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What if you could go back in time and learn directly from all of the great minds in the world? What if you could be there to experience the moment Einstein developed his theory of relativity? Or the moment when Newton began to develop the Laws of Motion? What if? Well, in this week’s episode of The Flash, titled “Flash Back,” Barry takes that trip back in time to find an answer that will help him gain the advantage needed to beat Zoom. Unfortunately, that one person isn’t Einstein or Newton. It’s Eobard Thawne.

As usual, this article contains spoilers from last night’s episode. So, if you haven’t seen the episode yet and don’t want to know what happens, then look away. And you may want to consider why you’re here in the first place. To also aid in averting your eyes from any kind of information you don’t want to know at this moment, here’s a big photo something from the internet.

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Buried in a pile of books, searching for answers. That’s where Barry begins this week’s episode; trying to find the solution to becoming faster. But he’s running out of time and he’s running out of sources. Some quick analysis shows that both Zoom and Reverse Flash show that the two move 30% faster, but how? Could it be that Barry just can’t move as fast as them? It can’t be. He refuses to accept that answer.

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Later at dinner, Wally talks about a similar engineering project he’s been working on. He talks about all the journals of the engineers who pioneered the field to help him progress with his work. This gives Barry an idea; a crazy idea. He plans to go back in time and seek out the only person who can directly help him become faster – Eobard Thawne.

With the help of Cisco and Caitlin, he goes back in time to seek out Wells. His travels are cut short when something in the time rift attacks him. He stumbles out of the rift and find himself in front of an all too familiar scene: the moment he met Hartley Rathaway. Then in split second, the original Barry is hit with Rathaway’s sonic gloves. Future Barry takes it upon himself to grab his past self and inject him with a sedative. After a small tussle with himself, he also apprehends the Pied Piper. Back at the lab, he re-encounters Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne. However, their reunion is cut short when the time wraith shows up at the CCPD and Barry is forced to investigate.

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Barry shows up to the CCPD, but he doesn’t get there in time. He reports back to Wells, Cisco, and Caitlin and tells them that he first encountered it when he was running towards Rathaway. This version of Wells isn’t convinced that Barry is being completely honest and lures him into a trap. Wells realizes that this Barry is from the future. But why is he there? Barry tells Wells everything and what he wants. Wells gets upset that a future Barry exists thus meaning that his plans have failed. Luckily, Barry is able to convince Wells that his plan did succeed recounting the events of the singularity, but leaving out the fact that Thawne was erased from existence. Afterwards, Wells agrees to help Barry in order to prevent him and the time wraith from possibly contaminating the timeline any further.

Meanwhile, the wraith makes it’s way into the lab, but thanks to the help of Rathaway everyone is able to survive it’s attack. The team splits up to work on different tasks to stop the wraith. With future Barry out of the lab, the original one shows up. Confusion and a little bit of chaos ensues. Future Barry walks through the door and realizes the gig is up and explains as much as he can without disrupting the timeline. Wells gives future Barry a drive containing what he wants and sends him on his way along with the wraith. Caitlin and Cisco still don’t know what to do, but Barry tells them when he goes through the rift that they’ll have one year to figure things out.

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Back in his present time, Barry emerges from the rift and finds himself in the lab in front of Cisco and Caitlin who are both prepared to fight the wraith. Unfortunately, their plan fails and the wraith begins to suck the life out of Barry. All of a sudden, Hartley shows up and with the power of his sonic gloves is able to destroy the wraith. Afterwards, Caitlin and Cisco ask Barry about what happened. Looking at Hartley (and probably wondering what else he changed) tells the two that it was unadventurous.

The time had come to see what was on the drive that Thawne had given Barry. Inside the time vault, surrounded by Cisco and Caitlin, Barry inserts the device. For a moment nothing happens, but after a quick bang on the machine and the solution he had been looking for was right there in front of him – “3X2(9YZ)4A.”

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This week’s episode was really interesting. The overall theme was that in order to keep moving forward, you need to take a step back. The best example of this was Wally talking about his experience reading works from the past to help him progress with his project. However, to be desperate enough to go back to a traumatic time in your life is not only crazy, but very risky. And it was also a risky move for the show. The show has already proven that playing with time in a sci-fi sense is dangerous. To do it as an underlying theme for an episode for a television show is just as scary and could have ended very badly if not done well. Luckily, it worked out in the end – that is, if you were able to keep up with the pace of the show.

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Maybe it was the wheelchair, maybe it was Eddie, but it’s important to point out that there was something about the episode that made it really feel like it was season one all over again. It’s hard to pinpoint it to one thing. Maybe one could attest it to the writing on the show. Whatever it was or whatever it was a collection of…it worked.

Aside from his constant whispering, Tom Cavanagh’s performance this season has been highly exceptional. However, you probably wouldn’t have realized this until this episode. Audiences have seen him go from Harrison Wells to Eobard Thawne to Harrison Wells 2.0 to Harrison Wells the father and back to Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne. And the best part is that they’re all distinct from one another. One actor, one character, and what seems like endless variations. Someone give this guy an award or something.

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This week’s villain was the Time Wraith. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best thing on television, but it was enough to do the job of annoying Barry and the original crew enough to cause a problem. And speaking of villains, the show had one more in the form of Hartley Rathaway. For those of you who don’t remember, he was the Pied Piper. He had heightened hearing and created gloves that emitted sonic waves. It’s interesting to see that his timeline was eventually altered resulting in his reformation. The writers must have had quite the discussion as to why reforming Hartley was okay to do, and how much of an impact would it have on the show. And as you could tell, it was the only thing that changed when Barry came back. Although, this leads to the topic of what else could have Barry altered. Fans will have to wait and see because there are always consequences when you play with the timeline.

Now on to something that rarely happens here, an actual problem with tonight’s episode. How was it so easy for Barry to get the information from Eobard? Granted Barry almost did get a hand phased into his chest, but all he had to do was simply lie to one of the “smartest” men on the planet. If this was a game of Dungeons & Dragons, then Eobard must have rolled a one on his Persuasion check.

Finally, did any of you catch some of the Easter Eggs in tonight’s episode? The biggest one, of course, was the Speed Formula: 3×2(9YZ)4A. Now the question is will anyone else be able to tap into the potential of the formula? One potential candidate is Jesse Quick (Wells’ daughter) who was another speedster in the comics. Also, if you paid enough close attention, you’d also realize that this was a prelude to the crossover events from the Supergirl.

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Flash Back” overall grade – B

The Flash goes on a small hiatus, but check out a promo for the next new episode coming April 19th at 8 PM EST on The CW.

Category: reviews, TV