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The Flash: The Curious Case of Bartholomew Allen

“No one can outrun time.”

Three storylines around one central issue. Time. Joe gets a reminder that time equals change. Barry gets a front-row seat to a future he never imagined. And Caitlin’s race against time comes to an abrupt end.

Joe is a man outside of time. He’s retired, but with a beautiful wife and a young child at home. He fills his days with all the pet projects he promised to get around to, and his nights surrounded by friends and family. Yet he’s miserable.

Where’s the fun in a game that comes with hundreds of pages of instructions or machines that are supposed to make your life easier but cause more problems than they solve? He wonders if time is catching up to him or if he just lacks a sense of purpose. After all, the drudgery of detective work never bothered him as long as it led to the apprehension of criminals.

Police Chief Singh to the rescue. Sometimes we need an old friend to point out the obvious. Retirement isn’t the problem. It’s time’s shadow self — change. And Joe has never been a fan. Despite Joe’s humongous heart, he has his curmudgeon-like tendencies. Who needs a computer when you have a perfectly good filing system? Spades is a wonderful game. What’s the point of a 20-sided die? Singh reminds him that life is change. And that the changes that Joe has been a part of have been miraculous, including raising a superhero. What other possibilities are there in Joe’s future?

Speaking of Barry, time must seem infinite to a speedster. They can break time into smaller and smaller increments and then expand them to suit their needs. So, what happens when time is running out and your speed is eating away at the little you have left?

For us mere mortals, time creeps along at a steady pace. Imperceptibly deepening laugh lines and furrowed brows into wrinkles while blurring signs and words on pages. It grays hair and adds twinges and aches to previously unregarded mornings. Yet, it balances those unwanted gifts with wisdom and broadened perception. Barry’s encounter with Dr. Orloff thrusts all the trials and tribulations of age on him without the knowledge and grace that usually attend it.

Fear clouds his judgement and accentuates his stubbornness and impulsivity. He races after Orloff again and again with no discernable plan other than the assumption his speed will provide. He refuses to be persuaded by Cecile’s concern or Chester’s pronouncement that another burst of speed could kill him. It’s Barry’s failing memory that forces him to take stock of both his situation and his options. Thankfully, Cecile is almost as stubborn as he is. She provides the counsel of age that Orloff’s machine denied Barry.

Time is implacable. It cannot be reasoned with. It can be battled or surrendered to gracefully, but it cannot be beaten. Realizing this allows Barry to look at the problem objectively and make a wise decision.

If only that wisdom carried over into all aspects of his life. If so, he might have handled his conversation with Caitlin differently. She has not joined the West-Allen foray into Dungeons and Dragons. She has told her friends she’s spending time with her mother while her mother believes she is being watched over by her friends. In reality, Caitlin is racing against Frost’s cellular degradation in order to bring her sister back to life. Unfortunately, Caitlin’s time has run out.

Barry arrives at her door, and when she doesn’t answer, he phases into her apartment. Given the equipment Caitlin’s assembled, he’s smart enough to realize what she’s up to, although he has no idea that Mark is helping her. In a last ditch effort to convince Barry that she can revive Frost, she equates her desire to bring Frost back with his mother.

Big mistake.

Barry’s been there and done that and learned the hard way that sometimes what’s lost should stay lost. However, instead of sharing his hard-won wisdom or empathizing with her pain, he destroys her efforts and leaves her alone and surrounded by the carnage. That will not end well.

This episode continues its detours down memory lane with Singh’s reappearance. And yet with Iris still missing and the fallout from Barry’s actions at Caitlin’s undetermined, I still do not know what the rest of the season holds. I do wonder if, given their despair, Caitlin and/or Mark will become the finale’s Big Bad. Regardless of the outcome, I’m enjoying the ride.

3.5 out of 5 Vorpal Swords

Parting Thoughts:

This episode was directed by the White Canary herself, Caity Lotz. Bravo!

“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” was a nice touch. So was the butterscotch.

Singh’s jealousy of Kramer knowing Barry’s secret was a hoot.

Allegra’s low profile includes showing up at multiple crime scenes in the company of the Flash with no mask in a world where everyone has a camera in their pocket. Riiiight.

Looks like Pytor Orloff is another deep cut from the comics.

And in the useless trivia category, this is the 12th mention of Mercury Labs but only the first for Magnus Labs in The Flash, although both have made multiple appearances in the comics. Corbin Taft Industries, not so much.


Marco: “So, just the banana?”

Elderly Lady: “Saved by Mr. Flashy, himself!

Joe: “What the hell’s going on?”

Allegra: “What do you do, Karash?”
Joe: “I tell the thing to raise its little claws, and read it its Miranda Rights.”

Singh: “What can I say, Allen? This will always be home.”

Orloff: “I’m going to obtain a power more precious than any ever wielded by a superhero.”

Allegra: “I thought he was only supposed to be old on the inside.”

Singh: “Let’s roll.”
Joe: “Alright, you’re buying.”
Singh: “Don’t I always?”
Joe: “True.”

Cecile: “Barry, we are a long way from home. Barry?”
Barry: “How did we get here?”

Joe: “Sometimes I feel like time’s chasing me.”

Caitlin: “We don’t have to say goodbye to Frost.”

Barry: “I’m sorry.”

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

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