THE FLASH Season 4 Episode 15 Review: Enter Flashpoint

Although Barry’s life as a speedster may ostensibly be what THE FLASH is about, it’s not often we get to see his powers used for more than a supersonic punch or a fast getaway. It’s rarer still for the series to take the extra step and show his speed as a catalyst that fundamentally changes how Barry experiences the world. There have been a few past experimental episodes that have attempted to address this, but “Enter Flashtime” has the unique distinction of using Barry’s speed as framing device for the episode, while still being a straight action/adventure piece instead of a journey through the world of living metaphors that is the Speed Force. Keeping things simple ended up being a smart decision -- having an episode that technically only takes places over the span of a few minutes but is stretched out due to Barry’s perspective as a speedster is enough of a compelling story that any other plot lines or attempts to shoehorn in a new meta would have felt distracting a best. Now if only the last few episodes could have understood this concept! 

Credit must also be given to Grant Gustin, Violett Beane, and John Wesley Shipp, all three of whom did a fantastic job of conveying the physical toll using flashtime was taking on them. The premise of the episode means there’s an awful lot of standing around for our leads without much change in setting, so having the urgency of the situation be communicated through their blotchy faces and heavy breathing was essential. Barry’s codas with his teammates also helped to break things up, though it did start to feel like Barry was going down an assembly line when he unfroze them one after another. Predictably, the strongest of these heart- to-hearts was with Iris, Barry’s “lightning rod” (clever little comics shout out, that). 

Even after losing his job, being accused of murder, and sent to prison, Barry has still managed to keep a stiff upper lip since DeVoe arrived on the scene. Seeing him utterly break down in Iris’s arms felt like a release of all the tension he’d been bottling up for months, and it was almost cathartic to watch. I also quite enjoyed the fact that Iris was able to find the solution through using old-fashioned common sense and good observational skills, while every overly complicated solution from the scientists on the team failed. It’ll be interesting to see if this trait becomes more pronounced during next week’s “switcheroo” episode, but I like the implication that her aptitude for language and storytelling gives her a different kind of insight into problem-solving than what you’re going to get from the rotating panel of math whizzes at STAR Labs. 

There was also a little bit of friction between two of said science geeks, as Jesse came into town seemingly just to argue with her dad. I’ll admit that the conflict between them did feel little contrived; after all, both characters act like Jesse’s late mother has been a constant topic of debate, but we haven’t heard hide nor hair of her for the past two and a half seasons. That being said, I still enjoyed their back and forth, especially once they were finally to have their listening session. There are a lot of great parent/child relationships on THE FLASH, but Wells and Jesse have a special shine to theirs, perhaps because she’s college kid who’s going through a different stage of life than our main cast of established adults. As crowded as the team has become, I wouldn’t complain if Jesse were to stop by a few more times during the rest of the season-- it seems unlikely Wells will find something to do with himself if she doesn’t. 

It’s comforting to know THE FLASH can still pull off a whopper when it really puts in the effort, however, the standalone nature of the story means that there’s no way to tell if momentum from a homerun like this will be able to carry last half a dozen episodes forward. But it’s as good a start as any, even if “start” isn’t where you’d hope to find things two-thirds through.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer

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