Last week, Cisco finally learnt Harrison Wells’ secret; Barry revealed his identity to Iris; Joe put himself in non-essential danger (again); and Flash discovered if he ran fast enough, he could travel through time.
At the end of last week’s episode, Flash found himself a week in the past, raising the question of how his trip back in time would effect the timeline.
Some weeks before, Harrison had explained theories of time travel (with Cisco labelling them the “Terminator” and “Back to the Future” theories. Whilst this might have been seen as telegraphing the show’s own take on the rules of time travel, this episode effectively made much of last week’s events into the TV equivalent of the old DC “Not a Hoax” type imaginary stories that used to pepper the Silver Age of comics.
Perhaps disappointingly; rather than see the consequence of Barry making some change affecting subsequent events, it felt like the events changed irrespective of any new input. For example, when Barry revealed his identity to Iris and ran off to save Central City, he felt he was on the cusp of a relationship with her. In the new timeline, Barry pre-emptively dumps Linda, only to find that Iris is less keen when her city isn’t about to be swamped by a metahuman-created tidal wave. We did get some technobabble from Caitlin suggesting a possible reason why Iris’ view changed, but it didn’t feel organic to the ‘rules’ the show was setting up for itself in this area.
After last episode’s weather wizard, this week saw the return of Captain Cold and Heat Wave, and introduced Snart’s sister Lisa (Golden Glider in the comics, though not identified as such yet). Played by Peyton List (Cara from the Tomorrow People), this initial appearance didn’t feel as close a match to either of the comics approaches to the character. Having said that, as a CW alumni, it wouldn’t be surprising to see her back in more episodes, perhaps gaining some measure of the comic character’s abilities (though I’d guess the ability to create ribbons of ice through the air and skate along them might push at the limits of the show’s effects budget!). With Lisa’s appearance, and the two Tricksters next week, the Rogue’s Gallery is filling out fast – how long before we see Mirror Master or the Top? It will also be interesting to see how having another person learn the Flash’s identity changes things.
It’s perhaps an indication of how highly this show generally punches, that when we get a two-parter with a build up of so many elements with the inevitable need to hit the reset button afterwards, we see it as disappointing. Whilst the episode didn’t result in the Flashpoint-esque dystopia many were expecting, it was a perfectly competent story that played with the concept enough to make it a thing; but kept it sufficiently low-key that a future time-travel episode won’t feel like a retread.