In what may be a small concession to confused viewers, it would appear that even the writers of ‘The Flash’ acknowledge that the science gobbledygook in the show makes no sense. In this week’s episode, the characters flat-out stop trying to explain or figure it out.
I guess at this point you just have to accept whatever nonsense they give you and move on. That’s probably the best attitude to take.
Days of Future Past
As the previous episode ended, Barry, Cisco and Caitlin discovered Dr. Wells’ secret room with the holographic newspaper from the future. Barry is dazed reading the headline articles about himself. Cisco notices that the lead article has a byline credited to “Iris West-Allen.” So, if this means that Iris eventually marries Barry, do you think that by 2024 she will have finally figured out that he’s The Flash?
Barry somehow accidentally triggers the A.I. computer Gideon, who displays herself as a much chintzier-looking CGI hologram than the nicer one we saw in previous episodes. What’s that about? (Incidentally, in case you hadn’t recognized the voice, Gideon is played by Morena Baccarin, who currently also has a recurring role on Fox’s ‘Gotham’.) When Barry asks questions, Gideon responds to him in a big info-dump of exposition about how Barry is the Director of Police Forensics in the future, and how Dr. Wells travelled back to the past to kill him. Gideon has no compunctions about telling Barry any of this.
Via a tracking device that he’d planted on the wheelchair, Cisco detects that Dr. Wells is in the lab and heading for the room. In a panic, Barry asks if he can erase the computer’s record that any of them had entered the room. Unfortunately, the technology is way beyond even Cisco. With no other options, Barry simply asks Gideon if she’ll keep what happened a secret from Wells. Gideon agrees. When Barry asks why she’d accept his commands, Gideon replies that he created her. I guess Barry becomes a super computer programmer at some point too.
Just before Wells spots them, Barry whisks the others out of the lab and closes the door.
The Dream Master
The trio reconvene at Joe’s house to fill in Joe and Eddie about what they’d learned. Cisco also describes the dreams he’s been having about Dr. Wells murdering him. Barry suggests that they may be memories rather than dreams, but when anyone questions how Cisco could have a memory of something that didn’t happen, they all just shrug it off. It works that way because that’s how it needs to be. At the very least, Cisco geeks out about the possibilities of time paradoxes, so that’s something.
To uncover exactly what Cisco saw in this dream/memory, Barry offers up “a really bad idea.” He wants to access Cisco’s subconscious using a fancy pair of glasses that will trigger lucid dreaming. I suppose Cisco whipped these up on the spot, as he does. Before he goes under, Cisco frets about what will happen if Dr. Wells kills him in the dream. He wants to know the rules of lucid dreaming. “Is this Inception or Dreamscape?” Sadly, it’s more ‘Dreamscape‘.
Cisco enters his dream and relives his encounter with Wells back in Episode 15, describing what he sees to the others the whole time. He remembers everything, and wakes up just as Wells kills him.
Just then, Wells calls Barry with an emergency. There’s a fire in a high rise building, and the police captain’s fiancé is trapped in the middle of it. Barry races off to the rescue, but when he gets there, the fire rages out of control and he doesn’t know what to do. As much as he distrusts the man, he needs Dr. Wells’ help. Wells instructs him to spin his arms really fast to create a vortex that will suck the air out of the room and extinguish the flames.
Uhh, where does that air go if Barry is standing in the middle of the room when he creates the vortex, and wouldn’t all the innocent victims in the room suffocate? Luckily, the show’s writers didn’t think of that, because Barry gets everyone out safely.
The Ol’ Switcheroo
In order to free his father from prison, Barry needs Wells to confess to murdering his mother. To make that happen, he wants to use Cisco as bait and recreate the events from the alternate timeline that Barry prevented from happening. This time, however, Cisco will stand inside the containment chamber and reverse the forcefield to keep a speedster out, rather than trying to trap a speedster inside it.
As planned, Cisco lures Wells to the chamber. Wells reveals that he can walk and delivers his Talking Killer speech. Joe and Barry lie in hiding while Caitlin records the proceedings from afar, all waiting for Wells to come out and say that he killed Barry’s mother. Unfortunately, he stops short of saying those words. When Wells gets too close to him, Cisco backs into the chamber and turns on the forcefield. Somehow, it doesn’t work. Wells is able to step right through it.
Joe jumps out from hiding and fires three shots before Wells can touch Cisco. Realizing that they never got the confession, Barry races forward and stops two of the bullets, but he’s repelled by the forcefield as the third passes through and hits Wells in the chest. Wells drops to the floor dead.
As Barry laments that he’ll never get his father out of prison now, the body on the floor morphs. It wasn’t Dr. Wells at all, but rather Hannibal Bates, the shape-shifter captured last week. The real Wells taps into the lab’s intercom and taunts Barry that he’s been three steps ahead the whole time. Barry rushes to the secret room and finds a wall of video displays playing back recordings from hidden cameras Wells had placed at Joe’s house, at Barry’s apartment, at the police station and elsewhere. He saw everything. He’s known about their investigation from the moment it began.
Bridge on the River Cry
Joe worries that Wells will go after Iris. Just at that same moment, Eddie has brought Iris out to a romantic spot on a bridge to propose to her (which he’s decided to go through with even though Joe refused to give his blessing). The proposal is interrupted by the Reverse-Flash. As The Flash races in as well, Reverse-Flash grabs Eddie – that’s right, not Iris – and runs away.
Flash arrives too late, but he promises Iris that he’ll find Eddie. Before he darts off, Iris touches him briefly and gets an electrical shock that reminds her of something similar that happened back when Barry was in a coma. She wonders aloud if Barry could be The Flash. (I might give her the benefit of the doubt that she now knows that Barry is The Flash, but this is Iris we’re talking about.)
Reverse-Flash brings Eddie to another secret location. Eddie tells him to take off his mask, because he already knows that he’s Dr. Wells. Wells then informs him that his real name is Eobard Thawne, and that they’re distantly related. Eddie thinks for a moment that everything that’s happened has really all been about him, but Wells scoffs at the notion.
The Way, Way Back
Throughout the course of all this, the episode has also been peppered with flashbacks to Barry’s time in a coma after the reactor accident. In addition to Iris’ electrical shock, we see Joe meet Dr. Wells for the first time, which reveals why he agreed to turn Barry over to him.
The episode ends with Wells musing over how young Barry is (because they know each other when Barry is much older) and how ironic it is that Wells has to create The Flash in order to return to his own time, when the only reason he’s stuck in the past at all is that he tried to kill The Flash. Nevertheless, he tells the unconscious Barry that, “Nothing is forgiven. There will be a reckoning.” This suggest to me that, in the future, Barry does something bad to Eobard Thawne that Thawne wants revenge for. That could add an interesting layer of complexity to the typical cackling villain motivations.
Although a lot of the logic of the plotting here probably doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, the episode is still pretty good and, now that Wells’ secret is fully out in the open, should upend the entire dynamic of the series. Wells can’t go back to working at S.T.A.R. Labs and pretending to be Barry’s friend anymore. Now that he no longer has access to Gideon (and that Barry does have access to Gideon), that should also make his supervillainy a lot harder. At the same time, we’ve seen over and over again (reiterated in this episode) that Barry often relies on Wells to achieve his superheroic good deeds. How much less effective a superhero will Barry be without Dr. Wells to guide him?