This The Flash review contains spoilers.
“Out of Time” has it all. If there is one episode that has delivered on all of the promise that The Flash has shown, this is it. I don’t mean in terms of it being an adaptation of a comic book character who has always been perfect for the screen (“Going Rogue” and “Fallout” were great examples of that). I mean in terms of The Flash standing on its own two feet as a television show.
As you all know, I’m a ridiculous fan of the Flash mythology. Just by virtue of this show being as faithful and respectful as it is, it’s hard for me to really dislike an episode. I tend to be happy just with all the great visuals and spot-on characterizations. With “Out of Time” making major league reveals about big deal characters in Barry’s world, this one could have coasted by on fan service.
It didn’t. It didn’t have to do that at all.
Y’see, “Out of Time” was long promised as an episode that would change everything. It certainly does. This really could have been a season finale. But they saved all those game changers for the last ten minutes or so. But even without all those fireworks (which were primarily plot and character, not fan-service or special effects driven), this would have been a good one.
Just about every single member of this core cast got a moment to shine. The cast has long been this show’s strong suit. There’s real chemistry between nearly every one of them, and I’ve grown to like everyone…even when Cisco is being annoying.
This could have been another villain of the week episode. We met the new Weather Wizard, the brother of week one’s baddie. Mark Mardon is here this time around, looking to avenge his little brother’s death. Liam McIntyre is much more forceful than the version of the character we met in the pilot episode, and we all knew eventually his brother would be back to settle a score or two.
Doesn’t sound all that special, does it? But it is. This Mardon is worth seeing more of, but admittedly, this week he’s just here to set a few wheels in motion. A “villain of the week” is perfectly fine, as long as a show knows how to use him or her wisely, even if it’s just to put stuff in motion so other characters can do their thing. So, despite what sounds like a disposable baddie, there’s no wheel-spinning this week.
If it seems like I’m rambling, it’s because I really don’t know where to start. But I think I can sum up everything The Flash did right this week, and in fact has done right this entire season, with my thoughts on Eddie Thawne and Harrison Wells.
Because I read too many comic books, I’ve always known that Harrison and Eddie have a villainous future ahead of them. I wrote about that in detail right here. But what The Flash has done masterfully all season long is play these two characters so that anyone who isn’t as familiar with Flash lore would be kept guessing.
Sure, we all knew Harrison was up to…something. But until a few weeks ago, there was still enough doubt about the how, why, and what that even I couldn’t be 100% sure he was the Man in the Yellow Suit. In the opening moments of this week’s episode, Harrison Wells is still a likeable character, watching old movies with Cisco, being generally charming. Tom Cavanagh may very well have just delivered fans the most nuanced supervillain performance in television history. This is how it’s done. By episode’s end, when I definitely knew what was coming…it still hit hard.
Eddie Thawne is trickier. I suspect he’s bound for life as an evil speedster as well down the road. But he’s also been a damn good cop throughout the season, and he’s a human being. Sometimes he’s a bit of a dick, sometimes he’s trying to be magnanimous around Barry (despite being threatened by him romantically), he’s gone back and forth on his feelings about the Flash. But he’s never been a bully or someone with overtly villainous tendencies. One way or the other, Eddie has a rough time ahead of him, and like it did with Harrison, when this happens, it’s going to matter, and it’s all because they started by building Eddie as a real character. Other superhero TV shows (and movies) need to take note of what’s been done with these two characters. They earned it.
Arguably, the worst episode of this series was the one that focused the most heavily on Barry’s love life. Not because of the subject matter, but because it was a poorly written episode. “Out of Time” which was already juggling a villain with ties dating back to the pilot episode, a beyond major villain reveal, and finding ways for other characters to shine, even managed to spotlight the relationship issues in a meaningful way. I even feel for Eddie in this situation.
Of course, things still aren’t going to be easy for Iris and Barry. They’ve got a long road ahead of them. I can’t imagine Iris is going to be too thrilled about being lied to all this time. But that kiss was the real deal, and Barry’s apology before the big reveal was a great moment.
I’d say my three favorite moments of the episode all involved two regulars talking to each other. The tension in the Caitlin/Harrison coffee scene. The genuine friendship and respect on display in the Eddie/Joe scene when they’re tracking down Mardon. The Barry/Iris reveal. And then, of course…
Eobard Thawne and Cisco.
Was this the single best dramatic scene this show has ever done? Could Blake Neely’s music have underlined this any better? “Forgive me. But to me you’ve been dead for centuries.”
The Flash crossed a line tonight. “Out of Time” is more than just great superhero TV (something that’s becoming increasingly common). It was just great TV.
– For more on Eobard Thawne (and maybe a little about Eddie Thawne), click here. It’s a lot.
– Caitlin’s brain-freeze crack was cute. I can’t imagine that they’re going the Killer Frost route with her this season, but that’s a good thing. She’s a fun character, and they should take the longest possible time to turn her into a supervillain. You don’t cheap out with someone we’ve come to like this much. I don’t care if they wait two more seasons. When it happens, it needs to hurt.
– Speaking of supporting characters who need to get superpowers…did we just learn the secret origin of Vibe? Look, Cisco ain’t dead. We know this. Again, I don’t think we’ll see him doing any adventuring anytime soon, but I’m fine with this being the root of his metahuman abilities.
– That wand that Cisco created that will be used to combat Mark Mardon/Weather Wizard…I’ll bet good money that ends up in Mardon’s hands and he’ll use it to focus/amplify his powers even more.
– I’m still unclear about Harrison’s Eobard’s intentions towards Barry. He needs Barry’s speed to get “back to the future” but he was in the past to kill Barry. But if he kills Barry, how could he utilize Barry’s speed? This show doesn’t make Paradox 101 mistakes like this, so I suspect that there’s more to this than we’re being shown so far.
– Barry just zipped back in time. What happens if he prevents his Mom’s murder? Flashpoint, that’s what. They’re not messing around, here. Even though Grant Gustin’s Barry won’t be part of the DC Comics Cinematic Universe, I still have my suspicions that this show could ultimately be the key to a very different kind of multimedia shared universe.