‘The Flash’ 1.16 Recap: “I Screwed with Time and Now Time Is Screwing with Me”

After last week’s excellent episode of ‘The Flash’, it was almost inevitable that this week’s follow-up would be a disappointment. Unfortunately, it goes further than that. This one kinda sucks.

The episode opens with a huge, gaping plot hole that is never addressed and demonstrates how poorly the writers have thought this storyline out. At the end of the last episode, Barry ran so fast that he broke the time barrier and returned to one day earlier. As he arrived, he saw his previous day’s self running down the street, which corresponds to his memory of seeing another Flash (obviously his future self) that day. So, logically, he now exists in a day where there are two of him, and will be until the old Barry travels back in time.

WHAT HAPPENED TO 2ND FLASH?

Sadly, we will never know, because the writers failed to think this through. What should have happened is that the show should have pulled a ‘Back to the Future Part II’, where Future Barry interacts with the events of the previous day while staying out of sight of his old self – fixing certain wrongs (like Cisco’s death) yet keeping the timeline intact enough that his old self still travels back in time to become his new self.

Yeah, that’s not how it works here. Instead, Old Barry simply disappears when Future Barry gets there. Future Barry is the one and only Barry. At first, no one else has any idea about his time travel. When Dr. Wells figures out what happened, he insists that Barry must relive the entire day exactly as he did before in order to prevent disastrous consequences to the timeline. He doesn’t even want Barry to tell him about the day.

Barry, of course, can’t live with that. Pretty much the first thing he does is to find and capture Mark Mardon, the Weather Wizard. He tosses Mardon in the reactor prison so that he can never harm the police captain or cause a tsunami. An upset Dr. Wells warns him that time will find a way to correct itself, and that Barry may have opened the door for something even worse to happen.

Nothing worse actually does happen, just some ridiculous nuisance stuff.

Barry breaks up with his girlfriend Linda in order to make a play for Iris, but Iris shoots him down, and her fiancée Eddie punches Barry in the face. It seems that the different circumstances of the day have not brought out those intense feelings that Iris felt for Barry in the alternate timeline. Barry is confused.

Barry tries to break the time barrier again, but nothing happens no matter how fast he runs. Wells suggests that other unpredictable factors (such as his emotional state) could have played a role.

Villains Captain Cold and his partner Heat Wave (Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell) return to town with plans to start a Mob war and take over organized crime in the city. However, they have a rough time of that without their heat and freeze ray guns. Cold’s sister Lisa (the one who broke them out of prison) seduces Cisco at a bar and lures him back to a mansion the baddies are all squatting in, whereupon Cisco discovers the trap and learns that they’ve also kidnapped his brother. Cold tortures the brother by freezing his hands until Cisco relents and builds them new weapons. He also gives up The Flash’s secret identity. What a wimp.

In addition to rebuilding the freeze and heat guns from scratch in about an hour without his lab or any special tools, Cisco also makes a new gun for Lisa that can turn things into gold. Because she likes gold. (In the comics, she’s known as the “Golden Glider” and jets around on flying ice skates… Really.) Not only is that ridiculous even by this show’s standards, but it begs the question of why the baddies don’t just create a crap-load of gold, become super rich, and buy their way to power. They have a device that can literally turn anything into gold, and they use it to steal some cash from a Mob casino. What??

Obviously, Flash will race in to foil the plot. Once again, he’s oblivious to the obvious solution of just running up and snatching the guns out of the villains’ hands. He does grab Lisa, though. So that’s some form of progress in his crime-fighting skills, I guess.

Eventually, Barry pulls Captain Cold aside and makes a truce with him. Cold agrees not to kill any more innocent people or to give up Barry’s secret identity in exchange for… I don’t know, actually. I guess Barry lets him go on his way and continue his reign of crime. That doesn’t seem like a good plan. This storyline doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Captain Cold and Heat Wave were fun villains when they were introduced, but in light of much more serious threats (including Dr. Wells as the Reverse-Flash), they seem like a pair of bumbling morons now. This simply isn’t a worthy conflict for Barry to waste time dealing with after the last episode.

At episode’s end, Dr. Wells appears as the Reverse-Flash and kills the reporter who’d been writing a story about him. Separately, Barry tells Joe that he’s starting to have suspicions about Wells (based on what, exactly?) and will help with his investigation.

As I feared as soon as the concept of time travel was introduced, this episode ret-cons out most of the major narrative momentum made last week. More than that, it’s simply one of the dumbest and weakest episodes the show has had so far.

Fortunately, the previews for next week’s episode look fun. I look forward to that.

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