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The Flash: Impulsive Excessive Disorder

"What part of 'don't change the timeline' do you not understand?"

It appears messing with the timeline is a speedster’s rite of passage. This one is Bart’s. Although, just for giggles, he’s brought Nora along. While the potential for mass destruction loomed large, this episode turned out to be a fun romp.

Let me start by saying time travel episodes make my head hurt. So, we won’t delve into whether defeating the 2049 Godspeed should have affected last season’s events or vice versa. Or whether what happened here had already taken place when Barry claimed the Royal Flush Gang were OG metas formed while he was still in a coma (Armageddon Part 1) or was actually The Powers That Be’s mistake. See, thoughts like these are why I can single-handedly keep Excedrin in business.

Instead, let’s focus on Bart and Nora’s appearance at their parents’ wedding part deux and its unintended temporal consequences. The good news is it brought Jay Garrick back to the land of the living in 2049. The bad news is that the woman who should be his wife was wiped from existence. Thus, begins Impulse and XS’s quest to repair the timeline.

Along the way, we’re privy to a few not-so-subtle Easter eggs. It appears the latest Mayor Bellows’ apple doesn’t fall far from his corrupted tree. The Trickster has leveled up to invading entire countries now. And if I’m not mistaken, they just dropped an anvil-sized hint that Booster Gold will join the Berlanti-verse. Now, that should be interesting.

Regardless, Nora and Bart’s mission sends them back to New Year’s Eve 2013. Which gives most of the cast a much-needed break and viewers an excuse to visit another old friend. There was a lot of speculation about what Eddie Thawne’s return meant for the series. However, it seems to be nothing more than the equivalent of an extended flashback. For anyone who might not remember, he was Iris’s first fiancĂ©, and the progenitor to Barry’s arch nemesis. In the end, he not only forgave Iris for falling for Barry, but he sacrificed himself to stop Eobard from ever existing, not that it worked. Knowing all of this made watching the fresh-faced Eddie Thawne just trying to win the respect of his new partner and being flattered by a beautiful woman bittersweet.

Whatever sadness watching the beginning of Eddie and Iris’s doomed relationship brought was balanced by witnessing the budding of Joe and Cecile’s ongoing romance. It’s obvious why Joe is attracted to her even as (or maybe because) she puts him in his place. Yet, his patience and understanding are why Cecile entertains the idea of giving him a chance. No mean feat in the midst of her hatred of his entire gender.

We also see the return of the Royal Flush Gang. I’d wondered why they’d used such famous adversaries as the villain of the week in the season opener. They weren’t the one-hit wonders I’d feared. Could this mean they’re bringing back the Flash’s Rogues Gallery?

Then there’s Avery. I’m a sucker for a well-done meet cute. And I love the fact Bart’s attraction has as much to do with Avery’s intelligence as it does with her looks. But this gave me distinctly “Love at first sight” vibes, which is a much harder sell. That said, if she turns out to be Avery Ho, then Bart’s instant attraction makes a lot more sense.

Besides the mayhem that inevitably ensued, we have the issue of how to address the mistakes we make. And our perception of how our mistakes stack up to everyone else’s. Bart never witnessed the effects of Flashpoint or Barry’s horror at realizing he was responsible for the death of his best friend’s brother. Just as he never saw Nora’s terror as she repeated a single hour over and over, trying to save the lives of the people she loves. In Bart’s mind, his father and his sister are “perfect” while he is a screwup.

However, it is because of the experiences of others that we muddle through. Jay Garrick helped Barry, who helped Nora. Now it’s Nora’s turn to help Bart. And vice versa. Thanks to Nora’s advice Bart defuses the situation with the RFG and it’s Bart who is able to calm Nora enabling her to find the bombs and save the day (lest we forget that while it’s true Bart’s impulsiveness exacerbated an already dangerous situation, it was his and Nora’s trip to the past that started this temporal nightmare).

I know I said I’d let it go, but the constantly changing rules for time travel were a problem for me. First, it was a very simple “don’t do it.” Now it is you can do it to save the world or for family events, but try not to change anything (unless it’s to save the world). This episode’s latest rule is if you have to use your speed (which you absolutely should NOT do) move objects, not people. We’ll whistle past the fact that it was a meta overhearing their conversation that blew up the timeline. Or that their method of fixing it was to convince a theoretical physicist that they were from the future. Because that would never affect her research, right?

Don’t get me wrong. The Flash was never meant to be a drama, and this episode is a perfect example of the light-hearted fun this show is known for. And given the final moments of the episode, I’m sure there’s more fun and time travel yet to come. Don’t worry, I have plenty of Excedrin.

3 out of 5 temporal waves

Parting Thoughts:

Caitlyn's got a new beau? Should I remember who that is?

Quotes:

Barry: "Keep the future safe."

Cecile: "Okay, I'm gonna stop you right there. Two things: one, I have a ton of paperwork waiting for me back on my desk at the DA's office, and two – this one's important; pay attention – all men are jerks. No offense."
Joe: "None taken."

Bart: "Relax. No one is going to find out who we are or why we're here."
Eddie: "Who are you two, and why are you here?"

Joe: "Most thieves don't wear what they just stole."
Sterling: "I forgot a bag, alright?"

Nora: "OK, so you want to fix our time-traveling screw ups by traveling back in time... again!"

Bart: "Spoiler alert, Pops. Your son's a big screw up."

Bart: "You helped save the day with all your science badassary."

Jay: "If screwing up the timeline was a dealbreaker, your dad couldn't be the Flash."

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

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