Review: The Flash 7×02 – “The Speed of Thought”
[Editor’s Note: This Review May Contain Spoilers]
Director: Stefan Pleszcyzynski
Writer: Jonathan Butler and Gabriel Garza
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker, Daniele Nicolet, Kala Compton, Brandon McKnight, Efrat Dor, Jesse L. Martin, Stephanie Izsak, Victoria Park
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
The discovery of “speed thinking” prompts Barry to attempt using it as an entry point into the mirror verse to save Iris; Eva deals with a soul-shattering revelation.
Quite a lot to cover in this week’s Review and it centers around one major theme with Barry Allen: Heart. That being said, let’s get into what worked this week.
Joe’s words to Barry about how to not see his heart as a vulnerability were very foreshadowing in this week’s plot. Further, the decision to open the episode with Barry experiencing the emotional loss of yet another Team Flash member in what was the final bow of Tom Cavanaugh as Harrison Wells (at that point) served to bookend that emotional bond he has with his family. Barry’s discovery of “Speed Thinking” was inspired by the inaugural New 52 story that saw him develop this ability. Kudos to the creative team being faithful to the source material through the visual depiction of how fast Barry’s mind was working.
However, the show took this phenomenon in a darker, different direction. It allowed Grant to show a darker side of Barry. Viewers have seen alternate versions of Barry as flat-out insane or despondent. But never have we seen him cold and logical. From flat-out exposing Eva without considering the emotional factor that will play out next week to deciding who stays in the mirror verse, the writers strained to show a chasm-wide distinction from the Barry we know. It would stand to reason that Grant even channeled some of Neil Sandilands’ performance as The Thinker as Barry slowly lost connection with his emotions. Given the tech the team sourced to gather the particles from Eva was pulled from the Thinker’s chair, it is therefore possible that tech could have influenced Barry’s emotional deterioration.
Speaking of Eva, utilizing Barry’s new level of deductive thinking to get the revelation to the team of Eva being the mirror duplicate and not Eva McCulloch was clever. Despite Cisco slowing down his speed, and the realization that his logic is flawed, I think Barry’s love for Iris and his concern was what truly forced him to break free from the Speed Thinking’s influence. Grant’s reemerging empathy and concern is believable and he looks at the damage he has caused to the team and what permanent damage he could’ve done to his wife. It made sense for him to be the one to disable the ASF; demonstrating Barry’s heart and love showing through the cold logic went over a lot better if it was just Cisco, Frost and Allegra taking him down themselves. Also, the discharge of the blue lightning from Barry got across to the viewer that now he was completely powerless. Iris’s resistance to leave, using the gained abilities after her prolonged imprisonment, was also symbolic of her pulling away from this new version of her husband.
The cliffhanger – aside from Singh and Kamilla still trapped in the Mirror Verse – is how do Team Flash move forward as a unit now that Barry has depowered himself and shaken their trust in him? Especially now that Eva has gone full-on villain as the result of Barry’s exposure?
This week also saw the return of OG Team Flash players Cisco and Caitlin (albeit as Frost). For Nash’s funeral, you had to have Cisco there since he has had a strong connection with every Wells that has appeared. The montage of Harrison Wells’ doppelgangers served to remind the viewers of this character’s history with the show. This episode served to remind viewers that The Flash isn’t the hero he is by himself; his team are the ones that hold him together and, when necessary, to the mark. Both had fantastic moments with Speed Thinker Barry, as the Artificial Speed Force went from being a godsend to a detriment. Carlos Valdes’ range was well put as his character saw his best friend become increasingly calculated while emotionally cold. And it made sense for Cisco to review the schematics to find the design flaw in the ASF, as well as pointing out that Barry could not successfully calculate one’s actions when emotion is unpredictable to factor in. After months of hearing Barry vow “we’re bringing everyone home” to his deciding “Kamilla and Singh are expendable,” Cisco Ramon would have to be a fool to not see the Quantum Leap-level change in The Fastest Man Alive. When Cisco pulls a gun on his best friend, the man he trusts with his life, that is an alarm bell that can’t be ignored.
Regarding Frost’s return, the pandemic served to better the plot since shooting stopped last year and Danielle Panabaker was pregnant at the time. There were subtle camera tricks to hide her bump if you review last year’s episodes post-crisis. (Congratulations, by the way, Danielle!) I believe Frost’s return was a recent addition now that Danielle was physically able. It was an amazing visual display as she temporarily became a speedster with Velocity X in her system. This is the first time we’ve seen an already established metahuman add the infamous speed drug into their system. Since this is the tenth revision of that stimulant, most likely it’s without the addictive qualities that killed Trajectory in the second season. It was impressive seeing Frost combine her ice powers with Speed Force lightning. The duel also worked to demonstrate the depth of Barry’s problem; there is no emotion or physical exertion at all on his person during the fight. The intervention also showed that Team Flash had the ability to subdue Barry, and only failed because of the speed thinking. (I think Cisco will be shelving the Quantum Ball from the market after this epic fail once he has a chance to review the data.)
Let’s get to the biggest revelation of all: The resurrection of EARTH-PRIME’S Harrison Wells. The montage of Wells made sense once the audience was taken back to the season one flashback of Eobard Thawne stealing Harrison Wells’s DNA to become him, killing the original in the process. Just when you think we’ve seen the last of Tom Cavanaugh on the show, up pops OG Harrison Wells. The green energy that resurrects him could either be connected to Pariah – Nash Wells’s identity during The Crisis on Infinite Earths – or The Spectre, Oliver Queen’s new identity. If it is The Spectre’s doing, a byproduct of rebooting the Multiverse, then it may come at a cost. After all, boosting Barry’s hidden potential unleashed a cancer on the original Speed Force that ultimately killed it. So it leaves some to speculate what cost this comes at.
This Harrison Wells has been dead for nearly twenty years and has no connection to Team Flash whatsoever. And since the personae of The Council of Wells became part of the ASF, then he’s of one mind. In the comic, that is how Oliver Queen, himself, was brought back to life in Kevin Smith’s “Green Arrow: Quiver” story after he was killed. The Spectre – then Hal Jordan – found traces of Oliver’s DNA on Superman’s costume, given he was in close proximity to him when the explosion went off. He then used his abilities to take those minute traces and completely rebuild his body, albeit without his soul.
However, that brings to mind a THIRD possibility: When Barry disabled the ASF, could the personalities that went in there with Nash have found remnants of the original Wells and reconstituted his essence? If not for Joe and Cisco uncovering his remains in season one, the audience would have expected him to come digging himself out of his grave. Given that tachyons were surrounding the body, and the particles of his original composition mixed in, would it be possible, therefore, for the Wells’s personae to reconstitute themselves somehow? To be honest, when you review the facts, I feel the Spectre theory has the most likelihood. Time will tell. Apparently NOT all’s Wells that ends Wells after all.
Sadly, there are some negative points this week that I want to bring up in this Review, and it has to do with both plot and performance. In the conversation between Cisco and Barry before the intervention, Alegra and Frost are both out of the room during this argument. Regardless, they walk in fully aware of Cisco’s stance on this new Barry and ready for a fight. It would have made sense for Cisco to reveal he had an open mike on him or something to notify the rest of the team. There is no way they could have been in on the chat because neither were speaking that loudly. Then there is that reporter interviewing Eva. When she is exposed and her powers go haywire, the actress’s delivery is too over the top. For a moment you think that this is, in fact, a hallucination Eva is having in her head, like Barry mentally speeding through all possibilities. It feels too B-movie level. Finally, why didn’t Caitlin reassert control from Frost to run tests on Barry? She could have given him CT scans and her review of the data would’ve pointed to the mental effects his new power source was producing. Wouldn’t that have made more sense than leaving Cisco to do the leg work?!
I give The Flash 7×02 a 4 out of 5. Grant Gustin tapping into his inner Thinker was clever in its pacing and delivery, and hope for Wells fans is renewed with an unused incarnation. The return of Team Flash 1.0 was welcome and needed to push this story forward and everyone was on lock this week. Again, let’s get less cheesy journalistic reactions and better ways of getting the team in on the intervention. With next week’s episode we’re getting closer to rounding out what would have been the conclusion to last season, and I, for one, can’t wait to see how far off the deep end Eva will go with her body snatcher agenda.