This review contains spoilers.
1.15 Out Of Time
The Flash has been teasing the introduction of time travel all season and, in an episode full of pretty epic twists and surprises, Out Of Time is where it chose to really throw it into the ring. That choice is significant mainly because it’s a seemingly random episode only notable for marking the show’s return after several weeks away, but it’s precisely the episode’s apparent non-specialness that makes it genius.
Because if this had been the season finale, not only would the reveal of Harrison Wells as Reverse Flash, Iris’ discovery of Barry’s secret identity and the death of a major character make sense, but they would also have been somewhat expected. This is episode fifteen, and all of those things have already happened, blowing our expectations for the rest of the show’s first season wide open.
We won’t watch these things play out all over again, presumably, and so we’re all left wondering: what the heck else have they got planned?
But the time travel element only came into play in the final moments, and the rest of the episode was pretty darn good regardless. It was so good that I don’t even mind the fact that it’s all been erased because, crucially, Barry still experienced some of it along with the audience.
It was one of those hours where the metahuman threat was kind of peripheral – a means to an end – and Joe’s kidnapping mostly served the plot in that it got Barry and a curiously unmoved Iris to team up in an effort to save him. Everything about Barry and Iris’ relationship here confused me, from her awkward reaction to the news that her father might be in mortal danger, to their random declaration of love while looking for said father.
I’m all for confessing your feelings at times of intense emotional drama, but the tone of that scene completely jarred with what we knew was going on elsewhere. It felt shoehorned in to please fans of that pairing, and not something that organically needed to happen in this specific episode. There’s also the creepy element of them both acknowledging that Joe is their father, Mason’s description of Barry as Iris’ brother, and the conversation between Barry and Joe before the kiss. Ew.
Meanwhile, the stuff between Cisco and Wells was much, much better, and finally gave Carlos Valdes something more dramatic to play. He was a good choice for the reveal all around in that, while Wells does have a close-ish relationship with the entire STAR Labs team, what we’ve seen in flashbacks demonstrates that he truly does share a weird, sociopathic bond with Cisco specifically.
And you know you’re into a show when the death of a character floors you like this one did, and Cisco was honestly my first thought when Barry realised what had happened at the end.
Aside from making us watch Cisco die, though, the scene also revealed more about Wells that we’ve previously been privy to. He’s from the future and wants to get back there, we learn, and his real name is Thawne. That makes him a “distant relative” of Eddie – who isn’t the Reverse Flash, conspiracy theorists – and his mission is to kill Barry.
All of this exposition was probably a lot to take in for casual viewers but, for fans, a lot of what was said had been worked out beforehand. That doesn’t take away from the joy of hearing it said out loud on screen, of course, and I love how the scene still didn’t paint him as an absolute villain despite the fact that it involved killing a favourite character and declare that he was going to murder another.
So, this was largely another episode in which Barry didn’t get up to much, and the show quite rightly relied on our affections for the rest of the cast. I love that even in its first season, The Flash feels confident enough to do this, but I wish Barry’s story wasn’t so wrapped up in a dead-end romantic sub-plot that actively detracts from all of the wonderful, exciting stuff going on around him. He’s the hero, dammit!
The show has already been really clever about defying our expectations in terms of the big reveals and milestones of the season, and this is just another example of that. Will Wells remain hidden until the finale? Will Barry do anything about Iris now that he knows how she feels? Will Cisco die anyway? We’ll have to wait to find out but, for an episode that’s been more or less entirely retconned, it sure felt good.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Fallout, here.
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