This episode brought back some familiar faces from Team Flash’s past, all with some fresh post-Crisis twists to keep it interesting. Iris also got some traction in the mirror universe, where she finally finds an ally in the (real) Camilla, who is also trapped.
Spoilers ahead for “Pay the Piper,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash, which aired Tuesday, May 5, 2020.
I’d hate to call this one a “spin your wheels” type of episode, but it’s pretty clear this episode — as good as it is! — functioned to help move a few pieces around in setting up the eventual season finale. You know, the one that was part of those three episodes they didn’t actually get to film due to the coronavirus shutdown. But despite all that, there’s still a great story here that hits some story beats we’ve seen before, though thankfully they resonate nonetheless.
Barry is still spiraling without Iris, and with his speed also fading, the Scarlet Speedster is starting to lose faith in himself to actually turn things around. His plight is mirrored in returning frenemy Hartley, aka the Pied Piper. It turns out he really hates the Flash in the new, post-Crisis reality — and now we find out why. In their last battle in this new reality, the crossing streams of one of Hartley’s blasts and Barry’s lightning created a wave that knocked out Hartley’s partner in crime and left him stuck basically rattling in and out of phase as unstable energy.
As Barry broods over Iris, he realizes why Hartley actually hates him so much. His friend Rodrick wasn’t just Hartley’s friend, he was his boyfriend. Hartley’s in mourning over his lost love, just like Barry. And since Barry can’t rescue his lost love this second, he helps Hartley — in exchange for Hartley’s help to take out the latest Godspeed who has shown up in Central City trying to steal the last bit of speed still clinging to Barry.
In an encouraging twist, Hartley actually opts to help even after Team Flash fails to save Rodrick — so even in this rewritten timeline, there’s still a halfway decent person somewhere under all the bluster and snark. It’s that help that actually provides the missing ingredient to free Rodrick. They blast Godspeed with the combined sonic powers and lightning blast, which knocks out Godspeed and leaves him oozing some powered goop they can use to wake up Rodrick. It works, the two are reunited, and the mutual respect and friendship between Hartley and Barry is slowing starting to be rebuilt. It stands to reason we could eventually see Hartley back helping Team Flash again in the future.
Turning to the Mirror-verse, Iris remains trapped and Eva is still free, though she remains largely off-screen this week (seemingly hibernating in some sci-fi coffin and plotting revenge on her husband). Iris uses her time to search for her fellow prisoners, and manages to track down Camilla. The two team up and try to find Singh, so they can all escape together once they figure a way out. It’s also become abundantly clear that spending so much time in the Mirror-verse is having a very adverse effect on Iris, who is being affected more and more by the “neural dissonance” that causes confusion and headaches. So, if she doesn’t get out soon, it could be bad.
We end the episode on a hopeful note, with Barry inspired to lean on the team around him to take on Eva, even if he has lost a few steps in the super-speed department. Cisco also has an idea for how to tap into the Mirror-verse, it’ll just require a perpetual motion machine and unlimited power. Luckily, he knows where they can find that they need to make one — in Atlantis. That’s right, Team Flash could be heading for Aquaman’s home?! Though it stands to reason the rest of that story was part of those unfinished episodes. So… hopefully we’ll get it eventually?
As for Godspeed, well, this was arguably the most powerful version we've seen yet — though apparently still not the real one. So yeah, that's another big mystery still hanging out there. Who is sending them to try and steal Barry's speed, and why?
Next week: It’s the premature season finale: Barry is still looking for Iris, and be ready, because this episode will definitely end right in the middle of the story. But hey, at least we got to enjoy some fresh Arrowverse adventures during this lockdown, right?