This week, on The Flash, Barry Allen becomes “Fast Enough.”
In fact, The Flash itself is fast enough. This entire season of seeing Barry try to exonerate his father from prison while finding his mother’s killer and fighting crime managed to be as fast as its namesake and is, relatively, paced well. And “Fast Enough” also demonstrates another element of the show in streaks and spades.
Imagine this scenario. Something bad happened in your past and you have the power to change it. You can go back in time and prevent a decision or an event that caused misery in your life. However, you also know that if you do this, you will potentially change if not outright lose all of the relationships and achievements that you’ve gained despite — or because — of that one bad day.
Imagine you have that power right your grasp. What do you do?
The Flash plays off this scenario and Barry Allen’s inner conflict with the gravitas and the humanity that it deserves. He can’t not do this, to save his mother and prevent his father’s incarceration but he knows about the risks. Granted, potentially destroying all of existence when you can just leave things alone is a little quibble that I had with the premise of this episode but the characterizations were just nothing short of brilliant.
And brilliant and twisted is exactly what Eobard Thawne truly is: with one seemingly minor exception. Watching Reverse-Flash interact with the rest of the characters with back-handed compliments, taunts, and just an outright warped sense of humour — knowing that he is still wearing a murdered man’s face as a parody of the “kindly mentor” he was before — is both disturbing and gratifying to see.
Of course, it is never as simple as all that. And, when Barry goes back in time his future self basically convinces him not to save his mother. Instead, he takes that chance to show her the man he becomes and properly say goodbye. Barry takes what his imprisoned father said about the “natural order of things” to heart and thinking about his friends and loved ones he doesn’t want to negate their timeline. It does make a lot of sense. It’s an altruistic path as opposed to the completely egotistical and selfish goals of Eobard Thawne.
But there is nothing natural about what has happened in Barry’s life if you really think about it. Eobard Thawne went back in time — into a timeline he wasn’t even born into yet — and not only changed Barry’s future and manipulated much of his life, but he also killed the real Harrison Wells and Tess Morgan and created S.T.A.R. Labs prematurely for his own benefit. One possibility that I considered was that in the likely event that Barry didn’t save his mother, he would potentially save the real Wells and Morgan instead: perhaps defeating Eobard in the past while he was weak and powerless. But not only would Barry have had to know where to be then, although he did know where the car “accident” that took Wells and Morgan happened, there would also be the potential for paradox.
Oh yes: paradox. About that …
Barry wasn’t going to let Eobard get away. I mean, this is another main difference between the two. Whereas Barry is mindful of his actions, Eobard doesn’t seem to care about the consequences of his own: or seem to think that he should be held accountable for them. And either way, whether Barry changed time or not, Eobard’s decisions would cost him something, and so Barry took away what Eobard wanted as well: his chance to go home.
Of course, Barry wasn’t really thinking about the long term consequences of preventing Eobard from leaving though, granted, I can’t imagine Eobard doing any good in his own time or society. And then Eobard’s fate seems all wrapped up in a nice yellow bow.
Mind you, it might have been more convenient if the Arrow, and Firestorm stuck around in the particle accelerator chamber instead of Cisco and Joe since, you know, they actually managed to defeat Reverse-Flash along with Barry the first time around … unless that had all been staged by him as well.
As Eobard reveals his full malice, Eddie Thawne, who was Eobard’s ancestor, kills himself to save Barry: and make the Reverse-Flash cease to exist.
I have to admit: if The Flash were a darker show or Barry and friends had any less morality, killing Eddie would have been a pretty effective way of defeating Eobard. It’s kind of hard to exist when your ancestor destroys themselves before you are even born. And it does make me wonder just why Eobard allowed Eddie to found at all instead of hiding him somewhere away from S.T.A.R. Labs. But it was pretty poignant to see Eddie Thawne commit that selfless act … even if, in a comic book universe, death might not always be permanent: especially when you consider where his body was going.
All that said, there is that other matter of the vortex of what seems to be temporal paradox triggered by the attempt at time travel and the subsequent ancestor-suicide of Eddie Thawne wiping out his time-meddling descendant and tying time itself into knots and a hole in the fabric of reality. But hey, look on the bright side: time-travel might have actually taught Barry something that might help out the situation by next season. And besides, Eobard already mentioned Time Master Rip Hunter who will be a star in the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow.
Though if the Man of Steel to made a cameo at the finale, this might have been a pretty good time.
But all in all, the season finale of The Flash lives up to and even exceeds the speed and pace of the show. It could have ended with “Rogue Air” and its epic structure, but it didn’t. Instead, after Eobard dies revealing his real face, just how will Barry “carry on without him?” Is it likely we have really seen the end of Reverse-Flash? How will Barry stop this blackhole on Earth? And will this all lead up to some Time Master intervention, multiverse exploration (did you see the Hermes helmet of the first comics Flash come through that portal, so awesome), and Legends of Tomorrow?
Tell us what you think. I, for one, look forward to seeing if The Flash remains fast enough.