The Flash: Fast Enough
May 20, 2015 12:37 AM - Season 1, Episode 23 - Subscribe

Barry is given the chance to get everything he wanted, but the offer comes from Wells. Does he take it?

Following the apprehension of Wells last week by Barry, Firestorm and the Arrow, Barry is given a chance to ask Wells everything. Wells says he and The Flash were locked in very long epic battle and that once he figured out his secret identity, he decided to go back in time and kill Barry as a child, but older Barry came and stopped him by snatching his young self away. To try to prevent Barry from becoming The Flash, he decided to rip his heart out figuratively by killing his mother...but when he found that he no longer had access to the Speed Force, he needed to make Barry The Flash.

Wells offers Barry a chance to undo what was done that night. He can go into the accelerator and go back in time and save his mother and make sure his father never goes to prison in exchange for sending Wells back to the future.

Barry basically goes to everyone and asks what he should do, falling on the side initially of "But I can save my mom..."

-Joe is all for it, at least vocally.
-Henry is against it, saying things happen for a reason and that he is proud of the hero his son became beyond The Flash and that if his mother thought he'd be giving that up in a chance to save her, she'd tell him absolutely not.
-Iris tells Barry that for once, he should be his own hero and save the day for himself.

Barry decides to go back in time to save his mother. Cisco works with Wells in an emotional scene where, for the very first time, Wells is surprised by something. Cisco can remember what happened in alternate timelines. He, too, was affected by the accident with the particle accelerator and is a metahuman. Wells tells him that this is a good thing and that he has an honorable future ahead of him...and to remember who gave him that gift.

Dr. Stein figures that when Barry goes through the time wormhole he creates, he will have 1m52s to save his mother and get back before they create a singularity which could destroy the entire world. Eddie tells Stein privately that he doesn't feel like he belongs there because Wells told him he was unremarkable. Stein says that he thinks Eddie is really remarkable because he's a unknown in a sea of knowns and that makes him very important. Boosted, he goes back to Iris and they make up.

Out of nowhere, Caitlyn and Ronnie get married to Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" by Rabbi (!) Dr. Stein.

Team Flash says goodbye to Barry before he makes his attempt. "Goodbye, son," says Joe. "Goodbye, dad," replies Barry. *tears*

Barry makes the speed of Mach 2 after a pep talk from Wells. When he enters the Speed Force, Barry can see parts of the timestream, including Caitlyn as (presumably) Killer Frost from the future, him being brought home by Joe after his mother dies, The Flash Museum, a clip from the spin-off "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" with Captain Cold and Heatwave with the White Canary and a giant robot Monty Python foot. Wells tells him to focus on where he wants to go....

And he's there. But when he opens the door, other Flash indicates to him that he can't interfere. So while other-Barry saves younger Barry as before, our Barry listens to Wells killing speaks to his mortally wounded mother. He tells her he's The Flash initially. She doesn't know who that is. He pulls off his mask and she says he looks just like her father. He tells her that it won't make any sense, but he's Barry.

"I got a second chance to come back here to tell you that I'm okay. Dad and I are both okay. And we love you, Mom. I love you."

Nora dies.

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Wells is put in a capsule patterned after one created by Rip Hunter himself (coming 2016). While this happens, Jay Garrick's helmet (the Golden Age Flash) materializes and Wells says that's his cue to leave. But Barry comes barreling out of the wormhole and destroys the capsule enraging Wells. The two speedsters battle it out until Wells is about to kill Barry, promising that after he does, he will kill everyone Barry loves, too. We hear a gunshot...and Eddie falls to the ground. As he dies, Eobard Thawne, his descendant, is erased from existence. Eddie is a hero.

But the wormhole becomes unstable and a singularity opens up over the city. Shown looking at it are Captains Cold and Singh...and newcomer Kendra Saunders, Hawkgirl to you and me (again, coming in 2016 to the CW in "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" ask for it by name!). Barry decides to take on the singularity like he did the tornado in the pilot...only upside down. He runs up into the singularity and....season over.

Random Thoughts:

Shouldn't Eddie's death meant that everything was undone, including Nora's murder by Eobard?

Greg Berlanti revealed in a deleted scene that Eobard absorbed Wells' emotions when he took his brain and looks. That he mourned Wells' wife's death as his own.

I'm thinking that Ronnie stays in Central City and that Stein needs to find another Firestorm companion for the spinoff (...yes, I know)

Eobard Thawne was born 136 years from now. Does he not age as fast because of his powers?

Earth-Two, amirite?
posted by inturnaround (64 comments total)
That was....really, really bad. Like, I'm still processing how much of a letdown it was. A half-hour of navelgazing, then Barry's whole driving motivation gets undone because alternate future him makes a vague "stop" motion? When he came out of the wormhole punching I figured he must have connected the dots on whatever Real Dastardly Plan it was that Wells was trying to further, but nope, just punching for the sake of punching. Followed by a scene that would have had much more weight were it not lifted straight from [inherently spoilery movie title]. And then an out-of-nowhere cliffhanger to set up the next big thing, so the climax can't even get a little space to breathe. I could have sworn Jeph Loeb was working for Marvel now.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:58 AM on May 20, 2015

What the even fuck was any of that?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:55 AM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

That was truly awful writing.

Shouldn't Eddie's death meant that everything was undone, including Nora's murder by Eobard?

YES. The entire timeline should have been erased, going back to the point where Thawne never appeared in Barry's childhood to kill Nora.

Why would he not save his mother? Why would his alternate timeline self tell him not to save his mother? None of it makes any sense.

And how the fuck are you supposed to close a black hole by running? You can't solve everthing with running, Barry!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:59 AM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Rule 1 of the Flash: Running in circles always works.

(I seriously don't mind the plot holes at all. Comic book superheroes, especially DC speedsters, wouldn't exist without plot holes. I mind that the quality of storytelling fell off a damn cliff.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:04 AM on May 20, 2015

A half-hour of navelgazing, then Barry's whole driving motivation gets undone because alternate future him makes a vague "stop" motion?

Was it only half an hour? It felt way longer. It felt like an entire episode of navelgazing and then the action got shoved into the trailer for the next episode. Of course, that's basically what the last few minutes were, a trailer for next season, which quick clips of things for eagle eyed fans to post online for those didn't catch them (the shot of Killer Frost, Jay Garrick's helmet).

As Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish says, I don't mind plot holes or nonsense science; it's inherent in the genre. I mind that the stuff that we've ostensibly been building to for months was boring. The actual resolution (such as it was) was fine with me, even if I would have rather they kept Eddie around because I liked Eddie, but the preceding 45 minutes? Might as well not have happened.

I do think the coming out punching makes sense, since Barry had just relived his mother's death.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:24 AM on May 20, 2015

It does make sense, I just had the brief hope it would also redeem the preceding nonsense.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:54 AM on May 20, 2015

They made a big deal about him having one minute and fifty-two seconds but I timed from when he got into the house in the past until he left and it was WAY longer than two minutes.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:07 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, did the wardrobe department run out of clothes for Jesse L. Martin and just ask him to wear whatever he had left over from rehearsals for Rent?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:08 AM on May 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

The Eddie resets the entire time line plot hole is ridiculous. You could drive a train straight through it. Wells dies, timeline resets. Nora doesn't die. Barry either doesn't become the Flash or it happens a different way.

I'm guessing Barry's going to have an up close and personal interaction with the speed force in the accretion disk for the singularity and change time again, reversing Eddie's death, etc.
posted by zarq at 7:14 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm assuming the whole wormhole thing is because of Eddie resetting the timeline by preventing Eobard from ever being born. Of course, he could have achieved the same effect by scheduling a vasectomy, but that's somehow less heroic than needlessly suiciding. That his body was clearly sucked away means that he'll be back - I expect Rip Hunter to drop him out of a Time Bubble on his way to the spin-off.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:57 AM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh and did everyone seem dumber than usual this episode? Caitlin not knowing what a singularity was? I get that she's a biologist, but she should know what they meant. Similarly, was it Cisco who said something like "so we're living in a parallel universe?" It felt like more explain it for the viewer questions being put in the mouths of characters who should know better than usual.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:07 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I know Reverse Flash winked out of existence, but I didn't get the feeling Eddie was really dead, and instead he was only mostly dead. And being sucked into the wormhole can do remarkable things for the mostly dead.

As to whether or not the time line was reset, the answer is we really don't know because of the cliffhanger. We'll have to wait and see what the fallout will be when the show comes back in the fall. The series' reality may be different than what we expect and what it was.

I know it's Jay's helmet, but part of me really wants to see John Wesley Shipp suit up again, and I'd be quite all right if they make him the Earth 2 version of the speedster.
posted by sardonyx at 9:27 AM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

That would be wonderful.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:52 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Jay Garrick helmet made me squee pretty hard.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:58 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hated this episode.
I would like to quote Malcolm Merlyn: "None of you are particularly good actors." They tried to make the struggle to decide emotional but none of the actors or writers were able to make it believable.

This episode takes place several hours after Captain Colds' betray, no one thought to bring it up

"Barry, this is what happens when you trust the bad guys.. it literally just backfired on you, why are you so willing to go along with a plan that sets your mothers' killer free and unleashes a supervillain into an unprotected future? Is it drugs? Did he drug you?! Quick, someone get him strapped onto a table so he doesn't do anything that could potentially destroy the city! Why else would Barry act so selfish and unreasonable?"

Notable quote: "What is a singularity?" -Caitlin Snow
posted by FallowKing at 11:16 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Caitlin saying "Singularity? We're all going to become a machine intelligence?" would have been less dopey. Would have been an opportunity for Stein to snark about why the youts have to keep ruining perfectly good physics with pop-culture ideas.

I honestly didn't hate it. I'm comfortable with Barry taking the cue from his older self. Barry++ knows he's there and gives him a nuh-uh. It's not really out of character for our wishy-washy Barry to defer to authority, and believing that Barry++ has done this and remembers it or has some other better source of intel than lying liarpants Thawne doesn't seem like a big jump.

Eddie's suicide working and not undoing everything? Meh. It's tv time travel. I'll accept the idea that this action in Time X doesn't change things pre-fucked-with in Time X-a but alters everything in Time X+a. I liked it for Eddie's arc of being told "why would you believe that chump?" and taking on personal ownership of how his life goes. It wasn't a choice made with forethought that could have been done better and if he did nothing everyone he loves is murdered - probably while he watches.

My only issue with it is why they actually release Thawne. Once they get things in motion - which you have to buy that he's not shining them on - why do they need to do anything for him anymore? Leave him in the cell. Build his contraption so he thinks you're going along with it and then double-cross him.

And while I didn't hate it, I do think there were plenty more interesting angles to go in. Thawne not actually being the person who kills Nora (or perhaps her injury isn't necessarily life threatening but something else bad happens) or Thawne WANTING Barry to stop the killing for Reasons. Hell, it could have been done such that Thawne actually needs Barry to stop the killing and it's his not having done so that makes him disintegrate or whatever.
posted by phearlez at 11:22 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Build his contraption so he thinks you're going along with it and then double-cross him.

I was half expecting Cisco to 'forget' to consult Thawne about the heat problem on the Time Bubble. "Er, yeah, guys, I fixed it!" *glues some tinfoil and M80s to the Bubble* "We're good to go!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:06 PM on May 20, 2015

What bugged me -- unless I'm missing something -- is that even in its own very narrow-field view the plan didn't make sense. It's like the show was saying that things would change but that they wouldn't change. I'd be (somewhat) okay if Barry saving his mother meant that he'd stay back in that time, or that he'd return to a time where she didn't die, or that he somehow just became his child self in that time -- but they made a big deal about him returning and so what would he be returning to and why would the particulars of the singularity and everything else be the same? And, really, I wrote that "somehow" because this whole idea that this was about Barry and his mom and this was his decision is pretty crazy if what he's really doing is changing the entire damn world -- I think the other six billion people have a say, too. But if there were parallel timelines and so those people would be left behind in their timeline and it really didn't affect them, then Barry wouldn't be returning to them, would he? Or, if he would, then his mother wouldn't be alive in that timeline, either.

And we haven't even gotten to the Eddie dies and that erases Thawne but doesn't change anything else stuff.

This sort of writing about time-travel drives me crazy because even if you just avoid the paradoxes and stuff that come out when you really think about it, it's still not making any sense on the limited terms it's set out for itself. But the earlier example of time travel did pretty much make sense on its own terms, as long as we avoid thinking about it too much. But this example requires that we not even follow the explicit argument they're making about their plan.


I agree with both arguments about Barry not saving his mother. I think phearlez's argument is pretty strong -- Barry has reason to think that his future self knows things he doesn't. But I still had a problem with this just because we have to fanwank this whole thought process for him to explain his decision. They should have given us more, to help the audience understand the decision better.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:31 PM on May 20, 2015

You can easily fanwank the other way, too -- Barry and the audience have both had it drilled into them that Thawne wasn't there to kill Nora, he was there to kill Kid Barry. What if the "stop" meant "I've got this, Parallel Me, I'm about to save 8-year-old Us and then everything will be fine, so no need to risk borking the timeline worse than this jackass already has by having two Flashes run around together" and he had no idea of what was going to happen after he left the room?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:35 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have no idea what you guys were looking for, but I thought this was great. The AV Club A review (with an audience barometer set at A-) seems a lot more on point to me than anything anyone's said here. I kinda knew the hate would be strong, though, based strictly on the fact that I loved it and then thought, "Wait a minute...if I love it, then..."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:48 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I knew it!
posted by homunculus at 4:52 PM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Whichever writer decided to have Caitlin ask "What's a singularity?" deserves a swift punch to the dick.
posted by homunculus at 4:55 PM on May 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

"I've learned a lot about merging one's life with another this past year..."

CREEPY, Mr. Sydney's Ex-Dad Whose Name I can't Remember! INAPPROPRIATE! WHY WOULD YOU!

Also, when Future-Barry waved Present-Barry off from saving his mom and changing everything for everybody, probably for the worse, just because Joe told him to... he cemented himself as Smart-Barry henceforth in this household, superior to all other Barrys.

I thought at first that Eddie shooting himself was a clever way to get Wells' actor back, only as the real Wells - because he never would have been killed. But it doesn't look like that's the case, so now I wonder how they'll do it. (I really want them to do it.)

Rarely in my life have I had to pause a TV show to discuss the implications of shouting "I've decided to get a vasectomy!" on one's future evil mad scientist children. Way to go, Flash!
posted by kythuen at 5:56 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

And another thing. Given that Thwells has repeatedly demonstrated that he's faster than Barry, EVEN WHEN BARRY HAS JUST LEARNED HE CAN EXCEED MACH 2, why didn't he just do the time run himself?

If he needs his magic wheelchair to top up his speed force whatever, why isn't he slower than Barry after being confined and isolated from the chair for days.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:14 PM on May 20, 2015

I think phearlez's argument is pretty strong -- Barry has reason to think that his future self knows things he doesn't.

No, he doesn't, because his future self is from a totally different timeline, the original one in which Barry's mother wasn't killed. Younger Barry is from the new timeline that results from Thwells killing his mother and then doing all sorts of crap, including building and destroying the particle accelerator a decade early. Older Barry doesn't know shit about Younger Barry's life after than night.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:17 PM on May 20, 2015

Well, but we see that the speed force and traveling through time tells you a lot about the past and future. That version of Barry has done a lot more of this kind of thing, as well as certainly having a better understanding of the implications of time travel. The only authority available to this Barry is Thawne, who absolutely oughtn't be trusted.

"Rarely in my life have I had to pause a TV show to discuss the implications of shouting 'I've decided to get a vasectomy!' on one's future evil mad scientist children. Way to go, Flash!"

Eddie's problem is that he was, um, time-constrained. He needed to eliminate future Thawne right away, not in three weeks after he's made an appointment with his urologist.

But he could have cut off or shot off his nuts. That would ... be ... bad. But surely it's better than death.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:10 PM on May 20, 2015

But he could have cut off or shot off his nuts. That would ... be ... bad. But surely it's better than death.

Agreed, but it's the rare CW television writer that's going to go the self-castration route for Thawne in this scenario.

Attempting to reason out the effects and non-effects of time travel in a comic-based TV show is tilting at windmills, I think. It will be interesting to see what elements of causality they retain when the show returns. I'm expecting that they'll use an encounter with the speed force plus Cisco's hinted-at temporal meta-human powers to perform a partial reboot and introduce a new season-long story arc. I'm crossing my fingers for "Barry goes back in time and kills Hitler" but somehow I don't think it will happen.
posted by axiom at 7:32 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, that was a little disappointing, but not a disaster. The time tornado at the end made no sense and gave the surviving characters (particularly Iris) no space at all to even react to Eddie's death. But Wells is (was?) still great, and that was a lot of Wells.

Even if given 3 weeks head start, I think Eddie would probably prefer oblivion to literally and/or figuratively emasculating himself. He's a good guy, but he's a good guy in a particular mold. Punches romantic rivals in the face without warning, finds worth through sacrifice, asks girlfriend's dad for his blessing before discussing with her, thinks he's literally worthless if not The Hero. That's Eddie. I would probably prefer the balls-ectomy, but I am not Eddie.
posted by OnSecondThought at 10:29 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, and Eddie's "I'm The Hero!" thing will come back to bite everyone in the ass when he re-emerges as the new Reverse Flash next season. "You took everything from me! This is my story now, not yours!"

I suspect SmartBarry (or Barry avec Moms) had dealt with MomlessBarry at some point in his own past, so he knew how that whole scene would play out.

The Mach 2 thing was weird - I wonder if Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird pilots had problems with going through time whenever they felt a need for speed?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:46 AM on May 21, 2015

So, are we something like three timelines in, and the CW Flash timeline is the result of Flashpoint Barry going back and undoing pre-Flashpoint Barry's work that created the Flashpoint timeline?

My headcanon explaining the toilet swirly in the sky is that it's the result of Barry's fucking up by staying in the past too long. Like Mrs Pterodactyl, I timed Barry's visit to the past. It can't be exact due to a bit of super speed happening, but most of the scene was in real time and Barry spent at least 2 minutes and 49 seconds in the past, almost a minute past his deadline. Classic Barry Allen being late like that. So, that's what caused the swirly.

Speaking of trying to rectify things, I also wondered WTF Wells was thinking in the previous episode when he got in the fight with Barry, Ollie and Firestorm. In this ep, he clearly wanted to just have a chance to pitch his hare brained evil scheme to Barry. So, why was he fighting at the of ep 22? Went back and watched and I'm pretty sure he threw the fight.

And yes, the Mach 2 thing made me yell in frustration almost as loud as making Caitlin look like a doofus by asking what a singularity was. I guess someone crossed out the speed of light in a draft for some reason. At least that, with its relativistic limits and consequences makes a certain handwavy kind of sense. Much more than Mach 2 does, especially considering that particle accelerators tend to speed things up to a very near fraction of C.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:24 AM on May 21, 2015

I was a little let down by the finale, if only because everyone (apparently not here) was praising it as the best season finale for a comic book show. I still think Daredevil's finale was better, for what it's worth.

I definitely had the sensation that this episode should have been paired with the previous episode where they caught wells, a two hour season finale. In part, this episode didn't quite feel like a full episode, but rather that it was starting in the middle of another. I also thought the drinking game for this episode was take a sip whenever we have a shot with Barry and teary eyes.

Count me in as another brainpained by Eddie killing himself, therefore, wiping Reverse Flash out of existence, and thus, achieving even more of a timeline rewrite than Barry simply saving his mother. My guess is that it's that action which caused the black hole to appear and begin gobbling up that reality/timeline. Count me as clueless as to why Eddie couldn't have simply shot Dr. Evil when he was preoccupied with punching Barry's face backward into his skull.

I didn't mind Barry following Future Flash's direction not to save his mom. Future Flash from the Future knows stuff, shouldn't he?

One thing you can say, Evil Wells came across as a perfect psychopath with Cisco. "I love you, oh, I killed you? Must been a good reason for that...I gave you special powers out of love...entirely by accident...but it was out of love..." Doh.
posted by Atreides at 6:40 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think you really have to think, unless you are watching PRIMER, that in pop fiction time travel's rules are "what the writers say." Unless they really trip and contradict themselves you have to roll with it.

Which should not be read as my saying I don't fucking hate time travel stories 99% of the time. Mostly here I'm just glad they didn't Star Trek a bunch of stuff right out of existence and make me think I can never trust any development in the moment ever again.

because this whole idea that this was about Barry and his mom and this was his decision is pretty crazy if what he's really doing is changing the entire damn world -- I think the other six billion people have a say, too.

I think that's the least valid complaint about Barry choosing this. He's not playing with nature, he's trying to stop some other time traveller from altering what would happen if there were no time travelers fucking about and committing murder.

That aside, if keeping my loved ones from being killed has a negative impact on the rest of the universe then he rest of the universe can go hang.
posted by phearlez at 7:56 AM on May 21, 2015

Eddie's problem is that he was, um, time-constrained. He needed to eliminate future Thawne right away, not in three weeks after he's made an appointment with his urologist.
This is why the Bill & Ted theory of time travel is superior. Just declare you intention to do something and then that cements the timeline! Excellent!
I think you really have to think, unless you are watching PRIMER, that in pop fiction time travel's rules are "what the writers say." Unless they really trip and contradict themselves you have to roll with it.
They have contradicted themselves though. The Eobard/Future Barry trip, current Barry's trip earlier in the season, and the trip in the finale all seem to be operating under different theories of time travel. Barring some very clever resolution to the cliffhanger, it's not clear that they have a coherent idea of how time travel is supposed to function in the show.
posted by cnelson at 9:06 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

it's not clear that they have a coherent idea of how time travel is supposed to function in the show.

I think this bodes very poorly for "Legends of Tomorrow" given that the entire series hinges on time travel.
posted by briank at 10:04 AM on May 21, 2015

To be fair, it's not like they had a coherent idea of how speed functions in this show either.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:46 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm really hoping the writing and production staff sits down over the summer and says, "we need to figure out how time travel works for this show." They need to put some rules in place so that if they decide A has to happen, B and C always occur. That's the only way to keep this thing on the rails and keep the audience content (if not happy). So far it feels as if they've been flying by the seats of their collective pants, and while I was willing to cut them some slack in this first season, that tendency will quickly evaporate if there isn't an internal pattern of logic applied in season two.
posted by sardonyx at 10:54 AM on May 21, 2015

Count me as clueless as to why Eddie couldn't have simply shot Dr. Evil when he was preoccupied with punching Barry's face backward into his skull.

Risky. To a speedster, bullets move at a glacial pace. If it catches his eye, all he would need to do is swing Barry's body into harm's way. Bullets do however, move much more quickly than the speed of sound. So there's a possibility that without an audible warning, Wells wouldn't notice before one arrived.

Also, it's possible that the Wells and Allen were moving so quickly that Thawne didn't want to risk hitting the wrong target accidentally if Allen moved.
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on May 21, 2015

Yep, somewhere in the Barry needs to be running at mach 2 and get hit by a subatomic particle moving at the speed of light in order to open a wormhole, but he'll die if he's hit by the particle while running slightly less than mach 2 bit, my friends and I had to pause the TiVo to just stop and shake our heads.

Then we noticed we had a really appropriate freeze frame: Joe's moment of terrible clarity...
posted by Naberius at 9:28 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

At first, I had this on in the background while I was doing some drawing, and really enjoying it. I was thinking about how cool and layered Eobard Thawn tuned out to be. I liked that it felt climactic without being a slugfest. It even seemed like they might go all the way and retool the show for at least a little while with Cisco as the only one who remembers the "other" timeline.

Then I sat down to watch the ending more intently, and it dawned on me: this is a time travel story. I HATE time travel stories. Or particularly stories about the nature and mechanics of time travel. Unless you make very narrow and explicit rules, I just can't deal with them.

But since I was enjoying the show so much, I pulled hard on the emergency suspension-of-disbelief lever and tried to ride it out.

Everything falls apart once he decides not to save his mom. It doesn't make any sense for the character. It was the less interesting choice in terms of plot, because, again, how cool would it have been to have next season start out with a completely different timeline? And it took us off the narrow and explicit rules that had been laid out about time travel, allowing for all the crappiness with Eddie that followed.

If Oliver Queen can hit a running Reverse Flash with a freaking arrow, I think Eddie could have hit one who wasn't really moving with a gun. Also, even if it didn't work, it would have been enough distraction to help Barry. I'm willing to chalk this one up to Eddie not being very bright.

Also: they knew they were going to have to shut down the wormhole quickly. Why weren't they ready for it?

They are going to have to work very hard to come up with as cool an antagonist for season 2 as Thawn/Wells.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 5:32 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well the actor, Tom Cavanagh, apparently is still a series regular next season. So who knows. Maybe Reverse Flash will find some way to still exist. Maybe he's the original, no longer murdered Harrison Wells, who knows?

But it will have to be something that doesn't make any sense because nothing on this show is going to make any sense from here on out.
posted by Naberius at 7:16 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I still don't understand why he decided not to save his mom. I'm guessing it has to do with something in the comic books where he went back and changed something and it worked out badly. But other than that, and the stupid Eddie suicide, I really liked it. I know, that's two big points against, but overall it felt right while I was watching it. When it fell apart for me was afterwards.

I think this bodes very poorly for "Legends of Tomorrow" given that the entire series hinges on time travel.

As a long-time watcher of Doctor Who, I'm here to tell you: they're just going to ignore a lot of the "rules" because that's all you can do. Fortunately Rip "Rory" Hunter is an expert at that already.
posted by immlass at 10:25 AM on May 22, 2015

Well, did some reading up, and apparently there's a famous Flash "event" storyline where the whole DC universe gets rebooted because Barry goes back and saves his mom and the resulting timeline is deeply, deeply fucked up. Like Europe isn't there anymore fucked up. There is no Flash. Batman is actually Bruce's dad Thomas Wayne, Superman has spent his entire life in a containment cell, like some Kryptonian Kaspar Hauser, and has never seen a human being. It's a mess. Thawne reveals all this, and then Barry manages to go back again and apparently "merge" with his earlier self, lets his mother die, but does get to bid her the tearful goodbye we saw in the episode and everything goes back to normal except all of DC's various imprints like Vertigo and so on get merged into one continuity in the process, which I guess was the point of the whole thing from the get go.

So I'd guess they were kind of riffing on that without having to go totally over the top. Future Barry apparently understands (perhaps by having already tried it) that saving his mother just makes things much, much worse. But why would our Barry just be waved off like that without understanding what's at stake?

And we did see a bunch of alternate future possibilities, so they're signaling that there are all kind of alternate timelines out there - and of course the Golden Age Flash Helmet is a pretty strong clue that they're going to bring in Jay Garrick next season. That makes sense. He'd become a new mentor to Barry, replacing Wells. Kind of a big brother compared to the whole father figure thing Barry's had going on for so long.

Beyond that, who can say? Just don't think too much about it.

Forget it Jake, it's Speed Force...
posted by Naberius at 11:50 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

But why would our Barry just be waved off like that without understanding what's at stake?

Because the script demanded it.

They could have made the whole thing much stronger with just a few words from Future Flash -- something to establish that he does in fact know what he's gesturing about. Even if it was just a quick "Thawne lied."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:07 PM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

As I said, I loved this episode, but the part that really, TRULY makes no sense to me is that everybody just goes along with Barry's plan to change history, and helps him do it. Their own lives are going to change into God knows what shape so that Barry can save one person. I guess that's noble or whatever, but it's strange to me that not one character said, "Hey, I think my life is pretty okay and I would prefer we didn't irrevocably destroy it somehow."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:13 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is probably down around #73 on the list of problems with this episode, but I cringed at Stein's proclamation that the singularity "has an energy level of 6.7 teraelectron-volts!!!"

Electron volts are a unit of energy, usually used to measure the energy of subatomic particles. (Or their mass; remember Einstein, mass and energy are interchangeable so units of energy are also units of mass.)

6.7 TeV — i.e., 6.7 trillion electron-volts — would be a huge amount of energy for a subatomic particle.

On a macroscopic scale, 6.7 TeV is unnoticable. By comparison, an ordinary 60-watt incandescent light bulb uses about 370000000 TeV every second.

Also, particle accelerators are under a hard vacuum when they're in operation. If your experiment involves sending a proton around at 99% of the speed of light, you can't risk screwing it up by having it run into a stray nitrogen molecule.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:19 PM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

Dr. Stein, in his conversation with Eddie, sounds like a cut-rate Walter Bishop.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:35 AM on May 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Conceal evidence, lie to and manipulate loved ones, run a secret black site where people go slowly mad in solitary confinement, and decide that a secret identity everyone seems to discover within two minutes of meeting you is so important that you'll let a murderer run free: all part of learning the ropes as a novice superhero, and a good reason for your foster father to pat you on the back and give you an inspirational speech about how good you are.

Stopping a time-traveling psychopath from damaging history by murdering an innocent woman, killing countless people in an explosion, and personally causing the deaths of loads of people: the universe itself, appalled at your hubris, will implode in exactly the way it didn't when the aforementioned psychopath went around retroactively murdering people.

But then, this is what they've inherited from Geoff Johns, the writer for whom no hero is complete without a dead parent and a complete inability to accomplish anything of significance. I wonder if he'll ever realize that he basically defined the comics, and now the show, as a universe where a villain screwing with time is something the cosmos quickly routes around but a hero trying to stop that villain is the end of all time and space because dammit that disposable woman just has to provide some dude with traumatic motivation and "depth."
posted by kewb at 3:57 AM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

As I said, I loved this episode, but the part that really, TRULY makes no sense to me is that everybody just goes along with Barry's plan to change history, and helps him do it.

Thawne changed history. Barry would be stopping Thawne from changing history.
posted by kewb at 3:58 AM on May 24, 2015

I loved this ep, despite all its logical flaws. There's something about how the plot barrels along combined with the admittedly-cheesy yet loveable acting and the continually-improving CG that delights me.

Regarding the flaws: while The Flash hasn't yet descended to the utter depths of Doctor Who's wanton flouting of logic and consistency, it's certainly getting there. I am willing to give it a pass for now, partly due to speedforce, and partly because I trust that the writers will sort things out eventually. For example: why didn't the universe end when Eddie shot himself? I expect that the black hole is a consequence of this, along with Cisco's emerging powers. Perhaps Cisco is somehow able to collapse or sustain different timelines.

I was bothered by quite how blithe people were regarding the total destruction of their timeline. Did they maybe think that they'd continue in a parallel universe? That's the only reason I can think they'd go along with this. Likewise, the less said about Caitlin's question about singularities, the better.

I am less concerned about Barry heeding Other-Barry's warning not to save his mom. Barry is clearly respectful of authority, and I assume he thought Other-Barry knew something he didn't (e.g., if you try to save her, all sorts of shit will go down). I really didn't need Other-Barry to say anything.

But yeah: I loved how over-the-top this was. I expected Barry to go into the past and to have a fight with the Reverse Flash, resulting in the RF being mostly-but-not-entirely defeated. Instead we got the utter insanity of Wells's Time Sphere getting Flash-punched, and then a black hole eating the planet. Seeing The Flash run up into the sky by jumping on bits of ascending debris was truly movie-level CG and, to my mind, it puts Agent of SHIELD to shame.
posted by adrianhon at 5:53 AM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

But he could have cut off or shot off his nuts. That would ... be ... bad. But surely it's better than death.

Yeah, better than death in theory, but I think I could kill myself easier than I could castrate myself. At least with a fatal wound you know the pain won't last long.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:36 PM on May 24, 2015

Thawne changed history. Barry would be stopping Thawne from changing history.

Yeah, but the altered timeline is the only one any of them have ever known. (Well, maybe Cisco could feel out the old timeline if he put his mind to it, I guess.) Just because Thawne -- Thawne! -- implied that Barry was happy in the old timeline doesn't mean anyone else was. And even if they'd be ecstatic, that happiness comes at the cost of potentially erasing everything they know of the last fifteen years. I feel like, for a group of scientists, our heroes didn't do a whole lot of thinking about the implications.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:01 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just because Thawne -- Thawne! -- implied that Barry was happy in the old timeline doesn't mean anyone else was.

And Nora Allen wasn't cruelly murdered and made to miss her child's life, and Henry Allen wasn't falsely imprisoned for fifteen years for her murder of a loved one, and many hundreds of people reported killed by the particle accelerator aren't dead either.

There's a lot more to what Thawne did than just "Barry has a sad."
posted by kewb at 6:32 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't forget the dozens of people murdered by metahumans created by the particle accelerator, and Thwells various victims - that random reporter, Wells and his wife, who knows who else?

Barry is a freaking idiot for not stopping Thawne.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:45 PM on May 25, 2015

I'm reminded of the end of Meet the Robinsons where (spoiler) our hero defeats the evil invention threatening humanity by telling her firmly "I am NEVER going to invent you.".
posted by Karmakaze at 9:45 AM on May 27, 2015

Also, WTF is up with Eddie? I thought before they were setting him up as some sort of lonely bachelor (great^n)-uncle or whatever. But obviously he has a kid with someone, even if it's not Iris, so this whole "oh my sad meaningless future" business is totally weird. Does not compute.
posted by ktkt at 12:03 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

How does it not compute? Being told "no, you never marry the person you think of right now as the love of your life, to whom you were about to propose marriage, but you DO eventually have a kid with a mystery person at some unknown date, so life isn't over!" isn't comforting at all. It might make sense to us, the audience. It doesn't mean anything to Eddie, the character, who is an extremely normal person among a bunch of superheroes and geniuses. And he gets over it.

Also, even if Eddie had departed DIRECTLY for the doctor's office after they found him and gotten a vasectomy, which would never happen on a CW show, it doesn't matter. If he's still alive, his genetic material is available. Clones have been a plot point in the Flash comics since idek when. Even now, Eddie's genetic material is still out there in a wormhole. It's not as big a plot hole as people are yelling about -- it's the dang season finale cliffhanger, is what it is. This was never going to be a stringently plotted time travel masterpiece; people here are overthinking that part, when I think the majority of the audience for this show don't have as extensive a sci-fi background for that kind of thing. I'm by no means a big Flash comics fan who's read everything, but from what I can recall, the time travel parts have never been any good to begin with.

Which is not to say I don't find this episode disappointing. I do, definitely, because it asks me as an audience member to have the exact same weird faith in Barry as the characters in the show do, when unfortunately I have pretty much all the problems people have already mentioned. Barry is not a thoughtful or thoughtfully written superhero, and that's difficult for me to gloss over.
posted by automatic cabinet at 7:15 AM on May 28, 2015

Some coverage of the SDCC panel for next season (spoilers) at io9 and ComicsAlliance, and the S1 recap/S2 teaser.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:18 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

So now that he's beaten(?) the Reverse Flash, the villain for season 2 is...a different Reverse Flash?

Jeez, don't strain your imaginations, guys.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:36 AM on July 13, 2015

You know, reading the description of Hunter Solomon. It's actually got the makings of a fascinating arc for the show. BUT, in no way can they call him Reverse Flash in any shape, form, or manner. NOPE. It makes sense that someone whose super ability is speed would have to confront others with the power, but I absolutely agree...why not save this dude for Season 3, and develop his backstory in Season 2 when he's not seen as a bad guy?
posted by Atreides at 9:58 AM on July 13, 2015

It's a comic-book show on network TV, they've got to have a Big Bad of some kind.

Personally, I would have loved to see Captain Cold as an antagonist-with-a-touch-of-anti-hero for S2--to be perfectly honest, though, like 90% of that is just to get Wentworth Miller back on the show--or Eiling breaking out to work with/be mind-controlled by Grodd again.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:43 AM on July 13, 2015

It's a comic-book show on network TV, they've got to have a Big Bad of some kind.

Oh, sure, but Flash has one of the most varied villain casts in comics; even with bad guys of the week being introduced and discarded alongside season-long villain arcs they could have gone three or four seasons easy without dipping into the well of Reverse Flashes again.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:46 AM on July 13, 2015

The S1 blooper reel is up!
posted by zombieflanders at 7:09 AM on July 29, 2015

Late to the party here, but a few points I haven't seen discussed.

(1) Never mind the problem of everyone's past being erased and re-written. The part I couldn't get past is when they said there was a real chance Barry's time trip could cause a black hole that kills the entire planet. Everyone in that room has somebody about whom they would say, "Sorry, Barry, I can't allow you to risk the life of Iris / Ronnie / Caitlin / Eddie / Clarissa on the possibility of saving your mom."

That's not heroic. That's something a supervillain does. That's Dr. Doom being willing to sacrifice an entire planet to rescue his mom's soul from Hell.

(2) Why are they letting Eobard out of the cage to return to the future? Much less building him a time bubble to do so? Once Eobard explains how Barry can go back in time, why should they do anything besides let him rot in that cell? Why does Eobard explain without setting up some kind of deal that forces them to help him? And in particular, why do they trust Eobard to guide them through all this when they have...

(3) Gideon?! This was my biggest WTF of the series so far. Barry discovers a supercomputer from the future that is designed to obey him and knows everything about Eobard, but never consults it again.

(4) What is going on with Eobard's speed? What did he need that harness for? Why weren't there any consequences for cannibalizing it to save Firestorm?

(5) To folks wondering why Barry would be so easily waved off of saving his mom by his future self: Am I the only one who thought his actual purpose was merely to go back and say goodbye to his mom? I think Barry decided to follow his father's advice, to not risk changing the timeline (which was such a disaster for him the last time), but couldn't resist the chance to go back and say goodbye, let his mom die knowing that her son was OK.
posted by straight at 8:50 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

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