Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of The Flash. To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
“The sound of your voice will always bring me home.”
There is a creeping sense of déjà vu in some of tonight’s more emotional scenes. Nora Allen has been the catalyst for more than one of Barry’s greater decisions. He dedicated his adolescence and and young adult life to finding her murdered and then almost changed the timeline to save her life, before having to make the ultimate sacrifice as he watched her die once again. I was weary of the show giving us another moment where Barry gets to confront his mother (some version of her at least) due to last years finale “Fast Enough” holding a high bar for the type of emotional gut punch the show is capable of delivering. Despite the feeling of familiar territory, it’s the tone of the exchange and how this is Barry accepting what he did, what he left behind and how he’ll carry the weight of it for the rest of his life that marks a change in how the scenes have gone before.
Barry is once again separated from the rest of the gang. While the reanimated meta-human is beyond inconsequential, just there as a way to give the Star Labs crew something to do that isn’t just try to save Barry, the team dynamics and performers do more than enough to give weight and hilarity to the moments. Carlos Valdes in particular is in top form this week as Cisco, delivering all of the best one liners of the episode and helping break up the severity of Barry’s situation and the concern Joe and Harry have for their children. He and Harry make a dynamic comedic pair and the humor in their similarities is greatly mined this week.
The work in the labs at at the West home also allow further exploration of the potential of Jessie and Wally being speedsters. It would seem the jury is still out based on the former it would seem that for now Wally has been unaffected. While there’s a portion of me that would have enjoyed seeing Kid Flash onscreen, it also feels too soon. There are already a number of speedsters running around and while I’m sure the show could make Wally’s arc intriguing, I would be worried how they’d differentiate between his and Barry’s storylines.
Iris also get’s a strong week and Candice Patton continues to demonstrate an ability to do a lot with a little as she makes every decision Iris makes this week feel strong and empowered. She uses herself as bait and then is the only person able to find Barry in the speed force.
Which, speaking of…
For fans of the lore I’ve got to imagine that was a pretty cool moment as the series continues to dedicate themselves to honoring the source material and not running from some of the characters hokier narrative threads. Barry is lost and is forced to face his power, his speed force that takes the forms of everyone he loves over the course of the hour. It confirms the idea that Barry was chosen, rather than being an unsuspecting hero. This idea instantly gives the series a more fantastical tone and it works well as Barry is forced to chase down the shadowy force leading him from one confrontation to another, but it’s his one with his mom that hits the hardest. The Flash has never been a subtle show and the moment where Barry recites the words of the book certainly is laying it on a bit thick, but does it matter when it works? Grant Gustin excels at these moments, tapping directly into the emotional, innocent core of Barry, who still mourns his mother, who carry’s the weight of his friends lives on his shoulders, sometimes to ill effect. Gustin, when given this type of work, shines as the character. The audience is reminded just why he was such a perfect choice for the character.
The big news of the episode was Kevin Smith’s direction and while he didn’t do anything that stood out (thankfully) and rather stuck to the statuesque of the shows format, he did shoot the scene with Barry and his mom with a tender hand, making sure to frame it in such a way that it parallels the last scene the two characters shared as a grown Barry knelt over the body of his mother.
It comes to a point though where our hero needs to embrace his fate and leave to go fight Zoom, and to do so, he needs the help of a friend.
Full disclosure, was totally hoping for this moment to be recreated:
Alas, it was not to be. However, despite the Iris and Barry romantic plot-line being slightly accelerated, the scene between them and Iris being the voice to bring Barry back isn’t just poignant, it makes sense. As they point out in the end, neither of them grew up with a lot of constants in their life (beyond perfect dad Joe of course) but they have always had each other. They, regardless of where they go to in their relationship and how it develops, will always be home to one another. Together they find peace.
With two episodes left and Barry facing one of his biggest obstacles in next weeks Earth Two meta-human attack, there’s plenty more to look forward to and I’m particularly excited to see just how the speed force effects Barry and if perhaps we begin to see hints of how Zoom alternatively was motivated by it.