The Flash: 2.21 The Runaway Dinosaur
Last week's episode ended on quite the cliffhanger as Barry was seemingly vaporised in an attempt to regain his powers through a controlled particle accelerator explosion. Of course he wasn't really dead - you can't have The Flash without the Flash - but what was really intriguing how the show was going to get him out of this predicament. And to top it, this week's episode had Kevin Smith, director of many cult films including Clerks to helm this week's installment. Expectations were high and The Runaway Episode didn't dissapoint. But it wasn't the episode I expected.
So it turned out Barry Allen travelled through a wormhole to meet the Prophets. Okay, so it wasn't actually the wormhole aliens from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine but there were striking similarities. Now I love comic book TV shows and films but I don't know much about comics themselves so I'm not sure how big a part the 'Speed Force' essence plays in those. It was something that I found myself having just to go with; incorporeal beings that had been around since before the Big Bang that had imbued Barry Allen with his abilities. Of course, because this is a TV budget, they had to wear the faces of those closest to him - Joe, Iris, his father and finally his dead mother.
It all could have been a bit hokey - particularly when Cisco used his abilities to reach out to Barry in the - speed force dimension??? - and Iris pulled him back with the power of her love for Barry - but it was surprisingly well paced and sentimental without getting too soppy. Kevin Smith was capable of bringing real heart to these scenes, particularly when Barry reconnected with the being playing his mother. The scene with The Runaway Dinosaur book they read together when he was a child was lovely to watch and offered Barry some real closure on what happened to her. He returned to the real world a more confident, assured hero and I hope that carries him through into the final couple of episodes.
There was also plenty of humour to balance out the sentimental stuff and this was where Smith's directing was really evident. Zack Stentz's script and Smith's direction gave us plenty of funny moments as the explosion reanimated season one villain Girder into a zombie with the ability to make his body metal. Without the Flash to help, we were given a surprise double act in Iris and Cisco. Candice Patton and Carlos Valdes bounced off each other wonderfully, particularly the trip to the morgue that just happened to sit within Star Labs. Naturally their attempts to stop the undead Metahuman failed to have the desired result - I loved Cisco's line "plans A to G have failed". I also loved seeing a more confident Iris, using herself as bait to lure Girder back to Star Labs as she recreated the events of season one's The Flash Is Born. This was probably one of her best episodes to date - complete with saving Barry at the end.
"Girder came back to life, and he's all "Young Frankenstein" now, and he only recognizes Iris, and she lured him to my workshop so we could demagnetize him, but the machine shorted out, so he's about to come through that door and smush us all into chunky salsa and possibly eat our brains out. I don't know. Jury's still out on that."
The final showdown was a lot of fun. Barry's 'plan H', using his own speed force to re-power the magnets to defeat Girder was a cool trick and all the while Smith directed the laughs without making the episode seem too hokey. There were some other amusing moments too, particularly Joe trying to test if Wally had powers and smashing the mug Iris had bought for him. Though I found the scenes agonising over an unconscious Jessie a little more tedious. I'm intrigued to see what the explosion has done to both Wally and Jessie, though I'm sure many know where Iri's younger brother might be heading.
The Runaway Dinosaur was a very good episode of The Flash, mixing some lovely sentimental moments with some slapstick humour. The return of Girder was played laughs but he was probably needed to balance the scenes with Barry and the speed force 'prophets'. (Okay, I'll stop calling them that now). Admittedly I was expecting amazing things with Kevin Smith at the helm and it wasn't that, perhaps because it was sandwiched in between some big arc heavy stuff. But it was still an enjoyable episode and after that ending - Zoom ready to unleash an army of Earth 2 metahumans - things are looking to get really exciting in the final two episodes of the season. I still think it was a waste not to have Killer Frost, Deathstorm, Reverb and Rupture here for the final fight (it would have really helped to raise the emotional stakes) but I am looking forward to seeing season two end on a high. Let's hope it doesn't disappoint...