When Barry decides he needs help from the dead, the only solution is dangerous time travel and a visit to Eobard Thawne.
People under pressure do the stupid and the desperate, so while I think the premise of this episode - Barry risking everything to go back into the past on the chance that Eobard Thawne might have the info needed to boost Barry's speed enough to beat Zoom - is a dumb decision on Barry's part, it's feeling real. Barry has to realize that, if Zoom is Jay, and Jay is dying, then Zoom no longer has anything to lose. He has no choice BUT to find a way to come at Barry with guns totally blazing. Barry's trip back to the past is a gamble, but an important one. I think it's a testament to the closeness of the core team that Cisco and Caitlin don't resist Barry's idea. From the beginning, however, things go horribly wrong, and instead of following his careful plans, Barry ends up flung back to the time of "The Sound and Fury," from Season One, during which he battled Harley Rathaway, the Pied Piper.
From a storytelling perspective, this sets the show up with interesting potential plotlines for like the next dozen seasons! Here's a minimal list of things Barry Changed In This Episode:
- He made previousFlash aware of futureFlash. At the point in the past visited by futureFlash, Barry had not yet time traveled.
- He shortcut past Pied Piper's bomb. Originally, this bomb hurt Cisco.
- He made Eobard Thawne aware that his plans and future were in danger.
- He made pastTeam aware of futureTeam.
- He did SOMETHING to inspire the attention of a terrifying Time Wraith. What are these things? From whence come they?
- Thawne gave Barry a Thumb Drive of Power +3.
Any one of these things alone could hive off a dozen timelines (and many episodes.) All of them? The Writers Alone know what might happen. And none of those very structural ideas even touch on the amazing interpersonal activity in this episode. Barry seeing Eddie alive again. Eobard Thawne and Barry threatening each other after Thawne discovers Barry's true identity. Barry's original decision may be so high risk as to be called dumb - I am not sure I'm backing down on that yet - but it does allow for growth and drama. Barry's confronting his ghosts in this episode, one after the other - the ghost of Eddie, the ghost of the Reverse-Flash, of the first Harrison Wells he knows.
When Barry returns to the modern timeline after learning some secrets of tachyon acceleration from Eobard Thawne, there's one major change immediately visible: Andy Mientus/Hartley Rathaway/Pied Piper is now on the team, at least as a call-when-needed sort of chap, and his technology's proving valuable. What else has changed in Barry's timeline? It remains to be seen how his choices have affected his team and the Reverse Flash for future episodes, and whether Eobard's suggested technology is proof against Zoom.
The moment in the beginning when Caitlin voices the obvious: What if Barry has limits? Barry's refusal to accept limitations seems to be part of the ideology of the Flash.
Barry getting his inspiration from Wally.
Barry being willing to drug pastBarry. How do you guarantee his physiology won't compensate?
Eobard Thawne/Wells shaking his head when pastBarry shows up looking for the other Flash. I couldn't stop laughing.
How are Hartley's parents being back in his life a result of the Flash's changes? If I recall, they kicked him out before he developed powers and met the Flash. Maybe he became friends with Cisco and got his advice? Cisco's good with the advice.
I hope Zoom and Barry get to interact more soon. The exchanges between Eobard Thawne and Barry make me realize how much is lost when the villain is as remote as this season's. Zoom can sometimes be terrifying, but mostly he's absent.
Do Cisco and Caitlin remember meeting the future Barry in the past?
Iris and the "project" at the end of the episode. A sweet moment, made all the sweeter by it coming from Barry.
Hartley: "Holy Harry Potter."
Joe: "The moment we had her... all that I wanted was her love."
A great episode with some logical inconsistencies. I give the doubt some benefits, but reserve the right to change this rating later, if the benefits appear undeserved... for now, four out of four Rathaways.
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