Time Wraith | The Flash “Flash Back” Review
As if this show couldn’t possibly get any better, we get the latest episode, “Flash Back.” This episode, like no other, was able to balance the ridiculous action pieces with some strong characterization that made us actually care about the emotions swimming to the surface.
As the title suggests, this episode has Barry speeding into the past to learn how to become fast enough to defeat Jay Garrick, who was revealed to be Zoom in the previous episode. Caitlin discovers that Reverse Flash, Zoom and Barry’s feet are all moving at the same speed, but Zoom and Reverse Flash spend less time with their feet on the ground, thus making them faster. So, Barry gets to have a meeting with Eobard Thawne.
I love time travel in this universe, solely for the fact that you know things are going to get turned upside down. Subtlety isn’t their strong suit, and it leads to some hilarious, yet touching moments in this episode.
Since Barry doesn’t time travel to the moment he intends, he travels during the first encounter Flash has with Pied Piper. A Flash on Flash fight ensues, and we get some mostly spectacular slowmo Flash action. The whole goal was to put him to sleep while he learned how to gain some speed from Thawne, but that obviously didn’t last.
Quite possibly the best thing about this timeline is that Thawne is absolutely ruthless. His tone literally makes the hairs on your neck stand up as his voice reverberates through the speakers. Not that this Wells is boring, but the menacing feeling of Thawne is absolutely fantastic. Tom Cavanagh almost always steals the show, and he certainly does here as well. His interactions with Grant Gustin are better than ever.
Initially, Thawne refuses to help him, but Barry said that he laid out everything in a note he left for their Flash if anything were to happen to him. We don’t know for sure if this was a red herring, or if he indeed laid all of this out, but it did force Thawne’s hand. Barry eventually receives the data he would need to create a Tachyon device to increase his speed to match Zoom’s, but that’s not before he (potentially) alters the timeline and invites a Time Wraith into the mix.
There are few things that Thawne fears, but one of them is a Time Wraith. That is why he knew that Barry was the time traveller. Surprisingly, the Time Wraith looked perfect. The visual effects continue to be top-notch, and that’s even after (probably) spending a large portion on Grodd and King Shark previously. Thawne’s mention of Barry knowing that there are multiple speedsters opens the doors for craziness to ensue later in the series.
Future Barry meeting Past Barry and the rest of the STAR labs crew was as entertaining as you might imagine. It’s almost a non-story to mention the instances of strong comedy/silliness because it’s so often done well in the show. Where the show sometimes stumbles is with the emotional story beats, but they absolutely hit the nail on the head in this one. I know that Iris isn’t the most liked character on the show, and personally I feel the hate is quite unwarranted, but she has a gut-wrenching/uplifting story arc. Since Barry was travelling back, that means that Eddie is still alive, and Barry makes the most of the time with him. Barry pulls out his phone and tells Eddie to say what Iris means to him. Of course Eddie spills his heart out and makes the perfect goodbye that Iris never thought that she would get. It’s a shame that he can’t or shouldn’t tell Iris that he was able to see Eddie once again, but the video was a perfect memento, which will allow her to move forward with her life.
As for changes, the only thing that appears to have been altered in this timeline was that Pied Piper is a “good guy.” It’s hard to imagine that that’s all that has been changed, but I guess we will see as the season continues.