FLASH BACK – 8.5/10
Seeing as there was no Flash this week I thought I would take a trip back in time to review last week’s episode. I don’t always have time to review everything, so occasionally shows must go without the geeky credit they so richly deserve. Fortunately the break in programming has given me the opportunity to acknowledge what was quite possibly one of my favourite episodes of Flash to date. The rules of Flash have completely changed as Barry’s abilities have continued to develop; he can travel to parallel worlds and through time, there are literally endless possibilities for the writers to explore. This is exactly what happened in this episode as Barry travelled back in time to receive one final lesson from his old mentor, Doctor Wells AKA Reverse Flash.
While we know that there is more to Jay’s apparent betrayal than meets the eye, Barry does not. As far as he is concerned Jay is Zoom, and he has once again been betrayed by a mentor that he trusted. This brings back painful memories of Eobard Thawne, who under the guise of Harrison Wells pushed Barry to get faster so he could steal his speed. Reverse Flash was faster than Barry and unlike Zoom he did it without the use of the fatal V9 serum. Desperate for a way to finally defeat Zoom, Barry decides to once again travel back in time so he can take the place of his former self and discover the secret of Thawne’s speed. This is ultimately a selfish decision and Wells warns Barry that there will be consequences as his trip could play havoc with the timeline. More importantly as a fellow time traveller, Thawne would most likely see through the ruse.
Flash ignores Wells’ warning and travels back to the previous year where he witnesses his confrontation with The Pied Piper, Hartley Rathaway. Barry confronts his past self, subduing the less experienced Scarlet Speedster with a tranquiliser following a thrilling altercation. After a brief wardrobe change Barry easily defeats Hartley, incarcerating him in a reactor cell at Star Labs and using his memory of the incident to confiscate Piper’s sonic earplugs. With Hartley out of the way Barry is able to focus on his real mission and he soon finds himself face to face with the man that killed his mother, Reverse Flash. Despite his disdain for Thawne, Barry remains calm and presents “Wells” with a complex speed equation. While Thawne is curious to know where he learnt it, their conversation is soon interrupted by the appearance of a ghostly spectre at the CCPD.
It seems that the disturbance to the timeline has not gone unnoticed and a time wraith has followed Barry through the speed force with foul intent. These time wraiths are an original concept for the show (although they are pretty much stolen from Doctor Who), but they do seem to bare a resemblance to the Black Flash. Could this be a sign of things to come? Barry’s strange behaviour and the presence of the time wraiths is more than enough to alert Thawne to the fact that this Barry does not belong here. He attacks Barry and traps him in his time chamber where the two mortal foes share an intense conversation. Thawne realises that if Barry is here then that means that his plan fails in the future. With his life in the balance Barry manages to convince Thawne to help him by playing to his ego and using a half-truth about their most recent encounter.
While Barry and Thawne form yet another uneasy alliance, Cisco and Caitlyn are attacked by the time wraith. They take shelter in Hartley’s cell and he actually saves them from the wraith using his sonic gloves. Perhaps this brieft stint in a cell will give Cisco the time to ponder the lack of toilet facilities, but probably not. While Thawne works on a way to stop the speedster hating wraith from killing both him and The Flash, Barry pays a visit to the CCPD where he bumps into Eddie. He gets Eddie to record a message for Iris on his phone before returning to Star Labs; unfortunately the other Barry Allen happens to arrive at the exact same time. The presence of two Flashes causes all sorts of problems for the timeline, especially when Barry begins to reveal things about the future. It also heralds the return of the very angry time wraith who seems intent on wiping Barry from this reality.
Unwilling to put his plan at risk, Thawne gives Barry the key to the tachyon technology that will help to unlock his speed with the caveat that he leaves this timeline immediately. Barry begins to speed around the reactor but the Wraith soon appears, easily catching up with him. Past Barry lends a hand helping to launch his future self into the Speed Force with the wraith in hot pursuit. Barry emerges in his own timeline where Team Flash has had a year to work out how to stop the wraith and it is easily defeated by Rathaway, who appears to be a full member of Team Flash now. But will that really be the only change to the timeline? More importantly, will the retrieved tech be enough to finally give Flash the edge he needs to defeat Zoom? Unfortunately we can’t all time travel so we are going to have to wait to find out.
Tom Kavanagh pretty much made this episode for me and it was a lot of fun to once again see him playing Thawne, playing Wells. The conversation between Thawne and Barry was incredibly tense as both men jockeyed for the mental high ground. Aside from Captain Cold, Reverse Flash is perhaps the greatest rogue so it’s always good to see him involved. Grant Gustin also did a fantastic job of differentiating between the driven Barry of today and the more naïve version from the past and the confrontation between the two was brilliantly realised. However the Wraith proved to be far less engaging in both concept and delivery and the episode could have probably done without it. The only saving grace would be if it was in some way tied to the Black Flash, which seems likely based on its appearance and the affect it had on Barry when it touched him.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- The Eddie/Iris storyline felt somewhat forced, but it was good to see Rick Cosnett again as Eddie seems to have been all but forgotten until this episode.
- It was also good to see The Pied Piper redeemed as Hartley has often swayed between hero and villain in the comics. What part will he play in the fight against Zoom?
- It’s a fun little aside that Earth-2 Wells continues to be frustrated by Team Flash’s instance in referring to Thawne as Wells.
- It seems likely that we will see the time wraiths again; perhaps they will also play a part in the final confrontation with Zoom as it seems likely that that version of Jay has manipulated the timeline.