The Flash doubles down on the time travel, the murkiness of the timeline, the malleability of its characters, and the intelligence/gullibility of Eobard Thawne.
1. Time Travel Wackiness
What I like about this show is that they are unafraid to go bold with time travel. Sure, everyone knows the pitfalls of it, and it isn’t exactly carefree in approach, but the show wants to give the audience an exciting, unpredictable show, and it does that in spades whenever messing with the timeline.
And this installment really does mess with it. Not only does Barry see his future self, not only does Wells/Thawne figure out that he’s not ‘their’ Barry, not only does Barry reveal himself to Cisco/Caitlin, not only does the Time Wraith (more on him later) follow Barry back to the future, not only does Barry get Eddie to talk about Iris, he manages to also blab about Ronnie to Cisco, almost get caught in a lie with Wells/Thawne, and still manages to almost fuck up in an other ten ways. This episode was about as tense of a time travel episode as you can get 2/3 of the way through a season.
One character that I didn’t expect to miss so much was Eddie, but seeing him here really drove home how strong of a presence he had on the show. Couple that with the fact that his sacrifice didn’t really work (well, kind of), and it was especially heartbreaking to see him here. I still think he’ll be back in a larger role eventually, but we’ll see.
In the meantime, can we also talk about just how handsome Rick Cosnett is? Great googly moogly, I can forget how absurdly good looking this cast is at times.
3. Pied Piper
Seeing Hartley Rathaway back on the scene, both as a prisoner and, eventually, as an ally, was a nice touch. I’ve been tough on he show in the past for its desire to make the Rogues too dark and menacing, and this season (along with Legends of Tomorrow) has somewhat changed that. Seeing a Pied Piper who isn’t driven by the desire to murder is another step in that direction. Who knows? The Rogues might have a fighting chance at being sort of Rogue-ish next season!
Kudos, yet again, to Tom Cavanagh for his incredible oscillation between Earth One Eobard Thawne and Earth Two Harrison Wells. The performance is nuanced on so many levels – he’s really playing three characters in this episode. He’s playing Thawne, playing Thawne playing Wells, and playing a different, gruffer, Wells. Sure, they try to do little visual tricks, like making E2 Wells wear hats more, or keeping E1 Thawne in a wheelchair for most of the episode, but in a lesser actor’s hands, the part just wouldn’t work the same way.
It was interesting to see just how much I – much like with Eddie – missed early Wells. He was such an effective mentor/father figure to Barry, that it was really nice to see him back in that role, even temporarily. Similarly, seeing the bastard Thawne poke his head out was just as frustrating and heartbreaking as it was last season. There’s something really special about this show’s relationship with one actor and multiple characters, and I can’t really think of an example like it at all anywhere else in TV history. Sure, we’ve had your Steve Urkel/Stephan Urquelle situations, but this is multiple seasons of, essentially, Cavanagh being a one man repertory company. It is quite impressive.
5. Time Wraith
I really thought this was going to be the Black Flash of comics (and I may not be wrong – did you see how he’s essentially wearing a Flash costume in close ups), but the idea of a spectral ghoul who haunts those who abuse the Speed Force is a great concept, whether or not they actually make it the Black Flash. If they are really going forward with a “Crisis on Infinite Earths” story, as has been hinted at since the pilot, then the Black Flash might indeed be a part of that.
The show is maintaining this really delicate balance between utter comic insanity with enough heart to rope in viewers who can’t name six speedsters or four crises. Because of the quality of the writing and the winning cast, the show continues to push the envelope in both directions. This episode was, at times, heartbreaking, scary, funny, and fist-pumped in the air awesome. Well played, Berlanti and co.Continued below
Let me know what you thought in the comments!