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TV Review: The Flash - Season 2 Episode 17 "Flash Back"

03.30.2016

EPISODE 17: "Flash Back"

SYNOPSIS: After the shocking revelation that Zoom is Jay Garrick, Barry is more determined than ever to get back to Earth-2 to stop Zoom forever. Desperate to find a way to increase his speed, Barry decides to travel back in time and masquerade as his earlier self in order to get his arch-nemesis, Dr. Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne, to teach him how to run faster. However, things don't go as planned and Barry is stunned to face familiar foe Hartley Rathaway, as well as old friend Eddie Thawne. Iris makes peace with her past in order to embrace her future.

REVIEW: One of the elements of the freshman season of The Flash that made it so good was the mystery surrounding Harrison Wells. The man who would eventually be revealed as Eobard Thawne was a great mentor to Barry Allen despite his duplicitious nature as Reverse-Flash. Still, with a much different Wells on the current season, it is hard to not think back to how Tom Cavanaugh played the brilliant scientist and want to see more of him. Well, tonight's episode afforded us a chance to take one more journey with the old Wells. We also get to revisit our supporting characters before many of them changed permanently, including the late Eddie Thawne.

Still struggling to increase his speed, Barry is disenheartened by Caitlyn's discovery that he may not be physically capable of getting faster. Inspired by Wally West's college project, Barry decides the only way that he can learn how to get faster would be to go back in time and ask the man who was actively working to increase the speed of The Flash. Barry decides to go back and visit Eobard Thawne/Harrison Wells and learn the secrets of Speed Force. Earth-2 Wells urges Barry not to go back as any change he makes in the past could have an adverse effect on the present. But, Barry is blindly dedicated to stopping Zoom any way he can and this seems to be one of the only choices left.

Heading back to the battle with Hartley Rathaway, Barry finds himself and injects a sleeping serum that will keep his past self knocked out for six hours. Barry infiltrates his friends and begins probing Dr. Wells for info on making himself faster, but Wells sees right through Barry and knocks him out. Wells threatens to kill Barry when he reveals he knows his true identity, but Barry bluffs and claims he gave his past self a letter explaining all about Thawne, Reverse-Flash, and how to beat him. Wells reluctantly agrees to help Barry, but first they have to stop a Time Wraith. The ghost-like creature tracks anyone who travels through time and is fixated on Barry. The wraith follows Caitlyn and Cisco and is driven away by Hartley Rathaway who uses his frequency gauntlets to drive the creature off.

It was a nice touch having Barry stop Hartley from using hidden explosives in his hearing aids but one whose repercussions did not seem immediately evident during the episode. It becomes a big deal when both Barrys end up in STAR Labs together. Barry convinces his past self that he came back to stop the wraith and they realize sending him home is the only way to stop the creature. There are some nice moments of levity here as CIsco and Caitlyn try to cope with the idea of time travel. Even past Barry himself is a bit taken aback at learning of his new ability but Wells convinces them to stay on topic and focus on getting Barry back to the future. Using the particle accelerator as a track, Barry speeds around and ends up getting a little help from his past self. When he makes it back to the present, Cisco fires an invention to stop the wraith but it fails. At the last minute, as Barry's life is drained from him, Hartley appears and uses his modified gauntlets to stop the time ghost.

What the repercussions of Hartley now being a good guy in the present have are unclear, but it was a nice touch to see a one-off character return in a redeemed role. The episode also afforded us another chance to see Eddie Thawne who Barry gets on video to send a message to Iris. Barry delivers the message to her in the present under the guise that he filmed it a year ago and never showed her. It is a sweet message that is meant to let Iris put his memory to rest and move on but it also showed just how much that character was underused in the first season of the series. We also get some brief time with Earth-2 Wells as he laments not being able to find Jesse anywhere, but it also serves to strengthen the developing bond between Wells and Barry.

Ultimately, this is the perfect hybrid of standalone episode and one that moves the narrative forward. Tom Cavanaugh gets to play three distinct versions of his character in this hour and it shows just how talented of an actor he is and how perfect he is for this/these roles. The Earth-2 Wells may not be as endearing as the original Wells, but this does offer some development and hindsight for viewers as to how much he meant to Barry. Barry getting the Tachyon info from Wells means that he may now finally have the means to gain enough speed to fight and defeat Zoom. With only a few episodes left this season, I hope he manages to do so in dramatic fashion.

FINAL VERDICT:

NEXT ON THE FLASH: "TBD" airs April 19th - No synopsis has been revealed.

Source: JoBlo.com

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