As The Flash heads into its final run of episodes in its second season, the stakes are getting even higher as the threat gets even more dangerous.
While this week’s episode of The Flash – directed by the marvelous Kevin Smith – lacked the overall scope of last week’s game-changing episode, “The Runaway Dinosaur” had all of the heart that makes Barry the hero we know him to be.
Barry – who is very much not dead, obviously – found himself confronted with other tough decision when it came to accepting a very important lesson that every hero should learn: you need to accept that bad things will happen in this life and move forward.
Meanwhile, Jesse and Wally appeared to be unaffected by the Speed Force, a reanimated metahuman returned from the dead, Barry and Iris decided to take that next step, and Zoom set the stage for what’s sure to be an epic penultimate episode of The Flash season two next week.
Let’s break this down:
Barry is Lost Then Found
Following Barry’s apparent death in the final moments of last week’s “Rupture,” we found Barry stuck inside this false reality of sorts that wasn’t a false reality so much as it was a place that we never knew existed as a virtual space: the Speed Force. Here Barry was stuck – without his powers – as the speed force communicated verbally with him through the physical forms of people Barry loved: Joe, Iris, Henry, and finally his mother Nora.
While this whole thing seemed a little confusing and trippy in the beginning, it was clear that the Speed Force had a point to make with Barry. As Barry continuously pleaded with the Speed Force to let him go home because his loved ones and the city were in danger by Zoom, the Speed Force kept prying while trying to get Barry to understand the lesson he needed to learn before he was able to return home.
While Barry is a far cry from Oliver Queen in terms of the immense amount of tragedy he’s experienced, there’s no denying that Barry has experienced his fair share of personal tragedy, as well. Of course that most notable tragedy being the death of his mother was he was 11-years old. That was the driving force behind Barry’s hunt for vengeance and justice in taking on Reverse Flash last season, which led to a moment where Barry could’ve saved his mother in the past. But he chose not to do that. And you couldn’t help but wonder if that decision continued to haunt him to this day, as the Speed Force made him confront that head on.
The Speed Force kept telling Barry he wasn’t ready to return home. Not yet. He still needed to learn something before he did. If you had any doubt that the Speed Force cares and is rooting for Barry then all you need to do is watch this episode. They know exactly what’s going on. They know that Barry has saved countless lives; that Barry sacrificed his speed – and being a hero – to save someone’s life; and they know the threat of Zoom. But I’m convinced that the Speed Force needed to get Barry into the right mindset before sending him off to fight Zoom, who as we know is virtually unstoppable. And Barry finally got himself there in the end.
The thing that Barry needed to learn is that he has to be willing to accept and deal with the tragedies that happen as a means of this job and this life. For so long Barry had never dealt with his mother’s death – so much that he had never visited his mother’s grave even though Joe tried countless times to take him. He just couldn’t face it. But when it comes to being a hero and to being a human being you have to be willing to face that tragedy head on and not let it control you. You need to be willing to accept it for what it is and not let it tie you down for years, especially when you’re preparing to face a monster like Zoom who has no personal ties other than this misinformed infatuation with Caitlin.
Barry learned that everything that has happened to him – good and bad – has made him who he is. He even admitted to his father that he doesn’t think he’d change any of it because it brought him to this point where he’s able to be a hero for this city. But Barry also realized an important lesson that his mentor, Oliver, also learned last week: don’t waste so much time being angry about the things you’ve lost, but instead focus on all of the great things you have in your life. That’s a lesson every hero needs to learn.
Barry and Iris Taking the Next Step
While Barry spent a majority of his time inside the Speed Force fighting to get home, when he was able to return home it was Iris extending a hand and pulling him back to their world. If you ever had any doubt that The Flash was leaning towards Barry and Iris in a romantic sense, then this was all you needed to see: Iris calling out to Barry, Barry reaching for her, and Iris pulling him back to their world as they embraced.
As I wrote in a piece earlier this week, I believe that Barry and Iris are finally able to take that next step in being together in a romantic sense. It’s not because they believe destiny is forcing them to be, it’s because they’ve experienced things in their lives – or heard things – that open their eyes to what’s standing right in front of them and the promise of what can be.
“The sound of your voice will always bring me home.” – Barry
Just as Barry learned that the good and bad experiences in your life shape who you are, so have the things that have led to Barry and Iris deciding to take that step to discovering what their future might be together. Whether it was Barry finally getting the courage to tell Iris how he felt last season or Iris loving and losing Eddie or to Iris getting closure on that Eddie front, all of these things – not just the good – have shaped the people that Barry and Iris have become. And who they are is ready to be with each other.
While I suspect we won’t get to see much development with them in the romantic sense in these final two episodes of the season, I expect we’ll see hints of what we can expect to explore come season three where there will be time to flesh out their relationship. And it’s going to be grand.
Girder Rises Then Falls
While Barry was trapped inside the Speed Force trying to find his way home, Team Flash faced a familiar threat when one of the dead metahumans that had been housed in STAR Lab’s morgue returned to cause all sorts of drama at the worst possible time.
Turns out that Particle Accelerator explosion did more than make Barry disappear and knock Jesse and Wally unconscious, it turns out it was able to reanimate Girder, that bully metahuman that was able to turn himself into steel. Only he was more reminiscent of a walker from the Walking Dead than his old self. Seeing as the last time Girder was around he was hitting on Iris, this zombie-version of Girder was following her, as well, which led to Iris being a badass in the middle of all this action. She offered to be bait to lure him to STAR Labs so Wells and Cisco could take him out like last year.
Only that didn’t work, and the team was forced to lock themselves inside a room praying that the door would hold up long enough for Barry to make his return. Thankfully Barry was able to return to our world just in time in order to face Girder for a second time, and come out of this victorious. Crisis averted. Well, one small crisis averted.
Do Jesse and Wally Have Powers?
While Barry’s apparent death was the most-talked-about moment from last week’s episode, another one was the fact that both Jesse and Wally got hit with the Speed Force as they were fleeing the room they were holed up in. Seeing as we picked up immediately where we left off last week, we found Jesse and Wally unconscious in the lab’s main room leaving us wondering if they’d fall victim to nine-month comas like Barry did before waking up with his super speed.
While Wally woke up immediately, Jesse wasn’t so lucky. Her heart actually stopped, and Wells was able to find a pulse finally, but she was still unconscious. But the question still loomed: do Jesse and Wally have powers?
While Joe tested that theory – he’s had a little experience with Barry – in seeing if Wally had super speed by dropping his “world’s greatest dad” mug and watching it fall and crack on the ground as Wally watched stunned, it appeared as if nothing happened to Wally. Or did it? And while Barry was able to wake Jesse up with the Speed Force, she didn’t appear to be any different. Or is she?
Perhaps it takes some time for powers to manifest, as we’ve seen with Cisco an his ability, so maybe this is something we could see happen in season three. But the fact of it is that in the comics both Jesse and Wally are speedsters, so there has be some sort of indicator that both might eventually become that on this show. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…
While Zoom remained a nearly invisible threat during most of this episode, we finally found him and Caitlin in the post-credits scene as Zoom was pleading with her to join his side of the fight. He told her he was letting her decide: that if she was still there when he returned that he’d have known that she was joining his side. If she was gone he’d know that she’d chosen her friends, and that she would receive the exact same mercy – or lack of – that he’d show her friends the next time they meet.
Then we watched as Zoom addressed a crowd of his metahumans from Earth-2 at the Central City Police Department about how the humans think this planet is theirs. But that they’re going to take it. Well, it’s lucky Barry got back in time for next week’s epic showdown.
NEXT TIME ON ‘THE FLASH’
Episode 2×22 – “Invincible”
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
What were your thoughts on “The Runaway Dinosaur?”