A few superhero faces have been missing on The Flash, recently. Cisco went away to research supervillains, I guess. Ralph is off chasing Sue Dearbon after she got the better of him. And this season’s Wells kind of just comes in and out. This week’s episode fixes a few of those, at least. Cisco comes back, and it looks like he definitely enjoyed his time off. What’s even more exciting though, is that Wally West is back! The episode opens with a helicopter rusting and falling apart. Caitlin and Kamilla think Barry’s already on it, but he’s still at S.T.A.R. Labs. There’s another speedster in town. Man, first Grodd comes back and now Wally West? This show gets me.
Wally isn’t here just to catch up with family, though. Like Barry, the Speed Force has been acting weird for him. For Barry, it’s been sudden loss of speed, and his accelerated healing not working like it’s supposed to. For Wally, he can feel the Speed Force fading in his head. Wally asks Iris if Barry’s told her anything, and she lets slip that Barry had an incident with the Speed Force back in December. Of course, she’s referring to the Bloodwork fight, when Barry chose to let Ramsey take control and attacked the manifestation of the Speed Force. When Wally brings Barry into the Speed Force, it tells Barry that it is dying because of something he did. Wally takes that to mean the Ramsey incident, and storms off on Barry instead of talking it out like rational humans. I guess we’re bringing back the show’s bad habits along with its good characters.
Barry goes back into the Speed Force with Gideon’s help and finds out she wasn’t referring to the Ramsey fight. Barry’s actions in Crisis led to the Speed Force’s death. When he used the Specter’s energy to enter the Speed Force, the energy corrupted it. Barry saved the universe because of that choice, but now he might lose his speed. I guess we should have expected that this was next after “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” In the comics, speedsters lose their connection to the Speed Force or are otherwise forced to exist without it. It was only a matter of time before the show tried out one of these stories.
It’s a cool direction for the season to go, but my problem with it is that the episode doesn’t give it enough time. The Speed Force dying is a major event, and it doesn’t feel like the biggest thing that happens in this episode. I get that this is going to be an ongoing story for the next few weeks. The way it was handled though, it got enough time to feel like we should be getting something more, but not enough for it to have any real impact just yet.
It also takes away from what’s otherwise a really good villain of the week. See, the helicopter attack at the beginning of the episode wasn’t random. A Russian thief named Turtle (Or Turtle 2, since she’s from another pre-Crisis Earth), is tracking down her old gang. Seems like they lived lavishly, while she went away. The show doesn’t spend a ton of time on her motives or backstory, but it doesn’t need to. She can store and manipulate potential energy, creating little bubbles of frozen time. If she traps someone (or something) in a bubble, she can rapidly age them. That’s what happens to the helicopter, and that’s what happens to the socialite, who ends up mummified on the floor of CC Jitters.
We get an awesome fight in the middle of CCPD though, when Turtle 2 shows up to kill another member of her old gang. The Flash and Kid Flash team up for the first time in years, and it immediately brings a smile to my face. Yes, the episode is crowded, and the resolution is rushed, but Wally and Barry fighting together will never not bring me joy. And hey, Joe got in on the action too. After Jesse L. Martin’s break from the show for health reasons, and a whole lot of episodes where he couldn’t do much more than sit and talk, it was a welcome surprise to see him land the final blow on a supervillain.
In addition to all of that, the Nash Wells story decided to show itself. After weeks of Nash seeing ghostly figures of other Wellses, he tries to go to Cisco for help. Cisco though, is too busy trying to figure out how to stop Turtle 2, and blows him off. He only agrees to help after Caitlin gives him a talking to. Because we’re back to the can-I-talk-to-you cycle. It’s too late, though. By the time Cisco finds him, Eobard Thawn has taken over Nash’s body. He attacks Cisco, but is surprised to find out he doesn’t have any powers in his new body. He still comes close to killing Cisco anyway, but Cecile senses the hate through the door, and tasers Nash/Thawne until he’s unconscious.
At first I thought this story would be an unnecessary addition to an already overstuffed episode. But Thawne’s return and imprisonment becomes important to the death of the Speed Force. As Thawne taunts Barry and promises to kill his friends and family, he also gloats about building his own Speed Force. That gives Barry an idea. If Thawne did it, why can’t he? That’s how he’ll get his powers back. That’s a real interesting direction for the show to go. If it follows the comics at all, Barry probably won’t reach quite the speeds he was able to before. He’ll be slightly more vulnerable, and there’s a lot of story potential there. As rushed as some of these storylines were this week, they set up a lot of cool stuff for the weeks to come.
That’s what makes the episode work despite the flaws. There was too much going on at once, but all of it was exciting. I can’t complain much about too many stories if they’re all still pretty good. And hey, by consolidating Nash, Thawne and the Speed Force’s death into one single story by the end, future episodes could be slightly more focused. Even Mirror Iris finally got something going by the end. Until now, she’s just acted vaguely suspicious with no discernible goal. By the end of the episode, Kamila discovers that photos of her look like reflective glass. Unfortunately, she can’t tell anyone about that. Mirror Iris finds her and shoots her with a mirror gun. I hope she’s OK. Hopefully it just sent her inside the Mirror with Iris and Eva. Iris needs someone on her side in there.
This will be the last time I write about The Flash. My final post for Geek will be next week, but this is it for this series. I’ve been covering this show for three and a half years, and it’s hard to say goodbye. Especially in the middle of the season. Of all the shows I’ve recapped over the years, The Flash has meant the most to me. He’s my favorite superhero, and through all its ups and downs, I’ve loved this incarnation of him. My Flash fandom is part of what got me this gig in the first place. If you’re one of the people who read these recaps regularly, I just wanted to say thanks. And hey, next week, I’ll get to enjoy the new episode as a fan. So it’d better be good.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
Previously on The Flash: