Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “The Flash.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
Now, that’s the episode I’ve wanted to see these last few weeks. There was no unnecessary villain of the week, Doctor Wells finally confessed to his true identity, and it looks like Iris has finally learned the truth.
There was also maybe the best Easter egg of the show in the opening sequence. Cisco, Caitlin and Barry are all in Well’s private chamber, speaking to Gideon for the first time and learning more about the future than the probably should. They learn that Barry disappears, that Gideon is his creation, and that Iris name is at that point in time “Iris West-Allen”. However, for lack of a better word, the coolest moment of the episode came in a passing moment when they read aloud that the Flash is “one of the founding members of the” before being cut off.
I think we can all fill in the blank. It’s a small thing to love but the shows dedication to their characters lore and how unabashedly they utilize his comic book origins is one of the most impressive aspects of the show. They’re not running from it-they’re embracing it.
This is all apparent in tonight’s episode where they’re no longer holding back as our heroes desperately try to stay a step ahead by creating a trap for Wells to walk into and hopefully incriminate himself of Nora Allen’s murder in the process. As Barry says, it’s all a very bad plan, but it’s what they have and they don’t know how much longer they can play up their act in front of Wells who’s only growing more suspicious. Cisco endures a form of a lucid dream to relive the moment Wells killed him in the alternate timeline after Barry confesses to having already time traveled, proving that Cisco’s dreams are actually dreams. This helps them in figuring out a way to trap Wells by recreating the moment Cisco was cornered by Wells. Barry and Joe hide, ready to intervene if need be and Eddie off by Iris’s side to keep her safe. All goes to hell rather quickly with Cisco once again in a dire situation (I can’t stand to see Cisco die again). Joe fires his gun at Wells while Barry chases after the bullets in an inspired sequence where once again the show creates a fun way to showoff Barry’s speed. Barry is chasing those bullets before they hit Wells because without a confession all of this has been for nothing.
One reaches its target.
As an engaged audience member obviously I knew Wells wasn’t dead but I didn’t know what trick he had up his sleeve and Barry’s desperation at losing his one out to freeing his dad from prison is devastating. It builds tremendously in power until it’s revealed that it’s not Wells who just died but the shape shifter from last week.
Wells is safe, one step ahead.
He tells Barry that he won’t be killing him yet and that he’s grown rather fond of the his team but implies it’s not Barry’s battle to win. Tom Cavanagh and Grant Gustin are fantastic here with Cavanagh giving his Wells persona just enough differences, his more abrasive tone and smug attitude to erase the Wells the Star Labs team believed it while Gustin allows Barry’s rage to bleed into his voice as he hollers at Wells to face him now.
But that was never the plan. Wells instead, as Barry learns, is targeting Eddie and Iris and Barry runs to stop him and only manages to get to Iris in time before Wells whisks Eddie away. Wells reveals his identity and his relation to Eddie, setting up what should be an interesting and stressful dynamic between the two. I know last week I talked about wanting Rick Cosnett to get more to do on the show having proven himself capable but I hope they keep on the side of the virtuous rather than turning him into a baddie. Eddie is such a sweet character with no ulterior motives and it would be such a shame to see that turned.
And then there’s Iris.
I was so ready to dismiss her storyline once again and it certainly still isn’t perfect but Candice Patton sells every scene she’s in this week and her last moment is chill inducing. We were given the opportunity to look back at the months that Barry was in a coma this week with Wells, Joe and Iris all getting a moment of reflection. Joe’s memories are full of guilt, Wells full of intrigue but Iris has one with a spark. She touches Barry’s hand and there’s static.
I don’t like how Joe rebuffed Eddie’s proposal or how Iris was treated as if she was delicate and in need of protecting yet again, even as we continue to see how willful and strong she is. However, the moment when she grabs at a racing away Flash, only for that same spark to light up between their touch, and her muttering “Barry” is a show-stopper type of moment. It’s exciting to see a character that has been kept in the dark for so long come to the truth on her own, by her own intelligence. The Flash has built to this episode and the moment with Iris, alone on the bridge, dealing with the truth she’s just uncovered, is as exemplary as any about why this show is as good as it is.
Its emotional moments are earned. I care for these characters and even though I knew that nothing truly horrible could happen (at least on tonight’s episode) I still could rid a feeling of dread while watching. I can’t help but think things are going to get worse before they get better.
Thank goodness we have Cisco/Carlos Valdes injecting the show with enough heart and humor to keep it from feeling too perilous.
This one of the show’s finest hours, if not the best it has done period. Nothing was forced or contrived and every last character had something to gain and something to lose.