A Closer Look: The Flash – “Flash Back”

Don’t let the ‘air dates’ fool you! This week marked the awesome Crossover Episode of The Flash and Supergirl; but despite Supergirl airing first, it was this week’s episode of The Flash that occurred first chronologically. Though I’m getting ahead of myself because outside of ‘crossover placement’ this week’s Flash brought us back to one of the greatest times in Season 1 and did so with perfect continuity and opened brave new possibilities.

So let’s take a Closer Look at this week’s episode of The Flash “Flash Back”!

Looking Back To Move Forward – Barry & Iris:

The main driving theme of this episode was certainly ‘looking back to move forward’; but you might have missed all the ways in which it was presented. As a whole, this theme was actually introduced by Wally West who was trying to ‘look back and learn from the greats’ while he was trying to move forward with his speed engine project. As for Barry, when we last left him, he had just learned that the man he decided to trust with helping him improve his speed was a traitor . . . just like Wells (Thawne) in Season 1. Though as the episode progresses, we realize something: learning Jay might be Zoom isn’t something that’s holding him back, but rather Thawne is. This season kicked off with a message from Thawne saying that Barry will never be happy and that is a revelation he’s carried with him for quite a bit of this season.

So when Zoom’s identity is revealed, Barry uses this as momentum to finally face his own demons and deal with his present situation. By going back in time to seek help from Thawne, Barry is embracing his past demons and is finally willing to do what it takes to stop this new threat. He might have been deceived and lost people once before; but he won’t let it happen again!

Flash Flash Back Closer Look

Though it’s not just Barry who’s having to revisit the past as we see Dr Wells wondering if he made the right choices for his daughter. Unlike Barry, he can’t go back to fix things. All he can do – as Barry put it – is hope he made the right mistakes. Now he sees the lengths he went to for his daughter and he knows he’d do it all again to protect her; but hopefully both can come to an understanding and Wells learns to trust his daughter a bit more.

That being said though, the real ‘other focus’ of this episode in terms of “looking back to move forward” was Iris, who is now starting a potential new relationship with her boss. Iris isn’t sure it will work because she’s having trouble moving on from Eddie. Sure, her new relationship won’t work, but it won’t be because of Eddie baggage – Human resources on the other hand… Iris of course isn’t able to let go and move on until she sees that video Barry got for her; but we the viewers should realize that this ‘moving forward’ for her and getting over Eddie means less for her current relationship and more for her eventual one with Barry. You can’t really have Barry going back in time to ask a deceased former ex if it’s okay to date his girl in the future. So having the writers add in a ‘temporary relationship’ helps prepare Iris for Barry in the future – the same way Patty did for Barry this season.

“Flash Back” In Time – Time Travel, Revelations & Continuity:

“Flash Back” was such an appropriate title for this episode as we not only learned a lot of new Time Travel details by seeing Flash travel Back through time again; but also got to rewatch part of Season 1 through Season 2 Goggles. So first off, what’d we learn about Speedster Time Travel – as opposed to Legends of Tomorrow ship-based time travel?

Apparently when a Speedster goes back and doesn’t know what he’s doing, the time stream will summon a Speed Wraith to hunt them down and minimize the damage. As for why this didn’t happen with Barry’s last three time-ventures, remember that 2 of these 3 Barry just phased into his own body of that time. This is apparently only when he’s running naturally under extreme duress and travels a short amount of time (up to a day perhaps) back in time. Longer runs though result in multiple versions of himself existing within the same moment. So why did a wraith not appear during his run back to his mom’s time? Who knows, maybe because there was already a version of him in the past and time knew nothing would change in that moment. Here on the other hand, Barry is traveling into the past to learn something about his present and is at great risk of causing an enormous paradox – which he nearly does.

Continuity-wise this episode worked wonderfully as we saw the reshoot of many scenes as well as careful attention to alternate paths and repercussions. For example, Barry knew this would be the best time for him to act weird around Wells since they were upset about him knowingly activating the particle accelerator, but all hints that ‘they knew the truth’ were a long ways off. Even though his plan would work in theory, he arrived way too early and also set off a small chain of events that would have altered things even if Thawne didn’t discover who he was.

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By revealing Hartley’s earbud bombs he caused the timeline to start changing since he’d never break out. Add in the problem with the Time Wraith and Hartley had a chance to use his knowledge for good again, which is what he wanted to do all along. If anyone deserved a re-do, it was Hartley as he was merely trying to expose Wells/Thawne’s dirty secret. By setting seeds of goodness and giving him and Cisco time to work through their stuff rather than violent escapes (pipeline explosion and knocking unconscious after Firestorm revelation), Hartley found his way back to the path of good – and even won favor back with his parents (who originally disowned him when he came out as gay). All in all, this might be the first successful time travel trip yet.

In A Flash – Easter Eggs, Quotes & Other Notables:

  • If Barry’s, Reverse Flash’s and Zoom’s legs move at the same speed while running then the only thing that differs must be the stride and energy behind each step.
  • Barry did goof by phasing through the handcuffs since Barry wouldn’t learn that from Well’s until much later in Season 1, the “Tricksters” episode to be exact – and was already suspect of the then Dr Wells/Thawne.
  • The stakes are really high if Wells/Thawne finds out the truth. If he knows he loses, he won’t lose anymore. If he knows he wins, there’s no reason to keep future Barry alive. This is why the idea of Barry lying to him that he succeeds and threatening him with a note is so important. For all we know, Barry might have planted the idea in past Wells/Thawne’s head to have both of them use the time jump in the Season 1 finale.
  • The 12 Monkey’s is a famous movie/series/ etc that has been redone a few times to show just how bad time travel can get – if you didn’t know already. Each time the person tries to undo a fate only to cause it or cause worse, and cause things to loop out of control.
  • Wells/Thawne tells Barry that there are ‘more of us’. As you could probably imagine, more Speedsters will be coming in the near future – hopefully some good.
  • Anyone else laugh out loud when present/past Barry runs into STAR Labs as future/present Barry is there and Wells/Thawne facepalms?
  • Unlike the last far time jump – and Earth-1/ Earth-2 Jump – no future flashes or time flashes. Instead we got a nice rewind of Season 1 events.
  • Like Arrow this week, this episode also had a ‘Harry Potter’ reference.
  • Cisco’s words about changing the Flash emblem and whether its self causing is actually from the episode when they develop the photos from the back of the mirror in Barry’s childhood house. So those came early, but still happened.
  • Smart thinking on Barry’s part knowing the Time Wraith would follow him even after he returned to his proper time and instructed Caitlin and Cisco to devise a way to stop it.
  • Favorite Moment: Cisco using “Never Gonna Give You Up” as the ambient noise for Hartley’s cell… hmm, maybe Rick Astley turned him good.
  • Favorite Quote:
    • “What is it with you guys? Do you think I have ESP or something? I just can’t sense where things are…” – I have a feeling Cisco will ‘vibe’ with what they’re saying sooner or later lol
    • “Holy Harry Potter” – Hartley about the Time Wraith
    • The fu… yes. The fu… yes. The fu… yes. – Wells responding to present/past Barry.

The Flash is off for the next few weeks – as he’s now training with Tachyon Enhancement and jumping universes into Supergirl – but when he comes back he’ll be able to face Zoom on more even footing and learn the truth (or at least part of it) where this speed demon is concerned.

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