I’ve enjoyed running over the years and I’ve always liked DC Comics scarlet speedster, The Flash. I always thought that he’d be a great personal mascot of encouragement to try harder, run faster, and be better. It wasn’t until The New 52 that I started following The Flash on a monthly basis. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s run was nothing short of magnificent and with their combination of art and storytelling, Barry Allen quickly jumped to the top of the list. Naturally, when I learned of The CW’s plan to introduce Barry Allen on “Arrow” and then spin him off into his own series, I couldn’t have been more excited. Unlike “Arrow”, a series that led me back to the comics, I was already a fan of The Flash. I knew his world, his backstory, his rogues gallery, and felt I was finally among the crowd of fans that could legitimately voice support and concern once production started. After The CW cast Grant Gustin as Barry, released the first image of him in the suit, I knew the show would work. After all, he was one of the brightest elements on “Arrow” when he first appeared. This past summer, CW’s “The Flash” was all anyone could talk about; this past year, “The Flash” was all anyone wanted to talk about. It’s hard to imagine that the first season ended last night (5/19th) and “Fast Enough” brings a conclusion to the journey of Barry Allen. Just like the ever-present concept of time within the show, everything eventually comes to pass. Sometimes… in a flash.
136 years from now, Eobard Thawne is born. He will eventually become the reverse of everything The Flash is and grow to hate Barry Allen so much that he’ll plan on travelling back in time to kill his mother, Nora. Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Reverse Flash travels back, but Future Barry follows him. As they fight in the Past Barry’s home, Future Barry saves himself as a child, but fails to save his mother and she is stabbed in the heart. Eobard is then stranded in the past and begins his plan of being fast enough to rupture the space-time barrier so he can go back to the future (his home.)
The theme of being fast enough has played through the entire season and hasn’t only been the driving force for our antagonist and protagonist. In many ways, its spoken to the core set of characters and is an example of how attentive the writers have been in creating an ambitious story arc that has captured the imaginations of a great deal of comic-book and non comic-book fans alike.
We learn more of the nature of paradoxes, parallel universes, and hints of next season’s exploration of DC’s “multiverse.” Citing that Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne “has messed with our lives long enough”, Det. Joe West believes that Barry deserves a happy ending and should go back in time to save his mother. Barry weighs his options as the idea to travel back in time came from Wells/Thawne. He visits his father and tells him what he’s going to do, but believes that there’s a “natural order to things.” Even though Barry travelling back in time could mean that the Allen family may be reunited, Barry’s father doesn’t believe he should do it. The relationship Barry has with his two fathers – Joe (adopted) & Henry has been the source of some of the most emotionally charged scenes. Jesse L. Martin and John Wesley Shipp have been fantastic in their roles and have given audiences a great introduction into the world of The CW’s “The Flash.” They’ve both filled the first season with so much heart and have certainly provided a more hopeful depiction of a superhero’s life and family as opposed to “Arrow.”
Iris West and Barry meet sometime after he returns from visiting his father in prison. They also discuss the possibilities and ramifications of Barry re-opening the space-time continuum. We get a true sense that Wells/Thawne has given a faustian level deal with the devil to Barry at the start of “Fast Enough.” Barry and Iris understand just how much may change if he does travel back to the past and undo the defining tragedy of his mother’s death and father’s wrongful incarceration. He tells her that “I’ve had a great life” and it’s rather heartbreaking when taking into account how much self-sacrifice of the 25 years of life Barry has had is required for him to undo everything.
Before Barry makes the decision to return to alter the past, he visits Wells/Thawne, currently held inside the particle accelerator. He’s told that the particle accelerator will allow him to use a wormhole to time travel. But the catch is he needs to run at a speed of at least mach 2 to collide with a hydrogen particle in order for the trip to work. However, Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) tells Team Flash that the collision has the potential to create a singularity which would lead to an extinction level event. He figures out that Barry will have 1 minute and 52 seconds in the past to save his mother and return. The majority of the information, along with help in building the time machine comes from Wells/Thawne which leads to some friction among the team as they have no reason to trust him.
“Fast Enough” is a glowing example of pacing, build-up, and tension all leading to a climax that both pays off and teases. Most fans understood that time travel would play into the story at some point, especially after Reverse Flash was introduced. Paradoxes and theories have always played a crucial part in telling well-told time travel stories and sometimes the best stories have come undone in their final act due to the convoluted nature of time. Thankfully, “The Flash” is not one of those stories and one of the series most exciting and touching moments happens near the end and is only amplified by us knowing of the time travel element and gravity of the speed force/singularity/1 min. and 52 seconds that Barry is contending with. Before we hear for one last time “Run Barry, Run!” by Wells/Thawne, we learn one last detail of the time travelling journey Barry is about to embark on. While in the past, there will be three Barry’s – 1)Future Flash, 2) Current Flash, and 3) child Barry. He has to wait for the future version of himself to save the child version of himself before he could interject and save his mother. While running in the particle accelerator, Barry sees the “speed force”, a major element of the DC Comic book series. While inside the speed force, Wells/Thawne tells him that he’s seeing moments from his past, present, and future all at once. In perhaps the smartest way to deliver well placed Easter Eggs, we catch a glimpse of Caitlin Snow as Killer Frost and the upcoming mid-season show “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” After Barry disappears and travels back in time, Wells/Thawne prepares himself to go back to the future and his cue to leave is when the helmet of Earth-2 Flash – JAY GARRICK appears! It’s thrown through the wormhole and Wells/Thawne gets in the time-sphere (a time machine created by Rip Hunter, who will be seen on “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.”)
Back in the past, Barry arrives and he’s in his home just moments before the fight between Reverse Flash and Future Flash takes place. He heads downstairs and watches the fight ensue. Future Barry sees Present Barry and shakes his head no while extending his hand in warning. His gesture warns Barry not to save their mother and so Present Barry hides while listening to the tragedy unfold yet again. This was one of the most well-directed, written, and acted of scenes on the first season of “The Flash” as it finally brought together so many theoretical moments fans have discussed from the start. It’s heart wrenching as we watch Present Barry essentially forced to let everything play out and listen to his mother being killed. It’s also an odd, but unforgettable moment when Future Barry stops Present Barry. The scene does not buckle under the weight of drama and we are once again shown how human a drama “The Flash” is. Is it possible that The CW’s “The Flash” is one of the best superhero adaptations ever made? It will be fun to re-watch the entire season and treat is as one big movie; not unlike “Marvel’s Daredevil” on Netflix.
After the action plays out, Present Barry as The Flash heads over to his mother. She remarks that he looks just like her father and he tells her that he’s her son, Barry. He comforts her and before she dies he’s able to give her the message that both him and her husband/his dad are okay and that they love her. He then returns back to the future and stops Wells/Thawne. A giant fight ensues and Wells/Thawne asks why he didn’t alter the past and save his mother. Barry tells him that he already has everything he ever wanted. The Reverse Flash tells him he’s going to kill everyone in S.T.A.R. Labs after he kills him, because he always wins. But then the unthinkable happens. Eddie, his ancestor, takes kills himself by putting a gun to his chest and pulling the trigger. Wells starts to vibrate before shifting back into the original Eobard Thawne. As Eddie dies, the Reverse Flash begins to break apart, as the wormhole opens in the skies. Barry carries Cisco, Joe and Iris out and the black hole begins to grow and sucks up Eddie’s body.
The black hole continues to grow as onlookers watch including Captain Cold, C.C.P.D. Captain Singh, Henry Allen, and even Hawkgirl! Dr. Stein reveals they can disrupt the motion of the singularity by traveling in reverse. Lucky for all of them, Barry without a second thought, races up a building, hopping from debris to debris, runs directly into the worm hole!
“Fast Enough” was a terrifically well-paced episode and unlike the more definitive ending for the season three finale of “Arrow”, “The Flash” truly leaves us in the middle of a cliffhanger; mid-scene no less. I applaud the creative decisions those behind “The Flash” made this year for its first season and it’s great seeing that pay off in comic book stores and comic events such as Free Comic Book Day and Comic-Con. It’s exceptionally rare for a superhero to capture the hearts of children and adults nowadays as superhero fare tend to edge either more towards adult drama or more child-friendly material. One of the advantages The CW’s “The Flash” has is its consistent relevance as it airs every week reminding people of Barry Allen and company. I’m positive many viewers will be talking of this ending and eagerly anticipate “The Flash” returning to television this fall.
“Fast Enough” gets five stars.