Aww, that was actually really nice and off beat for an episode that largely centered on the emotional weight of hero wanting to get home. “ The Runaway Dinosaur” directed by Kevin Smith managed to be the perfect palate cleanser before Zoom makes Barry’s entire world go to shit. You had palatable drama, excellent emotional heft to Barry’s journey back, and the team actually managed to have a fun side mission. Sure, there was a ton of “Speedforce, I literally have to explain nothing at all,” but the sheer scope of everything made up for some fun dynamics. It’s always nice when the show actually takes the time to slow down and effectively work a story about how the team has grown. Also, Smith’s sensibilities and comic chops really helped to make the weight of this episode feel absolutely pure. Now however Zoom has his army and it is time for Barry’s world to be shaken to its core.
So, let’s start with Barry’s trip through the speed force as it managed to make for one of the most solid pieces of character development since last season’s finale. I mean each part of Barry’s journey managed to add something to the scope of the show, from Speedforce Joe explaining in the barest of details what the speedforce actually, to the final talk with Barry’s speedforce mother. I do wish that the first two interactions with the speedforce had been given the same weight as Barry’s father and mothers were. It felt like speedforce Joe and Iris were lacking in the motivation to make Barry push forward and develop as a character. However, as soon as speedforce Henry appeared everything about the adventure got elevated. I mean how many times have we heard Barry talk about his mother’s death being the defining moment for him as a child. To see him finally confront this massive moment in his life was super rewarding.
Barry’s talk with speedforce Henry and Nora really manage to drive home just how much Barry has sacrificed for his powers. Major props to Grant Gustin, John Wesley Shipp, and Michelle Harrison for providing some if not their best work of the series. Gustin especially nailed it at the grave with speedforce Henry when he talks about missing his mother everyday and how he has never truly been able to get over it. It takes a special type of person to actually admit that they are not as strong as everyone believes them to be, and in that moment Barry manages to prove just how vulnerable of a character he is and how far he has to go. I mean Oliver deals with emotional problems every single week, but Barry actually manages to do more in one episode than Oliver has done over several seasons. Seriously I can’t not rant about how stellar Gustin was this week, he truly is Barry Allen.
At the same time you had some fine character development for Iris and the rest of the team as they were forced to deal with a zombie Girder. Did this plot actually manage to add anything to the overall story? No, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t entertaining to watch all of the fun pairings like Iris/Cisco, Wells/Cisco, and Joe/Henry. This show manages to have such an amazing cast that when everybody gets to flex their muscles everyone wins. This was an especially strong episode for Candice Patton and Carlos Valdes for differing reasons. It is very rare we get to see Iris actually take charge and own the outcome of the plan. I mean this was vintage Iris in charge and willing to make the big leap as long as it meant helping her friends. I would seriously like to see this all continue moving forward as a proactive and well written Iris is to the strength of the show. As long as she doesn’t become Felicity somehow and nerf Barry at every turn. Similarly Smith helped to bring out the best of Valdes’ comedic chops and this may have been Cisco’s funniest episode to date.
The only aspect that was lacking this week since this episode was so stuffed with content was Zoom. We got a brief glimpse at what he has been up to with the post credits stinger, but I would have enjoyed actually seeing whatever conversation he was having with Caitlin throughout the day. I know Zoom is terrifying and has big plans for Central City, I would have just loved to see Smith’s direction more with Zoom and a little less on Girder. I mean let the big bad be the big bad. I will say this though, damn if Zoom’s pump up speech wasn’t one of the best things to happen this week. Man knows how to deliver a monologue.
Overall it was a damn near perfect episode, now for the mayhem to rain down on Central City.
Final Grade A-
+Barry’s conversations with the Speedforce
+Fun side plot with Girder
+Excellent performances from Gustin, Patton, and Shipp
+Kevin Smith’s direction
+Zoom’s pump up speech
-Lack of Zoom
-Cisco’s “Zombie, for real” just shows how much he has resigned himself to the new normal. Also, how many times does Greg Finley need to be a zombie this year and die?
-Seriously, did Zoom just line everyone up and bring them over to Earth-1, because thats a lot of metas.
-Barry reciting the kids book maybe one of the most heart melting scenes of the entire show. I almost cried.
-How did no one figure out Thawne was evil when he was dissecting metas in the secret morgue? All he needed was an evil hairless cat guys.