Yes, Barry, there is a Speed Force.
Fresh off the heels of his violent disappearance, Barry doesn’t just find himself in the Speed Force but also conversing with its personification—which appears to him as the four most important people in his life. Meanwhile, in the real world, the Flash gang is dealing with an after effect of the particle accelerator boom in the form of Zombie Girder.
In the immediate aftermath, everyone thinks Barry’s dead, burned away by the failed experiment. It’s not until Cisco vibes on the tattered remains of the Flash suit that they realize Barry’s alive and well. But then there’s the issue of the unconscious Jesse. She’s exhibiting the same signs of energy overload coma Barry did in the series premiere. Though distraught over his son’s disappearance, Henry Allen focuses on the Jesse problem and Cisco, followed by Iris, head down to the morgue to get all the data the original Wells (better known as Eobard Thawne) recorded on Barry’s condition. But out of the blue, Zombie Girder appears and wrecks his way out of the lab and into the city.
While the gang devises a plan to take down the zombified meta, work on Jesse’s condition, and find a way to contact Barry in the Speed Force, our titular hero has to deal with the reality of the Speed Force before him. Initially appearing as Joe, the Speed Force gives Barry a small breakdown of its true nature. The knowledge isn’t something Barry wants to hear, and stresses his need to get back to help his friends. Speed Force Joe points to a blur speeding through the streets and tells him, “you’re not going back…until you catch that.”
Next on the list is Speed Force Iris. Running into her in the same park where they first kissed, it accuses Barry of throwing away the gift bestowed upon him by the Speed Force. But he’s still not hearing the message, though, intent on getting his buns back to Central City to work on stopping Zoom. He ends up getting his chance when Cisco—his vibe powers getting a Cerebro-like boost courtesy of Harry—reaches out to touch Barry. The Speed Force concedes that Barry can go home now, but it’ll be without his speed. “The choice is yours, Barry.” And he makes the choice to go with the Speed Force.
Now that the first attempt to reach Barry is a no-go, Joe and Iris work on the Zombie Girder (ZG) problem. The monstrous meta wrecks its way through the city and Iris realizes the pattern: ZG is searching for Iris of all people. With this in mind, she offers up herself as bait, luring ZG back to STAR Labs and Cisco’s magnetic mouse trap to take down the zombified meta. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work and the entire gang find themselves trapped in the basement with Zombie Girder banging on the door.
Back in the Speed Force, Barry runs into his third ‘memory’, Henry Allen waiting for him at Nora Allen’s grave. “Your mother’s death happened to you, Barry,” the Speed Force reminds him. “ It made you who you are…but have you accepted it? Really accepted losing her?”
The pain is evident in Barry’s voice when he responds. “How can someone ever be at peace by letting his mother die?” Trying to re-focus on his task, Barry tracks down the blur and it leads him back to the Allen home and…Nora Allen.
The conversation between son and ‘mother’ is strong and one Barry’s has needed. He admits that he hasn’t accepted Nora’s death and probably never will. But the words of a mother — more powerful than any force in existence — Speed Force Nora stresses that he must find a way to do so. “Even the Flash can’t outrun the tragedies the universe is gonna keep sending your way. You have to accept that; then you can truly run free.”
The pair end up reading “The Runaway Dinosaur” and it signifies everything about Barry’s relationship with his mother. “You’re ready,” she says and Barry finally catches the blur — himself.
With time running out for them, Harry and Cisco try to reach Barry again but, this time, Iris accompanies Cisco into the Speed Force to call Barry home. The duo connect with the now whole Barry and, in a scene reminiscent of the Guardians of the Galaxy climax, Barry catches Iris’s hand and is pulled back into our world…just in time to take Zombie Girder down.
Post-ZG takedown, Barry approaches the comatose Jesse and when he touches her hand, gives her a speed jolt to waken her. “It’s the Speed Force,” Harry says before embracing his daughter. Speaking of embrace, Barry talks with his dad and accepts the words of Speed Force Nora. Despite the hardships, Barry comes to terms with the wrenches thrown into his life as they have made him the man he is today. He even visits his mother’s grave for the first time, with Iris in tow.
“You’re everything to me,” he tells her, “and you always have been. And the sound of your voice will always bring me home.”
If only things ended on such a high note…
We get a post-credit scene of sorts where Zoom gives Caitlin the chance to stay with him or return to her friends’ side. But she doesn’t move, overhearing Zoom rally his army of metas, asking them “Whose world is this?”
- Bravo, Kevin Smith. While this episode paused the Zoom plotline (until the very end), this was a necessary and extremely poignant episode. Aside from Jesse’s possible transformation (more on that in a bit), Barry becomes privy to some of the roadblocks that have stopped him from becoming the best he can be. It’s not just that he hasn’t accepted his mother’s death but he carries the guilt of knowing he could’ve saved her. Sure, it would’ve been at the expense of the Flash but Nora Allen would have been in his life. It takes Speed Force Nora to point out that all our successes and tragedies become the foundation that make us who we are. So often, our superheroes suffer from a crisis of faith and it takes something major for them to work through it. Barry comes to grips with the worst thing to ever happen to him and that acceptance will remove the barrier, allowing Barry to become the greatest Flash he can become.
- Speaking of speed, what’s going on with Jesse? When she and Wally were hit with the Speed Force wave, only Jesse remained unconscious. The similarities between her and Barry’s coma conditions have already been mentioned but then Barry wakes her with a jolt from the Speed Force. While I don’t believe anything of significance will come of it this season, Jesse Quick will become a major force come Season 3, emphasis on the “force”.
- Finally, Zoom and his army are ready to take down Earth-Prime. We know Barry is the Flash but how in the world can he fight an army on his own? Something, or someone, must be waiting on the sidelines, ready to throw their hat in the ring…