The Flash continues to top itself. Compared to tonight’s episode, “The Man in the Yellow Suit”—the shows last truly mind-blowing episode—was an episode of Bones.
“Out of Time” started out like most other episodes, but with callbacks to earlier in the season thrown in. The metahuman of the week, Mark Mardon, a.k.a. The (actual) Weather Wizard, even called back to the show’s pilot. Then as the episode unfolded, we saw the show allude to other episodes either through plot developments related to Mason and Iris’ burgeoning investigation of Dr. Wells, or through direction, like in some of the Barry and Iris scenes. However, in the final five minutes, the episode literally threw back to the first five minutes of the episode as we saw Barry TIME TRAVEL for the first time. If the introduction of time travel weren’t enough, the show finally gave a definitive answer of who Dr. Harrison Wells is: Eobard Thawne.
The ending of “Out of Time”—Barry traveling back in time to the beginning of the episode—sort of makes going into too much plot regarding the metahuman of the week unnecessary because who knows how much of that will be relevant next week. So, we’ll run through the important plot points and then discuss what the ending could possibly mean for the show and next week’s episode. Disclaimer: I haven’t had a chance to read any post-mortems on the episode yet (I’ve been too busy writing this recap), so apologies if any of my speculations end up being incorrect.
The awkward double date (a.k.a. a missed opportunity for a Greek 2 homage)
Barry and Linda go on a date to the bowling alley because it’s one of Barry’s favorite places. Eddie and Iris also happen to be there, and the two couples decide to dive right into the awkward and make this a double date. By double date, I mean Eddie and Linda are forced to watch Barry and Iris flirt with each other as they all bowl. This whole sequence worked as a nice answer to the scene in “The Nuclear Man,” where Linda and Barry are making out to Sam Smith’s “I’m Not The Only One.”
Later on in the episode, both Eddie and Linda call Iris out on what happened on the date and her denying her feelings for Barry—especially Linda, who does not trifle with nonsense like this. Following her conversation with Linda, Iris runs into Barry at the West home. It’s actually an interesting scene visually because for the couch where Linda and Barry hooked up separates Iris and Barry now. However, as Iris starts to tell Barry she doesn’t think Linda is the right the girl for him, she gets on the couch, symbolically pushing Linda out of the way.
The Wells Investigation
This week, Iris’ mentor Mason presents Iris some of his initial evidence against Dr. Harrison Wells and confirms that journalism, at times, is basically paid stalking (he has a tendency to follow Wells around). Mason suspects Wells killed Stagg because he found footage of him leaving Stagg’s office the night he went missing. He plants this little seed of doubt in Iris’ head, which she then gives to Barry, who turns to Cisco for advice. Cisco, with whom Joe had already shared his suspicions of Wells, starts to investigate.
Cisco starts to suspect Wells is hiding something because he double checks the data from the night they captured Reverse Flash and discovers there was no fault in any of his design. The only way the containment field could’ve failed is if Wells had tampered with it. So, Cisco asks Caitlin to keep Wells preoccupied, so that he can run some more tests in the actual containment room. Unfortunately, Wells is onto them and manages to give Caitlin the slip.
Cisco turns on the containment field and finds the Reverse Flash still inside, repeating what he said to the entire the room when he was “captured.” However, Wells shows up, and the moment Cisco sees him, he knows he’s going to die. (Shoutout to Carlos Valdes for a great performance this week). Wells formally introduces himself to Cisco as Eobard Thawne, a distant relative of Eddie, and explains his plan. Wells traveled back in time to Barry’s home 15 years ago to kill Barry, not his mother; however, since then, he’s been trapped in this time period and all he wants to do is get home. The Flash’s speed is the key. To stop Cisco from ruining his plans, he kills him—in an utterly tragic scene.
Metahuman of the Week: Mark Mardon
Clyde Mardon’s brother returns to Central City tonight to avenge his brother’s death, and with him he brings lightning. He goes after Joe, and after several failed attempts, eventually manages to kidnap him. But, he’s not stopping with Joe; Mardon is also after Iris and Barry. So, he lures the two of them to the docks and intends on making Joe watch as he kills them with a giant tsunami.
Because they’re about to put their lives in danger, Iris chooses now to tell Barry that she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about his confession for weeks and realizes she loves him, too. The two destined-to-be-together lovers kiss. However, a tsunami starts heading toward the city and the only way for Barry to stop it is to run really really really quickly to create a wall of wind—a vortex barrier—around the coastline to sap the wave of its energy. He changes into The Flash in front of Iris and speeds off to save the city.
You know what happens next: He runs so quickly that he breaks the space-time continuum and travels back in time to earlier in the episode when he was speeding toward Mardon’s first crime scene.
NEXT: Let’s just get to the Wall of Weird
Wall of Weird:
Let’s start off with the biggest question: What does Barry traveling back in time mean for everything in this episode? It’s all moot, right? Having traveled back in time, Barry now has the opportunity to change it. Based on the preview for next week’s episode, we can guess that with the knowledge he has from going through this day already, he will quickly lock Mardon away to make room for the return of the Rogues.
No Mardon probably also means no epic kiss with Iris and, most importantly, no deep investigation into Wells that leads to Cisco’s death. With his knowledge of what’s supposed to happen/already happened, there’s no way Barry will be able to recreate the series of events that led to him finally getting the second biggest thing he’s yearned for all his life. But Barry changing his actions will most likely throw Cisco off his path of discovering who Harrison Wells really is. What’s interesting, however, is that this episode’s ending raises the possibility of a dark (the darkest?) timeline out there in which The Flash doesn’t exist; a timeline where he disappears in this freak weather incident, leaving his family and friends to grieve and process Wells’ betrayal alone, instead of disappearing in a crisis many years after being an active superhero.
The Flash succeeds in not making us feel cheated—while all the plot developments “didn’t happen,” what we saw went a long way in rounding out its most enigmatic character, Dr. Harrison Wells. All season long Tom Cavanagh has done a remarkable job of making us care for Dr. Harrison Wells even though we know he’s not #KeepinIt100 with the team and we have seen him kill. Tonight furthers our empathy for Wells and made him a very nuanced Big Bad (assuming he is the season’s Big Bad). Everything he’s done isn’t part of some grand evil plan to take over the world—it’s about something much more basic to human nature: feeling homesick and wanting to go home.
At this juncture in his plan, Wells has to make a choice: murder Cisco, which is the simplest solution, or find another way to get home that doesn’t involve destroying the relationships he’s built since being here. Put another: brain vs. heart. Wells is not only desperate, he’s a desperate scientist, so he chooses the solution that seems more rational. It says a lot that he murders Cisco by phasing his hand through Cisco’s heart. By killing the heart of the group, he’s removing the one sentimental object that would’ve stopped him from doing what is necessary to get home. (ASIDE: I really hate comparing this show to Arrow, but did anyone feel like this scene, and the entire episode, certified Cisco as Team Flash’s Felicity?) Ever the scientist, Wells tries to rationalize the murder: “Forgive me, but to me, you’ve been dead for centuries,” he says with his hand deep in Cisco’s chest. He’s speaking to Cisco, but it feels more like the words are meant for himself.
The other big development in this episode was that Iris finally owned up to her feelings for Barry. But was there any doubt that this was the case? I mean, this is a comic book show and Iris and Barry being together is canon. By giving us this big confession of love now, it seems like we’ll have to wait a long time for it actually to stick. This development does less for Iris and more for Barry as it will probably boost his confidence for when he gives this day another shot. Another downside: Linda Park, who is such a great addition to the show, probably won’t be around for much longer.
- Explaining the midseason finale: Wells was able to fool the Central City Police and Team Flash because he moved so fast (?) that he created an after image, or speed mirage of himself, which made it look he was in two places at once.
- The episode didn’t put too much emphasis on this, but it was nice to see Iris doing something journalistically that, as far she was aware, wasn’t related to The Flash.
- Does the Eobard Thawne reveal mean that Eddie will finally have something to do other than look pretty?
- To make matters even more tragic: The first time we see Wells and Cisco, they’re enjoying a movie night together in S.T.A.R. Labs. Also, Cisco skipped his brother’s dinner to watch movies. He and his family don’t get along. I’m sure we’ll find out more about this later on.
- Best special effect of the episode: The lightning striking through the ceiling of Joe’s car.
- Caitlin didn’t have too much to do in tonight’s episode.
- Have you guys seen the epic and spoiler-filled trailer that premiered at PaleyFest this past week? It’s awesome.