If last week’s THE FLASH was Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral, then this week’s episode is the same band’s (or should I just say Trent Reznor) song “Even Deeper”*. “Into the Speed Force” is exactly just as the title suggests. Now, it seems, more than ever the show will explore if Barry (Grant Gustin) is truly a hero or a villain. Flashpoint is such a crucial event that it now seems that this will be Barry’s undoing.
Picking up from last week, Barry resolves that he will venture into the Speed Force to save Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) where he not only encounters Time Wraiths, but the Speed Force’s manifestations of the ghosts of Barry’s past, three people who gave their lives in order to make sure others, specifically Barry, could go on being a hero, only to have Barry disrespect their legacy with his actions. Meanwhile, Jesse Chamber Wells aka Jesse Quick (Violett Beane) wants payback for Wally by unwisely seeking out Savitar.
The writers seem intent on exploring if Barry is truly the villain of the show. With the Speed Force’s first manifestation of Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) we’ve come to be reminded of his sacrifice in order for his descendant, Eobard, aka Reverse-Flash which he effectively undone with Flashpoint making Eddie’s sacrifice in vain. This includes Eddie’s personal life as Iris (Candace Patton) was to be his wife. The Speed Force reminds Barry that he lied about coming to terms with his mother’s death by creating Flashpoint and allowing him to do that as Zoom had just killed Barry’s father, but choices have consequence and putting it nicely Barry’s choices have been poor. I can say that I loved that the Eddie manifestation points out just how bad Wally and Barry’s choices have been and that the time for them to pay the price is long overdue. I don’t know how many times (Jesse included) the speedsters of Earth-1 have leapt before they looked and put everyone in danger.
The second Speed Force manifestation is Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), the original Firestorm, with a nearby Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) cradling their baby in another what could’ve been vision. Speed Ronnie reminds him of his sacrifice as well reminding him that Ronnie and Eddie sacrificed themselves for him, not the greater good. Barry pleads with Speed Ronnie to let him take his place as Wally was tricked by Savitar. Speed Ronnie says that comes with a price and that price is Barry fighting Black Flash aka Hunter Zoloman (on Legends of Tomorrow, Eobard says that Zoloman is now an agent of the Speed Force acting like a wraith). As Black Flash gets the upper hand, Barry is pinned down. Just as the wraiths drained Zoom, Barry is starting to be drained as well. Speed Ronnie tells Barry he speaks of sacrifice and yet he lets others bear the burden that should be on his shoulders. Barry comes to the realization that he should’ve been the one to save Iris and not Wally. Speed Ronnie tells Barry if he is to free Wally first he must free himself. Taking the emblem off of his chest, Barry destroys Black Flash by shoving that (and the electronic tether that was made underneath it) onto Black Flash, destroying him.
As Barry wakes up to where Wally is imprisoned, the third manifestation comes in the form of Leonard Snart aka Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller). Speed Snart tells Barry that Wally is trapped in an endless loop reliving his mother’s death over and over in an endless loop just as Savitar will in the future once Barry traps him in the Speed Force. Barry desperately wants to take Wally’s place as he’s not fast enough to save Iris. This pisses off Speed Snart as he’s not learning his lesson of taking the burden of Iris’ death. Speed Snart tells Barry that Snart was inspired by Barry to be a hero and sacrifice himself to save Team Legends. Speed Snart is pissed Barry is giving up and resolves to freeze him in the Speed Force until Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) comes to the rescue after being contacted by Cisco (Carlos Valdes). After getting Wally, Jay takes Wally’s place in the Speed Force prison. Another person has to pay the price. Again.
After Jesse stupidly going after Savitar and their very brief encounter, H.R. (Tom Cavanagh) figured out that the so-called “god of Speed” is really a man under all of that armor that has weak spots. Jesse is freaked out when Savitar said he had plans for her, not to mention Earth-3 needs a Flash to protect it since Jay is trapped in the Speed Force. Now even Wally has lost his girlfriend because of something tied to Barry’s actions. And speaking of losing significant others, Barry has come to terms with what he has done in not only Flashpoint, but with his relationship with Iris and tells her that they need to take a break in order for their relationship to survive.
The lyrics to the aforementioned song “Even Deeper” fit like a glove by this episode’s end. I still question if Barry fully understands the responsibility of how he must save Iris (or if he can) and stop Savitar. I’d imagine something else will come into play that will create more moral questions to whether our protagonist is really a hero or not, as going back to even the first season, Barry has made some poor, selfish choices. And with Wally sidelined as what’s happened to him will stick with him for a while, now more than ever the rest of the team needs to step up to the plate. I have to give to the writers again this week with some really strong writing, as well as Speed Snart’s golden age joke to Jay.
Who is Savitar? Will Wally and Jesse get their happy ending? Will Iris and Barry get theirs as well? Is Jay trapped in the Speed Force forever? Has Barry truly learned anything this episode? Stay tuned true believers.
*Fun fact: Dr. Dre assisted in mixing and production of “Even Deeper”.
Season 3, Episode 16 (S03E16)
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8PM on The CW
A lifelong film enthusiast since he can remember, Brandon is an indie filmmaker/screenwriter and freelance critic who resides in Trenton, NJ. Feel free to hit him up on Twitter to talk movies, shows, and music (especially hip-hop).
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Brandon Norwood | Contributor