This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 4 Episode 15
The Flash takes a bit of a break from the DeVoe plot this week to deliver an incredibly powerful self-contained episode that allowed the series to do some pretty effective character meditations. The villain of the week, an insane eco-terrorist named Veronica Dale (more on her in our Flash Facts), is almost secondary, as it is the consequences of her actions that cause one of the greatest threats Team Flash has ever had to deal with. Dale’s actions offer a fine excuse to bring back both Jesse Quick and Jay Garrick as Barry must figure out how to stop a nuclear bomb after the device explodes.
The whole episode is told in the newly dubbed “Flashtime” as Barry puts himself into hyper motion in order to have enough time to deal with the explosion. Barry and Jesse Quick must contain the bomb by pulling their teammates into Flashtime to see if anyone has any ideas how to stop the nuclear holocaust. What follows is a series of one act plays as Barry and Jesse try anything they can. They even journey to Earth 3 to get Jay to help and what follows is a welcome break from the DeVoe drama and a chance to really explore Barry’s heroism and devotion to being the savior Central City deserves.
Before we get into Barry, let’s talk a bit about Jesse. I am so impressed with how Jesse’s return was handled. She’s been gone quite a while, but when she pops back home to have a heart to heart with Harrison Wells, it’s as if she never left. Jesse picks up right where she left off and she spends some of the episode trying to make her always stubborn dad face the death of her mom, his wife.
This allows some rare character exploration of Wells who has spent most of the season being humorous while shouting science jargon and fighting with Cisco. Fun stuff, but not essential. While the Jesse/Wells plot gets you right in the feels, the real action picks up when the aforementioned Dale tries to rob a STAR Labs shipment. We are joined with the action already in progress as Joe West and CCPD try to take down Dale. Flash, Jesse, Vibe, and Killer Frost all hit the scene when Dale sets off the bomb…and that’s where things go from fun to “holy shit” intensity.
The bomb goes off. Barry is helpless to stop it. Jesse and Jay are stymied, and it seems Jay’s age is catching up with him. He is a step behind the other speedsters which opens a whole bunch of potential story doors. This is when the hopelessness sets in. Cisco can’t vibe the explosion, Caitlin can’t freeze the explosion, Wells can’t science the explosion, and everything seems futile. The speedsters try a joint strike but with Jay’s newfound slowness, they can’t get it together and it really looks like Central City is doomed. Jesse races back to her dad and instead of retreating back to Earth 2, decides to die at her father’s side.
But it’s Iris who comes up with the idea of using the sphere that pulled Barry out of the Speed Force in the season premiere to summon enough energy to strike the bomb and rob it of its energy. Yeah, you’ve seen it before, Barry runs fast and science stuff happens. But it’s so much more than that. The episode isn’t about Barry doing speed and science; it’s about a hero’s willingness to do anything to save everyone. The speedsters could have easily grabbed their loved ones and gone anywhere in time or space. But Barry is going to save everyone or no one. In one moment of Flash racing into the Speed Force and saving the day, the reasons to absolutely adore this series are on full display. It’s everything that’s right about superhero fiction.
Think about it though, all this from an episode where the villain of the week is barely explored and utterly secondary, and in an episode where the big bad DeVoe is nary mentioned. That’s some powerful stuff. Plus, anytime Jay Garrick is involved, I’m in. It is so great to catch up with Jay and this wrinkle of Jay losing his edge gives an intriguing new direction to the old war horse. Before Jay exits, he mentions he is training a new Flash on Earth 3 and we should be meeting her soon. Well, that should cause some immediate fan speculation, huh?
We even get another little tease on that young mystery girl hanging out at Jitters. She has a fascinating interaction with Wells and Caitlin as fans are still left to speculate. A Legion of DC fans might realize who she might be, but we’ll see how that plays out.
All in all, this week’s episode of The Flash may not have brought us any closer to the final battle with Devoe, but it did remind us why we love this series so much
– When the episode opens, the camera lingers on the formula 3X2(9YZ)4A written on STAR Labs famed board o’ science. Flash fans will recognize this as the formula of DC’s other Golden Age speedster Johnny Quick. In the comics, Johnny Quick is Jesse Quick’s father and a stories DC hero. Making Jesse Harrison Wells’ kid complicates Johnny Quick’s inclusion, but hey, a nerd can dream, right?
– In the comics, Veronica Dale is known as Hyrax and is not actually a Flash villain at all. Hyrax is a Green Arrow villain and actually plays a very important role in Oliver Queen’s rich history. Hyrax first appeared in Green Arrow #97 (1995) and was created by Chuck Dixon and Jim Aparo. Just as she is on this week’s episode, Hyrax is the head of Eden Corps, an eco-terrorist organization. Also like this week, in the comics, Hyrax used a nuclear device, but in print, she tried to blow up Metropolis. Oliver Queen was actually killed trying to disarm the bomb which led to Ollie’s son Conner Hawke becoming Green Arrow for a time. Oliver was eventually resurrected by Hal Jordan when the former Green Lantern was the Spectre (oh, ’90s comics!), but Conner Hawke stayed Green Arrow for quite a long time, all because of Veronica Dale. I’m a little surprised that Dale wasn’t saved for Arrow as Oliver Queen’s rogues gallery isn’t anywhere near as big as Barry Allen’s.
– The idea of Iris being Barry’s lightning rod is clearly inspired by the comic book relationship of Wally West and Linda Park. In Mark Waid’s immortal run on The Flash, Wally refers to Linda as his lightning rod many times as Wally was always able to return from any time or place just by focusing on finding Linda.
– This week’s episode is co-written by Sterling Gates, the scribe that penned the short lived but awesome Vibe series from the mid-2000s. Gates knows himself some Cisco Ramon, that’s for sure.