The Flash premiere recap: Nash Wells finds his inner hero
Grant Gustin delivers one of his funniest performances to date in the season 7 premiere of The Flash.
After six seasons of The Flash, the line "Run, Barry, Run" shouldn't work. We've heard it, and variations on it, enough times that it should feel old and not resonate emotionally like it did in the early days. But man, that's far from the case, as evidenced by the season 7 premiere, in which Tom Cavanagh, as always, poignantly delivers that iconic phrase.
"All's Wells That Ends Wells," The Flash's season opener, is a weird beast, as is to be excepted. Technically, this episode was supposed to be the 20th episode of season 6, but, you know, the pandemic happened. So, this episode is a mix of stuff that was shot before the lockdown and some new material to make it feel like an exciting start of a new season. And you can definitely feel the Frankenstein's monster-like aspect of the hour at times, especially at the beginning of the episode. Nevertheless, that didn't stop me from enjoying it, for the most part, especially Cavanagh and Grant Gustin's excellent performances.
When the season begins, Barry's speed is down to one percent, and he keeps trying and failing to catch Eva McCulloch, who is zooming around Central City via mirrors and causing all kinds of mischief. Nash and the Council of Wells in his brain come up with a way to power the Artificial Speed Force: transferring the multiversal particles in Nash's bodies, courtesy of all the Wellses, into the Fusion Sphere. The problem is, though, multiversal particles are unstable and need an organic conduit to work with the sphere, i.e. Nash needs to die in order for this plan to work. (The science mumbo-jumbo is on another level in this episode.) But Nash isn't ready to die and storms off to figure out another way for this to work.
In the end, Nash asks Allegra to use her powers to push the multiversal particles out of his body and into the sphere and stabilize them at the same time. Despite Chester's concerns, they test this out — and of course, the plan goes awry and Barry gets hit by a blast of multiversal particles. When Barry comes to, Allegra, Nash, and Chester realize that all of the Wellses are now in Barry's brain. This leads to one of Grant Gustin's finest and funniest performances on the show to date because he has to break out impressions of Harry Wells, H.R. Wells, and Sherloque Wells. And Gustin does each character perfectly, from the somehow still funny bit about Sherloque's name to how annoying H.R. can be. Gustin gets a lot of praise for his dramatic chops, which The Flash calls on quite often, but it's easy to forget just how funny he is. (As a side note, showrunner Eric Wallace and the writers have done a good job of giving both Gustin and Candice Patton material that pushes them out of their comfort zone and reminds us how great they are as actors.)
Barry cycling through the multiple Wells personalities stops being, fun, however, once they realize that his speed healing, which is slowly going away, is the only reason he hasn't died from having all of those competing brainwaves in his head. So, Chester gets to work building something that will draw the multiversal particles back into Nash when Allegra blasts him with his powers again. While that's happening, Nash — whose embarrassed for lying to the team about needing an organic conduit — has a touching heart-to-heart with Harry Wells, who reminds Nash that he's just like every other Wells that's visited Team Flash: He arrived a broken man, but Team Flash helped show him he could be better. Personally, I like the show's interpretation of what's happened to each Wells that's joined the team, even if it's cheesy in a "you thought I was teaching you? No, you were teaching me" kinda way.
Anyway, once Chester finishes the device, Allegra transfers the particles back into Nash's body. Unfortunately, they need to find a way to power the ASF asap because Eva McCulloch is about to blow up a Black Hole plane above Central City, the debris from which will kill many people. Nash, taking Harry's words to heart, does the valiant thing and sacrifices himself to power the ASF, despite Barry pleading with him not to do it. As I mentioned above, Nash and all of the Wellses goodbyes were really touching, especially Harry's, who has the honor of saying, "Run, Barry, Run" — which is exactly what Barry does once the ASF powers on and restores Barry's speed, allowing him to save the day in a pretty cool looking action sequence. Even though I know Cavanagh is still part of the show, his death scene was pretty heart-wrenching.
Elsewhere in the episode: Iris is still trapped in the Mirrorverse and is being tormented by past versions of herself, specifically pilot Iris, season 3 Iris, and Old Lady Iris from the future, all of whom play on Iris' self-doubt. At first, Iris thinks this is the result of neural dissonance, but then she somehow realizes Eva is behind it because she's trying to convince her there's no way of escaping the Mirrorverse… or something. While the script definitely gave Patton some interesting moods to play, this part of the story left me more confused than anything else. I wonder if that's a result of the Frankenstein's monster nature of this episode.
Overall, I thought this was a solid start to the season, given everything working against the show. Gustin's comedic performance was definitely a highlight; however, I also enjoyed seeing Barry just work with Team Flash's newbies, and both Brandon McKnight and Kayla Compton made good use of their time in the sunshine. While I didn't spend too much time on it, seeing Cecile learn how to use her powers in a new way was also cool. B
Wall of Weird:
- In the episode-ending stinger, Eva discovers that she’s not the real Eva. The real one died on the night of the particle accelerator explosion, and the one roaming about now is simply a Mirror copy.
- Speaking of Mirror copies: Eva reveals that original Mirror Master Sam Scudder was her first Mirror creation, which is a random retcon, but I’m not mad at it.
- At the beginning of the episode, Chester is reading a book and says, “What if the universe is just some cosmic neural network?” I wonder if that line is hinting at how Wells/Cavanagh will remain part of the show.
(Video provided by The CW)