It seems like this brief hiatus lasted forever, as “The Flash” is becoming more compelling by the week -- or at least the parts dealing with the Reverse Flash are. In “Out of Time,” we hear a name that likely sends many old-school Flash fan into conniptions of joy: Eobard Thawne. But before we get into that, let’s talk about what didn’t work in this week’s episode.
What’s that, you ask? Well, that would be Iris West. Don’t get me wrong, the relationship between Iris and Barry is sweet and effectively colors a great deal of his backstory. Her relationship with her father is poignant and makes you care deeply about both of them. However, this forced romance simply isn’t working. Iris is either oblivious or manipulative, as no woman would clean ketchup off a man’s mouth (as Iris did with Barry during their double date) in front his girlfriend and her own boyfriend. Yes, maybe the years of unrequited love between Barry and Iris have become reflexive, but someone who cares so much for her best friend wouldn’t be that hurtful to other people. It just rings untrue.
Where the portrayal of one West fails, the other hits the mark, with Joe West taking center stage as an old enemy comes calling. In the first episode, Joe took down Clyde Mardon, the first villain Barry faced. Now Clyde’s brother Mark arrives in Central City seeking revenge. Clyde Mardon was a rather flat character, and he was supposed to be, essentially serving as a punching bag so the series could establish Barry’s powers. Mark Mardon is a deeper, more frightening villain, one obsessed with vengeance. This Weather Wizard is believable as a future member of the Rogues Gallery; he’ll fit right in with Captain Cold and Heat Wave, should they ever join forces.
As Mark Mardon, Liam McIntyre (“Spartacus”) is a truly terrifying force, and one of the most intimidating villains Flash has faced. In fact, he has an almost instant impact on our cast, as he seemingly cripples Capt. David Singh in an attack on the police department. This week also sees the debut of the Weather Wand, but unlike in the comic, in which the Weather Wizard uses the device to harness his powers, is utilized to combat his powers. Why Barry didn’t use the wand during the episode’s climatic battle is beyond me, but it did give us a chance to thrill to the scene of The Flash racing to block a tidal wave.
When a villain can create tidal waves, he should be the coolest villain on the show, right? Not this week, as the secrets of Harrison Wells are finally revealed. As I said before, Wells references his real identity: Eobard Thawne, the name of the original time-traveling Reverse-Flash. And, yes, he shares a last name with Iris’ soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, Eddie Thawne. The repercussions are staggering. What was Eobard’s intent in creating the particle accelerator? Why did he want to kill a young Barry Allen? How did he get trapped in the past in the first place? The story of the Reverse-Flash should be used by future superhero shows as a how to guide in the creation of a major adversary.
If all this weren’t shocking enough, the newly revealed Eobard Thawne killed Cisco by vibrating his hand through the chest of the young man who was like a son to him. Cisco is the most likable character on the show and the image of him dying at the hands of a man he so respected was profoundly painful to watch.
Rest easy, because the episode’s cliffhanger might prove beneficial to Cisco. When Barry raced to stop the Weather Wizard’s tidal wave, he ran so fast he jumped back in time, a moment brilliantly foreshadowed earlier in the episode yet still cool surprise. Time travel has always been a major element of the Flash mythos, and it’s a welcome addition to the television series -- particularly as Barry’s reaction to jumping back in time was a wonderful tribute to “Quantum Leap” (Barry’s first words upon realizing what he’d done were “Oh, boy”). With Barry able to travel through time, perhaps he’ll be able to save Cisco from his sad fate.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that before racing off to stop the tidal wave, Barry reveals his identity to Iris? Oh, boy, indeed.