The Flash "Flash Back" (REVIEW)
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
The ever present danger Zoom means to Team Flash and with Barry obsessing over improving his ability to harness the speed-force sends him down a risky path. With seemingly all options exhausted, this episode revolves around Barry going back in time about one year to have a little conversation with the Eobard Thawne in Wells-clothing… specifically during the time the Flash tangled with Hartley “Pied Piper” Rathaway way back in episode 11 of the first season… we’ve really come a long way haven’t we folks? Anyway! Playing with time is always a dangerous game, and this time is exceptionally different when a Time Wraith follows Barry to last year, intent on killing him.
While Barry figured he had Eobard Thawne fooled, his focused intent on learning a way to increase his speed kindles some suspicion, with Thawne quickly figuring out that this Barry Allen isn’t the same Barry Allen he’s spent 10 and 1/2 episodes training so far. This creates some of the most spine-chilling dialog between the two since Barry first discovered his true identity.
Somehow, Barry convinces Eobard not to kill him and instead work with him to tackle the speed force formula and also to stop the Time Wraith terrorizing Central City. Though playing around with time is ultimately risky, Harrison Wells (Earth 2 ver) warns Barry that if he changes anything, he may come back to a world he doesn’t recognize. Despite this, Barry drops little hints here and there without delving too far into spoiler territory (i.e. telling Team Flash about who Harrison Wells really is). He clues Cisco in to Hartley’s escape and even tells them that Hartley knows where Ronnie Raymond is.
The Pied Piper isn’t the only returning face we haven’t seen in a while, Rick Cosnett guest stars as the dearly departed Eddie Thawne. It was nice seeing him back, and while a part of me wished that Barry playing with the timeline would bring Eddie back to the main cast… I know that Eddie’s death is instrumental and one that cannot and should not be changed.
Seeing some familiar faces return and in a way being transported back to a moment in time from over a year ago (arguably one of the best seasons of television in 2014/2015) was a delight in an already well written episode. My one complaint was despite the episode running at the same runtime as other episodes, so little seemed to happen it felt to me like the episode seemed shorter than it was.
Personally, my highlight for the entire episode was Tom Cavanagh essentially playing two characters. Since we are near the end of this season, it’s easy to forget how Harrison Wells was both nurturing and menacing in the first season. Tom’s execution of this character fits picture perfect with how he played him last year.
Though it seemed like it was over and done… in a “flash”… *cue awkward crickets* the episode did play with some fantastic scenes! The entire exchanged between future Barry and Eobard Thawne dripped with tension, I honestly had no idea how Barry was going to get out of it. Even the point when past and present Barry came face to face in STAR Labs and Cisco could not contain his freakout.
I try not to delve that much into spoiler territory with my reviews, but one bit I have to touch on… so CUE SPOILER WARNING and jump to the next paragraph to avoid it. Barry made some changes but for the most part nothing monumental was seriously altered. The point when Barry runs back to his current timeline and the Time Wraith goes full on Dementor on him, he’s saved by the unlikeliest of ally when Hartley “the Pied Piper” Rathaway comes to his rescue. What this means is in clueing Cisco in to Hartley’s plans, Hartley instead doesn’t go full rogue and has a moment of redemption at some point in time, giving the current continuity a non-evil… attempting to reconcile with his parents… version of Hartley. I do love a good redemption story so I hope this is touched on sometime in the future.
Overall, it was a solid episode despite some minor gripes and ANOTHER damn break coming (next episode won’t drop til mid APRIL!) I enjoyed this jump back in time. A nice little scene involved Barry recording a message from Eddie he intends to give to Iris, reminiscent of an exchange the Flash had with Batman in The Flashpoint Paradox when he delivered Bruce a message from his father. Even on this series, Barry Allen is one hell of a messenger.