The Flash: Out of Time

This cliffhanger of an episode was a symphony in more ways than one, and we move from emotional high to action high to emotional high. While Barry Allen confronts the metahuman brother of the first man he fought as the Flash, he also has to watch out for Harrison Wells - who, in this episode, finally comes out of the closet, as both his and several other secrets are revealed.

We start with Mardon - but not poor dead Clyde Mardon; his brother Mark is out for blood, and apparently has somehow inherited not only Mardon's powers but his god complex. He tortures a morgue physician until he finds the name of his brother's killer: Detective Joe West fired the fatal bullet. While Liam McIntyre is unbelievably awesome in the role - and yet another extremely sexy bad-boy villain - I thought the origin of his powers was a huge plot hole. How do two people get the same powers?

I was also frustrated that this didn't become a Joe-centric episode. I thought we'd be following him being super in his own way. Not that this isn't a great episode, but I look forward to the day they centralize Joe. In any event, lots of concern: nobody wants Joe to die, but this guy looks like a heavy-hitter, even stronger than his brother.

Jump to a bowling alley, where Barry and Linda are planning to have fun. Oddly, Iris and Eddie are also there. The following scene is fraught with very stupid tension as Iris is clearly making a play for Barry, and in front of Eddie and Linda too. Neither of the partners likes feeling like a third wheel, and Iris comes off the least mature of the four; even Linda can't quite hide her disgust at the stupid-child relationship behavior when Barry and Eddie are called away to investigate Mardon's victim. Recognize your feelings, Iris, but be mature about it.

Iris' other plotline, that of being a pushy reporter, is slightly better, even though Mason Bridge provides more meat to it than she does. The Picture has sealed information showing Wells in front of the home of Simon Stagg, who later disappeared. Not quite what I was hoping for - I thought they'd show Wells standing in front of Grodd chewing up General Eiling - but enough evidence to raise questions in Barry, Cisco and Caitlin about whether their trust in Wells is appropriate or totally misplaced.

There's a moment that should be mentioned: while Barry's running he sees another speedster - someone who looks very much like himself. He's concerned and tells Wells, who looks interested and excited. Maybe too excited. 

Meanwhile Joe gets attacked in the precinct; Cisco's luck holds long enough for him to get a message to Barry. He appears and uses the weather wand to make it impossible for Mardon to complete his attack; Mardon, somehow, manages to get away (the ending of this scene seemed kinda limp.) Notably, Captain Singh gets hurt in the attack and we get to meet his partner (fiancé! Work it!) in the hospital.

Cisco, of course, becomes worried by the increase in suspicion of Wells. Very worried, especially after everything with the Pied Piper and his work with Joe. This for me was one of the better parts of the episode. It's never easy to suspect someone you love. It's never easy to recognize when you've been betrayed. He has some evidence about Wells of his own - that the machine they used to trap the Man in the Yellow Suit didn't fail at all. He convinces Caitlin to get Wells out for coffee, but really, using Caitlin to distract someone with a SOCIAL ACTIVITY? The woman is wonderful and intelligent, but hardly glib and chatty. Caitlin works at keeping Wells busy in Jitters, but Wells figures it out: the jig is up. They know something.

Wells makes a calculated decision, abandons his wheelchair, rushes back to STAR Labs and confronts Cisco as Cisco discovers the Reverse-Flash Trap is actually a recorded fake: and comes out as Eobard Thawne, also known in the print comics as Professor Zoom, a man from the future and a distant descendant of Eddie. He also confesses to murdering Nora Allen, but says it was a mistake: it was Barry who was intended to die that night. Cisco wrestles with the truth of his betrayal and tries to make the best of the situation, but it's becoming clear that Wells is not going to show mercy, even though he loves Cisco "like a son". Cisco realizes his death is coming, but he doesn't beg or breakdown in tears - he stands and meets it, and I think this says something about the character. A well-acted scene.

During this very emotional moment, Joe has been captured by the Weather Wizard who intends torture. He literally gets sucked out of a window while investigating. Mardon ties him up and steals his phone to get Iris to come to Joe's side so he can kill her and exact terrible revenge.

Barry's there when Mardon calls and convinces Iris to stay–by coming out of the closet, much as Wells had in the previous scene. He stands before her as the Flash for a minute, then goes off to save the day.

The final scene was one of this series' true action bests, as Barry runs up and down the coast attempting to create a wall of wind to counter a coming tsunami created by a deranged madman. As Iris watches from nearby, as we mourn Cisco's death and worry about poor tortured Joe and whatever Wells will do, we watch the tsunami come closer and closer, and walls of wind begin to push the pressure back.

And then Barry blips.

And he's suddenly running beside himself.

And he stops. And he realizes he's gone back in time. To nearly the beginning of the episode.

Bits and Pieces

-The show opener was a montage of images and scenes from the first episode up until now. Loved it. Did anyone else have a flashback to the last episode of the fifth season of Buffy? Or similar montages from Supernatural?

-Clyde didn't know Mark had powers; he said he "didn't think there was anyone else like me" when he met the Flash. So I'm not sure Wells' explanation works. Do people with similar genetic backgrounds get similar powers? Can anyone out there explain what seems like a logical inconsistency?

-I'm really rooting for Linda Park after this episode. 

-The previews for next week showed Cisco still alive, so I'm guessing at least some things will be undone by Barry's unintentional time trip. I'm not sure. If things CAN be undone - does that mean there's a chance of saving Nora Allen?

-I cheered for Eddie when he stood up for himself to Iris. He's right - Iris is basically playing with both he and Barry.

-I hate cliffhangers. I'm glad this will be resolved next week!


Joe: Being his fiance makes him family, Doctor. (My husband and I cheered!)

Caitlin: So Clyde Mardon has a brother?
Wells: And both brothers survived the plane crash, and then the dark matter released from the particle accelerator explosion affects them both in virtually the same way.
Barry: Yeah, only Mark's power seem to be a lot more precise. To be able to control the weather like that, indoors?
Cisco: You'd have to be a Weather Wizard. Ooh, I've been waiting since week one to use that one!

Caitlin: Trigeminal headache?
Cisco: What?
Caitlin: Trigeminal headache. Brain freeze.
Cisco: Then why don't you just call it a brain freeze?

Three and a half out of four trigeminal headaches!


Jess Lynde said...

Holy cow, that was a hell of a momentous episode! Your review really captures the excitement and turmoil of the whole thing, JRS. A lot of times I really don't care for the reset button, but at least in this case it ties into a well-established and very important aspect of the universe. And, hell, I really want them to reverse course on Cisco and Iris. By all means, give me a do-over that lets Cisco live, because, dammit, losing that guy hurt! If someone has to go, let it be Iris. If nothing else, they can't take away the reveals about Wells from us, so it can't ever be a complete reset. Awesome!

I can't wait to see more about how time travel works in this 'verse. Self-fulfilling loop? Overwrite? A bit of both? At the end, it seemed like Barry with memories of the day intact replaced Barry from earlier in the episode, so we'll see.

Liam McIntyre! Woot! There wasn't a ton of range for him to work with here, but it was still Liam McIntyre, which made me smile. I didn't question the brothers having the same powers because I thought they were in the plane together when a storm and the particle accelerator explosion wave hit simultaneously. A lot of the others seem to have gotten powers based on their location/activity/nearby technology when caught in the blast, so it made sense to me. Now I have to go double check the flashback.

Billie Doux said...

Yes, this was indeed a 'Holy Cow!' episode. I wonder if they're going to take back everything that just happened? They'd better bring back Cisco! I didn't realize how fond I was of him until he died so bravely.

JRS said...

Cisco routinely kicks ass, have you noticed? Carlos Valdes pulls off quite a few nuanced scenes for this show. When he speaks Spanish I shiver. He seems so perfectly a part of the story that his work passes by unnoticed, so I want to make sure people notice :)

Barbara Klein said...

Great episode, and great review!!

OT - According to, Sleepy Hollow has been renewed for a third season! w00t!

TJ said...

Wow! Time travel episodes are always cool, but I must admit that sometimes I feel like Captain Janeway - "Time travel gives me headaches". Will they reset everything next week? Will all the secrets go back into the closet? That would be so frustrating...

Yay for Spartacus #2! Liam will surely be back next week, and hopefully again later on?

J.D. Balthazar said...

I get the impression we are going to get a vastly different set up down the line. How can they not mess with the timeline? Barry is going to try to save his mother, and perhaps he will and the consequences will be awful. Or perhaps that's the universe that will be the permanent one. Since the show runners for both Arrow and Flash are the same, who is to say they don't alter time a little. That could have wonderfully complicated consequences, that would be a lot of fun to explore.

I'm so glad they are resetting the Cisco dying thing. His death made me like him even more, and I'm looking forward to where the show takes him down the line. I just wish Barry hadn't jumped back before learning about Harrison Wells being Reverse Flash.

Jess Lynde said...

I agree with J.D. that they are probably laying the groundwork to change things up down the line. Possibly just some things, not the entire story as we know and understand it at this point. Maybe not everything can be changed, but some things can. That might let us maintain some stability in our conception of the story/time line.

But there's got to be at least some ability to "rewrite time" in their concept of time travel, right? Because it seemed like Wells didn't expect to get stuck in the past. You'd think he would have been prepared for that if it had been part of his timeline before he followed Barry back to try to kill him. And, if memory serves, he seems to be keeping track of the timeline with Gideon to make sure it stays intact enough for him to get back to his own time. So that implies that it can be changed, and he wants to make sure it doesn't change too much.

I do love a good "time travel headache." Most of the time. :)

Patrick said...

Unlike the "Groundhog Day" episode in Season 5 of Smallville, this time I don't mind it since time travel has long been associated with Barry Allen's powers. I'm also glad we'll have the chance to see Cisco's death undone. It was a great scene, but I'm not ready to say good-bye to him yet.

Of course, it also means we'll undo all the stuff that happened with Barry/Linda/Eddie/Iris, which is a mixed bag for me. I was glad to see Eddie & Linda call Iris on her actions, but I wasn't glad to see how easily Barry got excited about the idea that Iris might have feelings for him after all. If he's still that hung up on her, he shouldn't be with Linda, it just turns her into a consolation prize. I like Linda, dammit. Both the character and the actress playing her. I'm not ready to say good-bye to her either. Plus I really don't want Iris to be happy right now, she hasn't earned that yet. She needs some more punishment for being such a dolt.

I'm still not quite sure what to make of Professor Wells, aka Eobard Thawne. So it seems he's somehow stuck in his relative past, having been in our timeline for 15 years having already killed Nora Allen. And he's what, trying to siphon off Barry's power so he can go home? I'm glad we finally got some revelations, but honestly they weren't much more than we as the audience already knew, and after the time loop I doubt any of the characters will know.

Josie Kafka said...

***TIME TRAVEL!!!***

So happy.

Especially since Cisco will surely come back. I really like Cisco.

Michal Dvorak said...

Kudos to Carlos Valdes, that was an incredibly powerful scene and he acted the hell out of it.

As for the time travel - I'm happy that Cisco won't be dead; I just hope they don't reset everything, that would be very frustrating.

Patrick said...

Michal, I won't mind if they reset everything in the sense that the 2nd time through the day ends up completely different, but I do want there to be some consequences. If Barry's reliving the day(And btw, why does it look like there's only one Barry even though he's gone back into his own past? Shouldn't there be two of him? Are they using Hot Tub Time Machine rules?). What I DON'T want is for people to inexplicably act differently this time around. Any changes should spin off of some different action Barry takes this time through, even if it's several degrees of Kevin Baco- er, I mean separation. One of my biggest pet peeves of time travel stories in shows is that the writers use it as an excuse to do things differently just because they want to undo something without having to justify it logically. I'm looking at you, X-Men Days Of Future Past.

Korlis said...

I thought this episode was pretty great (minus Iris' creepy face-touching at the bowling alley), but I'm a sucker for a well-executed time travel story. I guess it's too early to say if it will be well-handled, but I'm hopeful. I really liked the way the start of the episode telegraphed Barry's later jump into the past with the various things that stood out - the guy spinning the sign, the woman waiting for a cab - so when it revisited the spot later in the episode, it was already memorable despite nothing major happening.

Other people have already said it, but I think the key to any potential reset is whether there are consequences. Barry doesn't know Wells is Reverse Flash, so anything he does change won't include that knowledge, but...

Speaking of Wells, my favourite, and to me the most interesting line, was where he told Cisco "you've been dead for centuries." It seems to explain a lot about his perspective. Mason Bridges, the reporter, calls Wells a sociopath - but really it's that to him, nothing he's doing in the past really matters. Whether he murders someone or they die of old age, the result is the same from his privileged future. It makes me wonder whether there might be some kind of redemptive arc for him in the longer run - though maybe not, given his lack of remorse for taking out Cisco so soon after describing him as like a son.

Cesare said...

in the DC comic, time can indeed be rewritten, and Nora Allen can be saved, but this would have major consequences in the present; so I am curious to see where they will go with this in the show.
Also, while it's true that most of the events of the day can be rewritten, Barry now knows that Iris loves him, although she does not know herself (or at least she does not know she's told him).
This show just gets better and better.

Jim said...

Both Mardon brothers got weather powers because:
• Similar DNA
• Same place and time when the explosion happened, so similar exposure
• And most importantly: in the comics, both brothers have (had) the same powers