TV Review: The Flash (2×17) “Flash Back”

Diyah Pera/The CW

Diyah Pera/The CW

Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of The Flash. To catch up on previous coverage, click here.

I like to imagine that the idea for this episode was born simply out of the motive to find a way to get the Reverse Flash and our Flash into a room together, fully aware of who they are and what that means for their past and future selves. Logic be damned because that would make for a fantastic scene.

And they were right to an extent.

The show really went out of their way to sacrifice some common sense for all of their characters in order to orchestrate that scene, and while I’ll be the first to say that the scene in question was excellent, there should have been more justification in Barry’s actions. His decision to go back in time and talk to Harrison Wells aka Eobard Thawne makes sense when it comes to what we know of Barry Allen and how all of his genius seems to fly out the window when he’s acting purely on impulse and emotion. We are all Earth 2 Harry Wells stepping from the shadows to tell Barry that his plan is asinine.

What the episode does to its benefit is never pretend it’s anything but. We all know what Barry is doing is ludicrous and ill planned, but it makes for some larger scale television and that’s something always welcomed in superhero television. The show is almost asking us to ignore just how ridiculous of a plan it is and let the fun that ensues be enough justification for the shakily built plot and it kind of works. On the one hand, the episode is a hell of a lot of fun but the on the other, I couldn’t help but think about the logistics of it all.

Here are some questions I have.

The only aspect having been noticeably changed is that Pied Piper is now a friend rather than foe, which seems convenient. While I’m glad he got to find happiness in some capacity, I also can’t help but think there would be some repercussions to everything Barry screwed with in the timeline. Unless we learn of more down the line, it’s going to seem all too cleanly picked up.

I’m also not sure I buy that Barry would so messily knock out his past self and then own up to everything (or almost everything) to past Cisco and Caitlin. The writers like to get rid of some of Barry’s common sense when it helps in furthering the week’s plot, but it ends up making him look incompetent, not really a selling point for someone who is supposed to be our leading hero. You’d think they’d have him think of a more clever way of getting out of his admittedly tough situation.

Add to that the fact that Thawne also gives up too easily on future Barry and you’ve got a whole lot of should be smart guys casually trusting people they have no right to. Thawne knows that this Barry – not his Barry as he almost endearingly puts it – is from the future which means his plan must have been foiled so why does he so quickly buy into the idea that Barry helped him get home?

On the flip side, we get some great moments both big and small. While I begrudge the show for waiting 17 episodes into the second season to address how Iris is still mourning Eddie’s death, I am glad they did it at all and it gives the character and that relationship some much-needed closure. Barry managing to get the message from Eddie to show to Iris was a beautiful moment between the two, following up an already strong pep talk at the start when Barry tells Iris not to hold herself back from being open to love. It’s a wonderful exchange between two characters who need more screen-time together, and they easily sell the emotional beats.

The best of the episode however comes as I mentioned above in the face off between Thawne and Barry, neither of which has to pretend that they’re anything other than who they are. Their mutual disdain for one another simmers at the surface of each word they exchange, neither holding back on the hostility they feel for one another. Grant Gustin and Tom Cavanagh do excellent work, the latter reminding us why he was so compelling in the first season in this dual role. Still, we can understand why the Star Labs crew would fall for his facade.

Barry has hit his desperation peak and needs answers on how to improve his speed and refusing to buy into Caitlin’s notion that maybe his body just can’t sustain that frequency. His answers come in the form of a flash drive and we’ll have to wait and see just what is on it, but if this was our obvious filler episode of the season, it was an entertaining one that fleshed out both Thawne and Barry’s characters.

I couldn’t help but notice the crude nature of some of the CGI this week, particularly the first fight between the two Flash’s but the show has done such a good and solid job in the past that it’s easy just to chalk it up to budgetary reasons.

A good episode if not a great one, it brought back a sense of urgency to the show, especially with the return of Well’s Thawne, as good of a villain as we’re ever going to get and easily posing a greater threat than Jay. Sure, Zoom might be more powerful but the betrayal of season one Wells hit quite a lot harder.

What did you all think?

7.5/10

She is a 23 year old in Boston MA. She is hugely passionate about film, television and writing. Along with theyoungfolks, she also is a contributor over at TheMarySue.com . You can contact her on Twitter (@AllysonAJ) or via email: allyson@theyoungfolks.com.