A review of tonight's “The Flash” coming up just as soon as I decide whether bowling is a sport…
Just due to the massive crunch of interesting Tuesday shows, I took “Flash” out of the regular review rotation, promising to come back when I had time and/or when the show did something particularly notable. It's fair to say that tonight's episode more than qualified on that second score.
“Out of Time” played like the “Flash” creative team had challenged itself to see how many crazy, series-altering moments could be squeezed into a single episode, including:
* Captain Singh being potentially paralyzed and brain-damaged by a lightning strike from the Weather Wizard;
* Dr. Wells outing himself as the Reverse-Flash to Cisco, and clarifying exactly which Reverse-Flash he is from the comics (future scientist Eobard Thawne, who appears to be a distant descendant of our Eddie);
* Dr. Wells then murdering Cisco by vibrating his hand through poor Cisco's chest;
* Barry and Iris finally having the same level of feelings for each other at the same time, and acting on those feelings with a kiss;
* Barry immediately revealing his secret identity to Iris in order to stop a tsunami and try to save Joe's life;
* Barry accidentally making his first trip through time by going too fast.
With the exception of Captain Singh's injury (since he's a fairly minor character in the grand scheme of the series), any one of these feels like it would have been enough to fuel the show's return after a few weeks off. Putting them all in the same darned episode, along with the rampage of this new Weather Wizard, guaranteed one of the most exciting, surprising, and just plain entertaining episodes of the series so far.
Of course, that last one is the thing that allowed the show to do all the others. Barry going back in time has the potential to undo nearly everything that happened in the rest of “Out of Time.” I suspect that by the time he catches up with the present, the timeline will have been altered enough that Cisco will be alive(*) and Iris will be back in the dark about who the Flash really is, and she and Barry will be back to awkwardly half-flirting with each other while dating other people. Time travel is a wonderful narrative cheat for a show like this, since it allows the writers to insert all these crazy things without having to deal with the ongoing consequences of them.
(*) Though the vibratory nature of his “death” did again have me wondering if the show at some point plans to have him become more like his namesake from the comics. Given how much I like Cisco's role on the show now, and how little use I have for said namesake, I hope not. And if it does happen, they at least better let Carlos Valdes break dance.
But unlike a dream sequence, these things did happen for the characters (and Barry will remember them), and they do tell us important things going forward. Whether Cisco is saved or not, we now know exactly who Wells is and why he is so interested in protecting Barry and coaching him on his speed, because he needs it to aid his return to the future. And even if the show goes back to the uncomfortable dance between Barry, Iris and their current romantic partners, we now know that Iris requites Barry's feelings on a level that goes well beyond the juvenile block she tried laying on Iris during and after the bowling night.
And whatever reset buttons get pushed by Barry's trip back in time, we got to see everything that happened tonight, and it represented every aspect of Team “Flash” – writing, directing, acting, music, special effects, etc. – at the top of everyone's game. Had it not been so good, I would have groaned at the realization that much of what just happened was likely to be erased from the timeline. Because it was so good, all I could do was smile at what I had just witnessed, and speculate on what Berlanti, Kreisberg, Johns and company will try to do next.
Because whether the characters are eventually aware of this stuff or not, we in the audience are. And a TV show doesn't go this pedal to the metal in its 15th episode of a season unless all involved have plans to top it several more times before that season is out.
What did everybody else think?