Season finale review: 'The Flash' - 'Fast Enough': Run, Barry, run!
A review of last night's season finale of "The Flash" coming up just as soon as I have a mug that says "World's Best Boss"...
Emotionally, "Fast Enough" was a terrific conclusion to this first season of "The Flash." It hit on all the key character arcs, including Barry trying to honor and protect both of his fathers, Wells insisting that he was still a father figure to Barry as well, Cisco's hatred of his former mentor, Eddie making a stand for Iris, and even Caitlin and Ronnie getting married. (That last one was a bit on the rushed side, but that's what happens when you have such a busy show and Ronnie was absent for so long.) And Barry declining to save his mother because his future self told him not to was a nice touch. He spends the whole hour seeking advice from Joe, from Henry, from Iris, but he's ultimately the only one who can decide if it's worth giving up the life he has now to get a potentially better one where his mom is still alive, and the show's use of time travel allows him to literally tell himself that. Barry bursting out of the wormhole to smash Wells' time bubble looked fantastic, and Eddie's sacrifice(*) was a great exit for a character who seemed destined to become a fifth wheel otherwise.
(*) Earlier in the episode, as Professor Stein kept emphasizing Eddie's role in things, I wondered if he might simply get a vasectomy to prevent Eobard from being born. But that would, of course, have been much less dramatic than what he actually did, and in the moment when Reverse-Flash was free and threatening to kill anyone, shooting himself was the only play — unless the show starts operating under "Bill and Ted" time travel rules, where the moment you decide you will do something in the future, you bring that action's consequences into the present.
And I was glad that Barry didn't change the past, because I didn't want all of the events and character development of the season to be wiped away in favor of some briefly cool but ultimately frustrating alternate timeline. Thawne being erased from existence means that there are going to be changes — including, I would hope, the opportunity for Tom Cavanagh to stick around as the real Harrison Wells, who's befuddled by all of these people who act like they know him(**) — but we don't have to spend most of next season with the characters re-experiencing things with each other because of all the ripples created by the saving of Barry's mom.
(**) Time Travel 101: Characters who are at the center of a timeline-altering event often get to remember the original timeline, which is why, presumably, Cisco and Caitlin and the others haven't forgotten all that Thawne put them through.
And those ripple effects, coupled with the enormous danger of the wormhole, had me wondering why everyone was so gung-ho for Barry to go along with Thawne's plan in the first place. Rewriting the future is scary stuff in and of itself — What if Barry winds up not being the Flash, and thus doesn't save lots of other people's moms? — and when you add the possibility of an extinction-level event on top of that, plus letting free a serial-killing speedster who is faster than Barry... at that point, it just seems incredibly reckless and selfish to try this just for the sake of Barry's parents. (And I was glad that Henry, at least, was smart enough to talk about the emotional consequences of things, even if he had no idea of all the physics-related dangers.) So I spent large chunks of the episode wanting to yell at everyone at STAR Labs to nip this stupid plan in the bud, and felt almost smug when the wormhole reopened after Thawne made like Marty McFly's older brother and was erased from existence.
But that puts "Fast Enough" on a continuum with most of this season, where the show tended to nail the emotions even as the characters had a tendency to do really dumb things (keeping Iris in the dark for way too long, letting Captain Cold "help" with the prisoner transfer) to generate plot and conflict. And the good of "The Flash" was usually strong enough to let me shrug off the sillier or more contrived parts.
Some other thoughts on the finale:
* For a long time, I had assumed — or maybe hoped — that Cisco and Caitlin bore the names of two super-powered DC characters just as a wink to the fanboys and fangirls. After all, Felicity Smoak has very little resemblance to her namesake in the comics. But Thawne's comments about Cisco having vibratory powers suggests at least he's heading down a certain road (which damn well better involve a recreation of this panel if they are going to do this), and we'll see if Caitlin follows. I happen to like both characters in their current incarnations and the way each of them helps inject some humanity into crazy super-adventures, so we'll see if the creative team can maintain that element of things if one or both of them get powers and costumes.
* Thawne looks at the time bubble and says that Rip Hunter — one of the main characters of the upcoming "Legends of Tomorrow" spin-off — would be impressed. (And speaking of which, I'll be curious to see if Robbie Amell is more present on "Flash" next season, since only Victor Garber is going to be part of the "Legends of Tomorrow" cast.)
* I really want to know what the deal was with that helmet — known to comic fans as part of the costume of Jay Garrick, the original Flash from the 1940s — that popped out of the wormhole and told Thawne that he had to get moving.
* Did anybody actually clock how long Barry's goodbye scene was with his mother? On the one hand, very touching and Grant Gustin was tremendous. On the other, the episode had made such a big deal about Barry having less than two minutes to come back through the wormhole, and that scene felt like at least twice that.
* Eddie's noble death also gives the show another method of prolonging Barry and Iris' inevitable coupling, since she'll likely be too guilt-ridden about Eddie to want to do anything with Barry for quite some time.
What did everybody else think? Do you wish that the show had gone full "Flashpoint" and rewritten the timeline, or are you happy with only the erasure of Thawne? Will you miss Eddie, or did you appreciate his sacrifice?