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The Flash: Speed of Thought

“I’m better this way. The Team is safer this way.”

Or, the one where Barry becomes The Thinker 2.0.

Before we can address Barry’s rediscovery of the importance of emotions, we have to discuss the Wells(s) whose story bookends the episode. Nash embodied every Wells in the multiverse, which meant his death signified the death of every Wells we've known. Or so we thought. It appears we have at least one more Wells to exhort Barry to run.

Regardless, Nash’s death impacts each member of Team Flash differently. Joe can honor what each Wells brought to the team without drowning in grief. For Cisco Nash is the latest in a long line of people he’s lost, or in his mind, failed to save. It’s more complicated for Allegra. Her complaint that Nash’s concern for her was motivated by the version of Allegra he’d lost had merit. However, she’s forced to admit her reason for pushing Nash away had more to do with her daddy issues than his actions. And then there’s Barry.

Like Cisco, Barry’s grief over Nash’s death is compounded by guilt. In Barry’s case it’s the belief his enemies continue to exploit his compassion and empathy with his team paying the price. This episode is the answer to Barry’s unasked question. Wouldn’t a more logical approach be better for Team Flash?

At first, the Artificial Speed Force seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. Not only does Barry have his speed back, he has enhanced cognition. Just the thing needed to get Cisco’s mirrorverse portal functioning.

Unfortunately, like The Thinker before him, Barry’s increased intellect has an inverse relationship to his emotional IQ. The man who once held human life sacred risked Frost’s life because of an infinitesimal risk to his equipment and his faith that he’d be able to offset any injury she suffered. Saving his wife and friends devolves into rescuing the target most able to help him defeat Eva. And he attacked his own team rather than consult them regarding the limitations of the portal he’d discovered. It’s a sad state of affairs when Gideon has more emotional awareness than Barry.

Where The Thinker and Barry differ is in their goals. The Thinker believed humanity needed to change. Regardless of his methods, Barry’s desire to save people has never wavered. It took seeing his team injured or unconscious at his hands to realize the fallacy that logic alone will keep his family and friends safe. But at least he got there. The Thinker would never willingly give up power or sacrifice his agenda for others. Barry does both with no proof that doing so will save his friends.

This saves this episode from being a rehash of season four. Barry is fundamentally a good person in need of a reminder of what Joe said at Nash’s memorial. Barry’s love and humanity is his superpower. Not his speed. Hopefully, he’s learned that lesson well because it appears he won’t have his speed the next time he faces Eva. And how many members of Team Flash are willing and able to assist him remain to be seen.

The question I have is how much of Barry’s reasoning had to do with his feelings for Iris. Was she truly the most logical choice, or was he rationalizing an emotional decision? Did the knowledge that she would rather fight him than be rescued at the expense of her friends factor into his change of heart? And was it a rational assessment of his failure to protect Team Flash or the realization he’d hurt the people best positioned to save his wife that made him see the error of his ways?

Barry isn’t the only one with self-doubt. Eva was convinced her husband had used the fact she’d been trapped in the mirrorverse to take credit for her work. Now she knows the truth. The real Eva died during the S.T.A.R. Labs explosion and she is as much a duplicate as the Iris she sent to Barry. Despite her violent means, she intended the ends to be beneficial but whether her new-found knowledge would have changed her agenda without Barry exposing her secret is up for debate. Unfortunately, she was already unstable and didn’t need much of push, let alone Barry’s very public wrecking ball.

I liked the episode even though it covered much of the same ground explored in season four. It’s also true the episode posed more questions than it answered. However, that’s expected this early in the season. Especially when it’s the first half of a two-parter. All of which makes it hard to rate, but here goes.

3.5 out of 5 nano-engraved walls

Parting Thoughts:

Speaking of, I couldn’t see everything in the room of the nano-engraved wall. But I saw XS’s jacket, Captain Cold’s goggles, Gypsy’s gun, and Firestorm’s quantum splicer, and what I assume is Jay Garrick’s jacket.

Quotes:

Cisco: “Why does it feel like for us to win, some of us have to lose?”

Barry: “Lately it feels like my heart is my enemies’ greatest weapon.”

Cisco: “Chester’s away at Grandma Runk’s but lucky for us he’s been science-ing between bingo rounds.”

Eva: “It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of tearing down my husband’s empire, so I’ll do it myself.”

Barry: “Eva’s not the first to use my emotions against me. Let’s make sure she’s the last.”

Eva: “Why are you here?”
Frost: “You know, for funsies.”

Eva: “I’m not a monster.”

Frost: “I’m not sure emotionally wrecking an already-whacked-out villain was ‘efficient.’”

Eva: “This isn’t my world.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

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