The Flash: Timey-Whimey Stuff
This week on The Flash is pretty much the same as last week on The Flash, only everything happens differently. This time, Barry deals with the repercussions of time travel, gets found out by Captain Cold, and finally gets wise about Harrison.
Previously on The Flash: Barry saw a creepy double of himself while running, Mason thinks (and claims to have evidence proving) that Harrison killed Simon Stagg, a tsunami threatened to destroy Central City, Barry and Iris kissed, and then Barry ran back in time a day and none of that happened. Well, he saw the double. And Mason still thinks Harrison killed Simon. But the rest of it – including Harrison killing Cisco and Joe being kidnapped and tortured by Mark – has no longer happened.
Barry is rightfully confused by the strong feeling of déjà vu. He talks to Cisco on comms, and Cisco encourages him to get his ass to the morgue. Barry protests weakly that he was there yesterday. You get the sense that immediately Harrison knows exactly what’s going on, but Barry takes off. He manages to avoid spilling Captain Singh’s drink this time around, but he does not do a very good job of not knowing all the important plot details in advance of seeing any evidence. Luckily, Joe is the only one he’s really talking to.
At STARLS, Cisco and Caitlin are talking about Cisco’s brother’s birthday party, which he’s avoiding.We didn’t see this scene in the first iteration of this day, though there’s no evidence that it didn’t happen. Anyway, Cisco is bitter because his brother, Dante, is their parents’ favorite by a lot, even though he’s a screwup. Caitlin offers to go to the party with him.
The team is having virtually the same conversation about the Mardon brothers and their powers as last episode, except that Barry keeps chiming in to finish people’s sentences. Harrison may have been suspicious at Barry’s weird behavior en route to the morgue the night before, but now he’s sure. He asks Barry for a private word and then promptly tells him he’s fucked up in time. Barry says he doesn’t know how it happened, but he starts to talk about all the horrible things that were going on, which makes Harrison cut him off—he says time is very fragile and Barry has to follow the previous day as closely as possible.
Harrison then goes to his secret sanctuary to check his future newspaper yet again, and his little forays into viewing the future have more meaning, now—he doesn’t check constantly because of one event, he’s checking constantly to make sure he hasn’t fucked up the future he came from. For now, his future is intact.
At the police station, Barry watches Singh order Joe to stay the fuck in the precinct and not get himself killed by Mark Mardon, and he remembers both Singh taking the lightning bolt for Joe and him speeding Joe out of an exploding car. Barry makes a decision to ignore Harrison entirely, which is interesting. I, and probably you, expected this episode to be Groundhog Day, with Barry trying to do little things to prevent the big events from happening without defying Harrison or time. But no: this episode is going to deal with the consequences of defying time (and Harrison).
Joe emerges, and Barry doesn’t allow the lunch invitation that led to Mark striking their car with lightning this time. Instead he takes off, and probably two minutes later, Mark Mardon is safely ensconced in the metaprison. Needless to say, Harrison is less than happy. He warns Barry that time will replace the tragedy Barry averted, which seems like it’s giving time a little too much credit, but whatever.
The Santini crime family is meeting with Captain Cold and Heat Wave, sort of, since the founding Rogues are in handcuffs. Leonard compliments the mahogany paneling, but Don Santini is unhappy that he’s back in Central City. Captain Cold, in turn, warns that if the Santinis don’t vacate, they’re going to seriously regret it, but since their super-cool/hot guns are no more, Santini is not impressed. The Rogues have to bust out the old-fashioned way: lots of punching. The Don ends up dead.
At Dante’s birthday party, there’s a banner and three-tiered cake. Cisco is notably uncomfortable. It doesn’t improve through introducing Caitlin to Dante or handing off his gift.
Back at STARLS, Barry has gotten up to the speed he ran to go back in time on the treadmill, but he still seems to be in the same place. Harrison speculates that emotions and circumstances could have something to do with it, and Barry does remember that his adrenaline levels were super high because of Iris. But Harrison does not want to hear it, and just because nothing bad has happened yet doesn’t mean nothing bad will happen. Joe comes by, annoyed that Barry already took out Mardon/Weather Wizard and didn’t tell him. Barry claims he can’t tell him everything, and Joe just has to trust him. Before anybody can argue, Linda calls, so Barry has to speed off to their lunch date.
Dante finishes playing a piano piece for his entire birthday party, which is awkward. Dante comments on Cisco’s job and says it must be hard to find another one. Cisco tries to claim he wasn’t looking, because he likes his job. Caitlin tries to help, claiming they couldn’t do what they do at STAR Labs without Cisco. Dante says he’s loyal like a dog. Nice. Cisco peaces out.
Barry meets Linda at the newspaper, and she wants to have The Talk. He says he’s just had a lot to deal with lately, but he like-likes her, he promises. She is not impressed and thinks his heart should ache for her. Christ, Linda, you’ve been dating for like three weeks. He cannot say that his heart does ache, so they’re breaking up. Linda says nobody did anything wrong and kisses him on the cheek, telling him to “go get” Iris.
Mason comes by Iris’ desk to give her the file on Harrison, but before he can give his whole spiel, Barry interrupts them, asking if he can talk to Iris. Mason tells Iris they’ll catch up later, and Barry is grinning weirdly as he tells Iris that he and Linda broke up. He’s asking Iris super awkwardly out for coffee, and she agrees because she has no idea it’s supposed to be a date. As Barry leaves, he stops by Mason’s desk to tell him he’s wrong about Harrison, which is confusing for Mason because he only actually met Barry in the false future.
Barry meets Cisco at a bar later that night, where Cisco is drowning his sibling sorrows in beer, but their talk about how Barry is very quickly moving on with Iris is interrupted by a blonde woman, who’s there to hit on Cisco. Cisco not-so-subtly dismisses Barry so the woman can sit with him, but lest you think this is innocent, her name is Lisa, a.k.a. Lisa Snart, a.k.a. Captain Cold’s sister. She claims to be a structural engineer, and he asks if he’s being pranked, so she kisses him. A few short minutes later, they’re at the Santini home. Cisco is impressed, until Lisa says they’re just squatting, her and her brother — and sure enough, there’s Captain Cold himself. They’ve kidnapped Cisco to build them their guns again, and they have collateral: Dante.
It’s morning, and Cisco is still working on the guns — or possibly an Iron Man suit because Ray can’t be the only super-scientist in this universe to have seen that movie and thought, “Yeah, I could totally do that.” He tells Dante to stay calm, they’ll be fine, and Dante uses scare quotes around “mechanical engineering,” clearly unsure that Cisco’s skills are going to save them. Uh, I’m pretty sure people who aren’t “mechanical engineering” geniuses don’t get kidnapped by supervillains to build their weapons, but that’s just me. Cisco tries to sabotage the cold gun, but Leonard took it apart a lot of times, so he immediately notices. Lisa is left out of the weapon party, though, and she doesn’t like it. She and Leonard order Cisco to make her something gold.
Barry and Iris are getting coffee, and he’s already gotten her an Americano with an extra shot. She asks, just like everyone else, what is going on with him, and in a scene that is overwhelming in its level of secondhand embarrassment, Barry says he knows she’s been thinking about him and that he wants to be together. As you might expect, given she’s not facing a near-certain death by tidal wave as her kidnapped father is tortured by a supervillain who can control the weather, Iris is completely underwhelmed by Barry’s future-knowledge-based guesses. She tells him she loves Eddie and that it’s unfair of Barry to keep making her out to be the bad guy.
Defeated, Barry heads to STARLS, but he doesn’t want to talk about his girl problems. Caitlin asks if he’s heard from Cisco, and Barry smirks that Cisco’s night got better after the birthday party. But before he can elaborate, Joe calls: Captain Cold is back in action.
At the Santini family’s casino, Leonard walks in and is immediately accosted by the brother of the don he killed. Lisa shoots him with the gold gun, which…coats him in gold? Turns him to gold? Unclear, but it is a nice tribute to her comics name of Golden Glider, even if that was never her power. They wreak some general havoc in the casino until Flash shows up, and he grabs Lisa as collateral. Cold is, of course, not concerned that Flash would actually hurt Lisa, but he also still has Cisco and Dante, so he has plenty of bargaining power. Flash has to release her, and for some reason allows them to walk away with their guns.
The cops are in the casino, and Joe wants to know why witnesses say Flash had them in custody and let them go. Barry admits they have Cisco, and Joe dismisses him to STARLS to work on getting Cisco back. As Barry heads off, Eddie approaches him…and punches him in the face. Yeah, he deserved that.
Harrison has found security footage of Cisco getting into Lisa’s car, and Barry has to admit to that Harrison was right: things are still going bad. Although this is nowhere near the previous level of bad, objectively, and I’m unsure why Barry doesn’t see that. Even if Barry never found out about Cisco’s murder, there was still tortured Joe and a tsunami headed into the city.
Barry starts to say something about Iris, but Harrison stops him again—until Barry pleads, saying he has to talk to someone. Harrison gives in, and Barry spills the whole story. He doesn’t understand how Iris can say she doesn’t have feelings for him since she’d told him that she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him, but Harrison reminds him that the unconscious mind is powerful and it’s entirely possible that Iris doesn’t know yet she feels this way. He reminds Barry that time travel is dangerous, and he would know, although he can’t exactly tout his qualifications.
Heat Wave is drinking flaming shots of the Santinis’ expensive liquor, leaving bound Cisco and Dante to their own devices, more or less. They’re still speaking Spanish, and it’s a good bet Heat Wave doesn’t. Dante thinks this is a good time for confession: he admits that the girl Cisco had a crush on in high school liked him back, but Dante told her that Cisco was planning to become a priest so she’d date him instead. Dante says he’s always been jealous of Cisco because he’s always known his own life was on a dead-end trajectory. He says he never wanted to fight for anything in life, but he will now — and he breaks the table leg he’s tied to and goes after Mick. Cisco gets free too, and they both try to fight, but ineffectually, because they both suck at it. Leonard and Lisa get back, and Lisa pulls Mick off Cisco and drags him out of the room so Cold can monologue a little at the Ramon brothers. He tells Cisco that if he answers one question, they’ll be free to go, and I bet you can guess the question: Who is the Flash? Cisco tries to hold out, but Leonard shoots Dante’s hands, ensuring permanent damage if he doesn’t get treatment very soon.
The team is still searching for signs of Cisco when he walks through the door, immediately telling them that he gave up Barry’s name to Captain Cold. Barry says it isn’t his fault and hugs him, but Cisco still says he’s leaving the team; he has to.
At the newspaper, Joe comes by to see Iris. She’s happy to see him, but he’s there for something specific: to tell her that Eddie punched Barry in the face. Iris says she’s sorry that things got so complicated, but she’s with Eddie now. Joe asks her who she really loves, and she says Eddie. To his credit, Joe accepts that and just tells her that she needs to make sure Eddie knows that. As Joe leaves, Mason comes to ask if it’s still a bad time to talk, and she says yes. This is pretty much like a detective on retirement day.
Cisco is packing up at STARLS, and Harrison comes by. He has something to show Cisco, and he takes him down to the Flash trap. Cisco takes that as a reminder of how he failed, but Harrison makes Cisco think through it more fully: they failed as a team, but they kept going. Harrison says choosing between two people you love is the hardest choice you could make, and nobody blames Cisco for his choice; they love him and want him to stay. Then Harrison says Cisco is as close to a son as he will ever get, and we’ve heard that before — in the now-defunct timeline right before Harrison killed Cisco with his bare hands.
Caitlin calls them back upstairs, and she and Barry exposit that casino protocol is to move their on-hand cash offsite if they’re in danger, so Cold’s attack was just meant to trigger the cash move. The Rogues pick up the chase on motorcycles (Lisa’s in a sidecar), and they get in a shootout with the guards inside the truck until Mick blows out a tire. As the truck skids off the road, though, Flash catches up to them, snatching Cold from his bike and speeding him into the woods for a private chat.
Barry says he knows Cisco gave up his name, and Leonard says he put Cisco in a tight spot, just like Barry’s in: Flash can’t stop him, or he’ll give up his name. Flash can’t still him in the secret meta-prison either, because he has a program that will broadcast Barry’s name to everyone if he’s not around to stop it. Barry says he’s not going to let Cold keep stealing All the Things. Cold retorts that he’s not interested in a new line of work, nor in a new location: Central City is his home, and he’s a very good thief. Barry tells Cold nobody else is going to die at his hand and he’s not touching any more of Barry’s friends… but this isn’t some heroic declaration; Barry is making him an offer. Cold accepts, figuring he’s a good enough thief not to have to kill anybody. Flash’s secret is safe for now.
I love this for three reasons: 1) it’s very anti-Arrow, letting the villain roam free under conditions of no death; 2) it pays great homage to the relationship between Flash and the Rogues in the comics as antagonistic but not murderous; and 3) it sets up the Rogues as potential defenders of their home city if/when something external threatens it. A++++
Caitlin is with Iris and Eddie at the coffee shop and has clearly called Barry there, too. Eddie immediately approaches Barry as he enters. Barry is visibly nervous, but Eddie just hugs him, much to Barry’s surprise. Turns out Caitlin has gotten Barry off the hook for his weird behavior and his second declaration of love to Iris by inventing a condition called “lightning psychosis”: mood swings and behavioral changes brought about by a lightning strike. Very understudied. Also effective.
Mason is working late at the paper when lightning flashes outside and the power flickers—and then Reverse Flash is there. Mason swears everything he knows about Harrison in in his external drive, and he tells Reverse Flash to just take it. Things go quiet for a moment, and then Harrison’s hand is through Mason’s chest. Harrison laments the loss of Mason’s “story of the century. Well, this century.” He uses his creepy hand knife to wipe the drive, then speedily cleans up the newsroom – including Mason’s body.
Back at STARLS, Barry asks Harrison if he thinks he did the right thing, letting Captain Cold go. Harrison says the best any of them can do is what they think is right in the moment, and for now they can just be happy that the timeline is intact. Barry starts to ask him about Simon, but right before he says the name, a news alert pops up silently on Barry’s computer about Mason’s disappearance. And Barry decides he doesn’t have a question after all.
In the Worst Lab Ever (we haven’t had a scene here in ages!), Barry is watching the rain outside when Joe joins him. Barry thinks Joe was right about Harrison. “Which part?” asks Joe.
“All of it,” says Barry.