The Flash has been having a hard time keeping me hyped for each episode, but this week showcases an interesting concept teased before in a previous episode. Barry and two other speedsters team up to save Central City, all while everyone else is frozen in time. Can the episode deliver on the big idea and bring back some fun characters in an exciting way? Let’s find out.
The opening of the show has Barry training to be fast enough to stop The Thinker by trying to enter a breach as it closes. It’s a scene that Flash fans have experienced many times before; Barry training to only fail and then contemplate his next step. This doesn’t last too long though, as there’s something bigger to attend to and Wells enlists the help of his daughter Jesse Quick. With her return, we finally get some meaningful development of his storyline, and it’s revealed Wells is not over the death of his wife. It’s a small scene in the beginning, but I can finally why he’s been acting the way he’s been. This transitions into the real plot of the episode, and no, it doesn’t have to do with The Thinker. The main story gets set aside when a team of terrorists(?) steals a nuclear bomb from A.R.G.U.S, and detonates right in Central City. Yes, for real.
This leaves The Flash to have to travel in “Flashtime”, meaning only speedsters are experiencing the few moments before the nuclear bomb fully detonates. Although the setup felt a bit rushed (the irony), the new dilemma immediately creates a sense of urgency and intensity not seen in the show for quite a while. Fret not, however, as Jay Garrick makes his glorious return to help Barry and Jesse.
His return is welcomed, and John Wesley Shipp’s performance is great as always, but he’s unfortunately not able to keep up to speed with the rest too long. This teases that his age is catching up with him, and this is addressed by the end of the episode. This leaves Barry and Jesse to deal with the bomb. One of the most interesting aspects of their attempts is how Barry is the only one who can put a regular person in Flashtime. This not only allows for the supporting characters to still get some screentime but also serves as a way to bring in more emotion.
From Jesse worrying about her father to Barry doing everything he can to continue his life with Iris, this type of motivation makes drama actually exciting. the episode’s greatest strength is the fact that it isn’t a straight-up comedy like previous installments, there’s a good balance. This is especially true during a scene by the end, but I’ll get to that later. By far the most important thing that sets this episode apart from the rest of the season is that this is Flash-centric, Barry is the star of this episode. Grant Gustin does a great job with the serious and action-filled moments, and one of his best scenes here is definitely noteworthy.
When Iris helps Barry figure out how to stop the nuclear bomb (yeah, I know), in a poorly explained manner, he goes into the speed force. This is where the budget of the episode went to as the VFX shots are exciting and entertaining to watch. As Barry runs through with various types of lightning, a nod to how the types of speed are dictated by color, there are some wonderful shots that really surprised me. When Barry saves the day, it felt pretty great to see our main speedster finally get the job done. He’s been sorely underused this past season so it was nice to see him in action.
After Jay Garrick announces his retirement as a superhero he leaves to go back to his Earth, teasing he’s gonna be a training a female speedster. It’s not clear who it is, one could say it’s the “Jitters” girl but I doubt it since it seems like she’s the daughter of Barry and Iris. Speaking of daughters, the final (full) scene of the episode saves the best for last as Harrison Wells and Jesse finally have a talk about her mother.
I would be lying if I said this scene didn’t choke me up, the actors completely nail the emotion and grief the characters are going through. The directing is also stellar here, the camera work absolutely begs your full attention and lets the performances reach their potential without interference. It’s not only the best scene of the episode but one of the show’s best period.
Overall, I’m really impressed with the execution of the episode’s premise. Although the setup was slightly weak, it was nice to have a small break from The Thinker story and have an episode almost completely focused on The Flash. Jay Garrick is simply the best and Shipp gives another dazzling performance. Wells and Jesse have one of the best emotional scenes in the show period, not even joking. The writers also do a good job setting up future premises with Garrick and the “Jitters” girl. This is the season’s best episode thus far, and I hope they can keep the ball rolling.
The Flash is on The CW every Tuesday 8/7 c.