Warning! SPOILERS for The Flash season 8.
A new fan theory suggests that the serial killer plaguing Central City in The Flash season 8 could be tied to the defeat of Despero during the Armageddon event. If this is the case, it could fix how poorly served the alien villain was by the finale of the series' opening arc. It would also explain certain aspects of the serial killer's superpowers that don't fit other theories, such as the killer being an Arrowverse version of the villain Cobalt Blue.
Played by Tony Curran, Despero was introduced in The Flash season 8 premiere as an alien hero from the future who had adopted Earth as his home after being unjustly exiled from the planet Kalanor. Claiming that he had to kill Barry Allen in order to save the timeline, Despero was an imposing figure, capable of fighting many foes at once thanks to his tremendous strength, psychic powers, and his command of the mystic Flame of Py'tar. This last power proved to be his undoing, however, as Barry was able to channel the energy of the Flame of Py'tar into the atmosphere using a Particle Eradication Distributor that had been built into his new gold boots, leaving Despero apparently powerless and cursing the Flash before his body burst into flame and dissipated.
This anticlimactic ending to Despero's story was one of many reasons some felt the final chapter of Armageddon ruined the storyline. However, new developments revealed in the The Flash episode "Phantoms" regarding the specific powers of the Cold-Fusion Killer and a sentient fire that didn't obey the normal laws of physics might indicate a connection to Despero. The sentient fire could foreshadow the return of the time-traveling alien in a far more dangerous form.
The Flash's Sentient Fire Explained
Following the end of Armageddon event, The Flash season 8 came to center around the investigation into a metahuman murderer who burned their victims to death. The original prime suspect was Jaco "The Hotness" Birch, a recently paroled metahuman thief with fire-starter powers. Birch was cleared, however, after Team Flash's tech guru Chester P. Runk determined that the fires that killed the first two victims were the result of cold-fusion rather than Birch's ability to absorb and redirect ambient heat.
The discovery of a third victim in The Flash season 8, episode 9, "Phantoms" indicated a superpowered serial killer was at work in Central City. Chester almost became the killer's fourth victim after capturing a sample of their black fire in a micro-catalyzed containment unit, apparently attracting the killer's attention in the process. Beyond being able to remotely conjure up black flames that could focus upon specific targets, the Cold-Fusion Killer was also determined to have telepathic abilities, as they menaced Chester with images of his father, who had died in a fire.
Another important clue regarding the Cold-Fusion Killer was gleaned by Team Flash's empath Cecile Horton while confronting a manifestation of the black fire with Chester and Allegra. Cecile claimed to sense "...the pain of thousands of people, maybe more..." radiating from an illusion of Chester's father and that the Cold-Fusion Killer (whatever it was) fed on the grief of others. This explained why it targeted Chester, having sensed his fear of fire and the emotional connection of that fear to his father.
The Flash's Sentient Fire Could Hit At Despero's Return
The data regarding the Cold-Fusion Killer revealed in The Flash episode "Phantoms" indicate a level of power far beyond that of a typical metahuman. Ignoring Cecile's impression of the Killer being a psychic parasite who fed on pain, the Cold-Fusion killer manifested two distinct power sets, with displays of pyrokinesis and telepathy. That sort of versatility is also atypical of the average Central City metahuman. It is, however, entirely consistent with the powers and power level of Despero when one accounts for the Flame of Py'tar.
First appearing in Justice League of America #249, the Flame of Py'tar was described as a remnant of the nuclear energy responsible for creating the planet Kalanor. Those who were willing to brave the flames and test themselves would find their bodies enhanced by Py'tar's might. It was through this ritual that Despero was able to regain his lost powers and return to fight the Justice League stronger than ever.
The idea that the Flame of Py'tar is connected to the Cold-Fusion Killer makes a great deal of sense and would redeem how The Flash's Armageddon event wasted Despero. While the Arrowverse version of the Flame of Py'tar manifested as ordinary orange flames when Despero summoned it, it seemed to be similarly selective about what it would and would not burn. Presuming the Arrowverse Flame of Py'tar is a nuclear power source as in the comics, this would explain the Cold-Fusion nature of the flames. Beyond that, Despero was a powerful telepath who was easily able to kill all of Team Flash in an alternate timeline. Reading Chester's mind to determine his worst fears and exposing him to them would have been easy enough, as Despero manipulated Barry Allen with similar illusions during The Flash's Armageddon event.
The Flash Cold-Fusion Killer Twist Is Better For Despero Than Armageddon
Beyond the idea of Despero having returned more powerful than ever as a vengeful ghost or disembodied presence, there is another frightening possibility. Namely that the Cold-Fusion Killer is the Flame of Py'tar itself, operating independently of Despero's will. The comics implied that the Flame of Py'tar had an intelligence behind it, as something had to determine who was worthy to wield it. It's entirely possible that by breaking Despero's connection to the Flame of Py'tar, Barry Allen may have freed a bound entity and let it loose to run unchecked. This would not be the first time Barry Allen had done something like this, having accidentally given birth to three new cosmic Forces in The Flash season 7.
Whether the Cold-Fusion Killer is Despero in a new form or the Flame of Py'tar itself manifesting as a murderous force of chaos, it is a far better use of both concepts than they received during the Armageddon event. It would also lend an ironic echo to Despero's final words, in which he told Barry Allen that he had no idea what he had done by depowering Despero and swore by the moons Kalanor that The Flash and his whole planet would pay for his folly. It seems likely that the Cold-Fusion Killer may be the result of Barry Allen's choices, one way or another.
New episodes of The Flash release Wednesdays on the CW.