Photo: The CW

Because Barry Allen believes it is up to him to save absolutely everything, tonight’s episode kicks off with him entering the speed force to go save Wally. But once Barry is in there, this journey functions as a “This Is Your Life, The Flash.” First the speed force manifests as Iris’ boyfriend Eddie, lambasting Barry, rightly, for creating Flashpoint. Then Ronnie, with his and Caitlin’s never-baby. It’s like a cautionary tale on all the damage that has happened from Barry’s meddling, even while he’s off meddling again. Even then he has to fend off other attackers, like the dreaded Black Flash and the Time Wraiths, as he finds his way to Wally, trapped for all eternity in the worst moment of his life. In all fairness to Wally, and Barry, that does sound extremely horrific. Fortunately Wentworth Miller’s scenery-snacking Captain Cold is there to add some moments of levity before Barry is saved by Jay Garrick. You kind of wonder why Gorilla Grodd isn’t hiding around the corner.

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This trip to the speed force, then, is essentially a microcosm of the entire series: Barry is surrounded by lives that have been sacrificed for what he thinks is the greater good, but what the speed force points out is to aid him along on his own quest. By the end of episode, he’s claimed yet another: new speed force resident Jay Garrick. All Barry has done, basically is battled these giant, speedy forces of evil: Zoom, Eobold, now Savitar. It would be scarier if it hasn’t seemed like we’ve been here before, also with another “hidden mask” to uncover. I like all the online theories that underneath all that goopy armor—now revealed to be a man, baby, by Jesse Quick—is future Barry himself (or maybe Wally). But honestly, when Jesse left, there are so many speedsters running around now, it really didn’t seem like that much of a loss, and she and Wally haven’t really known each other long enough for their separation to be as wrenching as it appears to be.

But speaking of wrenching: Somehow this episode ends with Barry breaking up with Iris. While Twitter feeds screamed (the few that weren’t gearing up for Rachel Maddow), I have to say that I have never been a fan of these two for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they were raised as brother and sister. I’m sure they’re boring-ass end game, but I really don’t mind if they break up for awhile. Although the reasoning is bananas: He loves her so much he wants to save her, so they need to be apart? And where is she going to live now? What is with these relationships that are going along fine until there’s a marriage proposal (looking at you, season one Gunnar and Scarlett in Nashville)? It seems like an unnecessary contrivance.

At least Barry admits to one frailty here: He knows Wally is faster than him. Wally needs to be the one to save Iris—all the more reason for Barry to enter the speed force to save him. But he’s not even the true savior in the end: It’s Jay. And it’s Jesse who discovers that Savitar has a weakness. Barry will likely continue endlessly trying to protect the people he loves, but is somehow committed to go about doing it in his martyr-adventurer style. It’s casting a bleak shadow over a show that used to be fun (More Cisco wisecracks! More campy villains like the Trickster!) and is now instead plagued with two many speedsters, evil or otherwise. At least next week’s musical crossover looks like it will show us what The Flash is capable of, when Barry doesn’t have the weight of the future world on his shoulders all the frickin’ time.

Stray observations

  • I thought the scenes back at the lab were odd. Barry is in the speed force, trying to save Wally, and there are comments about Schroedinger’s cat and Peanuts. Don’t even blame Jesse for yelling at all of them. Shouldn’t they have been tracing Barry’s vital signs constantly instead of idly chatting amongst themselves?
  • Now, The Iron Giant is a technological analogy I can get behind.
  • Watching The Flash with my son: “There’s way too many ‘Can I talk to you’s!”
  • “Guess I changed the future one too many times.” Or, way too many times, really.
  • At least H.R. always seems to be having a good time.
  • Many thanks to Scott Von Doviak for letting me step in on The Flash this week while he’s at South By Southwest. No matter how mopey it gets, my kids and I snuggle up to this show every Tuesday. But I almost wish I was instead sitting in on the musical crossover episode next week, which looks like a total blast (Victor Gerber!). Too bad I like Supergirl’s boyfriend, because now that Barry’s single, it seems like a perfect time for those two to finally hook up.