Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of The Flash. To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
“Being the Flash, that’s the best version of me.”
I have read just a small handful of comic books in my life despite being an avid fan of comic book properties. The notion of reading them and having to figure out just where to start is overwhelming. However, the one that I did read and then watched the animated movie of was The Flashpoint Paradox. I’ve always been a fan of the Flash and figured it was a good entry point up to the series prior to its release. The series has picked key moments to draw from the comic (mainly with the fate of Barry’s mom) but for the most part they have taken elements from the lore while striking out on their own path. Tonight’s episode isn’t an adaption but such as it was with Barry’s mother and her death, this week we got some moments, especially imagery, that harkens back to the story.
The fact that it’s a definitive, sacrificial “heroic” moment only makes it that much more thrilling to watch.
The moment in question is when Barry straps himself into the newly built particle accelerator in an effort to reclaim his speed and save his city. We’ve seen Barry make a lot of foolish mistakes this season that have frustratingly been used as means of creating storylines rather than character beats, but there’s still been a sense of a hero coming into his own. Him accepting what could be a fatal task is the character at his very best. Sure, he’s still impulsive, and it took him the entire episode to reach said decision – the flaws of his character haven’t disappeared – but this is also the Flash being painstakingly selfless by placing the needs of his city before his own.
It’s just a shame that we had to muddle through a lot of filler, some stalling and ill-placed storylines first.
I won’t bemoan the show too much about Cisco’s storyline because in and of itself it isn’t a bad one. Cisco has always been a highlight of the show even in its duller episodes, and his surprising ability to switch on the drama made him a huge asset in the first season. So you’d think that the reappearance of his brother Dante and their tumultuous relationship would be a welcomed one. The problem is that it’s about 15 episodes too late. Not only has our investment in their dynamic dropped considerably, there’s also so much going on surrounding the pair that it’s difficult to find anything they’re dealing with to be all that consequential. Cisco’s banter with Harry on the other hand? Always worth it.
Caitlin spends the entire episode locked up to a desk as she tries to convince Jay not to kill anyone, and it’s a stark reminder that she’s still easily the weakest link in the cast and character lineup. Because, oh my word, did I not care about what she was up to. It didn’t help that we were never sold on Jay and her love to the point where I buy that he’d listen to her. Him killing all of the officers at the end to prove his point and certify his level of threat to the city seemed much more in line with the character we’ve met than the one Caitlin interacted with earlier this season.
Then there’s Wally and Jess, who are ALSO locked up and given bonding time as their respective fathers try and keep them safe from Zoom’s clutches. However, both are sneaky, super intelligent and manage to escape just as the particle accelerator blows. This couldn’t perhaps be setting up a new pair of speedsters, could it? My guess lies in the glaring, blinking YES direction, but this also could have been a fun away to trick the audience into thinking that was going to happen without actually falling through with it.
They manage to gather all of Barry’s father figures in one room to lecture him on what he can and cannot do, and this brings up my biggest grievance of the week: the return of Henry Allen, aka the recipient of the worst father of the year award.
(I’m sorry, if my son had spent his entire adult life searching to free me, I wouldn’t peace out seconds after eating a bite of celebratory cake.)
Here’s why though.
I can’t push away the part of me that’s thinking up ridiculous conspiracy theories about his return and how he handled the idea of Barry trying to get his speed back. There’s the logical option in the idea that he truly was just worried because it genuinely was a dangerous thing to do. There’s my personal conspiracy that he was re-introduced as a caring, protective father just so that the show can kill him at the end of the season, causing drama and angst.
And then there’s my WILD theory because didn’t anyone else think he was a little too adamant about wanting Barry to not get his speed back? And then there was the part about Henry’s mother’s maiden name being Garrick… too many coincidences and poor timing and maybe Henry is the one in the iron mask on Earth two!
There were two bits of storytelling that I really appreciated this week. The first being Iris admitting to Barry her feelings and Barry being rendered speechless. I have little doubt that he reciprocates them, but it was a tough scene to watch play out due to how much warmth and vulnerability Candice Patton delivered in that scene.
However, it’s that part with Barry caught in the particle accelerator that gave me the biggest bout of excitement of the episode because here was a character actively chasing his powers instead of being randomly struck by lightning. The fact that he disappears (likely) into the speed force simply ups the stakes as we wind down to the last three episodes of the season. Things are getting desperate with the Flash is gone for good, for now. It was an episode where Barry and his particular struggles were the most engaging, and it would have been worth it to spend more time with him rather than Rupture, another baddie of the week.
So team, thoughts on how he’s going to escape the (probably) speed force? Are we ready for the Iris and Barry pairing (this girl is)? Let us know below what you thought of the episode.