The Flash S03E16 “Into The Speed Force” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Sky 1 on Tuesdays at 9pm
Writers: Brooke Roberts, Judalina Neirar
Director: Gregory Smith
Essential Plot Points:
- The episode opens with Barry’s patented, “I’m about to make a grand gesture” face, which is very similar to his, “I think I’ve eaten something past its expiration date” face, but true fans can tell the difference.
- Anyway, he decides to travel to the Speed Force to rescue Wally; secretly he plans to take Wally’s place in the eternal prison so that Wally – who’s now faster than Barry – can escape and save Iris. That’s the grand gesture he’s planning.
- But since Greyhound doesn’t go to the Speed Force, it’s up to Cisco, Caitlin and Julian to science up a way to get him there; to monitor him while he’s there; and to yank him out if things get hairy.
- And about about 10 minutes later Cisco is sellotaping the resulting “tether” tech inside Barry’s chest logo. They didn’t even need to order in any parts.
- Jesse wants to come too but Barry convinces her to stay. Because Jesse is never allowed on rescue missions for lovers or family members.
- Barry goes into the Speed Force and finds himself in a This Is Your Life/It’s A Wonderful Life crossover event (This Is Your Wonderful Life is surely a TV format waiting to happen).
- The Speed Force, pissed off that he saved his mum’s life and created Flashpoint, tries teaching him a lesson by appearing as people who have died as a result of knowing Barry – Eddie Thawne, Ronnie Raymond, Leonard Snart – and showing what their lives may have been like if they had lived. Well, actually, not so much with Snart; the writers seems to have tired of that shtick by the time they get to him. He just waves his freeze gun around a bit and reveals that Barry was his inspiration for sacrificing himself. Some legacy!
- Barry also gets chased by a Time Wraith – which he avoids by running through it – and Black Flash, who’s only defeated when Barry slaps his “tether” tech on the guy and he vanishes in a blaze of light. (We’re not entirely sure how that worked, but it worked, okay, and made sense in the writers’ heads, so that’s fine.)
- This leaves Barry stranded in the Speed Force, so Cisco contacts Jay Garrick who enters the Speed Force as well, with more “tether” tech in his helmet.
- Jay arrives in the Speed Force just in time to save Barry from Snart. Snart drops heavy hints that the Speed Force doesn’t want Barry replacing Wally; it wants Barry to start taking personal responsibility for the dubious choices he’s made and do something about them.
- Barry and Jay find Wally reliving the moment of his mum’s death over and over again. Barry is going to replace him but Jay steps in instead, saying Barry is needed to defeat Savitar.
- Barry and Wally return to Earth-One using the tech in Jay’s helmet. Once home they discover what Jesse has been up to…
- She’s tracked down Savitar and, with some moral support from HR, discovers that behind the glowy armour there’s a mere mortal who can actually be hurt. She manages to stab him in the neck, forcing him to retreat to lick his wounds. Not bad for a lass who’s been told all episode by everyone else that she’d be mad to go after Savitar because, well, she’s the least best Flash they have available. (Yeah, that’d make us want to prove a point as well.)
- But having achieved this feather in her cap, she scarpers off the Earth-3 ’cos Savitar scared her. The big Jesse.
- Joe convinces Iris that she needs to give Barry another chance, but when Iris tells Barry that she will marry him after all, he turns around and says he wants to split with her because… um… dunno. He moves out of their apartment.
St Barry the Martyr is back. After a few weeks looking at a bit of a loose end because Wally was apparently destined to steal the limelight in the big season climax, Barry is once again blaming himself for EVERYTHING and preparing to make a BIG SACRIFICE! Which he seems to love doing.
“Into The Speed Force” is a sort-of sequel to last season’s brilliant “The Runaway Dinosaurs” crossed with a bottle episode. It’s not quite a true bottle episode as it does have speaking guest stars, but only three and one of them’s on a cross-show contact. Nevertheless it’s definitely a money-saver, with the Speed Force this time represented by STAR Labs with the dimmer switches turned down.
The Speed Force is understandably pissed with Barry for ignoring its advice the first time around; they spent an entire episode elegantly telling him to get over the death of his mum but just a few episodes later he created Flashpoint. So this time they spend an episode inelegantly telling Barry to get his s**t together with an evil alternate version of It’s A Wonderful Life where they show him how great the world would be if people had never met him. Or something. The message is a bit muddled but it seems to be something along the lines of: STOP PISSING ABOUT AND START ACTING LIKE A PROPER SUPERHERO, YOU MORON! We think.
Anyway, it’s fun seeing a lot of dead character come back to whip Barry into shape, though you have to wonder if Wentworth Miller is getting annoyed with being kept under contract to play ghosts and hallucinations on various shows all season.
There are some good action scenes inside the Speed Force to enjoy. Plus, Garrick arriving to save the day is a stirring moment, even if his sacrifice does let Barry off the hook a bit. Then again, the Speed Force is clearly angling for Barry not to get locked into an eternity of being trapped in his own personal hell – it clearly wants Barry in the real world cleaning up his own mess.
This being a cheap episode we sadly don’t get to see Jay’s personal hell that he has to relive over and over again. Unless that personal hell is having to repeatedly help Barry out of trouble every few episodes…
So what’s the first thing Barry does with his
second third fourth chance to get a grip on the situation? Dump Iris, of course. Now, regular readers will know BUZZ is not exactly convinced by the Barry/Iris relationship on this show, so you’d think we’d be leaping for joy. Except, it’s not clear at all why Barry dumps her. They need space, apparently, so he can save her…? Um? What?
Oh well, maybe we should count our blessings and hope they both meet somebody else very quickly before Barry changes his mind again (which’ll probably be by the end of the next episode).
Elsewhere, there’s some really sweet bonding between HR and Jesse. In fact, Jesse has her best episode yet, proving the reason why on her Earth she is the “real Flash”. Unlike Wally, she actually gets the better of Savitar and you love her for it. Then for some inexplicable reason she celebrates by running scared to Earth-3 which feels an odd thing to do after spending the entire episode arguing how she was a match for any other speedster. Ho hum.
No one else gets much of any significance to do. Cisco makes a couple of cultural references (the Iron Giant one is cool), Caitlin looks concerned and Julian is so superfluous to the plot you wonder why he’s been written into this one while he was absent from “Attack On Central City” which could have benefitted from his presence.
- The Flash vs Black Flash battle was excellent. We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again; this show’s action sequences are often a triumph of creative (virtual) camerawork and dynamic direction over slightly ropey CG. Here we get some audacious camera moves and exciting angles.
- The thawing of the frosty relationship between HR and Jesse was really sweet. Shame she had to leave at the end of the episode so we won’t get to see more of her with her “surrogate” dad.
- HR on the caffeine high to end all caffeine highs was hilarious and his quip about Schrodinger’s cat (or Schroeder’s cat as he put it*) being animal cruelty “half the time” was genius. (*We’re ever more convinced that some of these Earth-19 “differences” aren’t real differences at all, but that HR simply uses his background as an excuse to cover up his gaffes).
- Jesse takes on Savitar and proves all her doubters wrong – you go girl!
- “Guess I changed the future one too many times.” You think, Barry?
- “We gave you your speed back because you said you’d come to terms with your mother’s death, but you lied to us.” We reckon the Speed Force regularly posts on The Flash’s Reddit threads – it seems to be as pissed off with Barry’s god complex as the fans.
- Despite being a talky and cerebral episode, it’s very pacy and gorgeously shot.
- Jesse’s left hook is impressive.
- Why does Barry try escaping Black Flash by furiously hitting the button on a lift (aka, elevator for our US contingent). Surely, as the Flash, he’d be better off taking the stairs? Okay, it was a metaphorical lift but it still looked very, very silly.
- In “Attack On Gorilla City” Jesse wasn’t allowed on the mission to save her dad. Here, she’s not allowed on a mission to save her boyfriend. Welcome to the show’s newest annoying trope.
- Also, after spending the entire episode proving that she’s more than capable of taking on Savitar and winning, it seems a bizarre about-face for Jesse to run scared to Earth-3. This had more than a whiff of “Violett Beane’s only contracted for X number of episodes” about it.
- Meanwhile, Barry calls off his relationship with Iris because… erm… why? We’re really not getting his logic here. We should be putting this under “Good” because we’ve never been sold on the whole Iris/Barry relationship but this just comes across as another tiresome “martyr Barry” moment where he runs rough shod over other people’s feelings while kidding himself he’s doing it for their own good. Maybe the lesson the Speed Force really needs to teach Barry is “GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ARSE!”
And The Random:
- For a brief moment we thought there’d been an unofficial Marvel/DC crossover and Julian had turned into Modok.
- When Snart attacks Jay, he says, “Getting a little slow in your Golden Age, Garrick!” referring to the fact that Jay Garrick was the Flash during the so-called “Golden Age” of comics.
- Barry assumes that the ghoulish speedster that attacks him is Hunter Zolomon. It is actually Black Flash, the personification of death for speedsters who drags them to the Speed Force when it’s their time to die. He was previously seen in the Legends Of Tomorrow episode “Legion Of Doom” where he was in pursuit of Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne. Although Barry could be correct in a way, because in The Flash season two finale, when Hunter Zolomon was dragged away by Time Wraiths (see below) it looked like he may have been transforming into Black Flash, though this has yet to be verified 100% on screen.
Review by Dave Golder