In Review: The Flash, Episode 40 “Flash Back”

This episode deserves repeated viewings.

The Flash, Episode 40 “Flash Back” Broadcast March 29, 2016

Written by Aaron Helbing & Todd Helbing

Directed by Alice Troughton

“Previously on The Flash,” Harrison Wells from Earth 2 arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin and Cisco realize that the Harrison Wells they know is Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash is killed when his ancestor Eddie kills himself, Hartley Rathaway (the Pied Piper) is revealed to have helped build the particle accelerator, and Cisco vibes and sees that Jay is Zoom.

Barry speed reads all the science books he can to figure out how to improve his speed so he can stop Zoom. Cue opening title sequence.

Cisco walks into Barry in the lab and sees Jay’s helmet. He vibes and sees Zoom holding a screaming woman over the edge of a building. Caitlin comes in with some intel for Barry: he, Zoom, and the Reverse Flash all move their legs at the same speed, but the villains’ feet spend less time on the ground; so their strides propel them faster. “By almost thirty percent.” Caitlin goes on to venture that Barry can’t run as fast as Zoom because he just can’t. At the West home, Joe tries to reassure Barry that no one could have predicted what happened with Jay. The foster father leaves the dinning room to check on dinner, allowing Iris to tell Barry she “kind of” went on a date with her boss. Doing so reminded her of Eddy. “It just feels wrong.” Barry tries to tell her that it’s okay for her to move on, but she seems unwilling. Wally arrives for dinner and says something to give Barry an idea with his speed problem. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, he tells Caitlin and Cisco that he’s going to time travel to the past to get Eobard Thawne to teach him how to run faster. They’re not happy, and neither is recently arrived (from an unsuccessful search to find his daughter) Harrison. “Your plan is asinine.” He tries to convince Barry not to go because it’s too easy for him to alter the timeline and unintentionally kill someone. Barry won’t back down. He’s going to go back to when Wells/Thawne was distracted by Rathaway’s activities. This  is also the first time the gang found out Wells knew the accelerator was going to explode. The Flash runs around the accelerator, into the past, but some spectral-like being sees him in the portal, so he exits quickly. He’s come out too early, just as he was stopping the Pied Piper. Cue first commercial break.

There were several times I yelled at my television during this episode. This was like watching Marty McFly make every possible mistake. Every little change that Barry made had me thinking he was destroying the future. The looks that Grant Gustin as Barry, who knows more than he should, shoots at Rick Cosnett as Eddie and Tom Cavanagh as Wells are amazing. I was completely engrossed with Cavanagh’s performance, waiting to see if there was any inkling that Eobard knew that something was up with this Barry. Needless to say, the scenes between Gustin and Cavanagh are the highlights of the episode. There’s an introduction of a new kind of foe that seeks to defend the time stream from speedsters. I’m hoping that there are more of these characters in this show’s future. The special effects in this episode are really strong, such as when “the current” Barry has an unforeseen confrontation early on. Saying any more would ruin the episode. You’ll have to jump in a Delorean to find out what happens, if you don’t want to wait to watch this. This episode bears repeated viewings.

The good: Outstanding story from Aaron and Todd Helbing, great initial fight for the Flash under Alice Troughton’s direction, Grant Gustin getting to put some major guts into Barry, a supporting character gets a change, and Tom Cavanagh stealing the episode.

Fun lines: “It’s giving me daymares,” “…You might set off some kind of 12 Monkeys time loop and never get out. No pressure,” “What could go wrong?”, “Someone there?”, “Run, Barry,” “Yes, I’ve figured it out,” “Whoops,” “Hol-ee Harry Potter,” “Because you ran out of luck!”, “Time to go home…Flash,” and “I’m coming for you.”

The bad: I expected more changes once home, but there could always be more down the road in future episodes. The ending felt anti-climatic.

The final line: I screamed at Barry a lot during this episode. Did he never watch the Back to the Future trilogy? Watch Tom Cavanagh closely, or you’ll miss it. Time travel is not for those with fear. Overall grade: A-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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