The Flash, Season 2 Episode 21 “The Runaway Dinosaur”
For all the emotional beats it missed last week, The Flash came back strong with a heartfelt episode about Barry’s journey through the Speed Force to regain his powers. It’s a voyage that cuts to the core of who he is and what motivates his desire to be a heo. This episode was directed by cult comedy director/comic book nerd Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats), whose previous efforts at tugging at viewer’s heartstrings have been met with mixed results, but hit the mark this time around.
Barry discovers the source of his powers, the Speed Force has an intelligence and is as old as time itself. He must sort out his own nature existence in order to catch his speed. Meanwhile, Season 1 villain Girder has been reanimated by the most recent Dark Matter explosion, so Team Flash has to deal with him and help Jesse and Wally at the same time.
The Big Deal
One of the biggest flaws with this second season of The Flash is that it lost its effervescent spirit. Barry has been looking for ways to be faster and use his powers in different ways to counter a threat faster and more powerful than himself from the beginning. This time around, that initial joy of discovery was replaced by an overwhelming feeling of dread. Zoom is a greater threat and the loss of Eddie Thawne at the end of last season still casts a shadow in a lot of ways. However the crossover with Supergirl proved Barry still had a lot of Glee glee in him that should be tapped in his own show. This trip through the Speed Force, which turns out to be a sentient force of nature – like a kinder version gravity (which totally laughs at you when you trip over something) was transformational for Barry and a sign the version of the Flash we knew in Season 1 might be back. To get his powers back Barry must catch a shadowy figure who is always just out of his reach. Barry’s journey through his own past leads back to the death of his mother and the guilt that is weighing him down. It’s not until he shares a moment with a Speed Force surrogate of his mother, that Barry is able to unburden his soul and effortlessly capture the shadowy figure (Barry in his Flash costume) with his outstretched hand.
On the Side
Girder was just doing what dead things do in the morgue in Star Labs when it was reanimated by Wells’ latest Dark Matter “accident.” The impossibly strong, nigh invulnerable zombie goes on a shambling rampage through Central City, while Team Dads (Harry, Joe and Henry) treat the wounded and come up with a way to bring Barry back after Cisco gets a vibe that he is alive, somewhere. The team traces Girder’s trail of destruction and deduce that since he was stalking Iris the last time he was breathing, his one-track zombie brain is doing the same thing. Since they know where Girder is headed to after ransacking Jitters, Iris volunteers to use herself at bait to lead Girderstein back to Star Labs, giving Cisco enough time to rig a solution. The plan almost works, but the electromagnetic gizmo doesn’t have a big enough charge to drop the metal monster. The team barricades themselves in the room with the device they used earlier to contact Barry in the Speed Force. Lucky for them, Barry has completed his journey and regained his powers. Iris gives Barry a target to come home to (yes, I rolled my eyes at that one too) and The Flash is back in the nick of time. Barry guides Girder back to the room with the magnets, uses his powers to charge them up properly, zaps girder to his previous state and even manages to get Jesse out of her coma thanks to a little jolt of Speed Force.
Observation and Speculation
*With all the outer space and dinosaur stuff in his childhood room, you can tell Barry was a science nerd from the very beginning. So cuuute.
*You can really feel Smith’s influence in the way the dialogue was delivered tonight. The scenes with Iris and Cisco had a snap and pacing to them you don’t normally get on this show.
*While we’re at it, why did Iris and Cisco resort to flashlights down in the morgue. The power was working in the building, they could have just flipped on the nights.
*It took them long enough to get Henry to start giving Jesse medical attention. He started to go out to attend to her three different times before he finally life the room.
*Getting Henry straight on what has happened since he was in the clink is complicated and sounded goofy when said out loud.
*You can’t have Silent Bob involved in a project without some cameos from his cast of players. Jason Mewes gets some jokes as an unsatisfied Big Belly Burger patron and I’m pretty sure Smith’s daughter was one of the evil metahumans in the crowd of Zoom’s pep rally in the stinger.
*Iris’ ever greater involvement with the team and Henry’s return makes me a little concerned for Caitlin’s future. With the Barris ship at full sail and Barry’s dad on hand to take care of all things medical, the good Dr. Snow is looking expendable (Heel turn? Tragic death in the finale?). It might be nothing, but worth paying attention to in the finale next week.
Give Smith and episode writer Zack Stentz credit for crafting the best episode of this season and possibly one of the best of the series’ run. Barry’s tender journey was balanced brilliantly with the more slapstick nature of a shambling metal zombie with love on its mind. The comedic sections had energy which accentuated the languid pace of Barry’s more dramatic scenes. This journey through the source of his powers has changed Barry and it adds a layer to what he will do to defeat Zoom in the season finale next week.