Katie Yu/The CW
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S2 E21
May 11, 2016 at 03:16 AM EDT

Even Barry can’t outrun the worst tragedies the universe throws his way, and learning to accept that is the very key to allowing him to deal with the ones he can keep pace with. Or so Barry learns in the Kevin Smith-directed, Zack Stentz-penned “The Runaway Dinosaur,” an episode that sees Barry actually speaking with the Speed Force as he learns what it will take to retrieve his speed.

And while Barry is stuck in a when and where of the Speed Force’s own creation (a simulacrum of places he knows with people from his own life to make the reality of his situation more palatable), those back on Earth-1 are doing their best to bring Barry home while also contending with the reanimated corpse of Girder.

Before dealing with that metal man, however, there’s the much more pressing matter of Barry’s predicament. He wakes up in this other reality in his childhood bedroom, heading downstairs to find Joe behind some police tape from the night of his mother’s murder. Only, this isn’t Joe. This is the actual Speed Force taking on Joe’s visage. Barry demands that “they,” the mysterious force (or beings behind it), let him return home to save his friends, but the Speed Force has a test he must pass first. There’s a speedster blur running around outside, and he has to catch it.

Barry is in no mood to hunt down a phantom and be visited by the Ghosts of Barry’s Present, yet he initially chases because it’s all he can do. He eventually reaches a familiar outdoor area — the place he and Iris first kissed (before he had to rewind time, of course) — while also running into Iris, too. Or, again, the Speed Force-as-Iris.

Force Iris says they’re doing this to make him less upset, though they’re clearly not getting the job done. They need to test him, however, because he rejected his gift. Barry scoffs at the idea, saying he gave up his powers to save a life, only to practically kill himself to gain those powers once again.

If anything, Barry wants his powers and to leave this place immediately so he can put them to good use once again. And he almost gets that chance when a tornado breaks out on the water nearby. Cisco is vibing via Barry’s costume, using the machine Harry built in the last episode, with his powers amplified to physically reach through the force and become a beacon to Barry.

Cisco reaches out for Barry and asks him to take his hand and come home. Force Iris tells him he could return home right now but he would do so without his powers. So Barry turns down the invitation and chases after the blur once again.

This time, this otherworldly game of cat and mouse brings him to a place he’s actually never been — his mother’s grave, with Henry Allen there as the latest Speed Force representative. Barry’s patience is running thin by this point, but this new location is also clearly putting him on edge.

The Speed Force is making him to face his greatest pain, asking him if he’s ever truly accepted losing his mother, if he’s really at peace with his decision to let her die so others could live. Barry’s incredulous at the idea — how could anyone be at peace with not saving their mother’s life when given the opportunity? Even with all of those other lives saved as a result, could someone actually reconcile that choice?

NEXT: Barry comes face to face with his greatest pain 

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After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.
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