Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Flash Season 2 Episode 17 “Flash Back” Review and **SPOILERS**

One Step Backward, Two Steps Forward

Starring: Grant Gustin, Carlos Valdez, Rick Cosnett et al.
Written By: Aaron & Todd Helbing, David Kob
Directed By: Alice Troughton
First Aired: March 29, 2016


Boy, things sure have turned around on CW’s the Flash, haven’t they? Last episode, we learned that Jay Garrick, or his doppelganger, is actually Zoom! Someone they’ve trusted all season long turns out to be the big bad guy! Come to think of it, that’s exactly what happened last season, too. And now we’ve got “good guy” Harrison Wells from Earth-2, someone they didn’t trust at first but who has turned out to be very forthright. Even though he did try to steal Barry’s speed for Zoom a few episodes back. Seems like the message here is that trusting people is idiotic. Heck, I’m starting to look at Iris a little suspiciously. Do we really know that she’s Joe West’s daughter? I mean, has anyone seen the birthing pictures? As far as I’m concerned, everyone’s a suspect on this show, and I’ll start naming names once I figure out all the crimes that have been committed. In the meantime, read my review and recap of the Flash episode 17—but don’t take this as an indication that I trust you, either!

Explain It!

The Flash gang is freaking out over the fact that Jay Garrick, the guy they’ve befriended this whole season, is actually the murderous and spooky speedster Zoom. We have to think that Caitlin is the most bent out of shape, because she clearly has terrible taste in dudes: they’re either villainous or arrogant or both. The death of Trajectory last episode takes the speed-inducing drug Velocity-9 off the table, but Barry feels he must get ever faster, in order to overtake Zoom who has no compunctions against juicing or other performance enhancers. Why does Barry think speed will fix everything? Like, people go up against him without super-speed, and while they all ultimately lose they often give him a run for his money. You can fix everything by running really fast, buddy: you couldn’t save your mom, you couldn’t make Iris love you permanently, and you couldn’t go back and change that time you pissed your pants during grade school Assembly. Maybe it’s time to learn that super speed by itself is a pretty silly power, and look for alternatives to dispatching your similarly-endowed nemeses. So due to Barry’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, he decides that the best option would be to use his super speed to go back in time to last season, and have Evil Harrison Wells aka Eobard Thawne in Wells’ body aka the Reverse Flash teach him how to get faster. This is the worst plan ever right on its face. Of course, Barry is warned by current day Good Harrison Wells not to do this, because he could screw up the timeline, but Barry is all “we have to try” as usual. Uh, no you don’t asshole. If the option is between you running a little bit faster in hopes of maybe stopping a supervillain in another dimension, which could destroy all reality as we know it, then find another option. In any case, they set forth the plan: zip back in time to a pre-determined moment, knock out the existing Flash, take his place and cozy up to Harrison Wells to pick his brain about running faster. Seems like a great plan—what could possibly go wrong? Answer: everything.

So right off the bat, Present Barry shows up too early. He bides his time for an opportunity to knock out Past Barry, and in doing so fucks up and reveals himself. So even if everything goes right from this point on—and we know it won’t—Past Barry still has a memory of meeting Future Barry, even briefly. So if all goes as planned, then Past Barry will eventually come back to S.T.A.R. Labs all “Another Flash knocked me out and switched chest symbols with me!” and they’ll all be like, “Okay, crazy,” and probably have him tossed in one of those cruel plexiglass cells in the basement. Of course, Barry so thoroughly screws up the timeline that revealing himself to Past Barry turns out to be the least of his problems. So Barry turns out to have shown up in the past right when Past Barry meets Hartley “Pied Piper” Rathaway, who you might remember was Harrison Wells’ assistant that got all salty at Cisco because he had better t-shirts. You might remember it, because I barely did. They get him back to S.T.A.R. Labs, and Barry, remembering that Pied Piper broke out last year using some hearing aid bombs, tells Cisco to run a scan and discovers them. So okay—WHAT PART OF “DON’T FUCK UP THE TIME LINE” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? You’ve just eliminated a fairly major event from last season and you don’t even seem upset about it. Just after that—like instantly after that, Barry starts pressing Evil Wells for tips and tricks on running faster, which is pretty funny because last season Wells pretended to be paralyzed most of the season. I understand he’s asking for Wells’ scientific acumen, but it would be like asking a blind person how to get the most out of your 3-D television. Whether that’s actually funny or not, Evil Wells immediately knows something is up because he’s not a complete and total idiot, and he knocks Barry out and chains him to his wheelchair in the secret room with braille on the walls.

Evil Wells is ready to kill Barry, but Barry tells a bunch of lies that didn’t fly with me, but seem to satisfy Wells’ ego. He agrees to help Barry run faster, but first he’s got to tackle a g-g-ghost! Or maybe that happened earlier in the episode, I forget. The point is that while cruising through time, he’s garnered the notice of Time Wraiths, which are an incredibly stupid concept that deserves no further elucidation. The gist of it is that Barry is being chased by a ghost. It goes through the Central City Police Department, where Barry sees Eddie Thawne, all alive and well, and gawks at him like some gobstruck teenager. WHAT PART OF “DON’T FUCK UP THE TIME LINE,” BARRY? WHAT WASN’T CLEAR? Later, he even gets Eddie to film a video for Iris that he can bring back to the future to cure her melancholy. OH THAT COULDN’T SCREW ANYTHING UP, GREAT IDEA BARRY. So the Time Wraith eventually makes its way to S.T.A.R. Labs, and then Past Barry wakes up and shows up there at the same time Future Barry is just showing up, and now everything is a complete mess. How could it get more fucked than this? Future Barry decides the only way to defeat the Time Wraith…I almost can’t believe it…is to have Team Flash work on a fix that will be ready when he gets back to the present, in the future. This introduces so many problems that I can’t even begin to get into it. I mean, Team Flash was pretty busy last season, what with tracking down the Reverse Flash and then setting up a scenario to send him back to his time…but no, now they’ve also got this other deadline bearing down on them to contend with. And to make matters even stupider, Future Barry tells Cisco that the Pied Piper knows where Caitlin’s fiancée Ronnie is, something they don’t learn until later in the season. WHAT PART, BARRY? WHAT PART DIDN’T YOU GET? Barry runs to the present, in the future, with the help of Past Barry, in the past, and when he shows up Cisco fires some gun at the Time Wraith, but it doesn’t work! It starts sucking the life from Barry, but then the Pied Piper strolls out from the laboratory and zaps the Wraith with some phony technology that works, then walks out of S.T.A.R. Labs like he owns the place. Which, considering how thoroughly fucked the time line must be now, he very well may. The episode concludes with Iris watching her special video from her dead fiancée (everyone’s gotta have at least one), tears rolling down her cheeks, presumably because Barry can’t stop fucking up the time line.

So this was a pretty fun episode, despite my voiced frustration. I definitely had a few “don’t go into the basement!” moments during the episode, mainly whenever Barry willfully screwed with the time line. Sort of made Barry seem a stubborn asshole, which is as good a personality as any when you come to think of it. This episode definitely had the most “comic book science” so far, and I wonder what the uninitiated would think of it…though if you’ve been watching the Flash to this point, then you can probably handle the fact that time lines get changed around like I change my underwear. Which is monthly. I was sort of hoping that Eddie Thawne would still be alive in the present when Barry got back, but it seems not to be…but maybe it is! I feel we will learn of more things he messed up in future episodes, and I will be watching like a hawk to make sure!

Bits and Pieces:

This was a pretty crazy episode that’s a little obtuse, but manageable if you’ve taken hallucinogenic drugs or drank Absinthe. Barry’s characterization seems harsher than normal, but no different than in the past—perhaps a bit more stubborn. This episode will give you the chance to revisit some characters you may have been missing or outright forgot about, but it was all marred by the big villain of the episode being a ghost. If someone pulled its mask off to reveal an old grizzled caretaker that hates kids, I’d have liked that more.



  1. After last night's episode I am now actively rooting for zoom to break Barry's spine

  2. Some really bad choices turn out to be great TV! I kept yelling at Barry too Reggie, love when I find myself talking to the TV.

    1. It's a lot of fun when I'm watching the Flash...not so fun when I'm watching the nightly news!