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REVIEW: The Flash 2×17 “Flash Back”

Man, time travel really makes all of this shit super confusing, but also really really fun to watch everything get screwy. Hence we have “Flash Back” our yearly time travel episode that has decided to add some new wrinkles to our heroes journey. Having Barry travel back to “The Sound and The Fury” is definitely a fun idea as it allows many of our characters to play off of each other in fun and interesting ways. Seeing future Barry interact with Wellsobard, Hartley return and develop some strong report with the team, seeing Eddie again. Each of these on their own would have made for fun antics, all of them together make for a life altering exploration of who our Barry now is as a person. Granted there are some pretty glaring questions of how this possibly rewrote season one, but you have to respect just how committed the writers are to their time travel stories.

First thing is first, lets talk about the big scene with Wellsobard and Barry as the two finally faced off after knowing just how much they hate each other. Eobard knows that our Barry is more in line with the man he hates and wants to get his revenge on. Meanwhile our Barry knows how this all ends, but still has to give his most hated enemy a reason to actually want to assist him. It’s a fascinating play to watch and it is great getting to see Tom Cavanaugh and Grant Gustin flex their muscles and see who has more power in the relationship. The moment that Barry reveals he has a backup plan incase Eobard decides to indeed murder him is a beautiful bluff as it is exactly the type of move Eobard would pull on past Barry. To see Eobard be played the same way he has played everyone for so many years is just utterly gratifying and rewarding on so many levels.

As for the rest of the time travel plot it really didn’t play out to much fanfare or drastic moments. Sure, we got the Hartley reversal, but other than that seemingly noting else has changed that would effect our heroes moving forward. This kind of sucks as I would like for their to be more drastic changes for example the way Barry prevented the flood and Cisco’s death last year only to be forced into revealing his identity to Snart. That was an actual change that mattered in the grand scheme of things as opposed to Hartley becoming an ally to the team. It made the time travel feel out of place and as if the risk was not worth the reward as the Time Wraith almost killed Barry. I mean Zoom is still lurking out there and despite Barry now having a method to get faster, it feels as if more weight should have been put on the changes Barry was making. Especially considering how many times Barry screwed up this week.

Usually Barry screws up the plan with minimal backlash, but this is a huge change to the story as Barry’s past now knows that he can travel back in time. This kind of robs us of the payoff of “Out of Time” when Barry accidentally travels through time. It also makes me wonder what other big moments was the team able to figure out or infer based upon our Barry’s trip to the past. Just how much of what we saw has been rewritten to include Hartley coming to save the day, was he there for the big throw down with Thawne at the end of the season? Has everything on Arrow or Legends remained the same in the wake of Barry meeting his past self? There are just so many possibilities that I am worried will be glossed over in favor of Hartley being the only change.

Despite those gripes it was fun to actually see some former characters back in the saddle. The Hartley/Cisco team up while short created a nice springboard for the changes we saw. The same goes for Eobard being given a chance to interact with our Barry and dig deeper into his potential future despite him knowing he will die soon enough. The only lackluster inclusion was Eddie which made me very sad considering how important he was to the showing season one. I feel like much like our present day team, he could have been afforded more time to mess around with Barry rather that simply be the big emotional for Iris. It really felt like a cop out considering all of the great moments Eobard got this week, and yet we could’t spare more than three minutes for Eddie. Man was a main character and Hartley got more time on screen than him.

Overall it was a fairly strong episode that just needed a little bit more pay off.

Final Grade B

+Barry and Eobard scene

+Great Eddie message

+Time Wraith was a fun plot device

-Not enough of a payoff for everything Barry did in the past

-Eddie got very little screen time

-Didn’t feel as if we added to the Zoom plot

Extra Thoughts

-Seriously the Barry Fuck Up Counter from this episode alone pretty much eclipses everything Ray has done this season on Legends.

-I guess the Hartley bait and switch was acceptable, but how does this effect the characters we know like Wally and Jesse?

-How much screen time has Wally had this season? Over or under thirty minutes?

About the author

Scott Swartz