Alyssa asked me to write the review for The Flash’s episode this week. For the record, nobody can prove I did anything nefarious to her so that I could write a review of what turned out to be one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. And I definitely will not do anything nefarious to her again next week for the chance to write that review. Now prepare for extreme gushing ahead, because I’ll be honest. If you think Enter Flashtime was anything less than utterly fantastic, then you’re objectively wrong.
Love makes us stronger. At least it does in the world of The Flash. It certainly did this episode, which brought (most of) the Flash family back together. Barry reunited with Jay and Jesse. Jesse and Harry mended fences…again. And the love Barry and Iris share ultimately saved the day.
More on that last one later.
I have genuinely missed John Wesley Shipp, and having him back made me smile. It also left me with some questions. Who is the speedster he plans to train as his replacement? Is there any chance Amanda Pays could return to play his Earth’s Joan Garrick in some future episode? Or is that hoping for too much?
I was also touched at the interactions between Jesse and Harry. To be frank, try as I might, I’ve never managed to get quite on board with Jesse’s character. However, I was actually quite moved by her final scene with Harry this episode. Both actors were so solid in that scene, it broke my heart. They haven’t really known what to do with Tom Cavanagh since the first season, but moments like that really remind you what a good actor he can be.
That said, I did find myself wondering if this sudden focus on Harry’s lost wife – who hasn’t been mentioned in a couple years, to my recollection – might be leading to something. Of course, it could have just been the vehicle they used to reconnect these characters and build to the emotional moment of connection and understanding at the end. But is it possible that it is also foreshadowing? Is it possible Harry will meet his late wife’s doppelgänger from this Earth?
Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Still, it was a beautiful moment between them.
Sadly, with all these reunions, Wally’s absence was poignantly felt.
A Clear and Present Danger
Let’s be honest. Not all threats are created equal. Sometimes it feels less like a dire threat than a minor inconvenience. Not so this week, as eco-terrorist Veronica Dale set off a nuclear bomb in the heart of Central City. A character in the comic books, there is a lot of speculation that she could be next season’s villain. I don’t know that there’s enough going on with her to carry a whole season, but the threat definitely carried through the episode. I have never been more anxious during an episode of The Flash.
Not only was the threat significant, but it allowed for some wonderful character interactions. Almost every character was given a moment to shine. Cisco tried to vibe the bomb to another world. Harry suggested they throw it into the speed force. Killer Frost tried to freeze it. Jesse tried to enlist her fellow speedsters to hit it with lightning.
It was nice to see these smaller, more personal character interactions. However, the real strength of the episode lay in the way it allowed Barry to shine as a hero. On a show that too often undercuts his intelligence, he was allowed to be smart. He figured out why Cisco couldn’t vibe the bomb to another planet. He realized why Cisco and (most of?) the others couldn’t survive in Flashtime very long. And, having learned his lesson over the past few years, he advised Jesse that time travel could create a bigger problem than it solved.
It was also gratifying that Barry seems to be the only speedster to be able to carry others into Flashtime. Jay’s the more seasoned hero, and even he expressed surprise. Jesse trying to carry her dad into Flashtime with her was a small moment, but heartbreaking nonetheless.
In fact, in the entire episode, I really only had one complaint. It has less to do with this specific episode and more to do with the season overall. The Caitlin/Killer Frost story makes so little sense, I have a hard time emotionally connecting to anything that happens to either character.
Before being frozen again, Frost asked Barry to save Caity. I frankly don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about that. Gratified that she’s turning to the side of good and is no longer a villain? I still don’t know why she stopped being a villain in the first place, other than because Iris told her she was a good person deep down. Happy she has some amount of caring for Caitlin – which I presume we are not to believe is solely self-serving? Why has she started to care for her human persona? Or any of them? We’re told Frost is the life of the party, implying she has spent some time with the rest of the team. We certainly haven’t seen enough of them together to really believe she’s befriended the people she tried to kill the year before.
Am I to be happy or concerned that Caitlin is starting to remember some of what Killer Frost does? Does that mean she’s becoming one persona (which she seemed to be last year)? Or just that the two are finding a way to work together and accept each other? Would that unification firmly cement Frost on the side of good? Or is Frost’s resolve to walk on the side of angels shaky at best?
Was Caitlin’s conversation with Harry at the end supposed to be a cause for celebration or concern? I honestly do not know, and that is entirely due to the weakness of the writing for her story this year.
The Flash’s Heart and Soul
Look. LOOK. Can I just take a moment to respond to the Westallen this week? Because it was absolutely AMAZING.
From the two of them talking about how they haven’t spent enough time one-on-one together to Iris crawling into his hospital bed to cuddle, these two were absolutely perfect this week. Their scene in Flashtime absolutely ripped out my heart. Anyone who thinks Grant Gustin and Candice Patton aren’t two of the strongest actors on the entire CW network is kidding themselves.
Gustin so perfectly conveyed his reluctance to touch her at first, knowing how hard it will be to say goodbye. Barry’s exhaustion and defeat as he collapsed against Iris’s shoulder broke my heart.
Not that she didn’t do her level best to make sure my heart would never recover. “Every moment with you, Barry, has always been nice.” Oh my god.
If I hadn’t been an emotional wreck, I would have cheered louder that Iris was explicitly confirmed to be Barry’s lightning rod. I can only hope – and eagerly anticipate – the show will delve more deeply into that concept in the future.
Iris putting the pieces of various conversations together to help Barry find the answer was absolutely perfect. Barry and Iris have always been – and always will be – better together than they are apart. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how an OTP is done.
- I like the actor who plays him, but I did not miss Ralph this episode. Not even for a second.
- This was Gregory Smith’s second foray into directing on The Flash, and I absolutely loved his style. Even the lighting added to the tension and drama – as well as Barry’s increasing feeling of isolation as even his fellow speedsters had to stop running. When Jay Garrick froze, I actually screamed.
- “We are the Flash, but we’re also Barry and Iris.” Damn right.
- Cisco, Harry, and Caitlin found it difficult to move at super speed for long, but Iris has been carried into Flashtime twice now to no ill effects. Was she just not moving that fast for long enough to feel the negative effects, or does her connection to the speed force protect her like it does Barry? I actually loved how much it made sense that neither Barry nor Iris realized she had no negative effects from Flashtime.
- I also loved that every “why doesn’t Barry…” suggestion fans might propose to get rid of the bomb was addressed in this episode. The Flash sometimes has plot holes you could drive a semi into, but they tried to cover their bases this week.
- I still don’t know that the Mystery Girl is Dawn (possibly renamed Nora) Allen, but I certainly can’t rule it out. Was she actually giving Caitlin and/or Harry a Look after they walked away? And what does it mean, if so? Was she telling the truth when she said that she was meeting them for the first time? If so – and if she is Dawn – is there a reason Dawn never met Harry and/or Caitlin in future? (For example, does Caitlin/Killer Frost turn evil again?) Will we get answers anytime soon? And is it significant that the last people she has left to meet are Joe and Iris? The anticipation is killing me. However, while I do think we will get some answers in the next few episodes, I do wonder if her primary arc will play out next season.
- If Alyssa is unable to do the review next week, when Iris gets super powers for an episode, I swear I have an alibi!