‘The Flash’ trots out a parade of former cast members this week, in service of an episode plot that seems really busy until you realize that it’s ultimately of no consequence whatsoever.
Wally is gone, sucked into the Speed Force to take Savitar’s place in the special prison that Barry constructed for him (or will construct for him at some point in the future). Why does someone need to take Savitar’s place, anyway? That’s just how it works, because the show’s writers said so. Don’t ask questions.
Anyway, everybody is sad. Really sad. If you thought previous episodes this season were too mopey, this one ratchets up the mopiness a couple more notches. Barry announces that he’s going into the Speed Force to rescue Wally. Everyone else is really concerned about this, given that Barry’s last visit to the Speed Force almost resulted in him being trapped there forever. H.R. then suggests that Cisco whip up some form of interdimensional tether that will allow him to locate Barry inside the Speed Force and pull him back if needed. Of course, Cisco knows exactly how to do that. The tether thing fits into the Flash logo on Barry’s suit.
Jesse wants to go with Barry, but he convinces her to stay behind. Rescuing Wally is his responsibility alone. Why? Just because, OK. What’s with all these questions? Let it go already.
Iris is still very sulky about Barry’s motives for proposing to her.
Cisco vibes Barry into the Speed Force and lets him go. This time, Barry finds himself inside a gloomy version of the CCPD station while a violent storm rages outside. While looking for Wally, he instead finds Iris’ former fiancé Eddie waiting for him. Of course, it’s not really Eddie. It’s the sentient embodiment of the Speed Force itself taking a familiar form. Not-Eddie says that the Speed Force is annoyed with Barry for creating Flashpoint. Barry demands to see Wally, but Not-Eddie instead makes him outrun a Time Wraith first.
Barry gets on an elevator, which takes him to another floor where he sees Caitlin cradling a baby. The Speed Force now comes to him in the form of Ronnie (Robbie Amell). The baby is the child that he and Caitlin would have had together if he hadn’t died. Barry explains that he believes only Wally will be fast enough to save Iris from Savitar, and says that he wants to sacrifice himself to free Wally from the Speed Force. Not-Ronnie refuses, and sics a Flash zombie on him (the same one we saw in an episode of ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ this season). Based on the complete lack of any resemblance it has to him at all, Barry immediately recognizes it as Hunter Zolomon, a.k.a. Zoom (no guest appearance from Teddy Sears, though). Barry and the zombie fight for a bit. Not-Ronnie tells him that the only way to free Wally is to free himself, which Barry takes to mean that he has to remove Cisco’s tether.
That apparently worked. Barry next finds himself in a hospital setting. He sees Wally inside a room staring at a bed. Before he can go in, the Speed Force appears in the form of Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), who freezes the door handle shut. Not-Snart tells him that Wally is trapped in his own personal hell, which for him is the hospital room where his mother died. He’s stuck in an endless temporal loop watching her die over and over again. Doesn’t sound like much fun.
Snart then attacks with his freeze gun, but Barry is saved by the sudden appearance of Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp). It’s even the real Jay, not a Speed Force manifestation. He explains that Cisco came to Earth-3 to ask for his help after he lost contact with Barry.
Barry smashes the ice on the door and rouses Wally from the trance he’s in. As they get ready to leave, Jay announces that he has to stay behind. This Speed Force prison requires one speedster in exchange for another. (Don’t even ask why.) He says he’s had a good run as the Flash but it’s time to sacrifice himself for the cause. He then gives Barry his helmet, which he claims will allow Cisco to locate him again and pull him out of the Speed Force. Barry promises to find a way to come back for him.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs
While Barry is off playing around in the Speed Force, Jesse gets a bee in her bonnet about wanting to go confront Savitar all on her own. Both Cisco and H.R. try to dissuade her from this, arguing that she’s not ready to handle him on her own. H.R. even puts his foot in his mouth and says that she should wait for the real Flash to get back. Jesse finds this tremendously condescending and has to remind them that on her Earth, she’s the Flash.
Jesse steals the fragment from Savitar’s armor that had impaled Barry’s shoulder, hoping it will lead her to Savitar. When H.R. tries to block her from leaving, Jesse punches him out.
The shard indeed flies out of Jesse’s hands, and she follows it to Savitar. Once she has to face him, she realize that, yeah, maybe the others were right and she’s not ready. Savitar tries to magically pull the shard out of her hands, but she holds it tightly and gets dragged toward him.
H.R. gets on her comms to help. He reasons that if Savitar is wearing armor, it must be intended to protect something underneath. He suggests that she find a gap in the armor and attack Savitar there. As soon as she gets close enough, Jesse stabs the shard into Savitar’s shoulder. Indeed, he cries like a bitch and runs off.
As soon as he and Wally return to the lab, Barry tells everyone what happened in the Speed Force. He says that the lesson he learned is that saving Iris is his responsibility. Wally can’t do it for him. Wally is still pretty dazed from his experience anyway, so Barry sidelines him from further action against Savitar.
Jesse has a heart-to-heart with Wally. She’s kind of freaked out about something Savitar said about having plans for her, so she has decided to leave Earth-1 – not to go home to Earth-2, but to take over Jay’s role as protector of Earth-3. (Who’s gonna protect Earth-2? Last we saw it, that Earth has a serious gorilla problem that could use a superhero’s help. Meanwhile, Earth-3 has a silly clown who robs banks. I think one of these things merits a Flash’s attention more than the other.) Before she leaves, H.R. gives Jesse a hug. He forgives her for punching him. They can be friends again.
This means that the team is down to just one speedster again. The good news, H.R. announces, is that Jesse’s fight with Savitar proved that he can feel pain. He’s not a god after all. Under that armor, he’s just a man, and a man can be defeated.
The episode ends with Barry and Iris having a talk about their romantic issues. Iris is willing to forgive Barry for deceiving her, but he actually thinks that perhaps they should still call off the engagement. Rather than fight the future, he’s going to embrace it. (Umm, isn’t he essentially saying that he wants her to die? That’s cold, Barry.) As such, he’s going to move out of their apartment and stay with Cisco for a while.
When all is said and done, the only thing this episode really accomplishes is to rescue Wally from the Speed Force, which is a contrived situation set up at the end of the last episode anyway. The rules of the Speed Force continue to be so arbitrary that they’re effectively meaningless. Literally, anything can happen there if the writers decide that they want it.
Aside from Jay Garrick, none of the other guest star characters returning for this episode serve any real purpose, given that they’re not those actual characters anyway, just figments masquerading as them. If I’m not mistaken, this is also at least the third time (possibly fourth) that John Wesley Shipp has been written off the show – so that’s getting pretty old.
In terms of drama, the episode is fine, so long as you can tolerate the continued mopiness, which I’m getting really tired of. For plot, it feels like filler to mark time until the Savitar storyline gets back on track. That apparently won’t be next week, though. Based on the promos, the next episode (a musical!) looks like a goofy stunt and another distraction.