The Flash returns from its hiatus with a…flashback? What is this, Arrow? We see an expanded version of events from the first episode of the series: Detective Joe West firing at the Mardon brothers as they escape in a single-engine plane. They think they’re home free, but they are caught in the particle accelerator’s explosion and the plane’s torn in half, sending both of them plummeting to their theoretical doom.
We return to the present and Barry’s on a date with his new flame Linda. They go to the bowling alley (proving that even superheroes go on lame dates) where they run into Eddie and Iris (who also like lame dates) and decide to bowl against each other. Things get flirty between Barry and Iris, much to the chagrin of Linda and Eddie, as well as me. Sorry guys, you made Iris pretty damn unlikable the past few episodes, and I ain’t starting now.
We’re saved from the discomfort of awkward flirting by a scene in the Central City Morgue (thanks guys!), where the coroner has his autopsy interrupted by a strange man entering, demanding that the coroner tell him who killed Clyde Mardon. The coroner resists, but the stranger summons giant balls of ice, which he pummels the coroner with, trying to make the man talk.
We then cut to Cisco and Wells watching old Buster Keaton movies (still less awkward than Barry and Iris. Ew.), where Wells tries to talk to Cisco about his estranged family. Cisco says things are better, especially since he doesn’t really talk to them anymore.
Back at the bowling alley, Eddie gets a phone call that a silent alarm has been tripped at the morgue and he has to go investigate. Barry says that he has to go along, leaving the two women behind at the bowling alley. Barry puts on his Flash costume and races to the scene to investigate, but is shocked to see a doppelgänger—himself – running faster than he is. Then he notices a few things around him in Central City that foreshadow things to come…
The coroner’s found dead at the morgue, and the floor is covered in water and small chunks of ice. Barry tells Joe that it looks like the man was killed by hail, when Eddie comes in with some grim evidence. The morgue’s automatic dictation system captured the final moments of the coroner’s life, where he told the stranger (identified as Mark Mardon) that Joe West killed his brother Clyde.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, the team discusses that both of the Mardon brothers must have been affected in similar ways by the accelerator explosion (Clyde Mardon, if you remember, was the villain of the first Flash episode), giving them both the ability to use energy in the air to control the weather. Cisco refers to them as “Weather Wizards,” quipping that he was “waiting since week one to use that.”
Barry confides in Wells that he saw his doppelganger, and Wells is oddly dismissive of the revelation, chalking it up to a speed-related mirage or a distorted reflection…
Back at the CCPD, Chief Singh’s assembled a task force to bring in Mardon, but Joe is not a part of it; he’s supposed to lead the investigation from the precinct. Joe’s angered by this turn of events, but he can’t address them because Iris shows up to talk to him. Eddie gives Iris the cold shoulder, and Iris confronts him about it. Eddie explains that he’s uncomfortable with how Barry and Iris interact, and that he feels like the odd man out. Stupid Eddie! Where does he get off having an open communication of his feelings?
Joe and Barry are out driving, with Barry asking Joe for advice on the situation with Iris (answer: don’t bother, Barry!) when Joe comments on the unexpected rainstorm that they’re driving through. His interest piqued, Barry turns on the radio, where a convenient weather report tells them it’s a “beautiful day in Central City.” Because radio DJ’s are never cynical or sarcastic in Central City, Barry realizes something’s up and spots Mardon controlling a storm cloud directly over the car. A bolt of lightning carves its way through the air toward the vehicle, and Barry hauls Joe out mere moments before the lightning makes the car explode. As a result, Singh confines Joe to the CCPD precinct for safety until Mardon is brought in.
We then see Iris at CCPN, where her mentor Mason Bridge is still looking into Harrison Wells. He shows Iris a picture that shows that Wells was the last person seen at Stagg Industries before the disappearance of its CEO, Simon Stagg (who we last saw when Flash faced off with the self-replicating Multiplex). Bridge is determined to prove that Wells murdered Stagg, and he alleges to have evidence to back up his claims. Iris then approaches Linda, where Linda angrily tells her that she feels that Iris lied to her; she feels that Iris has feelings for Barry. Dra-ma!
The S.T.A.R. Labs team makes a device they dub “the Wizard’s Wand,” which looks like the love child of a lightsaber and a claw machine. The wand will use sciencey words in order to stop the Weather Wizard’s powers. Cisco drops it off at the CCPD, but no sooner than he leaves, Mardon shows up to kill Joe. The Weather Wizard summons storm clouds to toss the police around like ragdolls, and he goes to kill Joe with a lightning bolt when Singh throws him out of the way, taking the bolt himself. Barry shows up in the nick of time, using the wand to stop Mardon, but Mardon escapes. Barry grabs Singh’s unconscious body and runs him to the hospital.
Back at the lab, Cisco broods over his work. Caitlin tells him he can’t blame himself for the attack on the CCPD, and Cisco explains that’s not the problem; he doesn’t trust Wells anymore. He wants to run tests on the containment unit that they used to try and capture the Reverse Flash, as he feels that Wells tampered with it. He asks Caitlin if she can keep Wells out of the lab the next morning so that he can run his tests without the professor knowing.
Barry and Joe are waiting at the hospital for an update on Singh’s condition when they meet his fiancé, who explains to Barry and Joe that Singh speaks highly of them. A doctor enters the scene and explains that Singh is experiencing paralysis of the extremities and he may never walk again. When Singh’s fiancé asks if he can see Singh, the doctor says that visiting hours are for family only, but Joe protests, explaining that Singh’s fiancé counts as family and should be able to visit.
I’m going to take a break here again and applaud CW for handling homosexual characters in a really great way. Sure, Singh is gay, but the show draws virtually no attention to the fact, instead portraying him as a “normal guy” who happens to be gay. I really can’t applaud this sort of writing enough, although some goodwill is lost based on Iris.
Joe is furious that Singh was so gravely wounded, and declares that he has to end it, commanding Barry go take care of Iris while he hunts down Mardon.
Joe tracks down one of the Mardon brothers’ old hideouts, but he finds Eddie already there; Eddie feels that he needs to help his partner out with this problem, and Joe accepts his offer.
With Caitlin distracting Wells away from the lab, Cisco runs a series of tests on the containment unit. All of the diagnostic reports show that there was nothing wrong with the unit, but somehow the energy field fluctuated, allowing Reverse Flash to escape. He continues his tests and boots the unit up…and suddenly the Reverse Flash is in the unit…
Eddie and Joe continue canvassing the building when they come across a recently inhabited room. Joe realizes it’s a trap mere moments before a violent wind whips up the room and sucks Joe out through a nearby window. He comes to on a dock, handcuffed to a rail, his leg broken, and at the Mercy of Mardon.
Back at the CCPD, Eddie is rallying the police force together to hunt down Mardon and Joe when Iris gets a phone call. Mardon tells her that she is to show up, alone, or he’ll murder Joe. Iris agrees, and Barry and her leave. Linda encounters them in the hallway, but Barry brushes her off without telling her why he and Iris have to leave.
Back at Jitters, Caitlin is continuing to try and keep Dr. Wells away from the lab, when Wells comes up with a theory: they could use satellites to track weather anomalies and pinpoint Mardon’s location. Caitlin gets up to get their coffees put in to-go cups, only to turn around and find Wells’ wheelchair empty…
We cut back to the lab, and see that the Reverse Flash in the containment unit is just a hologram, and Cisco is replaying the night’s events to try and find out what happened. “I’m not like the Flash,” the hologram snarls.
“Some would say I’m the reverse,” Wells adds, standing in the doorway behind Cisco.
He reveals his true identity to Cisco: Eobard Thawne (a distant relative to Eddie Thawne, he confirms). He hails from the 25th century, and he found himself trapped back in this time. He was indeed at the Allens’ house the night that Nora Allen was murdered, but his original target was young Barry. However, he realized he needs Barry and his speed as the Flash in order to return to his time. He tells Cisco he’s become quite fond of him and viewed him as a son…before he shoves his hand through Cisco’s chest, killing him.
Iris and Barry arrive at the waterfront, and Iris finally explains that she has always been in love with Barry (hence her constant cockblocking, I guess). The two share a kiss before Mardon summons a massive tsunami that threatens to wipe out Central City. The only thing that will stop the wave is Barry creating a vacuum by running faster than he ever has before. He apologizes to Iris, telling her that he didn’t want her to find out this way, and he suits up as the Flash. He races across the coastline, faster and faster, until…
…he’s racing down the streets of Central City at nighttime. He sees himself, and a tableau of familiar scenes play out. He’s gone back in time.
Golly, that’s a lot in a very short time. “Out of Time” certainly piles on the time-travel by the bucket load, between Eobard Thawne, Barry rushing back in time, and even the throwback to the very first villain of the series all in one episode. There’s a lot of good, and a little bad in the episode overall.
First, the good: this Weather Wizard’s far more threatening than the first episode’s iteration, as the extra time seems to have allowed Mark Mardon time to hone his abilities so he won’t get taken down as easily as his brother, and proves a substantially larger threat. Then there’s the Wells/Eobard reveal, which was amazing for a number of reasons. The inherent silliness of the character was played without the slightest twinge of camp or levity: Eobard is a sociopath, plain and simple, and the character is played as such. Second, the image of Cisco openly weeping as Eobard waxes nostalgic was nothing if not stirring. Here’s a man who not only has to accept that his idol is a monster, but a monster who is going to kill him. Finally, the handling of Barry going backwards through time was handled very well without a ton of ridiculous fanfare. Just a simple cut to familiar scenes that brought foreshadowing full circle.
On the bad side, however, the time travel aspect cheapens not only the emotional death of Cisco, but the moment where Barry reveals his alter ego to Iris. Time travel can be used as a deus ex machina in order to right wrongs or erase inconveniences and I feel that the show will probably take this route. Finally, am I the only one who really doesn’t care if Barry and Iris wind up together? The show’s done little work to convince me that Iris is little more than a boyhood crush carried onward into adulthood without development, and I simply can’t bring myself to find the two of them compelling as a couple.