Finally the season finale of The Flash is here, and what a finale it is!
With Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanagh) now contained within S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) wants to know why the Man in Yellow, the man who has mentored him throughout this first season, is the man who went back in time to kill Barry’s mother. But the “why” of it all is suddenly sidestepped for something far more important: Barry can go back in time to stop his mother’s death, although this will have ramifications on the present and the future.
As ever, the back-and-forths between Tom Cavanagh and Grant Gustin are superb, similarly so are the exchanges between Gustin’s Barry/Jesse L. Martin’s Joe West and also Gustin’s Barry/John Wesley Shipp’s Henry Allen. Where Cavanagh’s Eobard Thawne is concerned, the opening moments of this episode see him reveal to Barry that he hates him in the future and that there the two are fierce enemies who have never been strong enough to defeat each other… well, until Eobard found out who was the man behind the Scarlet Speedster mantle. Upon realising that it was Barry Allen speeding around in red, Thawne decided to go back in time to kill the young Barry. Unfortunately for Thawne, the future Barry also travels back to prevent this. Whilst future Barry takes young Barry to safety, Thawne kills Nora on the premise that her death will bring a tragedy of such impact on Barry that he would never recover and never go on to become The Flash. As it happens, Thawne wold then get stranded in “the past” and, in a cruel twist of fate, the only way that he can get back to his own time is to go about making sure that Barry Allen becomes The Flash after all. Phew! Still with us?
So in the present day, Thawne reveals to Barry that if he goes fast enough he can travel back in time to save his mother, which would undo all of the evil that Thawne has done, and the travelling back would also conveniently open a wormhole for Eobard to be able to travel back “home” to the future. Still still with us?
Obviously, going back in time and saving Nora will cause all sorts of changes in the present and future, with Martin Stein (Victor Garber) quipping, “Nothing would be as it is today.” This means that Barry’s mother doesn’t die, Barry’s dad doesn’t go to prison, Barry doesn’t end up living with the Wests, and Barry very likely won’t ever meet any of the S.T.A.R. Labs crew such as Cisco (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Ronnie (Robbie Amell). As a result, Barry is unsure on what to do, although Joe wants him to go back in time and make things right, whereas father Henry believes that Barry is a true hero and he doesn’t want him to lose what makes him so special in the present.
Whilst Barry Allen is literally struggling to decide what to do with his past, present and future, Caitlin and Ronnie randomly, nonchalantly get married by Professor Stein, and it’s this arc of the episode that also gives way to Ronnie spewing out the words “Sometimes I’m more than just one man, but I’m not whole unless I’m with you.” Smooth, Ronald. Now hand us the sick bucket!
Meanwhile, while Ronnie and Caitlin are tying the knot, Barry and Iris (Candice Patton) decide to address the elephant in the room (or should that be “elephant on the rooftop"): the fact that the future sees them get married. It’s refreshing to see Iris portrayed like how she is here, for it makes her immeasurably more likeable than what we’ve seen from her so far this season. Her and Barry are both honest with each other, with Barry even proclaiming how he waited too long to tell her how he felt and as such she then fell in love with Eddie (Rick Cosnett). There’s a whole bunch of reflection going on throughout Fast Enough, and this here is just one such moment.
Now on the topic of Eddie Thawne, this week’s season finale sees Eddie become the vital piece of the jigsaw by the time the episode comes to a close. Deciding to make his own path by ploughing ahead with his feelings for Iris, the ancestor of Eobard Thawne starts to realise how he can influence things. But while that’s all going on, Cisco and Ronnie knock up a time machine in remarkably quick fashion (one that Rip Hunter would apparently be proud of), as well as Cisco finding out that he was indeed affected by the particle accelerator explosion that created The Flash and various other meta-humans. His power is apparently that he can vibrate through differing timelines, in a further push towards Cisco Ramon’s comic book alter-ego of Vibe. Away from that, it’s finally time for Barry Allen to take that giant leap into the past.
As quick as you can say “Run, Barry, run”, the Sultan of Speed goes fast enough to travel through time, becoming a part of the Speed Force at the same time. Here he can see his past, present and future, as he focuses on finding the fateful night that his mother was murdered. Once there, he is surprisingly stopped from intervening in his mother’s death by his future self (complete with a more traditional, “classic” Flash emblem). So here he is, poor present day Barry back in his own past and having to simply watch his mother die all over again. Sure, he could save her, but he decides against it, instead choosing to comfort Nora as she takes her final breaths. It’s a truly heartbreaking moment, and one that would bring a tear to even a glass eye. But at least Barry gets to say goodbye to his mother and hopefully finally bring some sort of closure to that facet of his life as he assures her that he and his father are okay.
Without saving his mother or altering the timeline, Barry chooses to return to the life that he knows in the present, arriving with a timely punch to the face of Eobard Thawne. As the two speedsters have what looks to be one big final throw down, all is brought to a screeching halt by a single bullet shot. Yep, the “coincidence”, the “anomaly”, the “wildcard”… Eddie Thawne decides to shoot himself through the heart in order to wipe Eobard Thawne from existence, thus making himself a hero in the process. With Eddie having chosen to take his own life, all of a sudden the presumed-closed wormhole suddenly reopens, threatening to engulf Central City and beyond. Ever the hero, The Flash has to try to contain it, to close it, and sets off into the skies, only to be left with his fate uncertain.
Fast Enough was a stunning finale to what has been an excellent first season for The Flash. Not only was there action, resolution, character development, answers, questions and a whole host of varying emotions, there were also plenty of nods and winks for fans to pick up on; there was the helmet of Jay Garrick; the look at Caitlin Snow as Killer Frost; Barry Allen in prison; a future Flash museum; the name-drop of Rip Hunter; the appearance of Ciara Renee as Kendra Saunders; a glimpse at DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and plenty more.
This finale was the perfect send off for the show. The minds behind the show had a beautiful balance of having so much happening throughout the episode (and the season as a whole) yet still managing to make everything have significance. When it comes down to it, Barry Allen, much like The Flash as a show, isn’t afraid to embrace what he is: a superhero. Like all of us, he has his failings, he has those moments he would like to change, but he knows that it is those things which often shape who we are and how we handle things. All that has gone before has made Barry Allen the hero that he is now, and this episode shows him realising that.
It is with no exaggeration to say that The Flash has been one of the very best things on TV in the last year or so. For a show in its infancy to be so good so quickly is pretty much unheard of. Hats off to the likes of Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and the entire cast and crew, for they have created something truly special with this show. Whilst Arrow is another fantastic show, in The Flash we have a series that dares to give us magical, mystical and almost other-worldy characters with powers that are unique and lend themselves to impressive visuals. This is a show that gave us Gorilla freakin’ Grodd, for Christ’s sake (sorry, JC)!
A fitting end to the season, Fast Enough is the perfect summation of the show as a whole so far: an exciting, adventurous, action-packed, emotionally-charged example of a superhero being a superhero.