The Flash: 1.23 Fast Enough
The Flash has arguably had the most successful first year of any superhero-based TV show. Fun, action-packed and unafraid to embrace its comic-based origins, it had been a breath of fresh air and the perfect palate cleanser after the dark path Arrow took this season. Not only has Grant Gustin proven to be an excellent, loveable series lead, the supporting cast have been brilliant too, from Jesse L. Martin's determined, father figure Joe West to the Carlos Valdes' endearing, intelligent geek Cisco. It made a show that featured villains with hokey names like The Weather Wizard and Pied Piper until credible antagonists and gave audiences a psychic Gorilla super villain Grodd that was totally believable.
At the centre of the drama has been the mysterious Professor Wells, the evil Reverse Flash and the death of Barry Allen's mother and all those plots came to a head in a dramatic season finale that didn't hold back on the drama and gave us an almighty cliffhanger that left us desperate for season two.
By delivering the big fight between hero and villain at the end of last week's Rogue Air, the conflict between Barry Allen and Harrison Wells / Eobard Thawne became battle of wills with Barry struggling to handle the advice of his former mentor, a role Harrison seemed ready to continue playing even if it was obviously to his own ends. Trapped in his prison, Harrison was still able to manipulate Barry into traveling back through time - the particle accelerator activated last week being the start of that plan - all to open up a wormhole that would return him to his own time.
Grant Gustin and Tom Cavanagh were at the top of their game, Cavanagh playing a sympathetic character in Wells rather than a stock villain and Gustin portraying the angst of following Well's advice, even if it would give him the chance to save his mother. There was also a bigger conflict in play too; if Barry travelled back and saved his mother, his reality would be changed forever. Interestingly there was no question of current history being 'erased', more about a new reality being created. Multiverses look set to be a key part of season two and the groundwork was all laid out here.
One of my gripes in recent week was the lack of scientific definition of how Cisco could remember being 'killed by Wells' in what was now defined as an alternate reality. Thankfully, we got an answer here; Cisco has metahuman powers too and I am looking forward to see how he adapts to this new ability next season. We also got the full story on the original explosion and the resulting metahumans too through a great piece of exposition from Wells in one of his many conversations from Barry. He travelled back to kill his mortal enemy as a child and when that failed, he killed Barry's mother instead, believing that grief would change him as a person. The great irony of course was that Eobard Thawne was trapped in this world, needing the wheelchair to boost his ability and the only way to get home was to create the enemy he had originally come back to destroy. There was a certain amount of tragedy in that story and self fulfilling prophecy too and it helped to bookmark the first season and the origin story of Barry Allen's Flash.
Of course it wasn't all the Barry / Harrison show. Every character, main or recurring got their moment. Caitlin finally got her wedding to Ronnie. Cisco got to build a time machine. Victor Garber was fantastic as Dr. Martin Stein, taking charge of Star Labs and defining multiverses, time travel and black holes with great gusto. I hope he sticks on the show for a while, and least before he moves onto the spin off; he will make a great follow up to the former Wells. He had a great scene with Eddie too; the conversation about coincidence propelled Eddie to make a declaration of love to Iris, even if this was to be tragically short lived.
I also loved Joe's conviction that Barry had to travel back and save his mother, even if it would change everything - including his father / son bond with Barry. It is these kind of moments that make him much more than just a detective on the show and played as a nice contrast to John Wesley Shipp's Henry Allen who was convinced that Barry should leave things as they were.
Of course, Barry did decide to change everything and travelled faster than ever before. Before he travelled back to the night of his mother's death, keen eyed audiences would have seen a glimpse of many things still to come - the future of this reality or another multiverse remains to be seen - but it did suggest that The Flash and the TV universe it inhabits has some long term goals in mind. A major character transformed into a villain from the comics (I won't spoil but it is out on the internet if you want to go looking), the characters of DC's Legends Of Tomorrow as seen in the recently released trailer, Barry in prison, a Flash museum and most exciting of all, the helmet belonging to Jay Garrick, the first DC Comics hero to The Flash.
Talking of long term plans, many would have assumed that Barry travelling back to fight the Reverse Flash in his childhood home would have been the end goal of the season finale. As it turns out, this was Barry's first visit. We got a glimpse of a future Barry Allen in a much brighter 'classic' red suit, fighting the Reverse Flash, who warned the present self not to save their mother. Obviously the consequences would be too high. Instead it became about Barry travelling back to say goodbye and the scene with his dying mother was beautifully done.
The episode came to a climax as Eobard Wells prepared to return home in the time machine, only for Barry to come crashing through, leading a revenge fuelled fight between the two. Eddie choosing to shoot himself in the chest was a courageous move, seemingly removing the villain from existence and leaving him to die a hero in Iris's arms. Eddie Thawne hasn't always had the most to do on the show, but Rick Cosnett made him a likeable and engaging character and really rose to the occasion in recent episodes. He will be missed.
Unfortunately there wasn't much time to grieve as the wormhole destabilized and the season ended with Barry Allen hurdling into a black hole as it began to swallow up Central City. Whereas its sister show Arrow chooses to end each season with a sense of closure, The Flash showed it had no such intention with the many glimpses of the future and a global threat to end the first year on.
Fast Enough was a bold, thrilling finale that paid off on the origin story of Barry Allen's Flash and the mystery Harrison Wells while teases a long future to come. This episode showed that the show is only just beginning; let's hope it continues to deliver into season two and beyond!