Time travel books and movies constantly preach the mantra, “Don’t time travel, or you are going to screw something up.” That’s not going to stop Barry from visiting his old self, which means it is time for the Flashback on Flash Back!
Barry becomes determined to get back to Earth-2 to stop Zoom, but he realizes he needs to increase his speed. He travels back in time and masquerades as his earlier self to get his arch-nemesis Dr. Harrison to teach him how to run faster. But while there, Barry faces familiar foe Hartley Rathaway and old friend Eddie Thawne.
“Time travel’s so weird.” – CISCO RAMONE
The biggest problem with time travel as a tool is it always gives the writers an out for any serious corner they’ve painted themselves into. In order to help reign in a million different time travel stories, this week’s episode introduced the concept of a Time Wraith – specters that follow time traveling speedsters in order to put a stop to their shenanigans. This makes a lot of sense for speedsters (and there are many more out there), as it keeps them hidden from the general public, and keeps them from messing with the timeline too much. Of course it also creates a bigger problem for that other CW show, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, that features a team of characters attempting to change history with the subtleness of a Brawl for it All WWF match.
Time Wraiths have no origin in the comics, but they certainly look like a cross between The Black Flash and, as Cisco pointed out, Dementors from the world of Harry Potter. The Black Flash is, for all intents and purposes, the embodiment of Death for those who have speed powers. When one is about to die, the Black Flash appears and sucks them back into the speed force. Many have speculated that the Black Flash was created because speedsters were just too fast for the guy in the black robe to catch up to them.
The first appearance of the Black Flash was in 1998’s Flash Vol. 2 #138 by Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Ron Wagner.
Time travel also gives viewers a chance to revisit some of the best characters in the Arrowverse. In this case, I really really missed how wickedly evil Eobard Thawne was as Harrison Wells, and how awful season one was in its attempt to destroy every villain of the week. This week’s episode took us all the way back to The Sound and The Fury (S01-E11) that introduced us to Hartley Rathaway (aka The Pied Piper).
If time travel has taught us anything, it is the simple fact that even the smallest change will have major repercussions going forward. In Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder (1952), the simple act of stepping on a butterfly in the prehistoric age, completely changes history. From the moment Barry arrives in the past, he proceeds to change everything, and though we haven’t discovered all of the changes that have happened, one is rather interesting – Harley Rathaway is now a good guy. He didn’t escape in Crazy for You, and apparently, because of his encounter with the Time Wraith, he’s seen the error of his ways and is working with Team Flash. While it doesn’t look like he’s a regular cast member, it is nice to see the television version align with the comic book version of the villain turned hero. It also looks like Hartley has reconciled with his parents, who first appeared in Revenge of the Rogues (S01-E10).
RUN, BARRY! RUN!
Speed Force Equation
In order to run faster, Barry has discovered a formula that he can’t quite wrap his head around, but if he can, it will allow him to run at least 30% faster.
This formula is actually a mantra Johnny Quick (aka Johnny Chambers) learned from his mentor Professor Gill, who had learned it while translating inscriptions found in a Pharaoh’s tomb. Johnny Quick first appeared in More Fun Comics #71 (September 1941), but was eventually folded into the main DC Universe in the 1980s. Johnny was created by Mort Weisinger, who knew even in 1941 that the world could use more than one speedster.
AND… just because I know you love it when I make crazy connections… Mort Weisinger was also the founding editor of The Time Traveller magazine “Science Fiction’s Only Fan Magazine.” Is it a coincidence that this episode introduces the speed formula, AND also has a time travel theme that both connect back to Mort Weisinger? I think not.
IT’S CALLED A SECRET IDENTITY FOR A REASON!
Dr. Harrison Wells(deceased)
- Eobard Thawne (as Dr. Harrison Wells)
- Dr. Harry Wells (Earth-2)
- Dr. Caitlin Snow
- Dr. Cisco Ramon
- Detective Joe West
- Dr. Martin Stein
- Mrs. Clarissa Stein
- Hartley Rathaway (Pied Piper)
- Felicity Smoak
- General Wade Eiling
- Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)
- John Diggle
Bette Sans Souci(deceased)
- Dr. Henry Allen (out of prison)
Iris West(in another timeline)
- Iris West-Allen (in the future)
- Iris West (via spark touch)
- Iris West (of Earth-2)
- Leonard Snart (Captain Cold)
Detective Eddie Thawne(deceased)
- Ray Palmer (The Atom)
- Brie Larvan
- Laurel Lance (Black Canary)
Hannibal Bates (Everyman)(deceased)
- Gorilla Grodd
- Lyla Diggle (Harbinger)
- Jay Garrick (The Flash of Earth-2)
- Dr. Henry Hewitt
- Jefferson Jackson (Firestorm)
- Linda Park
- Malcolm Merlin/Al Sa-Her/Ra’s al Ghul
- Vandal Savage
- Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl)
- Cater Hall (Hawkman)
- Thea Queen (Speedy)
- Patty Spivot
- Barry Allen (of Earth-2)
- Killer Frost (of Earth-2)
- Jesse Quick (of Earth-2)
- Supergirl/Kara Zor-El (of Earth-CBS)
- James Olsen (of Earth-CBS)
- Alex Danvers (of Earth-CBS)*
- Martian Manhunter (of Earth-CBS)*
- Winn Schott (of Earth-CBS)
- Cat Grant (of Earth-CBS)
- Lucy Lane (of Earth-CBS)
- Everyone at the DEO (of Earth-CBS)
And that should be everything! What did I miss? What did you catch? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts on this episode, and until next week – RUN, BARRY! RUN!
Next week should be interesting as we discover the origin of ZOOM!
FLASHBACK: THE PODCAST
Want to hear Matthew Peterson and I sit down to discuss this episode in detail? If you are a Major Spoilers VIP, look for the Flashback Podcast hitting the VIP site very soon!