The Flash last week ended on a pretty exciting note: Barry doing some real time travel finally, amid a whole host of other complications for the scarlet speedster that leave him in some of the most complicated situations of his life as a superhero. With all that happened in last week’s episode, what I wanted out of the episode this week was to go big and go explosive because it is a pretty big freaking moment for everyone involved on the show, and the trip getting there was certainly one to talk about and go home to.
In this week’s episode, “Rogue Time“, we have the consequences of Barry time-traveling as he did. Like I said, it was a pretty big moment, with him going back in time almost an entire day, and this episode lays out just what that is going to cost him in the long run. For one, though Cisco doesn’t die in the “new” day, and Barry is able to ensure that Mark Mardon is caught well in time, the Rogues are back in town and they make life hell for Barry. And all the complications of time travel mean that it is not just Barry’s superhero life that is affected, but also is his personal life, especially his relationships to two other characters.
Note: This review contains some major spoilers about this episode.
Time travel. It is a concept that is quite central to the mythology of The Flash, no matter which one we talk about. In some way or another, each hero to have taken up that moniker has had to personally deal with it. And right now, since Barry Allen is the poster child for CW’s version of The Flash, so it is he who has to deal with the fallout of time travel shenanigans on the show. Last week, while trying to stop the massive tsunami-style wave that Mark Mardon had sent against Central City, Barry created a massive wall of air to suck out the power from the wave and because of how fast he was running at the time, he ended up creating a localized wormhole that caused him to time travel back almost a day.
And now he has to relive that day. Freaky at the best of times, and this is not one of those since this is the first time that Barry has experienced time travel of any sort. So comes the learning and discovery stages, where he has to deal with everything that comes of going back in time like this, such as stopping Mark Mardon before he can become the threat he was in the end of the episode last week, only to lead to an even bigger threat when Snart and Rory come back to Central City and get their hands on new cold and heat guns.
I’ll admit, going back in time can undo a lot of the emotional setup in a show, and that certainly happened in Rogue Time since in the “original” timeline Cisco had dug too deep into the mystery of the Reverse-Flash, thanks to some help from Caitlin, and that forced Harrison Wells’ hand, which all ended up with the latter killing him. It was a huge moment for the show, certainly for the personal arcs of both characters, and in Rogue Time it was all undone. But at the same time, while I do admit that something like this should have stuck for a longer period of time, I am also quite relieved since I love Cisco as a character and I think that his presence on the show has been infinitely beneficial to everyone involved from a story perspective. Sure, it also sucks that we don’t get to see his Vibe side anytime soon, or even the beginnings of it, but so what man, they have to leave stuff for the later seasons too!
In all of this, I think the best part was related to how this episode focused on the interpersonal relationships everywhere. Barry and Harrison. Barry and Iris. Joe and Barry. Cisco and his brother Dante. Cisco and Caitlin. Barry and Eddie. The Flash and Captain Cold/Leonard Snart. Leonard and his sister Lisa. Lisa is the new character in all of this and her psychomania definitely fits right in alongside that of her brother and Mick the arsonist. Each relationship was pretty much given center stage in the episode at different times, and I think that writers Grainne Goodfree, Brooke Eikmeier and Kai Yu Wu did a good job balancing all of it.
Last week we saw some great moments between Harrison and Cisco right before the villain killed the young scientist and this week we kind of see a repeat of that scene, albeit without the killing. I was definitely on the edge of my seat however since till date Harrison has killed everyone who tried to manipulate Barry, such as Simon Stagg who rightfully boasted about doing that. Having seen the PaleyFest teaser reel, I knew that Cisco is going to survive, but the writers injected just the right amount of tension and drama into that particular scene to make it seem as it could go either way. And I think it works out just great in the end, since the team is now stronger as a result of all the changes that Barry makes to the timeline, something that Harrison did caution him against initially.
You dig deeper into all of this though, and you start to notice the signs that Barry is turning into someone he doesn’t want to be. The secret about the Reverse-Flash is beginning to spread and given what happens in this episode, Barry too begins to have his doubts about Harrison, same as Joe does. And this is going to make Barry have to lie to the people closest to him. He already does that with Linda and Iris, keeping from them the secret of his powers, but now he has to go beyond that. Way beyond, and he has to lie to someone who has been lying for some fifteen years, and who has pretty much gotten away with it too.
That brings me to something that I didn’t like so much: the fact that Barry and Linda break up because of Iris. Last week, with the threat of what Mark Mardon was going to do to Joe and what he planned to do to Central City itself, Iris broke down emotionally and confessed her love for Barry. In return, the hero revealed that he was The Flash. With all of that wiped in this episode, Barry tries to talk to Iris about her (repressed) feelings for him, but that goes south and it turns out that Iris only did the reveal under pressure of events around her. And since Barry was counting on her love for him, he broke up with Linda. Which I hate. I really, really do. Linda is an amazing character and insofar as the show is concerned, I think that she is a much better partner for Barry than Iris. For one, Iris is already in a serious relationship with Eddie. And second, I’m not so into her character anymore, not after some of her recent underhanded dealings with regards to investigating STAR Labs and lying to Caitlin and Barry about all of it. She is starting to go the way of a cliche girlfriend, and I really hate that. Hence why I love Linda so much.
I can only hope that Linda sticks around because Malese is such an awesome actor and because Linda seems to be the perfect fit for Barry too, someone who is much surer of what she wants and how to get it too.
Any way. Taking the entire episode as a whole, while there were a few things that didn’t jive so well for me, the rest of it made up for the lack, and it was a strong episode too. Could have been better, but then the show is already in a class of its own, even better than Arrow in many ways, and I’m totally cool with that.