The Flash, Season 4, Episode 15, “Enter Flashtime”
For those who believe that the introduction of Ralph Dibney has been a drain on the creative talent and the VFX budget for The Flash, they can use this hour as Exhibit A in their case. With Ralph unseen and literally locked away in the basement of STAR Labs, the series produced an episode with all the speedster tricks and fake science that made Season 1 so enjoyable. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of The Flash:
What’s the scoop: The concept is pretty simple. A militarized activist group intercepts a nuclear fission engine and makes it go critical, just as Barry, Cisco, Killer Frost and special guest, Jesse Quick hit the scene. With a catastrophic chain reaction already happening, Barry starts moving so fast that time stands still, as he tries to figure out a solution to this no-win situation.
Meanwhile in B-plot Land: Harry has been holding down the B story for a couple of weeks now. The show makes an effort to redeem Jesse a little, by pointing out how much Harry’s mourning over his dead wife has made him a pill to deal with. She tries to get Harry to open up, but he’s just not quite ready yet. Of course, Harry finds a technological solution to his problem. He modifies the gizmo he made for Cecile last week, to make it possible for Jesse to share in all the warm and loving memories of her mother that Harry isn’t quite ready to let go of yet. Bookmark this gizmo for later use against DeVoe.
What about the action: This hour used a combination of old-school acting and speedster VFX to achieve the effect of Flashtime. The old-school acting involved having all the non-speedster characters stand totally still, while Barry runs around in a panic. Every solution Barry comes up with runs into Flashtime related difficulties. They can’t push the bomb into the speed force because it might destroy it. There isn’t enough time for Cisco to open a breach and send it to a dead Earth. There’s too much heat and radiation for Killer Frost to cool it down. And Barry, Jesse, and a recently fetched Jay Garrick can’t produce enough lightning to counter the energy of the bomb. Moving that fast takes a toll on everyone, as characters start falling by the wayside due to exhaustion. Barry even sees himself slowing down just enough to see the stages of the explosion moving forward. Resigned to being vaporized soon, Barry visits Iris for a last goodbye. Luckily for everyone Iris saw the “previously on” segment before the show, and remembered the sphere they used to trick the speed force into letting Barry free. All Barry has to do is chuck the sphere into the bomb, and the speed force lightning storm that follows will take care of the rest. It sets up the splashiest Flash-powered VFX sequences we’ve seen in a while, and works to save the day.
What’s next: What any of this has to do with DeVoe is yet to be revealed. Barry feels confident he can sneak his way through the doorway of DeVoe’s pocket dimension. Harry’s ever-evolving mind gizmo will undoubtedly reappear. Jay Garrick is going to hang up the helmet, and teach another speedster to protect Earth 3. Just as he says that, we cut to Jitters for another appearance by the girl who writes her diary in speed force symbols. This feels a little more sinister, but I have the feeling that is just a little bit of misdirection.
Last impressions: After spending so much time this season establishing Ralph as a character, it was nice to see Barry be the star of his own show again, and the rest of the team play its part. This episode didn’t break any new ground from a story or action perspective, but it didn’t need to. This was a TV version of comfort food. Sure, a deconstructed grilled cheese made with artisan bread and imported cheese is an adventure. Sometimes you just need a grilled cheese made in a way that’s more nostalgic than nouveau, and this episode was familiar, fun and reminiscent of an early season episode that fans of The Flash have fond memories of.