The Flash: Once Upon a Dream
Previously on The Flash: Team Flash trapped the Reverse Flash (but not really), Harrison killed Cisco (but not really), Joe and Cisco found Harrison’s body (but 15 years dead), and Team Flash found Harrison’s secret (but not really) lair.
We pick up where last episode left off, with Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco in Harrison’s not-so-secret lair, staring at the future headline about Flash vanishing (in crisis). They think the date means Harrison is also from the future, and also Cisco likes the brighter red Flash is wearing in his 2024 front page photo, though he muses a little too long on the implications of changing the Flash suit based on a picture of it from the future—and then they notice the article’s byline: By Iris West-Allen. Cisco gives Barry a questioning mazel tov, which wakes up Gideon. Where the fuck has Gideon been the entire time, though?
Anyway, Gideon introduces itself and helpfully introduces the team to Barry as the Director of CSI Division of CCPD, as well as the Flash, founding member of the—JUSTICE LEAGUE, GIDEON DOESN’T SAY BUT WAS TOTALLY GOING TO. She also knows Harrison Wells and is aware that Harrison’s mission is to kill Barry. Convenient!
Harrison arrives in the main lab, which Cisco knows because he put a tracker on his wheelchair, and Barry hurriedly asks Gideon a few more questions, to recap: Harrison killed Nora because he was angry that Barry got away. Cisco realizes that Gideon might tell Harrison they were there, but time is too short to modify her memory core, so Barry asks if Gideon can just…not tell Harrison about it? Gideon says yes, which surprises Barry, but not as much as the revelation that he created Gideon. Still, he speeds Cisco and Caitlin out of the lair just as Harrison’s wheelchair comes into view, and when he enters the lair, Gideon assures him that everything is fine.
At the coffee shop, Eddie buys coffee for himself and Joe, who he has asked there to talk to him alone, with no interruptions from Team Flash or Iris. With a bit of rambling, Eddie manages to tell Joe he wants to propose to Iris and asks for Joe’s blessing. Joe says…no. But before he can elaborate, Barry calls, and they have to go—but not before Eddie reminds him that he doesn’t exactly need Joe’s permission.
At the West/Allen home, Joe is incredulous that Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco snuck into Harrison’s secret lair. Eddie is more incredulous that they’re dealing in time travel now, and Barry sheepishly admits that he already maybe did some time travel. He explains briefly about going back a day and changing the timeline, and his hypothesizes that Cisco’s dreams of Harrison killing him are actually memories of the day that never happened. Caitlin wants to know how that’s possible, but none of them know, obviously. Barry does, however, know that he has a really bad idea, and Joe is already resigned about it.
FLASHback to the weeks after Barry was struck by lightning. Joe hasn’t left his side, and Iris brings him coffee when suddenly Barry begins to code. The doctors/nurses herd Iris and Joe out of the room, muttering about how Barry shouldn’t be seizing when his heart isn’t beating. As Joe watches them work, Harrison approaches from down the hallway. He tells Joe he can save Barry. Joe is skeptical, obviously, but Harrison is impassioned in his plea to care for Barry and Joe doesn’t feel like he has a choice.
Back in the West/Allen living room, Barry thinks they need to access Cisco’s memories, because his big plan is to make Harrison confess to killing Nora.
In the lab, Cisco and Caitlin work on a pair of goggles that will allow Cisco to see into his dreams via lucid dreaming and comic book science. As they’re tinkering, Harrison comes in, and Caitlin quickly comes up with a cover story: they’re developing the lucid dream goggles as a way for people who have seen strange, unexplainable things because of the metahumans running around Central City to receive treatment for the ensuing psychological issues. Harrison thinks it’s a great idea and quickly contributes some comic book science to the cause: using a frequency of 45 hertz, they can turn on the “higher” brain, which is usually dormant while dreaming, and allow the dreamer to describe the dream while it’s happening.
Back at CCPD, Captain Singh wants to know why Barry seems to be slacking on his actual, you know, job. Barry swears he’ll get to it as soon as he can, but Singh checks his phone and then sighs that there’s no rush. Concerned, Barry asks if everything’s all right, and Singh admits that he’s under a lot of stress with the wedding planning (we learned in the day-that-wasn’t that he and his boyfriend Rob are engaged). He advises Barry to never get married.
Barry runs into Iris next, because he’s never actually going to do the ballistics report on the Owens case. Barry is super awkward because he knows that he and Iris are apparently married in the future, and when she asks him if they can talk about something work-related, he prevaricates. But luckily Eddie needs him too, so he happily heads off with him instead. Iris tells him to please call her when she’s done, because it’s important.
Eddie tells Barry about the whole proposal thing; he wants Barry to talk to Joe and find out why he refuses to give his blessing. Barry looks like he might already have an idea, but he assures Eddie that he’ll talk to Joe.
Team Flash meets in the Worst Lab Ever for Cisco’s dream experiment. Caitlin assures him it’ll be easy, though I feel like falling asleep with four people watching you isn’t exactly “easy.” Joe gives him some milk that’s probably drugged, and Caitlin says the delta waves emitted by the goggles will help, so Cisco lies down. He pretty much immediately enters REM according to Caitlin, and then he’s back in his dream-slash-real-life. But this time he’s aware.
He recaps Caitlin taking Harrison to the coffee shop and his discovery that the Reverse Flash capture was actually faked by Harrison. As Harrison enters the room in his dream, he starts to freak out in real life. Everyone gets a little nervous, but as you would expect, he wakes up when Harrison hand-stabs him and is fine. Barry isn’t though; he’s super emo because Day-that-wasn’t!Harrison told Cisco that he didn’t mean to kill Nora, it just happened because he was trying to kill Barry, and therefore it’s clearly Barry’s fault. Luckily, Harrison calls him before he can mope about it too long.
Harrison wants to know where Barry is—not because he suspects anything (although he absolutely suspects things) but because there’s a huge fire in a high-rise building and it’s time for the Flash to go to work. For added tension, Joe exposits that Captain Singh’s fiancé works in that building. Barry rushes inside, past Singh, who lets us all know that: a) the fire is on the floor where Rob works, b) the sprinklers aren’t working, c) many people are trapped, and d) he doesn’t think he can save everybody. Harrison suggests he create a vacuum by rotating his arms at superspeed, thus sucking the air out of the room and killing the fire (and also the people??). It doesn’t work at first, but Harrison does his usual encouragement thing and the second try kills the fire (and not the people).
Back at STARLS, Harrison comments on Barry’s hesitation at the fire, and Barry admits it was probably because he was afraid he couldn’t save everyone. Harrison understands that but tells Barry there are no limits on his accomplishments if he believes in himself. Barry starts to leave, but he does turn around and tells Harrison he couldn’t have done any of what he’s done without Harrison.
Back at home, Barry admits to Joe that sometimes Harrison seems so kind and sincere that it’s hard to not trust him, even with what he knows now. But he quickly transitions to his plan to trap Harrison: if they can recreate the conditions of Cisco finding out the truth about the Reverse Flash trap, Harrison will probably confess again. Joe doesn’t like it, of course, because he should be the one in danger. But Barry rightly points out that Cisco is the one Harrison sees as a son; it has to be him. Joe says they need to protect him better than he protected Barry then; turns out Joe still has some guilt over turning Barry over to Harrison for treatment in the first place.
At STARLS, Cisco is showing Eddie, Joe, and Barry the hologram, and they go over the plan: Harrison is at a lecture and will be back at 5 p.m., at which point he’ll find Cisco working on the hologram. Caitlin will be recording everything for a confession, and Cisco has modified the Flash trap to capture Harrison for real this time. Joe tells Eddie he’ll be protecting Iris, since Harrison has threatened her. Eddie says loudly that he’ll always keep Iris safe, and Barry sort of rolls his eyes and takes Joe aside.
Joe admits readily that he thinks Iris would be making a mistake by marrying Eddie because he wants his children to marry each other. Geez, Joe, write fanfic like everybody else, okay? Basically, he thinks that if Iris marries Eddie now, she’ll realize later that she made a mistake, but she won’t do anything about it because she’ll be totally committed to her marriage. Naturally she can’t be allowed to make that decision for herself. Man, I get we already know Iris has sekrit feels for Barry because of the day-that-wasn’t and her future name, but that is HELLA patronizing.
Iris, meanwhile, sends Barry a 911 text, and he speeds up to the Worst Lab Ever to meet her. Of course, her big reveal is that she’s traced back all the weird meta shit in Central City back to the particle accelerator explosion. She goes over her evidence, and Barry pretends that him not having powers is a big hole in her theory. She’s a little disappointed by his response, of course, but that’s because he’s a dick.
She FLASHes back this time, to talking to him while he’s comatose at STAR Labs. She tells him about Eddie asking her out for the first time, as well as how much she and Joe need him to come back.
Harrison gets back to STARLS, and he and Caitlin chat idly about his boring lecture and that Cisco is down investigating the cause of the Reverse Flash fuckup. As Harrison leaves, Caitlin radios that he’s on his way—Cisco is looking at the hologram as Harrison walks (walks) in, and he looks apprehensive as he turns around.
Cisco follows his dream-script, but this time Joe and Barry are hiding in the room. Harrison sort of not-pologizes and not-fesses to Nora’s murder, and Cisco steps back, activating the force field. Harrison praises his intelligence…and then steps on through at normal speed. Well, that was a complication they didn’t foresee. Joe shoots at Harrison, and Barry races after the bullets: he catches two, but the third enters the force field, which then keeps Barry out. The bullet hits Harrison square in the chest, and he drops. Barry is distraught because Harrison didn’t confess, meaning his father will never get out of prison, but they have a bigger problem… The body suddenly shifts, and it isn’t Harrison at all; it’s Everyman from last episode.
Harrison’s voice comes from all around them: “I am always one step ahead…Flash.” Barry yells back into the void that Harrison ruined all their lives. Harrison insists their lives are better now because of him and their work, which is…probably true, really. Barry screams at him to just come face him now, kill him now. Harrison claims it isn’t time yet, but they’ll face off soon. Cisco announces (based on his tracker) that Harrison is in the secret lair, so Barry speeds there—but, of course, Harrison’s wheelchair is the only thing in the lair. The Reverse Flash suit is gone, and there are dozens of security cameras showing that Harrison had their homes and workplaces under surveillance the entire time.
Barry runs back to the rest of the team, telling them about the surveillance, and speeds off to find Iris. She and Eddie are on a romantic walk—Iris even ignores Joe’s phone call—but before Eddie can present the ring, Reverse Flash runs by, stealing the ring just to be a dick and knocking Eddie over. After some unnecessary taunting, he speeds off with Eddie just as Flash gets to Iris. He promises he’ll get Eddie back and immediately speeds off, but as he does, a spark of electricity jumps from his fingers to hers…just like it did back when he was in a coma. Iris suddenly has a very strong suspicion she knows who the Flash is.
Reverse Flash runs Eddie into a warehouse, and Eddie taunts him to take off his mask since Eddie already knows who he is. Harrison does—and introduces himself as Eobard Thawne. He tells Eddie that he’s from the future, but Eddie quickly realizes that there’s a time travel reason Harrison didn’t kill him already. Harrison confirms: Eddie is insurance.
FLASHback. Harrison is at Barry’s bedside now. He remarks on how young Barry looks and how he could kill Barry right now while he’s in a coma, except that he can’t destroy Barry now because he still needs Barry in order to get back home again. He does promise the sleeping Barry something, though: he will die.