This week, The Flash breaks away from its formula and tries something new: an episode that mostly takes place in the span of about 10 seconds. Sure, it’s gimmicky, but I loved it! The episode is tense and packs quite the emotional punch thanks to a Harry and Jesse story line that feels like it came out of nowhere.
Since figuring out that DeVoe’s lair is hidden in a pocket dimension, Barry has been practicing trying to catch him, which means having Cisco create a breach as Barry tries to reach it before it closes. Training is not going well, so he’s frustrated and Cisco’s exhausted. Iris, doing her best Eliza Hamilton impression, convinces Barry to take a break from his training, and they make some date night plans since they haven’t had any quality husband-wife time in quite a while. (Prison will do that).
Meanwhile, Jesse decides to respond to the apology cube she received from her father, which was missing the apology, in person and pops over to our Earth — and we finally learn why they’re actually on the outs. It turns out Jesse has been trying to get her father to open up about her dead mother because she thinks he still hasn’t dealt with it and opening up might make him less angry. Stubborn as always, Harry refuses. Thus, the Wellses reach an impasse. Luckily, a crisis arises to distract from all of this drama.
Joe, who was escorting an ARGUS container, comes under heavy fire while defending said container and calls Team Flash for help. By the time they arrive on the scene at the air hangar, one of the robbers has opened the container and activated the fission engine (a.k.a. super nuclear bomb, which is the scientific term for it) inside. (Fun fact: The easiest way to make a story more exciting is to throw in a nuclear bomb. It’s sort of like how Michael Scott used to draw a gun in every improv scene he did.) Barry immediately enters Flashtime, which means he’s moving so quickly that everyone around him looks frozen. Jesse is there with him, too. So they get to work on figuring a way out of this.
Here’s a list of possible solutions:
- They could run it to a deserted part of our Earth: Nope, that’s not an option because their speed would accelerate the nuclear reaction.
- Breach it to another Earth: Again, nope. Barry discovers that won’t work either when he brings Cisco into Flashtime, where Cisco’s powers don’t work because he’s moving too quickly.
- Time travel? Jesse has this bright idea, but thankfully Barry shoots it down because he’s learned his damn lesson.
- Sending it into the Speed Force, as Harry suggests: This is something they could do, but Jay, whom Jesse recruits to help with this latest problem, shoots down that idea immediately because they have no idea what will happen to the Speed Force if they allow a bomb of that magnitude to go off in inside of it. Every speedster could lose his or her speed if the bomb goes off, and that’s the last thing we want to happen! (Note: I think the key to enjoying this episode is giving up trying to figure out what the Speed Force is/can and can’t do.) (Next: In the end, the real Speed Force was feels)
Thankfully, Jay isn’t one of those people who rejects ideas without suggesting new ones. Jay thinks they should try stabilizing it with nuclear fission or cooling it. The latter is the easiest one, so Barry brings Killer Frost into Flashtime. Alas, her powers simply speed up the nuclear reaction. As Barry puts her back in real time, Killer Frost asks him to make sure Caitlin survives. It’s an oddly touching moment in an episode filled with them. It’s so odd that Caitlin actually remembers it when all of this is said and done.
So, it’s on to plan B. The Speedsters hypothesize that throwing lightning may stabilize the bomb. Unfortunately, it will take all three of them to pull this off, but that’s not possible because Jay isn’t strong enough to stay in Flashtime this long. So Jay exits and joins the rest of the frozen statues in real time.
At this point, Barry sees no other option but to throw it into the Speed Force. Before doing so, he tells an exhausted Jesse to use the last of her speed to return to Earth-2. However, Jesse ignores him and runs to her father’s side, which is where she exits Flashtime.
This race against the clock reaches its final minute as the nuclear bomb enters the last stage before it explodes, and Barry’s desperation grows. Sweaty, tearful, and disheartened, Barry draws Iris into Flashtime and tells her he can’t save the day this time. Look, we’ve been here before with Barry, but I found his panic and uncertainty rather moving here. Thankfully, Iris is there to set him straight and comes up with the brilliant solution: Barry needs to draw the Speed Force lightning storm toward the bomb by stealing the orb Team Flash placed inside of The Force to convince it that Barry was still imprisoned. I love that Iris, yet again, had the answer Barry needed. What’s great about Iris’ growing role on the team is that it reinforces the idea that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero — an idea I thought the show was starting to ignore as it gave almost everyone some kind of superpower. Naturally, her plan works, but strains the show’s CGI budget in the process.
With this latest crisis averted, Barry realizes that he is indeed fast enough to catch DeVoe when he breaches, and Jay decides it’s time to retire and focus on training Earth-3’s next Flash (which is a nod to the character’s mentor role in the comics). Meanwhile, Harry finally gives Jesse what she wants and opens up about her mother. However, he doesn’t do it with words, because he can’t. Instead, he allows Jesse to read his mind using the technology he created for Cecile. The two of them sit face to face as Harry opens his mind. It’s an intimate, heartwarming, and almost wordless moment. It shouldn’t work because this mom/dead-wife stuff came out of nowhere, but it does thanks to Tom Cavanagh’s ability to reveal this perennially grumpy man’s heart with very few words. While this episode was lacking in the humor department, it more than made up for it in the heart department and strong performances from the cast.
Wall of Weird:
- In the episode’s stinger, Harry and Caitlin run into Jessica Parker Kennedy’s motormouth character at Jitters. She accidentally spills coffee all over them as she rambles on about being nervous (having the jitters) about an important meeting she’s about to have. As you may guess, that meeting is with them, and she drops the clumsy act as soon as Caitlin and Harry walk away. Who is she and what does she want?! The Flash, I demand answers!
- Harry and Cisco mapped all of DeVoe’s breaches and discovered that he’s been planning whatever he’s planning for the past three years.
- Team Flash also guesses that DeVoe must’ve tipped off the terrorist to the bomb. Why? Who knows! Which is the answer to every DeVoe question.
- I realize this contradicts a point I made above, but I have to admit I’m super excited to see Iris as a speedster in next week’s episode.