Though Barry himself introduces the season one finale, “Fast Enough,” the entire team is gathered for the last, spectacular hour. Even Dr. Stein and Ronnie Raymond have returned from their sojourn in the Steel City to lend their particular skills to The Flash as he interrogates the captured (but very much alive) Eobard Thawne. Oh, and in case you haven’t been paying attention this season, or are just all turned around with this time-travel talk, Tom Cavanagh’s excellent exposition delivery will bring you … up to speed.
Now, granted, with all the havoc that Eobard’s machinations have caused, Barry has every right to want to kill the man who turned his world upside down. (Hey, remember a few episodes back when Barry was upset that he thought Eobard was dead because he was the only one who could provide evidence to get Henry Allen out of jail? Whatever happened to that plan?) Instead, Eobard offers Barry a way to change the past and restore all the wrongs in his life, while also gifting Reverse Flash a one-way ticket back to his home time. The opportunity to save his mother is something Barry considers very seriously, as he should, since it’s been the driving force of the entire season.
And here’s where The Flash puts its viewers through the emotional ringer. We get not one, but two back to back father/son moments with Barry and Joe, and Barry and Henry. The father figures have conflicting advice on whether or not Barry should use his singular gifts to change the course of history, so he’s back where he started. Dr. Stein warns him of the infinitely unknowable “Butterfly Effect” of changing time, and the rest of the S.T.A.R. Labs team seems willing to leave the decision up to Barry.
With the father/son feels already fully engaged, The Flash now ties up loose ends in relationships (as I recommend we all do, especially if we’re about to venture back in time and change the present). Iris tells a teary Barry that it’s about time he does something for himself, while Eddie seeks out Iris a bit later in order to convince her (and himself) that the coincidences that led them to be together (ie Eddie being her father’s partner…) were too powerful to ignore. Oh, and then we had a wedding! Meet Mr. and Mrs. (and Mr.) Firestorm!
Now that everyone’s all softened up, let’s get to the sci-fi action! Barry decides to go through with his plan to save his mother’s life … despite the recent revelation that opening a rift in time could also generate a singularity that could consume the entire world. Worth it! As part of the plan, Ronnie and Cisco rebuild Eobard’s time machine in order to pitch the mad scientist back into the future should Barry be successful. The Scarlet Speedster not only has to maintain a speed of Mach 2 in the particle accelerator to access the wormhole in time, he also has to complete his mission in one minute and fifty-two seconds or risk destroying the world. That’s just good, old-fashioned comicbook drama!
Barry’s attempt starts off without a hitch as he reaches Mach 2 and accesses the Speed Force, which allows him to glimpse various moments along his path in time (which is a pretty cool way to show alternate realities … and spin-off series). Concentrating on the night of his mother’s death, however, lands him in the proper time.
So here it is, the moment Barry (and the audience) has been waiting for all season: stopping Reverse Flash from murdering Nora Allen. It’s all right there, all he has to do is step into the room and … but he doesn’t. Why? Because Future Barry waves him off from what he’s about to do. As Future Barry rescues Past Barry from Eobard Thawne, Present Barry closes the door and lets Reverse Flash kill his mother. The difference this time is that Present Barry gets to say goodbye to his mother, and even gets to tell her that he’s grown up just fine and that he and his father are alive and well. Small consolation, but more than many of us get. (It’s a wonderful scene, and certainly one that was earned over the course of the season. I personally expected Barry to save her, and then have an It’s a Wonderful Life moment in which he’d have to go back and restore the timeline, but I digress.) Additionally, Barry doesn’t alter any timelines so the effect on the present should be negligible, right?
Well, while Eobard is getting situated in his Time Sphere, the lab team is keeping an eye on the clock to see when they have to shut the wormhole down to prevent global disaster. Before they can do anything, Barry flies out of the portal and smashes right through Eobard’s device, knocking them both to the ground. Chaos ensues as the speedsters fight, and Ronnie and Caitlin attempt to shut the wormhole down in the nick of time. Reverse Flash has The Flash dead to rights, when one of the episode’s many crazy moments happens.
Eddie Thawne shoots himself.
Called a “wild card” by Dr. Stein earlier in the episode, Eddie figures out that without him, Eobard will never have existed, so he does the truly heroic thing and sacrifices himself. And while this certainly has the intended effect of wiping Eobard from existence, it’s a short-lived victory. A singularity develops and begins growing, consuming the lab as the team makes a last-second escape … all except for the now deceased body of Eddie Thawne, who gets sucked into the vortex.
Though the black hole is gaining in mass and quickly devouring Central City, there’s a chance Barry can stop it if he can run fast enough and generate enough electricity to disrupt its formation (or some equally nonsensical pseudo-science). Barry begins his ascent up a floating skyscraper in order to run circles around the black hole … and the episode cuts to the end title. Damn you, Berlanti and Guggenheim!
And bless you both just the same. This series has been my biggest surprise of the season and has grown to become one of the best shows on TV. The Flash took the formula for sister-series Arrow and really amped it up, something that was easy to do from a narrative perspective, but was likely a daunting proposition from a practical standpoint. And yet the visual effects rarely disappointed, the casting is spot-on, the comicbook cameos and Easter eggs are perennially pleasing, and the story has heaps and heaps of heart. There’s no wasted effort, no time spent on tedious side-plots that go nowhere and interest noone. The Flash is truly an enjoyable experience from start to finish.
But we’re not finished! Where do you think Season Two will pick up? Is Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne really gone for good? Will Eddie’s presence in the time vortex somehow tie into the Reverse Flash mythology? Will The Flash’s attempt to stop the singularity result in still more alternate timelines? Will Cisco be among the new meta-human heroes that step up to the plate should The Flash go missing or be otherwise incapacitated? It’s a relatively short wait until season two starts in the Fall, but if you’re like me, you probably wish you could time travel to its premiere.
Episode Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
Season Rating: ★★★★ Very Good
Let’s recap some extra goodies from this finale just for fun:
Cisco will likely further explore his apparent meta-human powers, though it remains to be seen if and when he’ll take on his comicbook persona’s name, Vibe
- Looks like Firestorm’s two halves are done in Pittsburgh and will be joining the festivities in Central City, if there’s any Central City left next season…
- We see glimpses of the characters in The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow during Barry’s vision of the Speed Force
- Eobard namedrops Rip Hunter, and we see Hawkgirl’s
helmetfly out onto the floor, both nods to Legends of Tomorrow (I guess this was actually Jay Garrick’s helmet, though Hawkgirl does make an appearance as one of the city’s onlookers during the scene of destruction.)
Barry: “Why did you kill my mother?” Eobard: “Because I hate you. Not you now, but years from now.”
Joe: “You saved a lot of people’s lives this past year; now it’s time to save yours.”
Barry: “I can save Mom.” Henry: “At what cost?”
Henry: “I am in awe at the remarkable man you are becoming.”
Ronnie: “Athough sometimes I’m more than one man, I’m never whole unless I’m with you.”
Did Dr. Stein just steal Stan Lee’s line?? “Excelsior!”
Joe: “What happens if Barry doesn’t reach that speed? I’m imagining a bug hitting a windshield; how far off am I?” Dr. Stein: “Not very far, actually.”
Eddie Thawne: “As far as history is concerned, I don’t save the day or get the girl.”
Barry: “So if I don’t run fast enough to collide the particle, then I’m dust. And if I do run fast enough to collide with the particle, I could open up a black hole that will swallow the world. You still want to tell me it’s worth a shot?”
Eddie Thawne: “Every moment of my life led to meeting you. Screw the future.” Iris: “Screw the future.”
Dr. Stein: “My father had me confirmed as a rabbi. This will be ‘legit’ as the kids say.” Ronnie: “No kids say that.” Dr. Stein: “Can we not fight on our wedding day?”
Eobard: “Run, Barry. Run.”
Eobard: “You could have had everything you ever wanted!” Barry: “I already do.” Eobard: “Not for long.”
Did NOT see Eddie Thawne’s sacrifice coming, so kudos to those of you who did.
Eobard: “I’ve controlled your life for so long Barry, how will you get along without me?”