The Flash 2.17 “Flash Back” Top 5

Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells / Eobard Thawne and Grant Gustin as The Flash (The CW)

Hey, everyone! Double Flash this week! Did you catch Amelia’s Top 5 of Monday’s Supergirl, where our beloved Scarlet Speedster guest-starred? If not, go check it out. I’ll add some thoughts to the end of this Top 5 review of Barry’s home show. In the meantime, let’s talk about my 5 points of interest for episode 2.17, “Flash Back”. Desperate to find a way to get fast enough to get back to Earth-2 and defeat Zoom, whom he now (mistakenly) believes to be his trusted friend Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears), Barry decides that the only way to learn how is to time travel back a year, and get the answers from his other nemesis, Eobard Thawne, The Reverse Flash, who at the time was masquerading as Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh).

#5: How Did Anyone Think This Was a Good Idea?

I don’t mean in the writer’s room; obviously, they thought it was a great idea. A chance to re-visit some of last season’s characters, and have some fun? That part’s a no-brainer. What I mean is, why did Barry (Grant Gustin) convince himself this was a good idea? He’s already seen the way the Butterfly Effect (the actual scientific theory, not the terrible Ashton Kutcher movie) can change events just in a 24-hour period, let alone a year. He also literally warned himself not to interfere the one time he deliberately went back in time before. And everyone else on the team warns him not to do it. So why, in the name of everything holy, does he decide this is the only way to get the answers he needs? What else has he tried, before he decides that going back in time, and asking the man who hates him more than anything else in the world for help, is the solution? Did he ask Gideon, his super-advanced computer from the future, for help? Did he seek out other scientific minds? Did he try getting some running lessons from a track coach? Not that we saw, on any of those.

#4: Getting to See Some Old Faces

Rick Cosnett as Eddie Thawne (The CW)
Rick Cosnett as Eddie Thawne (The CW)
I’ll be honest: I didn’t really ever like Eddie Thawne (Eick Cosnett). I didn’t really hate him, either. I was just sort of indifferent to him. But it was nice to see him again, bittersweet as it was. And Barry’s reaction to seeing him was great, too. He was choked up, thinking about Eddie’s sacrifice to save them all, and knowing that he could do nothing to stop him. Similarly, it was great to see Tom Cavanagh slip back into the role of last season’s dual personality of Harrison Wells and Eobard Thawne; both the fatherly, if prickly, Wells, and the cold-blooded Thawne under the surface. This season has been a study in contrasts between the two versions of Wells, and I think it shows a lot about Cavanagh’s range as an actor that he’s been able to differentiate the two so well.
Danielle Panabaker as Caitlyn Snow, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, and Andy Mientus as Hartley Rathaway / The Pied Piper (The CW)
Danielle Panabaker as Caitlyn Snow, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, and Andy Mientus as Hartley Rathaway / The Pied Piper (The CW)
And, I guess(?) it was cool to see Hartley Rathaway (Andy Mientus), the Pied Piper, again?

#3: The Time Wraith is a Stupid Idea

That’s right, I said it. A personification of the vengeful spirit of time itself, which attacks speedsters who dare to time travel? Gimme a break. It was a terrible idea when Doctor Who did it 11 years ago, too (the Reapers in the episode “Father’s Day”). Why is Barry just encountering them now, on his fourth trip back in time? Furthermore, Thawne spent fifteen years in our time without drawing them to him. It’s just lazy writing.

That said, the CGI work on the effect was well done, and the Time Wraith was terrifying-looking. Also, did you notice what was happening just before Hartley showed up and sonically blasted the thing to smithereens? It looked like Barry was turning into the wraith, and vice-versa. Will we see that explained and/or explored the next time we have a time travel episode?

#2: The Time Travel Paradox Gets Dumber

I already talked about this twice this season (in my reviews of “The Reverse Flash Returns” and, before that, “The Man Who Saved Central City”), but the paradox caused by Eddie shooting himself in the heart at the end of Season 1 keeps rearing its ugly head. If Eddie’s death erased Eobard Thawne from existence, then it should have erased him from all of time, thus preventing the need for Eddie to kill himself, thus allowing Eobard to be born, and so on, and so on. I bring this up because, at the moment Eddie dies, we see Eobard dissolve away. But why then, at that moment, and not, say, months before, when he was helping Barry figure out how to defeat the Pied Piper? It just continues to highlight the ridiculousness of that ending, and make a snarl of the show’s timeline.

#1: What Else Did Barry Change?

We’ve already now seen that, far from becoming a fugitive and continuing his criminal mischief, Hartley, due to Barry’s meddling with the timeline, is apparently on the good guys’ side (and knows The Flash‘s secret identity, to boot). What else did Barry change by accident, or did he manage to get really lucky this time?

And now, as promised, a couple thoughts on “World’s Finest”, the crossover episode of Supergirl that aired Monday night:

  • I like that, as I (along with many others) predicted in my review of “King Shark”, Supergirl‘s Earth and The Flash‘s Earth are not the same universe. It means that the two shows can co-exist on different networks, and maybe even in the future use different versions of one another’s villains (can’t you just imagine Livewire showing up in Central City?) without the continuity mess that would have resulted. At the same time, it leaves the door open for more crossover appearances between shows.
  • Clearly, “World’s Finest” aired out of sequence with where we are at on The Flash, since Barry arrives in National City wearing the tachyon booster that he just learned he needed when “Flash Back” aired the next night. I wonder if it was just a quirk of the shooting schedule for the two shows, or if they were originally supposed to air in the correct sequence, but the hiatus that The Flash took at the beginning of March messed up the calendar?
  • When Barry successfully opens the rift in Kara’s dimension, does he manage to return to Earth-1, or does he end up on Earth-2? I guess we’ll find out when The Flash catches up to that episode in the sequence! What’s not clear to me is if that happens as soon as next week’s episode, “Versus Zoom”, or if there’s another week before we are in sync.
Chad Patten

Chad Patten

Chad is an all-around geek's geek. He's a software engineer, a science fiction lover, a comics fan, an actor, and a writer. His particular interests are The Flash, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, and all things Marvel.
Chad Patten

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