This week’s episode of The Flash is all about letting go. Sometimes it’s letting go of the things that hold us back from being all that we can be. Sometimes it’s letting go of the people we care about. Sometimes it means letting go of our dreams in the face of reality. It can mean sacrificing what we want for what’s right. For some, it’s letting go of the pain that you’ve lived with for so long–or recently discovered–and finding a way to fill that hole that the pain leaves behind.
For Iris, it takes the form of letting go of the anger and betrayal that she’s lived with since Francine returned into her life. Joe tells Iris that Francine is fading and that he’s made his peace with his ex-wife. He urges Iris to do the same. In an emotional bedside scene, Iris lets go of her fury and frustration and forgives her estranged mother. It’s only after saying the words “I forgive you” does Iris learn just how hard it is to let go of those negative emotions, especially when there is no bright future with her mother to fill the void. Francine is dying, and all that’s left for Iris now are questions about what might have been.
Iris urges Wally to do the same. At first Wally balks at the idea of seeing is mother, whose death is burdening him with financial woes. Iris says she gets it, all of that anger at the fact that their family has been broken apart for so long, but Wally says that’s not his problem. So, what is his deal? That’s not for us to find out just yet, but perhaps we will sooner rather than later, as Wally comes around and tells Iris that he’s ready to say goodbye to his mother if Iris will go with him.
What exactly is Wally’s deal? Don’t get me wrong… he has every right to be upset and angry here, and he is, but not for the reasons we’d give him a pass on. To introduce such an important character in the Flash mythos, but to under-utilize him the way the writers have so far this season is downright criminal! Quick, round up the writers and lock them in a cell at STAR Labs until they can find something for Wally to do that lives up to his comic namesake!
Caitlyn is struggling to just stand back and watch Jay die (even though standing on the side until she’s needed to shoot somebody up with a syringe full of the concoction du jour seems to be her primary job at STAR Labs). Desperate to save the man she is madly in love with this season, Cait attempts to hunt (pun intended) down Jay’s doppleganger on this Earth in order to use his healthy cells to heal Jay’s diseased and dying cells. One can only imagine she planned to use some of the roofies Professor Stein left laying behind in the top, right-hand drawer of his desk to bag her a Jay look-alike. At worst, if Earth-2 Jay does knock off, she’ll have a back up on hand.
Jay is one step ahead of Cait and asks her to meet him at the park to learn why that plan won’t work. There, Jay points out his Earth-1 doppleganger, an orphan who was adopted by a new family and renamed Hunter Zolomon(!). Jay explains that his cells mutated when he received his speed. Hunter’s cells won’t work. Cait needs to let go of whatever hope she has of finding a cure for Jay and saving his life.
How does Jay know this? I’m guessing he already found Stein’s stash and confiscated a few cells from a drugged Zolomon and tested them in the lab while everyone else was doing something useful in trying to find a way to stop Zoom. Nonplussed, Cait tosses out the ol’ “I guess we’ll just have to stop Zoom” line, which gets the unenthusiastic eyeroll from Jay every time.
Then there’s Patty. Poor, poor Patty, who had the misfortune of getting on the CCPD, then moving onto the Metahuman Task Force. Poor Patty who met the CSI she idolized in Barry Allen. Poor Patty who captured her father’s murderer and fell in love with her professional hero. Poor Patty who was tied up more times in her short tenure on the Task Force than anyone in Fifty Shades of Red and Yellow.
Patty’s at a crossroad. One one hand, she can follow her dream and move to Midwest City and become a CSI herself. On the other hand, there’s Barry, who’s never been honest with her and is sulking around, refusing to speak to her because this little lady had the gall to want something better for herself than just being an object to warm Barry’s bed at night (on the nights he’s not out playing hero).
Patty finally connects the dots and figures out Barry’s secret. She blindsides Joe with her average detective skills. She confronts Barry with the fact she’s not as inept as he had thought her to be. She even gives him one more chance–just tell the truth and I’ll stay. In the end, Patty walks away, but not before she gets her chance to say goodbye to Barry and the Flash.
That leaves us with Barry. While all of the above is taking place–while Barry’s busy not being there for his adopted family, Joe and Iris, while Barry’s not putting much real effort into helping Cait, while Barry’s still playing the “I have to lie to protect the women I care about” card–the Reverse-Flash has returned to Barry’s where and when in Central City. Okay, maybe “returned” isn’t the most accurate word. For Barry, Eobard Thawne is dead. Gone. Erased from existence. For Thawne, this is his first time facing off against his nemesis.
Equipped with knowing when the Flash comes from, Thawne is ready to head back to the future. With everything involved in getting back home (finding the right equipment to manipulate tachyons, finding someone to set up the equipment, killing that someone on your way through the portal, etc), I’m not sure why Thawne doesn’t just handle his Flash-related business here and now. But, he doesn’t. He’s got the when down. He’ll come back and get the who of the Flash’s identity another time (and go to the trouble of getting back home again then).
Using a pair of goggles that Earth-2 wells rigs up to induce vibing, Cisco helps Barry locate Thawne before the Reverse-Flash can head home. Doing so disrupts the timeline, leaving Cisco bleeding from the nose, seizing, and being erased from existence. What happened? Capturing the Reverse-Flash isn’t supposed to happen, that’s what.
That forces Barry to make his own hard choice. All his life, Barry has been chasing the Reverse-Flash. Here, after watching Eddie sacrifice himself in order to defeat his descendant Eobard, Barry realizes that he has a lifetime of battling against the Reverse-Flash ahead of him. Barry catches Thawne and waylays him, showing once more how Barry is losing touch with what it is that is supposed to make him a hero and becoming little more than a brute who means well most of the time. Thawne’s capture is supposed to make things better, but it only serves to create a paradox and all the problems that go along with it.
In order to save his friend, Barry has to let go. He has to mentally and emotionally let go of the baggage that the Reverse-Flash has thrust upon Barry. He literally and physically has to let Thawne go in order to save Cisco. Barry and Thawne suit up, enter the particle accelerator, and run fast enough to send Thawne back to the future.
Aside: they didn’t really have to run all that fast. Sure, faster than you and I can run, but not much more than a brisk trot for a pair of speedsters. Eighty-eight miles per hour is sufficient speed to send someone back to the future.
That just leaves us with creepy Harrison Wells from Earth-2, who reminds us that “this Earth is my Earth-2.” As much as he appears to be going along and helping the team, this whole world is expendable, if that’s what it takes to get his daughter back. Is he working against the team and for Zoom? Is that why he killed the Turtle, or did he know that the team of do-gooders would never go along with the extremes Wells would have to go to in order to get something useful from the Turtle? Whose side is Wells really on, or is he playing both and waiting to throw in with one side until he can see which will prevail?
Last thought for this week… it looks like our next “monster of the week” is Tar Pit. Since the return from the mid-season break, we’ve had the Turtle (slows the Flash), Reverse-Flash (matches speed with the Flash), and now Tar Pit (who, again, slows the Flash). The world of The Flash is full of much more colorful villains whose abilities are not directly speed related nor dependent upon the Flash’s speed in order to be effective. We’ve already seen a few. As a Spartacus fan, I have loved seeing the casting choices The CW has made between The Flash and Arrow. We’ve got Weather Wizard and Captain Boomerang (currently imprisoned on Lian Yu with Deathstroke). We’ve seen Rainbow Raider and Double Down (last working for Damien Darhk in Star City). And there are so many more villains on the table. Please, let’s see some more villains who face the Flash using their own unique abilities, not Barry’s.