“I let it happen again. I trusted someone I shouldn’t have. Jay Garrick… Zoom. Just like I trusted Harrison Wells, or Eobard Thawne. You see what I mean? I made the same mistake twice; I thought they wanted to teach me how to use my powers, train me to get faster, but they didn’t come here to help me. They came to use me and take everything I love away from me. But no more. I’m gonna crack the code. Figure out how to improve my speed. I’m gonna train harder, get stronger, and run faster than anyone’s ever run before. Then I’m gonna stop Zoom.”
In the fallout from discovering Zoom’s identity—Jay Garrick—Barry’s doing everything he can to crack the speed code. Caitlin brings up the question—what if he can never break the speed code? Later that night, Barry has dinner with the Wests and, during that time, he and Iris have a heart-to-heart about her trying to move on from Eddie’s death. Barry astutely points out that, if she keeps herself closed off, she’s “gonna miss out on something great.” But it’s Wally’s talk about the inspirations behind his engine design that gives Barry a majorly bad idea…travel back in time and speak to the one person who can teach him to run faster. None other than Eobard Thawne.
As ideas go, this one is filled with some major holes. Though Cisco and Caitlin have their reservations about the move, Harry is a bit more open with his thoughts. “Your plan is asinine,” he says, warning him that Thawne has spent 15 years studying Barry and will absolutely discover the ruse. Considering Barry’s inability to keep his emotions off his face, the good professor is absolutely correct. And, of course, there’s also the chance that things change and only Barry will realize said changes. Still, after going over the dos and don’ts, the Central City speedster goes through with it though he arrives a bit earlier than expected. He watches his first encounter with Hartley Rathaway, aka the Pied Piper, and uses a break in the fight to sedate his past self and take his place.
When he brings Hartley into the Pipeline, Barry warns Cisco about the ‘ear bombs’ Hartley used to escape. He then taps Wells (aka Eobard Thawne) to start working on the speed equation. Wells is curious about Barry’s sudden interest in the speed equation but ends up helping. Their work is interrupted when the CCPD call about a phantom prowling the precinct, the exact same phantom Barry ran into during his trip through the time wormhole. Though too late to help as the Flash, CSI Barry Allen tries to help out with discovering this new phantom’s identity but is visibly shaken by Eddie’s presence. But that’s the least of his concerns when, after returning to STAR Labs, Wells conks Barry on the head, remarking that he’s “figured it out”. The phantom, or time wraith, is what alerted him to the presence of something weird. Barry confirms that he’s his future self and, at first, Wells believes this means that his plan has failed. He nearly takes his frustration out by killing Barry but the latter is able to convince Wells that he’s here to gain speed to stop the Singularity. It’s not surprising that Wells’ satisfaction returns, stating that he doesn’t need Barry but the Scarlet Speedster shows a bit more moxie than I expected, bluffing that he’s given the past Barry a letter detailing everything about how to stop Wells.
During the conversation between enemies, the time wraith shows up at the lab. Caitlin, Cisco, and Hartley jump into a Pipeline cell but the wraith is close to breaking through. Hartley uses his sound gauntlets to drive the entity away. “Time wraiths hate it when speedsters manipulate the timeline,” an extremely concerned Wells tells Barry. But how to stop it?
Back at the precinct, Barry combs over the damage the wraith has done to his lab and, recalling his discussion with Iris, has Eddie record a ‘what Iris means to me’ message for his best friend/semi-sister/former love. And then there’s the return of past Flash. In a hilarious scene, Cisco tries wrapping his mind around the two Barrys. With the secret out, Wells goes all-in to help Barry by pointing to tachyon enhancements as the key to getting faster. He gives Barry the research on tachyons and, with the help of past Barry, current Barry’s flung back into the now…but the time wraith comes with him and leeches onto him. It’s not until Hartley blasts the wraith with his sound gauntlets that Barry can breathe easier.
The final beats are of hope: Hartley has turned over a new leaf and reconciled with his parents, Barry gives Harry hope on Jesse returning, and Iris watching the video of her lost lover. Barry’s final message is about engaging the past to move on to the future precedes his message to Zoom of “I’m coming for you.”
“Sometimes the only way to movie forward is to revisit the things in your past that were holding you back. You have to deal with them head-on, no matter how scary they may be. Because once you do, you’ll see that you can go further than you ever imagined.”
- There was some good stuff going down this week. Barry’s opening and closing monologues harken back to the Flash of yesteryear—or season one—and is a missed aspect of the show. His words, especially the closing statement on facing the past is apropos for everyone, not just our favorite people of Central City. It’s also the reason why Iris may finally be able to move on and Hartley reconciles with his folks.
- Speaking of Hartley, it was unexpectedly awesome watching him get Rickrolled by Cisco. Add to that the hilarious back and forth when past Barry shows up, and you’ve got all the comedic moments this episode needed.
- Now that Harry’s in the fold, the old Wells had become a forgotten memory. Watching him nearly lose it at the thought of never returning home was a valuable reminder of Eobard Thawne’s unhinged nature. It was also pretty ballsy how Barry called his bluff just before Wells ended him.
- It looks as if Hartley was the only change we experienced with Barry’s tinkering of the past but who knows if it will remain that way. I was somewhat disappointed that nothing about Barry’s time in National City (for you Supergirl fans) but it may be due to Barry just now getting the tachyon research from Wells/Thawne (it was definitely the tachyon harness he was wearing that blasted him into Supergirl’s world). It’s not crucial but would add a bit of continuity to his appearance on Monday’s Supergirl. As it stands, Barry has the information he needs to jump back over to Earth-2. Now he just needs to decode it.