After nine months of meta-humans, psychic gorillas and discovering his idol/mentor was the man responsible for his mother’s death, Barry Allen have finally arrived at the point in his life he had only dreamed of; saving his mother and preventing his father from spending the next fourteen years in prison. But, as is often the case, such things are far easier said than done.
There is no fanfare to start; we’re thrown in media res, if you will, with the newly imprisoned Harrison Wells (or Eobard Thawne) still at peace and as smug as ever as he stares down his bitter rival, Barry Allen. He implores Barry to ask the question that’s been on his mind for the past fourteen years. “Why did you kill my mother?”
“Because I hate you.” The bitter simplicity in the response is breathtaking and Wells uses the silence to explain—at least in part—his motives. Though Wells never mentions the motives behind his hatred for the Flash, he tells their story. Evenly matched, the two were yin and yang, equally opposing forces. It wasn’t until Wells discovered his adversary’s name that he had the advantage. He admits to his cultivation of Barry was driven by a desire to find his way back home, back to his future. Despite the vitriol between them, Wells is confident in one thing; Barry will help him get home because the Reverse Flash dangles the bait in front of Barry. He agrees to help Barry save his mom if Barry in turn helps send Wells home.
For some reason, Wells’ credibility with Barry is kaput, so he does what any super hero would do in a time of moral crisis: ask his friends. Dr. Stein provides his input on the dangers of such travel, emphasizing the unknowns and how it will affect everyone in the room. There are varying degrees of pros and cons but Joe is the strongest in the ‘Go-Barry-Go’ camp, reminding Barry that he became the Flash “to put things right.”
With his surrogate dad’s opinion firmly understood, Barry visits his father in prison and explains the opportunity to Henry. Mr. Allen implores Barry not to do it, afraid that the man his son grows up to be will no longer be the same person sitting before him. The response is a counter-weight to Joe’s earlier opinion and, when Iris finds Barry on a roof thinking about his predicament, he seeks her thoughts on the matter, citing his need to have “someone to tell [me]” what to do. Iris knows their relationship, as it stands, will be no more but maintains her objectivity, reminding Barry to “Do what you need to do, for yourself.”
Barry takes her advice and returns to Wells. The imprisoned professor tells him the Particle Accelerator is the key. Whereas last time the Accelerator was activated, two particles were sent on a collision course, this time around it will require Barry to stand in for one of the particles. Once he achieves minimal velocity of Mach 2 (anything less and he’ll die as a bug hitting a windshield) and slams into the hydrogen particle, the gates of time infinite will open for him. Conversely, it will be at this time Wells will be able to return to his time, courtesy of a time machine, one Barry asks Cisco (with Ronnie’s help) to complete. To do that, however, Cisco must confront his own Wells demons. The good prof gives the answers they need but when Cisco shares with Wells their final meeting in a prior time stream, the latter marvels at the fact that Cisco was also affected by the original Particle Accelerator explosion. “A great and honorable destiny awaits you now.”
While most of the episode is focused on Barry’s mission, we are treated with a few moments away from it all. First on the list is Ronnie and Caitlin, reconnected once more decides that they’ve put things off long enough and it’s high time they get married. Staying on the relationship front, our good friend, Detective Eddie Thawne is weighted down by Wells’ taunt of Eddie being the only member of the Thawne bloodline to be nothing more than ordinary. Stein doesn’t see the future written as Eddie has taken it. “You sir,” he tells the detective, “Are an anomaly. You are the only person in this whole story who gets to choose his own future.
But will he? After analyzing more of the data, Stein announces a most terrible possibility. Even if Barry does everything right, there’s a chance a singularity (aka black hole) may develop due to the ginormous amounts of energy floating around. They confront Wells and he concedes the point but doesn’t give up. True, Barry’s time to save his mother will be short (one minute, fifty-two seconds), he believes Barry will get it done, mitigating the concerns over a “global catastrophe” taking place.
Fast-forwarding through the second stop at romance (Caitlin and Ronnie’s impromptu wedding, Eddie recommitting himself to Iris, future knowledge be damned), Barry begins his journey into the known past. He breaks through the time stream, lost in a torrent of images—images of his past, present and future. Wells coaches him on how to get through it all, namely by concentrating on the single moment that’s driven him for a decade and a half. When he does…
…Barry finds himself in his old room as the commotion of the speedsters’ battle vibrates throughout the house. Barry races down the stairs seconds before his future self rushes the younger version to safety. Before he does, though, future Flash waves Barry off from his mission. Heeding the warning and his own heart, Barry uses his time in the past to say goodbye to his mother. Once he’s shared his goodbye, he returns to the present and destroys Wells’ chance of returning to his future. The Reverse Flash is irate and the two engage in their final fight. Once again Wells proves his superiority to Barry and readies to deliver the coup de grace. A gunshot sounds out of nowhere, staying Reverseway Flash’s hand. Using the confidence instilled by his discussion with Stein and subsequent reunion with Iris, Eddie knew the only way to put an end to his malevolent descendent was to kill himself. The others watch, powerless to save their friend and, when Eddie’s well and truly dead, Harrison Wells—Eobard Thawne—disappears from the face of the earth. Finally it’s over…
Not so fast my friends. The once stable and closed wormhole re-opens with an insatiable instability, threatens to devour the world whole. Their only chance is to counteract the force/energy of the mammoth wormhole. Barry realizes the neutralization of the wormhole is similar to his first vaunt into the world of meta-human only a whole lot harder and, as the city is ripped up and apart by the singularity. Putting his newfound speed to the test, Barry Allen rushes into the teeth of the singularity’s gravitational pull and then it all disappears.
Just like that.
The Long Road
- A finale’s job is the time up the major plot thread of a given season while leaving several character arcs/possibilities open and unanswered, to be explored in following seasons. “Fast Enough” is able to do this in spades. Season one’s big bad—Harrison Wells—is no more but his demise is minor if one looks at the plethora of unanswered questions. What made Barry decide against saving his mother? How was Cisco affected by the original Accelerator explosion and what gifts will we see him granted? Will Barry’s trip into the rabbit hole, per se, bring forth even greater meta-humans? Speculations will bound across the social media landscape this summer but we will not discover these answers until The Flash returns in October
- For years, stories have reminded us that, sometimes the hero’s not the guy in the center of the action. Sometimes he’s the guy in the background, overlooked and under appreciated. Eddie Thawne becomes this hero and in doing so, saves his friends and removes a major villain from the annals of times. Not bad for ‘mediocre.’
- How difficult was it to watch Barry’s tearful goodbye to his mother? Though much of the episode was heavy on pulling heartstrings to the point of losing its effectiveness, Barry’s short lived reunion with Nora Allen was powerful in so many ways. Barry may not have saved his mother but being able to speak to her one last time most likely grants him the closure he’d craved. He may not have gotten enough time to appreciate this (thanks, Runaway Worm Hole) but it’s a weight off his shoulders. Now, instead of living in two worlds (past and present), Barry Allen is now free to focus on one day at a time.