Taking a detour just as the Zoom storyline is speeding toward the season finale was a very risky move, but The Flash is the rare show that can afford to take the occasional chance. The Runaway Dinosaur worked to tremendous fashion as it forced our hero to slow down and come to grips with his past in an unexpectedly emotional way before charging into his final encounter with Zoom.
Plus, The Speed Force!
The Kevin Smith directed episode largely felt for the most part like a standard Flash episode with only one bit venturing a bit too playful.
After failing (?) in his efforts to regain his powers using Particle Accelerator The Second Chapter, Barry found himself in a strange setting made up like all his familiar spots in Central City. There, Barry actually encountered the Speed Force. Basically it’s The Force for speedsters minus the Midichlorians.
Hoping to aid in his visit to the mythical speedster space, the Speed Force assumed the identities of Barry’s closest loved ones starting with Joe, Iris, Henry and in a genuinely touching moment, his mother, Nora.
While he hasn’t always been able to catch up to Reverse Flash and Zoom, Barry has continued to stay ahead of his grief over losing his mother. Cracking the case and learning the identity of the Man in the Yellow Suit became such an obsession that Barry hadn’t properly processed his loss. And with Henry imprisoned and joining the West family it made sense that Barry never slowed down long enough to deal with this emotionally crippling tragedy. Barry in essence was being forced to take a much needed time out.
Grant Gustin hasn’t exactly been a weak link in regards to the performances, but he’s been called on more and more this season to deliver these scene-making moments and he continually delivers. As he talks to the being he knows isn’t his mother, but relishes this opportunity to see her anyway, Gustin beautifully conveyed how Barry didn’t allow this tragedy to destroy him. Now he’s learned perhaps an even more valuable lesson — even The Flash can’t save everyone. That message seems especially ominous with a few more episodes to go and you have to think Team Flash won’t all survive intact to reinforce that lesson. The Flash has always been the superhero show that’s perfectly fine with its heart on its sleeve, but making those emotionally charged moments meaningful sets it apart from the rest of the pack.
Back in the (semi) regular world, Team Flash has to deal with the consequences of Wells’ failed experiment. They find Wally and Jesse laid out in the hallway and Cisco and Iris stumble onto a reanimated version of one of Flash’s earlier foes Girder. For all their time on the show, this seemed to be one of the few times Cisco and Iris had one on one time together and it was a fun pairing that hopefully will be explored further. Never one to disappoint, Cisco even managed an iZombie reference. So does that make Liv’s world Earth Prime?
While Wally was fine, Jesse was in a coma temporarily keeping Wells’ focus off of stopping Girder and getting Barry back from the Speed Force. I appreciated Joe at least considering the notion that Wally was now imbued with the Speed Force and had powers. It made sense seeing everything else Joe has encountered. Girder was mainly a nuisance villain and hardly one of the one-off Rogues worth bringing back especially given the show’s take on his character and powers.
With the help of Cisco, Iris is able to serve as the anchor to help bring a re-powered Barry back from the Speed Force. This was another nice nod to the post-Barry Allen Flash comics where Wally always used his wife, Linda, as his guide to return from The Speed Force. The writers have shown tremendous restraint in not rushing Barry and Iris into a relationship, but they’ve set it up nicely to really be meaningful when it does occur.
After taking out Grider, Barry gets some welcome news. Henry is sticking around. Henry skipping town immediately after getting released from prison always felt silly so this fixed a longtime issue. But now that puts him in Zoom’s crosshairs. Barry touched Jesse and woke her up, likely triggering her speed powers just in the nick of time. Zoom is rallying his forces at the police station ready to lay waste to the planet. Barry certainly is going to need some help, but could one ally be from a familiar face?