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After taking a brief break, The CW’s Flash returned with one banger of an episode. We got surprise returns, some killer super-speed set pieces, and a deliciously evil twist to wrap it all up.
Spoilers ahead for “The Death of the Speed Force,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash, which aired Tuesday, March 10, 2020.
Barry and the rest of the paragons did whatever it took to save the universe back in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and it seems Oliver Queen wasn’t the only major casualty of that epic crossover. We finally learn the consequences of Barry tapping into the Spectre’s power to access the Speed Force (a decision that was critical to saving the universe at the time, though the fallout wasn’t seen until now). It seems when Barry tapped into that power and allowed it access to the Speed Force, the super-fast force was poisoned — seemingly for good.
But it’s not Barry who figures this out. It’s the other Flash, Wally West, who has spent his time since leaving the mothership (and Legends of Tomorrow after that) to try and find himself by using meditation to balance out his abilities. The time away has done wonders, because the Wally who returns to Central City is a brand new man. He’s in touch with his emotions, he arguably has a better grasp of the Speed Force than even Barry himself, and he’s clearly a true hero in his own right. All the bad news not withstanding, getting to catch up with Wally was a true highlight.
He shows his growth from the jump, flying into the city during the cold open to stop a helicopter crash before Barry even realizes it’s happening — pulling out the passengers and literally disassembling the chopper piece-by-piece before it can crash. On a CW budget, it was a heck of a set piece to show those super-speed powers at work.
After a bit of push and pull between Barry and Wally, with Wally understandably frustrated that Barry sensed there could be issues with the Speed Force (i.e. his soreness/lack of healing at times, weird super-speed power surges, etc.) and didn’t bother to check into it, or alert Wally to the possible issues (since, you know, they do draw from the same Speed Force). Wally makes some good points, and though they eventually realize it was Barry’s decision to save the universe that caused the problem, his anger makes sense. Of course, Wally is quick to note he’d have made the same call in the situation, and now that the damage is done, they have to figure out what comes next. They apparently have a bit of residual Speed Force left in them for now. But when it’s gone (presumably as soon as a few weeks, or once they’ve simply used it all up), they’re back to regular speed for good.
Barry gets one (possibly last?) face to face with the Speed Force, which is still using the guise of his late mother to communicate. She certainly seems to be in bad shape, but forgives Barry for his decision, and her final words are that she loves him. No matter what. As for Wally, he notes this will seemingly drastically alter the futures he’s glimpsed, where generations of speedsters take their place (including Nora!) in the decades to come. With the Speed Force gone, those future heroes will never be called upon to take up their mantles.
But by episode’s end, Barry comes up with a solution: Much like the Reverse-Flash created his own artificial version of a Speed Force, Barry hopes he’ll be able to do the same to retain his speed. It’s a risky move, but hey, it should make for some killer TV.
The Metahuman of the Week case also makes for a solid parallel to the Speed Force situation. The team is dealing with Turtle 2.0, a meta human who can trap people in what basically amount to time dilation bubbles. So she can speed time up, or slow it down, inside the bubble — effectively killing people with old age, or leaving them frozen in place, at her whim. Barry and Wally manage to stop her by speeding her up (with an assist from Joe), but still a timely case.
That’s already plenty, but the biggest twist was saved for last: Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse-Flash, is back. It turns out those strange visions Nash has been seeing were actually Thawne making a play to (seemingly?) take over his body. He manages to do just that by episode’s end, and nearly kills Cisco before he’s tased by Cecilia and captured by Team Flash. Thawne in Nash’s body is now safely tucked away in the pipeline, but he’s just as menacing and fantastically evil as ever, spouting on about killing Barry’s family and slitting his throat.
There are still plenty of questions, namely exactly how he’s here and still alive — but hey — Crisis changed everything. And apparently that includes Thawne’s fate. He’s also aware the Speed Force is on its last legs, and is just biding his time until he’s the only, unchallenged, speedster left.
Cisco is back! After spending the past few episodes off traveling the world to try and chronicle how Crisis changed everything, he’s back with a big ol’ notebook full of bad guy baseball cards. He brings plenty of easter eggs with him, most notable that he’s visited Atlantis (which exists in Earth Prime now!). He’s also still dealing with the question that pushed him to leave in the first place: Cisco want’s to grow, and change. He’d hoped the trip would do that, and he’d return as a new man, but instead he feels stuck back in the same place. Is Cisco outgrowing Team Flash? Is that what brings Chester into the fold full-time next season? So many questions.
Mirror Iris also remains an issue, though no one has actually figured it out yet, except for maybe Wally. Thanks to his new zen balance, he senses something is off with his sister and warns Joe to keep an eye on her. Of course, the real Iris is still trapped in the mirror dimension, though she’ll apparently be getting some company. Kamila takes a picture of Iris and figures out she’s not who she claimed to be (Iris shows up as a crazy mirror body in the shot), so Iris shoots her with the mirror gun — presumably sending Kamila into the mirror dimension. Or it could’ve possibly killed her (we’re left hanging with no answer), though that’d admittedly be a terrible send-off for Cisco’s new love.
Next week: It seems we won’t have to wait too long for some classic Barry vs. Thawne action. It’s an oldie, sure, but it’s still a goodie. Can they save Nash? Can Barry save his speed?