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FLASH SPOILER Review: Episode 2×17 – “Flash Back”

The Flash
(2×17) –
“Flash Back”
Written by: Aaron and Todd
Directed by: Alice Troughton
So, here we
go.  Again. The team has discovered that
their friend was an enemy in disguise and Barry is taking it hard because “Fool
Team Flash once, shame on Thawne… Fool Team Flash twice, shame on Team Flash.”  He’s in the midst of a research montage as we
open trying to crack the science behind his powers. (And after he figures out
that science maybe he can finally tell us why repolarizing the main deflector dish
on the Enterprise seems to solve every problem.)  Meanwhile “Jay’s” helmet is giving off so
many vibes that Cisco doesn’t even have to touch it anymore.
Cue Caitlin
with the helpful theory of “Maybe you’re just not fast enough.”  (You sure you’re not a super-villain on this
Earth too, Caitlin?)  Then it’s time for
dinner at the West Home for a helping of lasagna and “It’s not your fault” and
I begin to realize that Team Flash is not actually all that good at comforting
Barry because they all seem to be playing into Barry’s “Everything I can’t
control is my fault” thing.
Cue Wally
and good news his class project is going really well. Hey also, it’s about
getting more speed out of things!  And
best of all, he did it by researching people who were good at making things go
fast… Because it’s not like he could just go back in time and talk to them.
you catching on?
So Barry’s
decided to travel back in time, talk to Thawne and try to learn a secret
to going faster.  Sure as far as time
travel plans go it’s risky, but manageable.  Like traveling into the future and posing as your teen-aged son long enough to tell the school bully you won’t join his gang. Simple
really.  Just as he’s convincing Cisco
and Caitlin Wells shows up and reminds Barry that this plan is absolutely
bonkers.  Not only the time travel part
but the going back and talking to Thawne part. 
After all,
he’s going to come off pretty suspicious to a guy who’s made it his life’s
mission to study Barry for the purpose of destroying him.  This is right up there with giving two pothead heavy metal freaks a time machine right before a big student presentation on the scale of bad time travel ideas. (Not knocking Bill and Ted, might be the
best time travel story out there, but that’s for another time.)  However, Wells’ (really sound) advice is
ignored and Barry, Caitlin and Cisco plot his trip. 
He’s going
to travel back to about the time Barry was dealing with Hartley Rathaway since
he was a major distraction to Thawne. 
Then Caitlin has given Barry a sedative to use on his past self that
will put him under for about six hours. 
Plenty of time to get Thawne to give Barry some helpful hints then return
to the present.  Then Cisco reminds him
that he cannot tell them about Thawne or anything else about their future
because it would corrupt the time line in any number of ways.
So Barry
heads off into the past because hey “What could go wrong?” And wouldn’t you
know it, things go wrong pretty much right off the bat.  Namely a big scary ghost monster, and Barry
arrives too early.  His past self and
Rathaway are fighting in front of his father’s building and because he’s right
there it screws up the coms and Barry’s past self notices him.  Barry and Barry fight it out but fortunately
Season 2 Barry is faster and wiser than Season 1 Barry so he knocks him out and
then captures Hartley.
With Hartley
in the Pipeline, Barry throws that whole “Don’t change the timeline” thing
right out the damn window and outs Hartley’s hearing aids.  Barry then goes to talk to Thawne about his
problem, Thawne offers to help him work out the equations and maybe this will
work out, right Lana? 
Over at the
Police station, Joe and Eddie (HEY, Eddie! Missed you buddy!) Are talking about
Iris and Eddie is just really happy. 
Like his life is complete and nothing could possibly go wrong,
especially nothing that would cause him to question everything in his life or
force him to commit suicide to prevent a horrible future.  No, sir! 
Everything is five-by-five. 
Meanwhile, in Barry’s lab some uniformed officer is dropping off
paperwork for Barry when our evil ghost monster shows up and he looks pretty
pissed off.
Back at STAR
Labs, Thawne notices the alarm but Barry is willing to blow it off.  Thawne sends Barry on his way and looking a
bit troubled.  Barry arrives but the
ghost is already leaving, on top of that seeing Eddie has Barry spooked.  He returns to STAR Labs and Thawne is really
suspicious, so suspicious he takes Barry into the other room and knocks him
Barry wakes
up in the time vault, hand cuffed to the wheel chair and Thawne is pissed and
looking for answers.  I mean sure, he’s
put together the com inference and Barry’s sudden knowledge of the speed
equation and the appearance of the ghost monster aka the Time Wraiths and he’s
pretty sure he knows what’s going on but he wants to hear it before tugs on
Barry’s heart strings as only he can. 
See the Time
Wraiths come after time travelers that don’t really know what they’re
doing.  So Barry drops the act and tells
him exactly why he’s there and wouldn’t you know it, this makes things even
worse because Thawne is smart enough to realize that Barry would only come back
in time to talk to him if Thawne’s plan to go home had failed and he was
dead.  So he decides to give Barry his
parting gift but Barry manages to lie under pressure saying that actually
Thawne succeeded and as a result they can’t find him. 
points out a remaining hole in Barry’s plan, why would he not kill future
Barry anyway?  To which Barry replies
that he’s basically given his past self all the knowledge he has on Thawne
including how to defeat him and if Thawne kills him Barry won’t be able take it
back to the future with him.
Down in the
Pipeline, Cisco has been Rick-rolling Hartley for God knows how long before he
comes down to ask him about the Gauntlets. 
Meanwhile, up in the hub Caitlin is up in the hub and visited by our
Time Wraith and all hell breaks loose ending with Cisco, Caitlin and Hartley
hiding in Hartley’s cell.  Fortunately,
Hartley has a plan basically it was the plan he was going to use to destroy
them but modified he’s able to use it to chase the wraith away with soundwaves.
At this
point, Cisco and Caitlin are suspicious so Thawne chases them down to Cisco’s
lab in the hopes of modifying Hartley’s gauntlets so he can explain that Time
Wraiths don’t like people screwing with time and Speedsters have to work very
hard to avoid them when they time travel because no one has figured out how to
stop them when they show up.  So, they
have a bigger problem than Barry’s speed equation.  They have to stop the wraith.
Barry goes
back to the CCPD and tries to find anything but has no luck, Eddie shows up and
it reminds Barry that Iris is having trouble dealing with her guilt over Eddie’s
death and it might cost her something with GQ Jonah Jameson.  So he asks Eddie to give Iris a message for
her upcoming birthday and to think of it “Like the last thing he ever says to Iris”
because that’s not at all ominous.
Back at STAR
Labs, Cisco is explaining to Thawne that Hartley basically blew up his
gauntlets to chase off the wraith when-
Hey wait a
minute! Whatever happened to Season 1 Barry? 
That’s a
good question and if you had been patient for about three more seconds he would
have shown up and we’d already be past this. 
So now everything is on the table for everyone, Barry tells them all he
can without pummeling the timeline with any more future knowledge and asks for
their help getting rid of that pesky time wraith.
Thawne has a
plan, which is a great plan if you’re Season 1 Team Flash, but pretty a mixed
bag if you’re Season 2 Barry.  The plan
is, give Barry his speed equation and then kick him out the door, so long and
don’t let the flying Blue Police Box hit you on the way out!  So Barry makes the best of it, he tells them
they’ve got a year to figure it out, clues Cisco in on Hartley’s knowing where
Ronnie is then he heads back into the pipeline. 
Unfortunately he doesn’t seem quite fast enough but with a little help
from his past self he breaks the time barrier.
He returns
moments after he left with the wraith hot on his tail but Cisco has himself
some Cisco-tech (not to be confused with U2’s Discotheque) that is sure to not
take care of the problem but thanks to all the patented Barry Allen-timeline
meddling Hartley is there to save the day. 
Good news, everyone!  He’s a good
guy now, and he’s even going to prove it by having dinner with his family.  The day is saved!
So, all that’s
left is to see if Thawne screwed them over or not.  Barry takes his futuristic thumb drive into
the Time Vault and after a moment of thinking Thawne has screwed him over, it turns out he gave him the equations needed
to get faster.
Barry checks
in on Wells, his search for Jesse isn’t going well but Barry’s there to keep
the man’s chin up.  She’s a named Flash
Character Dr. Wells, and she’s played by a pretty actress in the CW’s age-range! 
She’ll be back.
Back at the
West Home, Barry checks in on Iris and shows her the video message from Eddie
to help her realize that he wouldn’t want her suffering forever and to try and
find something with someone new.
So, time
travel! I have to give everyone credit where credit is earned.  It takes balls to tackle time travel because
quite frankly time travel stories can fall apart in a heartbeat going from Back
to the Future to Back to the Future 2 without you ever seeing what had gone
They handled
it pretty well, avoiding some pitfalls and turnings others into strengths; Hartley
joining Team Flash (maybe?) for example. 
Traveling back into a previous episode also allowed them some opportunity
to play with fan-service.  It was again a
mixed-bag.  Some stuff I really liked
like seeing Season 1 Team Flash in action again, or Cisco’s line about not
being psychic.  Some of it was a bit
heavy-handed like Eddie being over the top happy when we know very soon
everything would go down the crapper for him.
The best I
feel is the introduction of the Speed Equation. 
Now, as implied this equation allows people to not only understand the
Speed Force but if properly understood access
the Speed Force and become a speedster. 
In fact, this is how Jesse Quick gained her powers in the comics.  There’s a lot that could be done with this
equation, some very cool plotlines could result from this plot point as we go
down the line.
considering how special effects heavy this episode would have to be and how tight the budget is likely to be this close to the finale, I don’t
think it should come as a surprise that they suffered at points.  The Barry vs Barry fight for example didn’t
look too hot and the Speed Wraith looked a little too much like the Dementors
from Harry Potter but it was forgivable.  
See kids, it’s possible to enjoy things that aren’t perfect. 
It’s possible to love them… Think they’re great even. 
 It’s even possible to love things that other people don’t.
So why don’t we all get off each other’s back and stop expecting perfect things?
In the end,
this was an episode that played with the rules of the series and gave us
consequences even though we basically ended up where we were at the start of
the episode.  It was also an interesting
way to let us catch our breath before the Barry vs Zoom fight that’s
coming.  There will most likely be a lot
of stuff covered in the remaining episodes so this was a good point to kind of
reset and remind everyone what’s already been established as well as remind us
that unless something changes Zoom still outclasses Barry.

Three Things We
Learned This Week:
There are things interested in
preserving the flow of time in the DC-CW Universe.
Hartley Rathaway is now (at least) an ally to
Team Flash
Barry now has access to the Speed Equation.
Three Questions:
What else did Barry change?
What can Barry and team learn from the Speed
What if someone else got a hold of the
equation?  Say Jesse or Wally for

Just another guy on the internet.

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