red Death?

With "Crisis on Infinite Earths" just a matter of days away - and quite a lot of threats still existing in Central City - it's safe to say that The Flash currently has a lot on its plate. This week's episode put that - and its titular hero - to the test, in the first installment of an emotional two-part finale. While fans will surely be worrying about the immediate effect of the storyline on Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin), the latest trial he's had to endure could have bigger repercussions -- and potentially introduce a highly-anticipated new villain. Spoilers for this week's episode of The Flash, "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 1" below! Only look if you want to know!

The episode saw Barry being put in a sort of mental prison, as both Ramsey Rosso/Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and the physical embodiment of the Speed Force (Michelle Harrison) fought for control of Barry's emotions. Throughout the episode, Ramsey showed Barry what his post-Crisis life could be like - complete with a happy family and the birth of Nora West-Allen - if he injected himself with his Bloodwork powers. After a literal tug-of-war between the two beings for Barry's soul, Barry woke up in the "real world", and proceeded to spend his pre-"Crisis" hours finding Ramsey. As Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) and the rest of Team Flash quickly realized, that wasn't the Barry they knew -- and he had quickly been overtaken by Bloodwork. Barry then changed into his Flash suit, as a corrupted (and kinda gross-looking) version of himself went to meet up with Bloodwork.

While that alone is a pretty harrowing situation for Barry to be put in, it seems reasonable to wonder what will happen after the eventual resolution of it (because come on, Barry most likely isn't going to be oozing black blood out of his body for all of "Crisis"). Given the core elements at play - namely, Barry's connection to the Speed Force seemingly becoming corrupted - we can't help but wonder if next week's "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 2" will eventually set the stage for the Red Death. The villainous speedster was initially name-dropped on The Flash earlier this year, when the future Flash Museum named the speedster as one of the deadliest villains Central City has ever endured.

In the comics, Red Death is Earth -52's version of the Scarlet Speedster, who was created after a volatile Bruce Wayne and a corrupted Barry Allen fuse into one being. Barry's consciousness essentially becomes trapped inside of Bruce, and Bruce uses his newfound speedster abilities to eventually join The Batman Who Laughs' Dark Knights.

Even with the Arrowverse's newfound access to corners of the Bat-family, some have questioned the ability for The Flash to essentially have Bruce Wayne be a potential Big Bad for the series. Theories have popped up about how the general idea of Red Death could be adapted for the series, mainly relying on Stephen Amell's Oliver Queen becoming a stand-in for Bruce. But there is a chance that The Flash could essentially have their cake and eat it too -- using the core concept and terrifying character design of the Red Death without needing a Bruce Wayne analog.

Depending on how Bloodwork's serum eventually gets expunged from Barry, it certainly doesn't seem impossible that a manifestation of that sickness could still exist in some way. At that point, all the dark side of Barry and the Speed Force would need to do is form or bond to some sort of host, whether that be a Time Wraith or (possibly) even the Speed Force itself, as Barry pointed out in this week's episode that the latter can change its physical form however it wants. Especially depending on how "Crisis" shakes out - and whether or not Barry fulfills his destiny of dying in the event - there's a chance that the Speed Force could be seeking retribution against Barry. Not only would it be a dark and unique twist on the basics of who Red Death is, but it would provide a pretty formidable foe for Barry to face at some point in the future.

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The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.