Spoilers ahead for "Into the Speed Force," the latest episode of The CW's Flash!
"I'm no hero. Not lately." - Barry Allen
Truer words were never spoken. This season of The Flash has been an experiment in self-loathing and dealing with problems of your own creation. Barry caused literally everything bad that's happened this season as a result of his decision to create Flashpoint, and he's kind of been a jerk about it along the way, to boot. This week, Barry is reminded of all the people who sacrificed themselves for him over the years, and even when he tries to be the hero and save Wally, Jay Garrick steps into his place to make the real sacrifice and buy Kid Flash's freedom.
The Flash started out as a happy-go-lucky superhero story, but it's falling into a spiral of self-destruction.
This episode wasn't bad by any means, but it exemplified the problems that have plagued this season. Having your hero face challenges, and deal with consequences, is one thing. But Barry Allen is practically the villain of this season. The pendulum needs to swing back, pronto.
The short version: Barry heads into the Speed Force to find Wally and runs into a bunch of old friends in the form of Speed Force avatars. Things go sideways, but Jay Garrick saves the day and takes Wally's place in the Speed Force prison. Oh, and Jesse Quick faces off with Savitar and figures out that broken piece of his suit can hurt him. Team Flash has a weapon!
The good: All our favorite people are back, time wraiths and Black Flash, Jesse kicks butt
We'd heard a while back the producers were setting up some cameos for a few fan favorites, and boy did this one deliver. True, they were just Speed Force avatars, but still. It was great seeing Rick Cosnett's Eddie Thawne, Robbie Amell's Ronnie Raymond and Wentworth Miller's Captain Cold back in action. Not to mention John Wesley Shipp's Jay Garrick busting in to save the day. It was a who's who that just serves as a reminder of how many great characters have come and gone over the years on this series.
The Speed Force's motivations also seemed solid in this episode. They're understandably a little pissed at Barry for screwing with time in Flashpoint, especially after they chose to give him back his speed powers when he lost them. Which makes sense. Dude deserves a whole lot more than a slap on the wrist, if you think about it.
Barry also got to grapple with a few of the Speed Force's nastiest baddies, including time wraiths and the Black Flash — who is officially confirmed as the reanimated monster version of Hunter Zolomon. We've already seen Eobard Thawne butt heads with Black Flash over on Legends of Tomorrow, and he was no less terrifying in his Flash debut. You'd have to think they're setting him up as a new baddie at some point down the line, right?
Jesse Quick also gets a chance to shine this episode and puts up a better fight than pretty much anyone has up to this point against Savitar. She also used the spear from his suit as a weapon to stab him, proving he can be hurt and that there's probably just a regular ol' (well, super-fast) speedster under all that sci-fi gear. Which makes sense, and it was great to see H.R. prove his usefulness and put those pieces together in the heat of the moment. As Jesse is quick to remind Team Flash, she is the real Flash on her Earth. And she proves it in this brave, though admittedly reckless, moment.
The bad: The Iris/Barry cheese
The relationship between Iris and Barry took up much of the B-story this week, and it was a slog to say the least. They're still reeling from the fact that Barry may or may not have proposed partially to change the future, which is just kind of silly. Their relationship should be past this, right? Like, who doesn't understand that Barry loves Iris and Iris loves Barry? Sure, he probably proposed partially to try to change the future — but he also (obviously) still loves her. Is it worth almost breaking up over, especially with him heading into the Speed Force and already all up in his own head? Nope.
But it gets better (and by that, we mean worse). Iris comes around and realizes "Boy, you do love me!" Just as Barry decides they should distance themselves from one another for … umm … no good reason, really. Gah, these manufactured conflicts are becoming the most frustrating thing about this show.
Other bad things: So, time wraiths aren't fast enough to reach a slowly-closing elevator? What?
Line of the night:
"That was oddly satisfying". - Jesse Quick
Jesse Quick brought a major reveal this week: For the first time, Team Flash finally has a weapon against Savitar. The fact that the spear from his suit can injure him should be a game-changer. Look for that to be a major piece of the puzzle for the back half of the season, methinks.
It sounds like Wally will be on the bench for at least a few weeks as he recovers from his Speed Force hell. Which makes sense. Also, Jesse's tenure on Earth-1 didn't last long, right? It makes sense she'd try to fill the void for Jay Garrick on Earth-3, but isn't her world still missing a Flash now?
Up next: The Flash and Supergirl musical crossover arrives!