“How often do you think about why your friends came into your life? Was it random? By design? Or maybe a little of both. Regardless of the reason, some friends you just know are gonna be by your side for a while. Others—you’re not so sure. And then there’s that one friend who, well, you hope one day becomes something more. But ‘friend’ will have to do for now. And that’s okay. I guess.”
“To friends” is the toast Iris gives with Barry as the two of them are having a night on the town with Cisco, Caitlin and Eddie. Barry discovers that his mega-metabolism prevents him from getting drunk but a downtown explosion breaks up the fun. With his powers continuing to accelerate, he runs up the side of the building, saving the helpless window washer…only to come face to face with the inquisitive Iris. The next day he’s on the scene doing his forensic job but can find neither hide nor hair of an oxidizing agent (for the bomb). He does find a missing file he brings to Detective West, keeping it from the Army’s General Eiling who’s taken over the case. Barry takes it to Wells at STAR Labs and discovers Eiling’s previous work with Wells on gene therapy and the general’s less than friendly air. Using the VA file number, Cisco’s able to find the name of Bette San Souci, former EOD tech, and an emergency contact in Englewood. Barry flashes over and runs into Bette, a meeting that doesn’t go well for his suit. Bette’s meta-human classification (she’s able to charge an object for explosion by touch) drives Eiling’s end game.Bette and Barry bond over what it is to be human. Meta-human, that is…
On Joe’s behest, Barry tries talking Iris out of her blog posts on the Streak when Cisco and Caitlin direct him back to Englewood and Bette, who’s confronting the doctor she believes is responsible for her condition. She ends up being shot by Eiling’s men but Barry saves her and brings her to the lab to help. Wells fills Bette in on her current condition (the how and why) and will do what they can to help her. The ‘help’ includes hiding her from Eiling, who arrives at the lab thanks to the tracker bullet lodged in her arm. While Wells and Eiling express their animosity towards one another, Bette tests her powers out under the watchful eyes of Caitlin and Cisco, the latter of which has developed a sort of pervy nerdy crush on her. Bette wants nothing more than to be normal and has a heart to heart with Barry, asking if he’d want to be normal now. He says no, telling her “I always wanted to help people. Now I can.”
And then Iris meets the Streak.
After his earlier conversation only fueled Iris to put her name to her stories, Barry decides to pay her a visit as his super speedy alter ego. “There’s more to this than you can understand,” he says to explain why she needs to quit. But it’s more than that for her. She recaps Barry’s story, of losing his mother, of seeing something impossible, as the catalyst for her interests in the Streak. “You are proof that he wasn’t crazy. Help me save my friend.” After such heartfelt words he can’t ask her anymore and returns to the lab to find out there’s bad news for Bette. The shrapnel has merged with her on a cellular level; they can’t save her. Barry wants her to join the group but her powers aren’t quite set for the saving people thing. Barry sees himself in her, though his luck was in being found by his STAR lab friends first.
Caught up in his thoughts and failure to help Bette, Barry returns to his lab to find Joe waiting for him. The super speedster and his surrogate father talk about how they want to keep Iris safe, though the only way to get her to stop is tell her the truth. During the conversation, Barry is mortified when Joe confirms his knowledge of Barry’s love for Iris. “I was too slow,” Barry says in regards of professing his love. Joe’s reply is simple but so very poignant. “When the universe wants to make something happen—whether it be giving a young man lightning speed or putting two people together–it has a way of figuring those things out.”Barry pays Iris a visit as ‘The Streak’
Hope for a cure lost, Bette finds herself adrift, with no true direction. That is, until the marvelous manipulator Wells provides her with a target: Eiling. “One last mission,” he tells her , “and then you go home.” She follows his advice and confronts the mad general and just before she’s ready to deliver the coup de grace, Barry arrives. His interference is distraction enough for Eiling to put a bullet in Bette’s chest. She tries to pass on Wells’s part in her fate but dies before she can speak the words. But the problem isn’t over just yet as her death will cause her body to detonate. He has to get her body away from the city and there’s only one way to do that; run on water. In a spectacular run from the explosion, Barry makes it to safety with no more casualties. He’s saved the day once again.
An underwater weapons test is the cover Eiling gives for the explosion. Barry is even more distraught losing a good person and tries one last time to talk to Iris. But she’s more convinced than ever in her cause. “I am not stopping until the rest of the world believes in him.” The conversation is their crossroads; he needs to put distance between them, a distance neither wants but they both may need.
“For a guy who has experienced his fair share of mysteries, one mystery I still can’t figure out is why some people come into our lives, why some people go and others become a part of you. Some friendships feel like they’ll last forever. And others end far too soon. Not every friend is meant to last a lifetime. What does last forever is the pain when that person is gone.”
Eiling comes to see Wells and suggests they work together again. Wells is not up for it and leaves Eiling with a fair warning. “Threaten me again and I will end you, General. And I am not talking about your career.”
5 YEARS AGO…
Wells and Eiling’s partnership is dissolved due to the General’s cruelty shown with the test subject who goes by the name Grodd…
Friends, Convictions, and Purpose
- Why are we here? Why are those in our live put there? These are the questions “Plastique” asks but never provides an answer to. We are presented with several important arcs that will affect Barry and the gang going forward, but nothing as personal (not yet at least) as the final scene between him and Iris. While she’s the only one blind to his love for her, she can clearly see that Barry’s hiding something. Their friendship has seen the best and worst of times though nothing like his secret. But does it need to be one any longer? Would Iris be in any more danger, now that she’s putting her name to the Streak posts, if she knew the truth? Or would she find her way deeper into this new meta-human world?
- Bette was a tragic character, one who had lost her direction. She was a soldier in every sense of the word but, unlike Barry, was never truly able to understand her powers in order to use them for the greater good. Though she read Wells’s manipulation to kill Eiling, his words did give her the purpose she had been missing. Would it have been wrong to kill General Eiling in cold blood? Maybe. Would everyone have been better off with him out of the picture? Most definitely. When Barry interrupted Bette from putting the General down, he preserved her honor. We create our heroes to be something more, something better. A hero is, for all intent and purpose, what we can become…a vision of our best self. She may have had vengeance on her mind to start but, with Barry’s help, Bette San Souci would have become a hero at the end.
- There are times when our convictions, whether they be religious, political, or a cause close to our hearts, can drive a wedge between us and those we love. When we are faced with the choice between a loved one and what we believe at our very core, which side of the line do we find ourselves on? Is it worth it to lose someone so dear to you? Or is it even worse if, by keeping that person close, you lose yourself and the passion which drives your heart and soul? People often say “I had no choice” but such a phrase is false and underscores life. No matter the situation, we always have a choice. Always. But there are those choices that, no matter your decision, will leave you with scars. Scars that will never truly fade.