So, as off-putting as the random few weeks gap on new episodes was, I’m at least glad the CW didn’t decide to spring it after this episode. They certainly could have, but it would have lead to me having to edit a lot of curse words out of this review.
This week was a pretty intense ride, leading to one Hell of a finish. It continues the show’s tendency to answer a few questions while raising some new ones, but the ones it picked this week were huge.
As a character I’ve spoken well of in previous reviews, this week marked a turning point for Harrison Wells. After all of the end of episode stingers and clues about his true nature, this week finally laid all the proverbial cards laid on the table. Thankfully, the reveal doesn’t really diminish everything we’ve seen built up about him thus far.
And while I’m giving points to the show’s resident fake cripple, he plays a part in probably the biggest part of this week’s episode. His confrontation with Cisco is probably one the strongest scenes in the series so far, and the performances by Cavanagh and Ramon only give more emotional weight to the moment. It all culminates in a scene where, even knowing what’s coming, it is genuinely painful to watch unfold – and I mean that in the best sense of the word.
This isn’t to say the rest of the episode isn’t worth noting, but really, that part of this week’s third act is one Hell of a reveal.
Besides the Wells reveal, this week sees a lot of plots coming back or upping their own antes in other ways. Probably the biggest surprise of these being in this week’s metahuman of the week- calling back to the show’s pilot episode, this week sees Mardon’s brother (Liam McIntyre) come back to Central City with an ax to grind and powers of his own.
Given the vendetta he has is, surprisingly, with Joe rather than Barry, this becomes a much trickier fight to resolve. This isn’t something where Barry can head off on his own to keep his loved ones safe ñ they’re the primary target and he’s just the guy who’s getting in the way of payback.
As a result of this, Jesse L. Martin really gets his chance to shine as well this week. While this vendetta also has an effect on Barry, it’s the toll it’s taking on Joe that the writers and Martin really build on. Seeing Barry having to reign Joe in from taking dangerous risks while still staying in character could have been a daunting prospect, but the show’s built up the two and their dynamic well enough to this point that the change-up still feels true to their natures.
Conversely, this week decided to finally bring the proverbial plane in for a landing with Iris. For a while this week, I was actually pretty happy with the developments here – having her colleague at the paper (Roger Howarth) investigating Wells had potential to make for an interesting angle, even if it upped his mortality rate. Then the last act finally hit that moment every superhero seems obligated to fulfill: the reveal of the true identity and the romantic reconciliation.
This reveal wasn’t too bad per se, I’ll say that now. The problem is more the fact that it feels like the show really rushed this one to sync it up to these events for the sake of drama. I was liking the set-up the show had between Grant Gustin and Malese Jow these past few weeks, even knowing it wasn’t going to last, I was at least figuring we’d get a bit more time with the dynamic before it was ditched.
Then again, given the end of this week, I can see why they decided to jump the line. After hints of it throughout the season, this week finally opened the door for time travel. It’s a major element in the Wells reveal (won’t say here for spoilage), and it is an active part of the cliffhanger the show leaves off on this week.
Which is a reveal that is equal parts appealing and kind of disappointing. For starters, with ten episodes left to the season, this could be a turning point in where things go. Even before the time travel, this episode was shaping up to be a turning point anyway. It ends with just enough uncertain that I’m interested to see where it goes next week.
Unfortunately, it also makes a lot of the big emotional moments this week lose some of their sting for the moment. This timeline may still be the one Barry gets back to, but in the meantime, after some of the big reveals this week, to wind up in a setting where those didn’t happen makes for a bit of a let down.
Despite these grievances, I don’t mind saying this is still one of the best episodes this show has done to date. Even if this show does undo much of this week’s payoff, the subsequent reason for that payoff is handled as enough of a shocker to still make it feel worth the hour.
If this is a taste of the direction the show will be going in from here on out, or at least for the next few episodes, then I’m already well sold on seeing what happens in Rogue Time next week.
-Some great raising of the stakes in a lot of this episode
-Strong performances by Martin, Valdes, and Cavanagh
-Overall, the Iris payoff isn’t bad, but it does feel pretty rushed
-Depending what comes of the time shift next week, this may have been for nothing – albeit well made nothing.