The Flash 3×02: Paradox

Or: If you don’t learn from your first mistake, try to make it again.

There are a few definitions for the word paradox, but the one that rang most true for this show reads like this: A situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.

That’s pretty much where I am on this series as a whole. Some things I just adore, others not so much. Many characters and plots seem to be one thing but then contradict themselves later. It’s a light show, it’s a dark show. It’s well-written, it leaves much to be desired. Barry is smart but makes stupid mistakes. Barry’s the fastest man alive, but everyone else is faster etc… It can be confusing and/or frustrating.

Paradox falls into the same area. Things are back to normal but they’re not, Barry fixed the timeline but he didn’t.

Regardless, I enjoyed this episode more than the premiere. I think it’s because there were actually consequences and emotional fallout. It can be said they were resolved too fast but that seems par for the show and alas, always has been. Let’s dig in!

Having realized things aren’t exactly right even after fixing flashpoint, Barry panics and bursts in on Felicity in Star City to madly babble his problems. Apparently Felicity is far enough removed for him to confess to and not worry/care she’ll hate him because he didn’t dare mention it to anyone in Central City he is close to. Felicity (complete with the braided hairstyle she never has worn and never will again to show us the differences in the timeline) serves as the plot function for Barry to talk to in order to spell out for the audience what things are now different.

  1. Joe and Iris don’t talk now, and Barry’s not sure why.
  2. Cisco doesn’t smile and seems really angry at him.
  3. There’s a new guy at work with a snooty Brit accent and attitude to match who really doesn’t like Barry much.
  4. Also, epidermal person shaped husks are being found. That’s definitely a new one.

Things Unchanged:

  1. Wally is still his adorable self and trying to navigate his arguing family the best he can. (Also back to not a speedster. Rats.)
  2. Besides walking on eggshells, Caitlin seems the same.
  3. Most important, Iris is still interested in exploring a future with Barry. But she no longer remembers their kiss (shock me!) and how she told Barry to do whatever he needed to do to heal himself. Because of course she doesn’t.
  4. Also unchanged, the way Barry’s eyes light up when Iris suggests giving the thing between them a try.

As Barry fumbles his way through his new/old life he slowly gleans more details. Iris is angry at Joe for not telling her Francine was still alive. Wow writers, thanks for trying but it’s a year late. As much as I love Joe that is a huge and devastating thing to do, and Iris should have been angry the first time. Candice Patton and Jesse L. Martin do a fabulous job playing the tension and sharp edges that now define the father/daughter relationship.

Cisco’s brother Dante is dead, killed by a drunk driver months ago. Cisco is grieving their relationship that was never as good as he wanted it to be, and that he now will never have the chance to change it for the better. OMG that hurts. And Cisco is still angry at Barry about it.

It’s still unclear as to why Julian doesn’t like Barry.

Also, while checking to see if anything in the Arrow side of things is changed, Diggle suddenly has a son and not a daughter. THAT IS IT BARRY ALLEN FIX IT NOW!!!!!! THERE WILL BE NO ERASING OF BABY SARA!!!!! I don’t know why, but this really irks me. Kids are not interchangeable, and that baby girl was beautiful. Ok moving on…

Felicity gives the least helpful advice as well and tells Barry to “fix it.” If it was that simple I don’t think he would have come in a panic to discuss it with you, Felicity.

Meanwhile, Edward Clariss is having flashes (lol) of the other timeline and starting to lose his mind. So what better way to regain your sanity than to wander into a secret lair complete with chanting robed figures and a leader with a gas mask and a bad cold called Alchemy? (I’m assuming Edward was somehow summoned there or he is just one really lucky wanderer.)

Edward has visions and wants them to stop. That’s fair. Alchemy offers him this other life. He accepts without a pause. It’s really nice to know that whatever girlfriend/wife Edward was sleeping next to the night before is so easily forgotten and moved on from. He gave up his life reeeeeeeeally easily. I hope my husband would at least think about it for a few minutes before he gave me up for speedster power.

Cut to another metahuman husk found on the shore. Julian is working the evidence and refusing any kind of help from Barry. Barry speed steals a sample to take to S.T.A.R. Labs and wonders how he has worked with Julian for the last year. Apparently, he says that a lot.

Barry starts plotting to get everyone gathered at dinner that night. After securing Caitlin and Cisco, he starts in on Joe and Iris. That takes a lot more jumping through hoops (or racing back and forth) to maneuver but he finally manages. It’s a cute exchange watching him dash back and forth between the two, and Iris’ “Hi…” when he shows up and starts babbling is really funny to me. Also, Iris has an office what is this delightful new change?!  After promising Iris husk information Joe never consented to give and wrangling the right Grandma Esther recipe to entice her over, Barry is feeling pretty sure he can fix most of the issues he caused. I’m not going to mention that Barry being out of breath and having a stitch in his side is really odd for a speedster. Barry, you need to work out more or something.

The awkwardness of the dinner is actually fun for me. There’s nothing like trying to navigate the tricky dynamics of family squabbling to attempt reconciliation on all sides. It’s not so easily done as Barry learns. Cisco sums it up perfectly. “Epic fail, party of six.” He does give the reason why he’s so angry at Barry, though. He wants Barry to time travel and save Dante, and up to now Barry has refused. The dinner is interrupted by the speedster app, and Barry heads to the bridge where a speedster was sighted. Turns out it’s Clariss, all speedy again and wearing that Rival Halloween costume. He’s a little ticked that Barry changed the timeline and took all his power away from him. A speed fight/race ensues. I was rolling my eyes to see Barry once more behind a villain speedster, but was delightfully surprised to see Barry catch up and slam Clariss. The resulting skipping skidding tumble across pavement made me happy to see. Really, with so much running we should be seeing more of this. Getting interrupted running full pelt is going to bring some serious tumbling. Anyway, Clariss disappears once he figures out he can’t quite beat Barry like he thought he could.

The next scene makes me so happy. While the team tries to find answers about the new speedster, Iris has done her own digging and found out something else. You can pinpoint the exact second she knows Barry is keeping secrets. She confronts him in the hallway with camera footage of Barry and the Rival, and it’s pretty clear they know each other. I was so proud of her when she told Barry he needs to come clean now, and if he lies their relationship is over before it starts. He has already lied about being the Flash. If they want to be together she should never be accepting lies from him, and he should never be giving them. That’s not how a healthy relationship works. Good for you, Iris. You deserve someone who won’t lie to you.

Barry doesn’t lie, but he still avoids the truth. He apologizes and leaves to go start his mistake all over again. HOLY CRAP BARRY WILL YOU EVER LEARN? I was shaking my head so hard. Thank goodness for Jay Garrick yanking Barry out of the continuum and into 1998. And then comes another favorite scene.

I’ve never made it a secret how I felt about Henry’s treatment on the show last season. He was shoddily dealt with and killed for angst, and I’m still annoyed about it. (This applies to other characters too.) Jay being played by the same man didn’t make that go away. But dang if John Wesley Shipp isn’t a lovely actor. He brought all of Henry’s wisdom but infused a different, slightly more gruff and direct manner into Jay. They are two different men with the same face. That’s good acting, and he sucked me in. Jay gives Barry the talking to we have all wanted to give him and asks Barry what kind of hero he wants to be. One who does a redo every time he makes a mistake, or one who lives with the mistakes he makes and owns them? Also, his demonstration of a broken timeline repaired but still cracked with a diner cup was a thing of beauty. Bless you Jay, I was going to rage quit if you hadn’t shown up. (LOL no really, I knew you were coming.)

Barry returns to the team and is finally honest about everything. The results are to be expected. Cisco is understandably angry that Barry refused to save his brother but saved his own mom. The others are disturbed and upset and everyone is allowed to feel that way. My greatest disappointment is that they weren’t allowed the screen time to really delve into it. Side note: Again, Carlos delivered when Cisco confronted Barry about his choices. and his yelling “I don’t care!” resonated with me a lot. Too often Cisco is relegated to comic relief. Carlos is capable of much more than that even though he does funny so well, and it’s nice to see him get something meaty story-wise.

Oh look, Barry is approaching Julian for help. LOL. OMG. As much as I love Barry, the way the writers have written him lately makes him much more frustrating.  It seems to help me vicariously exorcise some frustration to laugh at Julian’s forthright dislike of Barry. He needs some opposition in his life, the writers routinely make his close circle forgive him too easily for some really grievous errors.

But Barry manages to get info from Julian’s file that helps him track down the Rival, again at the old sawmill. (Fish in a pond, man.) Problem is, the Rival brought a buddy and Barry doesn’t have Wally this time.  Meanwhile, in a scene too quickly arrived at and too quickly resolved, the team’s anger at Barry is hastily shelved when Iris acts as the voice of reason and argues for Barry’s side, defending his decision as a quickly made one to protect someone he loved. She even brings up Cisco betraying Barry to save Dante, which Cisco concedes is a good point. Caitlin chimes in that they all have secrets. They are interrupted by Barry’s vital signs, which report him getting walloped by Alchemy and his nifty blue light. The team has to decide what to do quickly.

Barry is fighting for his life and almost lost it when the Rival is blown off his feet. YESSSSSSSS Vibe has arrived! I’ve waited a long time for this! It’s good to see Cisco this way.

So the team is now aware of Alchemy ahem, Doctor Alchemy, and that he is “preparing the world”. Barry theorizes that everyone who had powers in flashpoint will get them back in this timeline. The others inform Barry they don’t want to know what their lives were like in flashpoint. The West family is united once more, and Barry asks Cisco about joining him in the field. Cisco declines for now but appears to be moving forward. That was fast. Barry cracks a weird flashpoint joke and leaves Caitlin alone, and we get to see the secret she’s hiding. She’s got frost hands and we should expect to see Killer Frost in the future. Bummer Caitlin.

Back at Barry (and Julian’s) lab, Julian confronts Barry about knowing Edward Clariss’ name before he saw the file and that he must have stolen a sample from the last husk. He makes it clear he knows Barry is hiding things and that he doesn’t trust him. It’s pretty clear that figuring out Barry’s secrets is going to be Julian’s goal in the future. Bring it on, this should be interesting.

Finally, Barry returns to the West house to find Iris on the front porch. They discuss the fact that Iris doesn’t want to know about her life in flashpoint, and she figures they always find each other. It’s so true, Iris. In a parallel to the end of last season, they kiss. It’s almost the same as the last one and finally Iris will remember it. Barry’s small nod of happiness after was really perfect. Now things are right. Now everything has fallen into place. It’s a beautiful scene. But I kind of grieve for all the lost beautiful moments along the way. Iris deserves to remember them. As much as I adore westallen, the writing has dampened my feelings a certain amount. I really hope that changes in future eps.

Oh, also Clariss gets attacked by Alchemy in jail. Bad guys are so unforgiving!

Next week we get Jesse and Harry back!

Soapbox, thy name is Barry:

  • It’s kind of irritating that a generic villain gets to be angrier at Barry for time travel meddling than his friends and family. They got some moments of it, but Edward was allowed to be angry about what was taken from him and the fact that he felt something was missing for most of his life. He also brings up an interesting point insisting that being a speedster is how his life was supposed to be. Who decides? Who should have the power and/or wisdom decide how someone’s life is supposed to go? Does anyone have that right? Which way is the correct one? Or is there no real “correct timeline”, and we’re all just feeling the repercussions of everyone else’s choices? Barry finally learns that he was messing with things he had no business messing with, and nothing he does leaves others unaffected. In other words, you don’t live in a vacuum Barry.
  • I am starting to see the writing on the wall regarding the writers. They will continually gloss over feelings and reactions of anyone not Barry while amplifying his. Iris arguing for Barry was disappointing, and I’m saying that as a westallen fan. Her and Joe’s issues being instantly solved made it worse. Iris is the heart of the team and the show in many ways. She truly is a voice of reason and the most rational person in any relationship. I don’t doubt that she would eventually arrive at exactly this point. What I do doubt is that she would get there immediately following the discovery of Barry’s lapse in judgement. Humans rarely work like that, and strong emotions usually move in first after a nasty blow like that. Anger, resentment, frustration and loss would all take precedence before the rational side gave you a look at Barry’s side of the argument. It feels like a cheap copout to have Iris and a few minutes later all of the team decide to forgive Barry so easily and so quickly. It robs each character of their right to feel anger and loss over such a thing and to take the time they really need to deal with it. If the team had reached this place even a few episodes later I would feel it had been earned. But this way is again glossing over important emotional fallout and sprinting for the finish line. Because there have been moments where a character was written completely contrary to how they really work for plot advancement, I appreciate that they had Iris at least true to character in this moment. But I resent that they got her there so quickly and then proceeded to add insult to injury in having her forgive Joe without discussing it onscreen even once. If they were going to go ahead and rectify the mistake made last season in burying Iris’ feelings about her father fabricating a lie that her mother was dead, the least they could do was take this opportunity to flesh it out the way they never did before. It would have gone a long way in making me trust them more. But again, they have shown their desire for a lazy and easy resolution. I am disappointed for Iris and the entire team.
  • Don’t really see the point of mashing Felicity into the episode. She really did nothing to help resolve the problem and served as a sounding board. It wasn’t necessary to the plot or the episode. It would have been nice to see someone else in the show serve that function or plot spelled out to the audience a different way.

Tidbits:

  • “How about Thief?” The shut down and removed delivery of the new Cisco was amazing acting on Carlos’ part. I am impressed when I realize how he delivered ultra rich playboy Cisco last week and immediately turned around to show us grieving angry depressed Cisco this week. His lines at the Grief Support Group were beautifully moving. Bravo, Carlos.
  • HAHAHAAAAAAAA I gotta say, I love Julian Albert. His snark is a balm to me, and Tom Felton’s delivery is delightful. Welcome to the Flash fam Tom!
  • Kudos to Jay Garrick for forcing Barry to take a big (18 year) step back so he could actually stop and think about his bad life choices. Also, I think he took Barry to that year specifically because he was hoping to hear the song Runaway Train, and that song fit perfectly whether you apply it to Barry’s issues of running from his mistakes or the new timeline he created that can’t be ignored.
  • “We’re not gods, we’re men who for whatever reason have been given extraordinary powers.” More Jay please. Also, I want Joan. I’m greedy.
  • “I need you to for a second imagine that we’re actually friends.” “Can’t do it.” HAHAHAHAHA Tom’s comic timing is beautiful. I want to see him and Carlos in a scene together. They would tear it up! As it is, he and Grant work really well off each other.
  • Sorry, not impressed by Alchemy. His voice invokes no fear, and his mask makes me think “are you my mummy?”
  • “Stay away from my friend.” WOOOOO I have waited so long to see Cisco in the field as Vibe and working his sonic blast magic! Too bad it took the writers a flashpoint to fix that error.
  • It was nice to see Iris use her journalism skills to bust Barry on keeping secrets. I would like to see more of that in a bigger way please.
  • “Oh wow. You’ve really got this good guy routine thing down, haven’t you? And everyone just buys it.” That was a great moment Julian.
  • “Too slow, Flash.” That was a lovely moment of playful dialogue.
  • “I guess in my mind wherever you go you’ll always be Barry, and I’ll always be Iris. And we always find each other.” I LOVE THIS LINE.

Possibilities

  • If everyone who had powers in flashpoint will get theirs back I vote for Wally as one of the first. But that does bring up interesting possibilities. Will Doctor Alchemy approach Wally or give him visions? Will Barry tell him and they decide to use Wally as bait to lure him in? (We all know how well that went with Zoom.) What if it becomes clear Wally’s on Barry’s side, will Alchemy then attack Wally like Clariss? There is a lot of good potential here. But I just want Kid Flash back!
  • Anyone notice the camera lingering on Julian and his tweezers as he created a scene of mini objects in a glass bowl, including a man, just the way he wanted them? Does that indicate he just likes to be in charge and to be able to trust people as he says or does it speak more to possible desires to manipulate and control? Doctor Alchemy is already changing lives, Barry has too, will Julian somehow get into that as well?
  • In the promo pics there was one of Iris and Joe at the crime scene looking tense. Considering later Barry promises information from Joe on the husks I’m betting she arrived to try to get some information on them and Joe told her no. I bet actual dollars she had some kind of burn to lay on him about withholding information from her. I want this scene just for that burn, lol. The West kids are really good at that.
  • Cisco is entitled to take his time dealing with his loss and his anger at Barry, but whenever he does get to a better place I would really love to see him in the field more.
  • Four husks found before the final one that was Clariss’. Who are the other four?
  • It’s a matter of time I think before Julian figures out who Barry really is. This should be interesting.
  • Think we’ve seen the last of the Rival? I kind of hope so, his costume is laughing I meanlacking.
  • Jay is welcome back anytime. He needs to be the true mentor Barry needs, and I’m pretty sure he won’t turn out to be evil.
  • Westallen is moving forward and it’s about time. I hope it is handled well. Next ep we get a date!

Feel free to hit the comments!

I deeply apologize, but this may be my last review. The paradoxical writing has led to much frustration and robbed me of some joy in this show. I make it a point to talk about what I like and be positive, but right now I feel like all I do is complain. I refuse to be a jaded negative complainer. So I’ll take it on an episode by episode basis from here on out. If I have an episode that resounds well and I want to be positive about, I’ll write a review. If it’s just a complain fest I’ll refrain. I want to contribute positive affirming material to the world, I never want to be someone who drags things down and I won’t start now. So thank you all for reading, hope to have something for you in the future. 🙂

Advertisements

The Flash 3×01: Flashpoint

Or: The Bitter and the Sweet

I think we all dream of a perfect life, where everything goes according to our wishes, and we don’t have to struggle or suffer. But alas, I don’t think one of us has ever truly found it. You can’t have happiness without sadness, and Barry discovers this in Flashpoint. He saved his mother at the end of season 2, and in doing so has created the “perfect” time line. but there is still a cost.

Barry’s voice over at the beginning of the episode mentions how some things happen by chance, and others we make happen. I’d like to know which one Nora’s death falls under, but I digress.

The current thing Barry is attempting to make happen is meeting and asking out Iris West, the girl he watches every day at Jitters and has been for a while. Of all the things that have changed, Barry’s scared-to-make-a-move trait has stayed. He’s been working toward asking Iris out for three months. I’m glad that Barry feels the difference, he and Iris have been so close until he changed everything, and now there’s a chasm between them he has to figure out how to bridge. It’s still Iris, but they don’t have the years together they had before. I have to admit, his nervous hand fidgeting and the mumbling of pep talks to himself as he approached her was delightful. Classic Barry Allen.

But instead, a speedster outside and breaking news on the television pulls him away without speaking to her. Iris, incidentally, was smiling as she texted with someone, then began texting fast and urgent after the Rival’s appearance. Any bets she was texting with a certain little brother named Wally? Of course, she was!

Speaking of Wally, who cheered when Kid Flash arrived on the scene? I did. The show has boosted their special effects some (well hello, increase in budget!) and it was thrilling to watch Kid Flash and the Rival race around/up buildings. Wally was awesome, and I can’t blame Barry for rushing to watch the new Flash in action. (But seriously Barry, why are you rushing to rubberneck at every Flash altercation? Are you trying to see what you look like to others when you run? Do you wish you had yellow on your suit? Are you just hanging around in case you’re needed? Maybe, as a good mentor, you’re trying to add extra civilian factors in to further challenge this new Flash and make sure he’s up to the task?)

It must be the last one because Barry manages to put himself in harm’s way and is saved by Wally Kid Flash, who then asks if he’s ok. Lol. Sidenote: I enjoyed how accepting and supportive the CCPD is with Wally’s Flash, it speaks to how established this hero is, and his youthful bravado is just cute. The Rival is a pretty generic blowhard at this point, we’ll see if he improves.

Barry books it back to Jitters and, after quickly stealing and returning Iris’ wallet to start a conversation, successfully manages to finally ask her out and she accepts. Their instant connection over grade school memories, his bumbling and babbling and Iris being instantly charmed by him all speak to the connection Iris and Barry share, no matter the timeline or earth. The show is consistently showing us that westallen is something that happens over and over again no matter the circumstances. They are meant to be because they connect in a way that transcends anything else. No mothers dying or being raised together, no coma or disapproving father-in-law, other relationships or time travel shenanigans (Barry’s or Thawne’s) can make it go away. I’m delighted to see this depiction. And because the show started with Barry and Iris already best friends we never got to see them meet for the first time or agree to go out for iced tea together as a first date and navigate the beginnings of what feels like a very promising relationship. This episode was a gift in that sense.

We also get to see Barry in action at work, with a new boss who actually seems to like him and doesn’t mind chatting. Joe is suspiciously absent and it’s clear that Barry is attempting to cover for him. Add that to the dimming in Iris’ eyes when Barry mentions her father and you realize all is not right in Flashpoint Land. The feeling intensifies when Barry leaves work early to take Big Belly Burger to Eobard Thawne, who is incarcerated in a speed-dampening cell in the warehouse district. Barry stays true to his jail-’em-without-a-trial-roots, something this show has never quite known how to navigate. But I digress again…

I know many who prefer Tom Cavanaugh’s Eobard Thawne over Matt Lescher’s. But sometimes Matt pulls out some really amazing moments with his version, and I can’t leave him out of the equation. I’ll never forget his creepy chilling version of Eobard Thawne when he was introduced in 1×17, and in this episode he delivers once again. While Barry pats himself on the back about getting his real life back, Thawne has just the right amount of snark, hatred, and chilling resolve as he warns Barry that they now have a common enemy coming for them both. He reminds Barry that he’s supposed to be the hero and that time is screwing with Barry’s life and Thawne too. When he tells Barry one day he’ll beg for Thawne to kill his mother again, I gotta say it’s quite intense. Matt is in top form in this ep.

Barry ignores his enemy and heads home, where we are treated to an aged Nora and Henry, happily married and alive. Did anyone catch the slower, dreamier quality of the music during that scene? Blake Neely has always composed stellar music for the Flash and he starts out this season in great form.

Barry is loving life with his parents, hugs his mom too much but she loves it, (sniffle) and is a bit surprised when it becomes apparent that his mom and dad want him to move out/have a girlfriend/be an adult. He happily informs them he asked out the girl he’s been stalking watching and she said yes. Nora and Henry are delighted. Honestly, the domestic bliss in the scene is just beautifully done and I can’t decide if I adore it or if I am bitter about the reality that the writers killed Henry for man pain. *Sigh* Sidenote: The look on Henry’s face when Nora first brings up a basement apartment for rent is a thing of beauty.

At the police dept. Joe is once again MIA and it’s looking like his job is on the line. Barry heads to the West home and finds him hung over, snoring and cuddling with takeout food. His breath alone could probably stun a yak, so Barry whooshes his ex-foster dad upstairs, cleans him up and delivers him at work, then offers him a breath mint. (I admit I giggled at the accelerated water and tooth brushing sounds upstairs.)

Joe can’t figure out exactly what just happened and he’s crusty and cranky in this timeline. I feel that way every day, Joe. His interrogation of Barry and why on earth this non-partner kid should care about him at all comes to an abrupt end when Iris shows up for lunch with Barry. (What is that adorable awkward wave, Barry? Could you have any less chill? Oh wait, look who I’m talking to.)

Joe does not approve, but neither Barry nor Iris seem to care. They are practically beaming at each other. Iris and Joe exchange tense and stilted words, wow these two don’t get along in this timeline. I demand backstory. Now.

Iris and Barry in conversation as they walk is such a simple and lovely scene. Grant and Candice have beautiful chemistry, and letting them shine in a simple scene like this was a wise move. Barry tells her it feels like he already knows her and then worries it was a wierd thing to say, but Iris confirms that she feels like she knows him too. Their conversation flows so well and really shows how easy it is for them to slip into a comfortable place with each other. Alas, it’s cut short by a disturbing episode as Barry experiences past memories of he and Iris together, then they disappear.  Iris is worried, Barry is out of sorts, and the police alert them that the Flash and the Rival are going at it again. Both quickly make their excuses and leave. If that’s not a giant sign that Iris is working with this Flash, I don’t know what would be.

Barry shows up just in time to see the Flash thrown out an upper floor window of a tall skyscraper. He manages to buffer the fall enough to save him, but loses control and drops him in the dumpster. Nice, Barry. Being the extra-curious nosey hero he is, Barry unmasks the new Flash and is astounded to find Wally. Wally, however, has no idea who Barry is.

We get to see Wally’s secret base of operations, complete with crime-fighting sister Iris who immediately suspects Barry was trying to get close to her because of her brother. Barry vehemently denies it and offers help. It is made clear Joe is out of the loop entirely.

So they go to Star Labs Ramon Industries to enlist help from the richest man in the country: Cisco Ramon. Oh yes! I always love watching the actors get to be a different charcter than the one they do all the time, and this was no dfferent. Cisco is rich, brilliant, caustic, and not at all interested in crime fighting. He did, however, uphold tradition and make the suit for Wally before telling him never to come back. Barry appeals to Cisco’s better nature, using memories from the other time line. But then they suddenly disappear, and Barry can’t remember what he was saying. Uh oh.

So back to Thawne he goes, looking for answers. Turns out time is now solidifying, and Barry soon won’t even remember he is the flash, much less that he had a previous life with the people he loves. (I have to ask. What did you think would happen Barry?!) Soon time will cement and nothing will change it back again. The discussion is charged and full of emotion, as any discussion will ever be between these two. Thawne tells Barry he knows what he has to do now, he has to let his mother die again. Barry responds with something that rhymes with glow foo tell, and Thawne asks him who the villain is now. It’s true, Barry’s not acting like much of a hero at the moment.

Determined to be a hero again, Barry doubles down on making this timeline work as he brings Wally and Iris to Cisco’s lab and reveals himself as another Flash. He explains what he did, and both West siblings give him incredulous looks. (Have I mentioned how much I love the West sibs? Cause I do.) Cisco is not on board, and Barry realizes they are missing someone so he looks up and kidnaps escorts Caitlin Snow to the lab. But she’s not a scientist, she’s a pediatric eye doctor. Okay, lol. Still, she does seem to come up with a good idea and locates the Rival. The team works well together in any timeline, willing or not.

Meanwhile, Iris asks to speak to Barry privately and tells him she does believe his story,  because she always felt something about her life was off and that feeling went away the moment she met Barry. (Oh! My heart!) That is a lovely moment and really cements that these two are always supposed to be a part of each other’s lives.

Flash and Kid Flash team up and head out to take on the Rival. They discuss flanking strategy (lol), the Rival blabs a lot of hot air (yadda yadda yadda), Wally goes Anakin solo and tries to beat the Rival himself. He still has to learn about teamwork. Wally pulls some impressive moves, which I enjoyed, and appears to beat the black dragon impersonator. (Seriously what are those spikes about?) I mean Rival. But with the true unsportsmanlike cowardice of a lame villian, the Rival spears Wally from behind with a makeshift spear. Tacky, dude. Wally! Noooooooo!!!!!!

So now it’s up to Barry to beat the Rival, and for a second he might just do it. Until he blanks out and starts losing memories of himself as the Flash at all. The Rival gets a bit over-excited and generates two tornadoes.

Wait wait wait! Ok, is this just some very unsubtle symbolism here? Why two? The absolute only reason for two would be to reference the Tornado Twins, Barry and Iris’ future children. Otherwise one would have been enough to remind us of the pilot and give some lovely callbacks to the other timeline. (I want to scream about fish in a pond here, but I’ll resist. Gold star to any one who knows what I’m talking about lol.) Cisco’s Weather Wizard comment was nice.

Anyway, Barry loses all hope and tells the team he can’t stop them. While Thawne himself disgused as Harrison Wells gave Barry the words he needed then, in a perfect twist Iris is the one on the other side this time. She is the one who unfailingly believes in him, and she is the one he needs to really be the Flash. It was a nice moment. So then Barry accepts his identity as the Flash and proceeds to break up not just one, but two tornadoes and vanquish the Rival. In what must have cost him no end of bruised machismo, the Rival admits Barry is indeed the fastest man alive. (Is this a first? Barry always seems slower than the bad guys.) The Rival will shed manly tears later, I’m sure. Well he would have, if he hadn’t been determined to be unsportsmanlike. When Barry turns to check on Wally, the Rival attempts to pull his same backstabbing move, but he didn’t count on Detective Joe West, who uses his gun in defense of the Flash once more. Now that was nice. Also nice was the fabulous look of surprise on Joe’s face when Barry pulled off his cowl, and his deep worry and concern when he realizes the injured speedster is his own son.

Wally does not recover, and Barry is starting to realize that his happiness is coming at a  steep price for other people. He enlists Iris’ help and takes her to meet his parents one last time. He has a lovely moment with them and tells them how happy he is to be their son. (See my notes below.) On their way out Iris catches Barry as he has another memory loss and they hurry to Eobard Thawne. Thawne is a gloating victorious jerk, and I don’t blame Barry for saying he hates him. Thawn confirms that he hates Barry too, but sometimes wonders which of them is right. That is a loaded statement that could take years to unpack, but I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s Thawne who’s wrong. Hero worship gone wrong is what started this whole problem. Sort yourself out young man!

Iris and Barry say goodbye, and while it’s a tender beautiful moment when Iris kisses him and says she’ll see him soon, it still tasted bitter to me because here is yet again another kiss Iris will have no memory of. Barry moves to run and seems to have lost all his speed. Thawne declares himself the hero on this occasion, but I don’t ever think killing an innocent woman makes you a hero. I watched the last few minutes with a curled lip because it was really kind of a dick move to make Nora think she was safe and then pull the rug out and kill her again. I feel like she is getting screwed left and right, and Henry isn’t far behind.

Thawne drops Barry at Joe’s house and tells him things may not be exactly back to normal in his usual crytic manner before leaving. Barry enters the house and gives a very confused Wally a long hug. I’m totally here for Wally and Barry to be close buds! There is a  discussion and a toast to Henry (Oh do you remember him? Seems like he’s long forgotten) and then Barry asks about Iris. Joe is less than impressed and leaves. For a second I panic and think she might be dead even though I know she’s in later episodes. Wally shakes his head at Barry’s confusion and tells him he knows Iris and Joe don’t talk. Barry is left to wonder what exactly he has done. (Again.)

Meanwhile Clarence (the Rival) is awakened by a voice and scratching on the mirror that spells ALCHEMY. Ok then. But really, I’m more worried about Joe and Iris.

Tidbits:

  • “Gary, right?” L.O.L. That entire exchange was ADORABLE. Barry is never the same with anyone else like he is with Iris. Watching them connect and feeling the waves of chemistry they exude wash over me was really delightful. The cutest of meet-cutes.
  • “And remember. I have a hangover, and a gun.” LOL Crusty Joe is funny.
  • “It’s just a lunch. And truthfully, I wasn’t even sure you still worked here.” OUCH Iris takes no prisoners! I love her.
  • Wally’s story of getting his powers was perfectly him. Loved it.
  • “More like Kid Flash.” “Don’t call me that.” Wally, you could be 80 and your youthful exuberance would still shine through. Have a cookie.
  • “Cisco—” “Uh uh. I don’t know you, Stringbean.” “S—Mr. Ramon.” “Oh, yes?” Carlos Valdes is a treasure in every form.
  • “Don’t do that! I told you it freaks me out!” “That wasn’t me.” I like how Wally is settling into awesome speedster guy. Let’s keep him this way!
  • “Stop bringing strangers into my lab, who is this?”
  • “Excuse me, have I been kidnapped?” “Unclear.”
  • “We’re something else to each other where you come from aren’t we?” “But it’s love? Because this is what love feels like?” “Since the day that I met you.” Oh look, I’m melting.
  • I’m kind of miffed that Wally was relegated to secondary Flash so soon after Barry revealed himself. It’s good that Iris believed Barry so completely, but I don’t know, I kind of felt for Wally. I don’t blame him for wanting to prove himself to Barry. He’s been running the show for a while and then suddenly another Flash shows up and he’s all that and a bag of chips to everyone, even his own sister. I’ll make you brownies Wally.
  • “Is that a thing? Flanking?” Heeee!!
  • Ok, I’m sorry, but in what world or timeline is a villain stupid enough to willingly reveal his face and identity to two rivals? Overconfidence? Really? Why oh why? That makes no sense. I call shenanigans.
  • They take the time to include a reason why Barry is forgetting but Thawne isn’t, but they can’t take a millisecond to explain why Wally isn’t healing fast anymore? Huh? Come on guys.
  • As much as I love the idea of giving people inspirational words to help them believe in themselves and achieve great things, I feel like this show does it about every other episode. It is far past being overused, now it’s in saturation territory and I think they need to take a break from it, please. Not forever, but just lessen the use and bring it out when they really need a gut-punching feels moment. They’ve lost their significance now and it’s only the first episode of season 3. Geez Barry, lift yourself up now and then!
  • UMMMM for an eye doctor Caitlin knows a bit too much. Wally wasn’t stabbed in his eye.
  • “If it isn’t the future Mrs. Allen.” Dang right she is!
  • “But I want to hear you say it.” Cold, Thawne, cold.

Stuff I Wanna Complain About:

  • You know, I used to think it was good flashpoint was one episode, but I now rescind that. I worried about flashpoint stretching too long, but I think a two parter would have been better. Far too much emotional depth was just glossed over in order to reach the finish line. Barry’s magical healing of grief over his father and parents in general was reduced to one line. “I feel closer to my parents than I have in a long time.” Oh. I was wondering if they’d actually give the grief and loss about having to let your mother die AGAIN time to be addressed. I see it will not. Having his parents for three months was wonderful, but I can’t imagine it would be easy as pie to revert back again, no mattter how much you know it has to be that way. But apparently it’s time to drop that and sprint forward. Typical.
  • Iris was lovely in this ep as always and the westallen connection was emphasized beautifully, but I admit I was disappointed I didn’t get even a little bit of her and Wally, crime fighting siblings in action. Here was a prime opportunity to show her using her journalism skills to actively help one or both Flashes safeguard the city, and instead it was reduced to one line and quickly skipped over. She was a beautiful love interest here, but is it too much to ask for her as a love interest/journalist? A fully realized person? Or is that only afforded to Barry on this show? I feel like a party pooper complaining, but I can’t help thinking a two-parter would have had more time to dig into this idea and really show it off. Wally could have benefitted too. Iris could have utilized her skills to find the Rival in the second episode instead of Caitlin entering as a deus-ex-machina-style plot point to do it with skills that don’t even apply to her field. The possibilities boggle my mind and I’m kind of let down.
  • Similarly, I feel that Henry and especially Nora were just window dressing. They were the whole point of flashpoint and while I will never turn down a depiction of westallen importance and development and I loved that part, Nora was just a pawn to be either alive or killed. There was no inclusion of Barry’s parents at all in the plot, from what I can see of the ep and the way they cut it Barry never even clued them in to any of it. He just did whatever he pleased and while he may have some angst over it, he seems to be the only one important enough to make such decisions even though they affect so many others. It bothers me on a certain level. There wasn’t agency afforded to either parent concerning their ultimate fate, and it felt really crappy to provide Nora with a moment of relief only to have it ripped away again and kill her. That’s more cruel than the first time around. She felt like emoional fodder for the angst cannon and she deserved more than that, as did Henry. But at least Henry got to sleep through that part. I feel the episode missed the poignancy and bittersweet beauty that could have been there had they taken more time to do flashpoint. I feel like a two-parter would have been beneficial. No longer, because that would be too long. But two episodes would have rounded out so much. So now I feel the show has failed both of Barry’s parents, and Francine West too.
  • Connected to that, it feels as if flashpoint was so short that they really glossed over why it had to be undone. Barry losing memories and Wally not recovering seems like a pretty shallow reason compared to two people dying. There is an ethical dilemma to each one chosen and neither consequence was enough to really tip the balance   completely. I appreciate that Barry realized everyone around him had it worse to make his life better, but in the comics the world was in chaos and there was death and destruction at every turn. It was a very compelling reason to let Nora die, even though it hurt. The good of many/the world over the few. I didn’t feel that here.
  • Flashpoint was fun and I know there are other changes as a consequence, but I can’t help feeling a bit frustrated that the thing they felt necessray to change at the end was Iris’ beautiful relationship with her father. While it has never been perfect, both characters have grown and changed over the past seasons and their strengthening relationship was always something I enjoyed. Now they are so estranged they don’t even speak? What? So Barry does his usual messing up of everything and every one else pays for it. You don’t live in a vacuum Barry! Everything you do affects everyone else and it’s time to pull yourself together. Right now the speed force is shaking its head. They gave god-like powers to a 2 year old. I blame the writing for this.
  • If Jay Garrick is arriving to advise Barry, why is Felicity the advice-giving guru showing up too? They only trot her out when Iris is unavailable, and Iris is right there. Talk to her Barry, for pete’s sake. I feel like I can check off Felicity Visit from the list of things they do every season. It is NOT a good thing that a checklist is starting to form, that’s formulaic writing and in the end it loses its heart.

Possibilities:

  • Dare I hope that Jay Garrick is showing up next week to kick Barry in the head and tell him to grow up? Barry needs some serious training in how to actully be a hero, and I  think Jay is a perfect candidate to teach him.
  • It’s time for Barry to own up and take some responsibility. I expect him to tell at least Iris if not others about his disastrous choice, and I’m ok if Iris and others are a little bit angry with him for treating their own lives and choices and relationships so casually. Iris has every right to be really aggravated there are kisses and memories she no longer has because Barry keeps messing around with time.
  • I have heard the phrase “Barry wooing Iris” applied to season 3, and after all this mess I expect it. I want to see some wooing, I want to see their relationship actually take off, I want to see westallen become non-erased canon and actually thrive. It’s time. No more playing around. If they can’t do it for real and make it stick I’ll have to take a very long break from the show. Same goes for Barry learning he doesn’t live in a vacuum. It’s too frustrating. These characters should be growing, not stagnating in their own mud puddle of bad choices.
  • Next episode brings Tom Felton as Julian, and I admit I’m curious. Bring it.
  • Honestly Thawne should really realize how important Iris is to the Flash, instead of going back to kill Nora left and right. Not that I want Iris in danger, but it’s pretty clear by now…

 

What did you think fo the ep? Feel free to hit the comments! 🙂

The Flash 2×21: The Runaway Dinosaur

Or: All As It Should Be.

Speed force and WestAllen and Zombies, oh my!

Sometimes in the course of a story the action slows and a character spends a good amount of time wrestling with their own demons. Aspects of their journey are clarified, and the story reaches a turning point. Some would call that filler. I call it necessary. If the action never stops beyond a few “deep thoughts” throwaway lines, if the characters continually roll around in the same mud pit of their own bad choices and tragedies, I find it harder and harder to emotionally engage with the story and eventually I disconnect altogether. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Arrow.)

So The Runaway Dinosaur was like a breath of fresh air. I enjoyed every minute of it. I feel like I might be spending too much time on recap so I’m going to apologize because this is long. But I love looking at the nitty gritty bits of a story, so if you’re looking for a broad sweeping overview that ignores the delightful small details, you are on the wrong website friend. Sorry.

We start in the immediate moments after Barry disappeared last episode. Most are sure he’s dead, but Cisco is desperate to prove that Barry is still somehow alive. It really gave my heart a squeeze to see Cisco trying so hard. He doesn’t give up.

Once Harry calls Jessie to come down with Wally, (How did you think they were going to get out, Harry? Last you knew they were locked in. Though to be fair,  I guess blowing up the guy you were trying to help will mess up your common sense a little. Moving on.) Joe and Harry realize that something is wrong and rush upstairs. Parental panic ensues, complete with a fantastic slide on Tom Cavanaugh’s part, though it’s completely warranted. Wally wakes up easily, but Jessie’s heart stopped and after some CPR and name-yelling (That’s a bonafied medical technique, people, haven’t you heard of it?) Jessie revives enough to have a pulse and breathe on her own, but remains in a coma. Iris rushes Wally home after telling Wally that Barry is “gone” and quickly brushing off his questions. This is only going to last so long guys, Wally is going to have to be in the know soon, especially after that little dark matter/speed force mishap. But for now, Jessie looks to be on the fast track to speedsterhood and they are going to make us wait for Wally. Gah! Waiting sucks.

I love the different responses of everyone to the events that have just happened. Henry is so turned inward and devastated about losing Barry that it takes him a moment to respond when Joe asks him to evaluate Jessie. But he does, because he’s Henry and a good man. Cisco, who still can’t accept that Barry is dead (but it’s only been like 20 minutes max so that’s fair) reaches out to touch the piece of Barry’s suit and vibes. He sees Barry standing in a whirling vortex, alive. We all yell Speed Force!! Called it! Comics! Or some variation of that.

Barry wakes in his old bedroom, just as it was before his mother was killed. Right down to the fish in the tank, the posters on the walls and the plastic dinosaurs scattered around next to a book called The Runaway Dinosaur. Subtle The Flash has never been.

He wanders the house, enjoying it, until he finds Joe kneeling at the site of his mother’s murder, complete with caution tape. Oh but it’s not Joe, it’s the speed force taking the shape of Joe and making the environment seem like the house because they thought he’d be more comfortable. Joe I can understand, the house I can go with too. But the site of his mother’s murder?! What were you thinking, speed force? However I will concede that it’s possible since the speed force is drawing from Barry’s memories and emotions that it’s impossible to have the house without the murder scene. Barry’s memories of his childhood home will forever be tainted by what occurred his last night there. Ok speed force, you’re off the hook. Also, Barry you are killing me with your reaction to the setting, you look physically ill and disturbed. Stop making your eyes all teary I wanna hug you. Top notch acting, Grant.

The speed force explains that they have always been there since the beginning of the universe and will be there until the end. That’s all well and good Barry says, but he needs to get back to his earth, his friends and his city are in danger. Speed Force Joe informs him that he’s not going back. Not until he catches that speeding dark blur that is circling the house and moving away. The chase is on.

Harry confirms that Barry must be in the speed force (Really Harry? You’ve studied this have you? I would think not many would know a thing about it but I’ll let that slide…for now.) Henry is only thinking about Barry, Barry is all he has left. Joe manages to convince him that they will find Barry if he looks after Jessie. Everyone is going in three different directions at the same time in this ep and I appreciate it. When things like this go down it’s very difficult to decide what is priority at that moment and everyone is going to have that one thing that matters most to them. Watching the group take care of each other and work as a team to put out all the current fires was a delight. Henry confirms that Jessie is doing very well in every physical way but still not waking up. Just like Barry in his coma before he woke up with powers. (In case we’d forgotten.)

Did I say three directions? I meant four. Because of course the lightning happened to reanimate Tony Woodward aka Girder, and of course he’s zombified now and really angry. Because of course! Iris and Cisco take turns protecting each other in the morgue. (Yeah it’s a real morgue, not morgue-ish.) Tony is initially interested in Iris but after a flashlight and his own zombified looks assault his eyes, Tony breaks out to have a zombie night on the town.

Meanwhile Barry has run himself ragged after the shadow in the speed force and gone absolutely nowhere. There’s hidden meaning to that. He ends up at the waterfront where he and Iris first kissed, and the speed force has now taken the form of Iris.

WAIT WHOA WOW. That memory was so important that it was the second one the speed force used in its attempt to put Barry at ease. Many of us knew this, but it’s nice to see it confirmed. Barry is initially glad to see Iris until he puts it together, and then becomes more hostile. He does not appreciate the speed force impersonating this particular person at all. He sits a mile away on the bench and even Speed Force Iris comments that he seems more upset than they would have anticipated.

It’s also interesting that the speed force utilizes the form of Iris to give Barry some uncomfortable truths. Iris doesn’t usually hold back when Barry needs to hear something he may not like. While Speed Force Joe was fairly informative and reassuring, Speed Force Iris is far more direct, and she and Barry even argue a bit. She tells him that he was given a rare gift and rejected it. Barry counters with the argument that no he gave up his powers to save Wally and that in itself is heroic. But that’s not what Speed Force Iris was taking about. This scene is also a nice call back to references early in the show about Barry being chosen to be the Flash. The speed force knew what it was doing it seems.

So what was Speed Force Iris taking about, if not Barry’s powers? Stay tuned.

Cisco and Iris inform the others about Tony’s pseudo-ressurrection and Harry is deep in philosophical condemnation about history repeating itself. I’m pretty sure that Harry blew off Henry when he pointed out that Harry was messing with things he didn’t fully understand last episode. He was too focused on his own goals. And now again, his shortsightedness has caused hurt to the one he loves most and landed him in a world of pain. Harry, you need to learn bud. Needless to say, he’s drowning in a sea of guilt. Joe rallies him and gets him to focus on getting Barry back while Henry tends to Jessie. It is quite a nice thing too that Henry agrees to do his best for Harry’s child while Harry was responsible for what happened to his own child. The dynamics of the team were very interesting this ep and I enjoyed them. No one descended into unreasoning stubbornness and persecution. Why, they all acted like adults!

Iris and Joe tackle the Girder Zombie problem. Said zombie is currently wandering Central City and sees a yellow Humvee, bringing back memories of his last joy ride. He yanks the door off (again!) and leaves a basement-dwelling mama’s boy yelling at Big Belly burger.

Harry and Cisco have rigged a way to vibe Cisco into the speed force so he can be the beacon to guide Barry home. (Spoiler alert, it’s not you Cisco sorry. Barry needs an anchor instead.) As they activate, Barry senses it on the other side. Cisco calls to him. Barry is free to go, but if he does it will be without his powers. Barry chooses to chase the black shadow. It’s heartbreaking to see Cisco’s face as he realizes Barry is rejecting his help.

What’s not heartbreaking is Iris entering the room and realizing that again Harry is pushing someone too far in his zeal. She makes Harry stop and checks on Cisco.

OKAY WHERE IS MY PHONE? WE NEED TO HOLD IT AGAIN.

This episode, #21 of season 2, that’s the 44th episode ever made, has FINALLY delivered on writing for Iris’ character. I’m not saying there haven’t been moments before, because there have, and I have loved Iris since the pilot so this never defined my love for her. She’s a wonderful strong endearing character. But it has been noted by many over and over that the writing for Iris West has consistently moved her to the sidelines, denied her agency, and/or removed her point of view and expression of her feelings as a character. There are problems like this for other characters as well, but it has been a troubling standard for Iris for a long time. This episode is everything I always knew writing for Iris West could be, but rarely got to see. Not a weak moment in the episode, writing-wise. She is an able and included member of the team, takes charge when she needs to and isn’t afraid to get involved. She’s actively exercising her agency and showing us why she’s not just a love interest. From telling Cisco to get behind her, stepping in when she feels he’s being exploited, volunteering to be bait for Girder and choosing to enter the speed force to bring Barry back, Iris West is a force to be reckoned with in this episode and I applaud it. This is the real Iris West, and this is how she should be shown to us always. No more sidelining or removing her POV, please. This is the Iris West who shows off best why Barry has been in love with her for most of his life. This is Iris West. It’s time she take her proper place in this show, and it seems to me that she’s doing so. I am so happy to see it, Candice is more than up to the task. Barry and Iris are the beating hearts of this show. I’d like to see both well represented.

WRITERS, I’M HANDING THE PHONE TO YOU. PLEASE DON’T FAIL US.

Cisco tells the group he saw Barry but he lost him. Iris’ tiny sob does things to my feels. Can I hug Iris and Cisco too please?

The team tracks Tony’s movements and realizes he is retracing his last steps before he was captured the the Flash. Henry’s input is valuable and adorable, btw. Iris realizes Tony is after her. Again. (The delivery is hilarious, lol. Poor Iris.) Iris volunteers as bait to lure Tony back to S.T.A.R. Labs so Cisco and Harry can kill him. Again. LOL! Seriously, all the writing in this ep is great and the actors really got the comic beats down. Kudos to director Kevin Smith, directing can make all the difference in that.

Also, after all my chatter about death on this show it’s clear here that Zombie Girder is not truly alive or even Tony any more, so I can forgive the team’s efforts to truly put him to rest this time. There is a nice running theme in this episode about putting things or people to rest in the right way.

Joe and Iris stake out the house waiting for Zombie Girder to arrive and Joe asks Wally if he’s been experiencing any…physical changes. Oh dear. When Wally thinks he’s talking about puberty, Joe takes the tried and true approach of dropping his mug, which Wally does not catch. Joe, really. Stop dropping mugs! Though it is somewhat ironic that it says “World’s Best Dad” on it, lol. Iris is quite perturbed because she gave him that mug. This mug thing is getting to be a running joke and I laughed all the way through. Iris’ faces alone and Wally’s look of shock at the dropped and shattered mug were priceless indeed. Did I mention that Kevin’s directing was awesome? But the moment is interrupted when Girder arrives. Joe sends Wally to his room, and Wally reluctantly complies. Oh Wally, you need to be in on this secret my friend. I hope it happens in the next two episodes. There’s way too much going on around him that is related, and he’s going to start putting it together. Plus he could end up with the trademark speedster hand-fwapping any time now.

Iris heads out to lead Girder back to S.T.A.R. Labs. Good thing she’s in shape! She has running shoes and a jacket with a hood on. If I didn’t know better I’d say she was standing in for Barry….hmm…

But it’s her flippant “what the hell” line as she heads out the door that concerns me. It very much seems like Iris is trying to keep herself occupied and busy and making choices that keep her from dwelling on Barry’s loss too much, because at this point they failed to retrieve him and I think she’s worried they never will. I request to hug Iris West again, please.

Barry ends up out of breath and at the graveyard, and talking to the speed force in the form of his father this time. Turns out he has never visited his mother’s grave. Not once. He has never come to terms with her death or his decision not to save her at the end of last season. And this is the “rare gift” the speed force was talking about. Barry had that opportunity to say goodbye to his mother when he didn’t save her, but he rejected the closure that could have come from it. Instead he allowed the fact that he chose to let her die keep the wound open, punishing himself with guilt and the feeling that he didn’t deserve happiness. He ignored the fact that his mother never would have wished for him to die in her place, and that countless people have been saved as a direct result of that childhood experience. How can he truly be a hero with that guilt?

This season was supposed to be about what kind of hero Barry wanted to be, remember? That’s why this episode is important and necessary, rather than just filler. Barry doesn’t know who he is, he’s been floundering most of his life and definitely all season, and getting his powers back won’t solve that. The speed force knows it and takes steps to help him get there before granting him his speed. This is as close to a divine intervention as we will see on this show I think, and it’s really fascinating to see the speed force portrayed as a living entity to such a degree. It’s a turning point for Barry’s growth as a hero and a man. He returns with a far better grasp on priorities, dealing with tragedies positively and how they shape us into who we are. We need to let them shape us into a better version of ourselves, not let them drag us down. I can only hope this turning point sticks in the writing of season 3 and Barry finds ways to deal with his future tragedies in a healthier way than he has in his past. (Because oh yes, it looks like one will be coming very soon.)  If he does, Barry will get closer to the lighter and more positive hero that we all want him to be, instead of the classic emo brooding type. That’s just not Barry Allen. The writing has set us up for a perfect shift in dynamics and I am glad to see it. Keep it going in a forward direction, writers.

Back in the graveyard, Barry chases the black shadow again, which is looking more and more man-shaped. But it’s becoming obvious that as much as he might not want to, Barry is going to have to stop running to catch it.

Iris and Joe successfully lead Zombie Tony back to the S.T.A.R. Labs but the giant magnets Cisco rigged to deactivate (i.e. non-Zombie and kill) him fail. Everyone including the still-comatose Jessie ends up in the breach room with only a heavy door to keep Tony out. Plans A-G have failed and they really need Barry. As Tony pounds on the door, the team is trapped. Ideas are thrown around and Cisco realizes that perhaps Barry couldn’t come back last time because he didn’t want to. This is most appropriately realized after Joe notes to Iris that if Tony died and came back still wanting her he’s not going to let her go now. A subtle and lovely note on how Tony and Barry are fixated on the same woman and always have been, just in two different ways. One is unhealthy and the other healthy. Nice.

Barry has chased the shadow to his home, and he’s clearly aware that he needs to go inside and face whatever is there. It’s Nora. Of course it is. His mother has been the ghost that has haunted him since she died. Every single time there is a scene with Barry and his mother I weep copious tears, and this episode is no different. These actors are so talented, and this scene was perfect.

I really appreciated how Speed Force Nora made the point that Barry has to be able to make peace with the tragedies in his life, because there will be more. This is so true. None of us can avoid it. Nora and the Speed Force both tell Barry they are so proud of him, and I think it’s something Barry needs to hear from his mother, to know that her death was worth something in how it shaped her son into the hero and man that he is.

When the episode returns to Nora and Barry after a break to another scene they have moved from the table to the couch and Nora has a book that we last saw upstairs. I think it’s very possible that Barry’s memories and thoughts were controlling this last scene between mother and son, guiding this moment in the direction it needed to go for Barry to finally obtain closure. It comes in the form of a book, The Runaway Dinosaur, and details how mother and son are perfect for one another. In a subtle and nuanced way, it shows how Barry has accepted that his mother was perfect for him in his youth because she taught him important values and ways to see the world, and even with her death is perfect for him now because she continues to shape who he chooses to be, and the lives of many people are saved even when she wasn’t. And she will always love him. By now, I’m in floods of tears.

Barry is ready but instead of chasing the dark shadow summons it to him. It’s himself in his suit and they become one. Perfect hero moment captured as Barry stands in his suit. This time when the team tries to reach him it’s Iris calling to him. Cisco gets her into the speed force but it’s her that draws Barry out, because the moment her voice asks him to come home to her his face changes, and he cannot possibly refuse her.

The scene in the speed force is one of the most epic moments I have seen on the show and it is beautiful. Grant and Candice display all their acting chops (originally against a blank green screen) and they reach for each other as we get visual representation of what Iris is to Barry. His anchor, his lightning rod, his home. It was moving and truly captured the deep connection they share. And of course it is Iris who is able to bring Barry back to their world. I wept at the beauty of it, and I think I always will.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough awesome sauce, the minute Barry returns Cisco kills me with a hilarious line, and we get to see the perfect synchronized teamwork as Barry moves Iris and she calls to Tony to lure him into place. Barry powers the magnets with speed circles and Zombie Girder is now deceased Girder. Again.

After Barry brings Jessie out of her coma with the speed force (nice one Barry!) and Henry decides he’s going to stay permanently (it’s about time hon), Barry and Iris go to the graveyard to finally visit Nora’s grave. Barry leaves flowers and a copy of The Runaway Dinosaur, which Iris remarks she never liked that much.

Their conversation at the grave is beautiful and honest, especially when Barry challenges Iris’ notion that they never had anyone that was just right for them. He’s honest in that he doesn’t know what lies ahead in their relationship but he does know that she is everything to him and always has been. Iris’ reaction is truly beautiful, and their hug and his quick kiss on her temple is perfect. The episode ends on the most hopeful note I think we have ever seen from this show.

Well, until we see Zoom give Catlin a choice on whether to leave or not and then go rally his army/horde of earth 2 metahumans. It was nice while it lasted. Caitlin, why are you not running?!

And next ep I’m sure the pain will be excruciating, so I’m going to watch this one again and stay in denial for now. I’m going to watch it right up to next Tuesday, in fact.

Favorite Moments:

  • All the Iris! This is the Iris West I know and love! I want Iris like this forever more, in every episode!
  • Westallen! This episode was beautiful progression and did justice to the beautiful relationship these two have. It was everything I had hoped for and wanted. I know many were disappointed there was no kiss but I’m actually okay with the slow progression now that I can see we’re going somewhere. It’s been a heck of a wait considering they were set up from the pilot on. Plus kissing over his mom’s grave seems…disrespectful and kissing in the speed force is the wrong time they are all about to die and she’s holding on to Cisco with her other hand. It just didn’t fit. Both know they want this to last and they want to be cautious in moving forward and not ruin it. Jumping straight to kissing and sex cheapens the deep relationship Barry and Iris have, and their beautiful love story deserves more than that. I’m more worried that the “grand gesture” Iris has in the finale will be their next epic kiss and then the writers will time jump and make us miss all the first date and initial relationship stuff, would would really leave me unhappy. Don’t do it guys!! Keep going slow, just don’t suddenly reverse or anything stupid like that. I’ll show up next season for them and the show. But then I admit I want a kiss and first date and all the other relationship wonderfulness amid the crazy metahuman and villain adventures. I want to see Iris and Barry tackle life and its problems as a team and a committed couple that doesn’t let hardship split them apart. These are my requests. Ok I’m done now.
  • “Sit Barry, sit. You’re always on your feet.” “You’re just so tired. Sit Barry, sit.” It’s a beautiful point that the speed force is trying to make, that Barry has been running from the pain in his life so long that he is wearing himself out and going in circles. He has to stop, he has to take the time to deal with it and make peace with it for good. Only then can he run free and be the hero he’s supposed to be. So of course it’s fitting for Speed Force Nora’s final words to be “Run, Barry, run.”  I’m not crying…
  • I cannot express how important it is that this episode focused on the two most important women in Barry’s life. Much has been made of Barry’s different fathers, and rightly so, but the women in his life deserve focus too. This episode was great at that. Nora’s position as the murdered parent means that she often gets referred to as Barry’s source of childhood pain but very little else. It speaks volumes that she was instrumental in helping Barry get to the point where he was actually ready to return with powers. And Iris, of course, is Barry’s anchor/lightning rod and the love of his life. She was the other instrumental part of bringing Barry back home, no one else could have done it. She is a continual source of light and hope and home for him, just as he is for her and this episode exemplified that so well. The contribution of both Iris and Nora to Barry’s continuing story is important and it matters and I was so glad to see it given its due.

Tidbits:

  • I cannot say enough about the acting in this episode. Grant’s was incredible. His varied reactions to each form the speed force took, the moving scenes with his mother, and every single interaction with Iris was just the height of his game. And Candice always consistently brings it, but she was flat-out amazing in this ep.I can’t stress enough how talented she is, and how she makes me love Iris week after week. A plus acting all around this ep.
  • “I’m not going alone.” (Looks to Iris) Iris sighs. “Thank you.” LOL. Also “Get behind me.” “You get behind me!” Love it! The Cisco/Iris duo of teamwork and looking out for each other is so wonderful in this episode, I loved every second of it. I’ve been dreaming of a great Iris/Cisco friendship since last season and it has been a delight to see it finally happen. We need this to continue!
  • “A zombie? For real?” That’s exactly what I would have said Cisco.
  • “That’s my mom’s car!!” I laughed out loud. I admit it.
  • “How we know this is safe?” “Define safe.” The Harry/Cisco dynamics are so much fun.
  • This ep was directed by Kevin Smith and boy did he deliver! Excellent job Kevin, this episode had it all. Comedy, feels, suspense, and I loved every minute. In addition his enthusiasm and warm praise of the cast, his excitement as a fan, and his awesome directing makes me hope he’ll be back very soon and often. Great job, Kevin!
  • This episode was written by Zach Stentz. Mr. Stentz, you have not been on my radar before, but you definitely are now! Your screenplay was fabulous and I want more Flash screenplays from you! Excellent work!
  • “I gave you that mug!”
  • Once Barry and Iris make contact in the speed force, the lightning really gets crazy and there is gold light everywhere. Symbolism!! Beautiful tear-inducing heart-swelling symbolism!!
  • “I’m so glad you’re back, cuz we’re about to die.” Cisco, never ever change you beautiful man. Plus his magic hyperspeed speech and synchronized moments with Harry were fabulous. “Plan H.”
  • “Sorry. I got lost.” “That’s okay, we found you.” My westallen feels hurt so good guys.
  • “We never had anyone that was just right for us.” “Didn’t we?” SOOOO GOOD.
  • The music in the graveyard was the same westallen music used in the last episode (a mix of the Flash/Iris theme and the Best Friends Since Childhood theme plus something more mixed in) and it perfectly captures the place these two are in now. Friendship and larger feelings and the promise of something more. Gorgeous new westallen theme!
  • “You’re everything to me and you always have been, and the sound of your voice will always bring me home.” Iris puts her hand on her heart, Barry kisses her temple and they hug so tight! Waaaahhhhhh!!!! Pure epic westallen!

Possibilities:

  • Was the fact that Jessie was injected with V-9 at all responsible for her progressing to speedster state faster than Wally? Time will tell. Also, could someone with speed force access have revived Barry from his coma faster like he did Jessie? If that’s true, Eobard Thawne you fail. I’m of the opinion that Wally has powers but they aren’t activated yet. Others noted that Wally watched the mug fall in slow motion and that is either a director stylistic choice or subtle hint. And when Jessie woke up, the golden light on her was so strong it almost looked like it was coming off of her. Sweet.
  • Henry’s gonna die!!! After Speed Force Nora told Barry he had to find a way to deal with tragedy because the universe was just going to throw more his way, Barry’s conversation with Henry about his ideas on fate and how everything happens for a reason, everything that happened good or bad made us who we are, etc. AND THEN Henry announces he is staying, the writing on the wall looks pretty neon. It’s been a possibility for a while now but I think unfortunately it’s true. And I admit I hate it. Henry was written off for much of the season, his leaving was so out of character, and now they bring him back just to kill him. I’m pretty worn out on character deaths for shock value as it is, and Henry has been very under-served. I don’t like it, and I love Henry so I call bull crap. I do hope that he gets a good death (not the crap kind I’m looking at you Arrow writers and how you killed Laurel) and that Barry’s experiences this ep hold and influence how he handles this loss. If he pushes Iris away “for her safety” (I hate that trope) I am going to kill someone. I really hope Barry’s growth is maintained, it’s necessary. If he never learns and grows I’ll be checking out sooner or later.
  • Also, with Henry’s family connection to the name Garrick and the looming death of Henry (most likely, I’d LOVE to be wrong) it seems pretty clear to me that the man in mask is the real Jay Garrick from earth 2, who is the spitting image of Henry Allen and also played by John Wesley Shipp. I’m going to make that my main theory. We shall see. If this comes to pass I hope they keep him for next season and let John Wesley Shipp do justice to the name Jay Garrick. Plus then he’ll have played two Flashes in his life and that’s just awesome. Keep him for season 3!
  • Speaking of Laurel Lance, next week we get to see the Black Siren from earth 2 complete with metahuman canary cry, and Katie Cassidy gets to be a villain. I’m excited I think she’ll do great! Also, if Wally is going to help I think it should be in a car. Cars and speed are Wally’s thing and he’s not a speedster yet soo it follows.

What did you think? Hit the comments! 🙂

Gif used above is by the talented supagirl on tumblr.