The Flash episode “The Speed of Thought” aired on 9 March 2021.
Oh. My. God.
Seconds are always hard to do. Second date, second season, second episode. Boy oh boy did The Flash knock this one out of the park.
Return of the team
The episode starts with a memorial service for the Wellses. What a sad way to start the episode, but the upside is that everyone is back for the service. Then you realise Cisco never got to say goodbye to the Wellses. (The Cisco/Wells dynamic has always been a highlight.)
There’s a memorial corner with the glasses, HR’s drumsticks, Nash’s cargo belt etc. Throwback #1
In the mirrorverse, Iris finally contacts and finds Kamilla and Singh. However, they have different symptoms of mirrorverse madness because they were shot by the mirror gun instead of being pulled in through a portal. Their eyes do some weird flashy thing and they both pass out.
The good ol’ tech vs humanity/emotions
Meanwhile, Barry starts having speed-visions of things before they occur. Turns out, the artificial speed force (henceforth refered to as ASF) sped up Barry’s neurons. This allows him to run simulations of many possible outcomes in his head in seconds. If only The Thinker were here to see it. Throwback #2.
Barry’s newfound speedthinking quickly figures things out, like the science of how to open a portal to the mirrorverse (remnants of Bloodwork’s particles on Eva’s body) and where to find Eva (Barry rightly predicts she will attack a Black Hole warehouse). During the fight, The Flash lets Killer Frost take a near-fatal hit from Eva. Sure, Barry quickly figures out the perfect antidote later. Then he so objectively explains that he weighed the chances of potentially damaging the particles and other tech against the likelihood that he could speed-think up a cure. That’s the first red flag.
It is morbidly fascinating watching Grant Gustin’s voice get more and more robotic as the episode progresses.
From the brief encounter, Barry also figured out that the Eva they are facing is a mirror duplicate. He hacks into McCulloch’s systems with his superbrain and finds the video Eva herself just watched. Incidentally, Eva is currently giving a live interview (which coincidentally kinda resembles an Oprah show. Hmmmmmm, this is timely…) Barry hijacks the interview to broadcast the video of the real Eva dying to the entire world.
Killer Frost and Cisco ask if that was really necessary (“Emotionally wrecking an already whacked up villain”). Barry’s monotone response is that it was the most effective way to keep Eva distracted while they opened a portal to the mirrorverse. Red flag #2. Barry is becoming an emotionless robot.
The Flash vs Team Flash
Barry super-calculates that they can only retrieve either Kamilla and Singh together, or Iris. His speed brain shows everyone voting to save two people over Iris alone. So he tries to enter the mirrorverse alone.
Of course, Cisco chooses that moment to attempt a classic The Flash hallway heart-to-heart. Except Robo-Barry doesn’t really have a heart. The ASF was designed to prevent accentuating negative emotions (ala Thawne’s Thinking Cap), but has drained him of all emotions instead.
Cisco gets rightfully angry because Barry assumed how they would choose between lives (“You cannot predict what I would have done because you cannot predict emotion!”) Robo-Barry makes things worse by explaining he picked Iris because of her knowledge of Eva, not because Barry loves Iris (yikes). And calls Kamilla and Singh “expendable”. That’s the final straw. Cisco, Killer Frost, and Allegra surround Barry and vow to “give him his heart back”.
What results is a really cool action sequence that includes Killer Frost taking a shot of Velocity X to fight Barry. Velocity Frost can shoot!! ice!! lightning!! Unfortunately, Robo-Barry still outwits and outplays all of them.
Barry gets his heart back
Ah, but he also played himself. Because Barry’s heart is Iris. So when he finally goes to the mirrorverse to retrieve her, and she refuses to abandon Kamilla and Singh, his zero-EQ brain starts to show some cracks (“This was not what I predicted.”)
Iris uses her mirror abilities to resist returning to the real dimension, but ultimately Robo-Barry pulls her through. Upon passing through the portal, Iris collapses and begins having seizures. Maybe she’s too acclimatised to the mirrorverse that she can’t function in the real dimension. Or maybe it’s because mirror dupe Eva is going nutty in the real world.
In any case, it’s seeing Iris in pain that breaks through to Barry. Like the flip of a switch, all his emotions rush back to him and he destroys the ASF in despair.
OF COURSE IT’S IRIS THAT GETS THE REAL BARRY BACK.
Back to Eva. She’s in a corner anxiously rocking herself in her office, muttering that “this isn’t real”. Then she looks into the fateful mirror. “This isn’t real…but it can be.”
Surely this is the type of cliff-hanging stuff that shows end on, right?
Not this again
As if that final shot of Eva wasn’t trippy enough. Oh no.
Flash back (flash forward?) to the time when Eobard Thawne swapped identities with Harrison Wells – the original one – and buried the remains. Out of the ground, a bewildered, OG nerd scientist Harrison Wells materialises.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE ONCE AGAIN HAVE A MIND-BENDING WELLS CLOSING TAG.
The ultimate throwback.
- Can I just say that Cisco’s concern for Killer Frost when she was hurt…and that he called her “Frost” to acknowledge her own sense of identity, but still in the same caring tone he calls out to Caitlin with…platonic or romantic, this pairing is SO GOOD
- Carlos Valdes’ acting in this episode was TOP NOTCH. From the beginning, his grief over losing Wells, to his hurt disbelief in the simulation when Barry makes them vote on who to save, to his betrayed anger when he finds out Barry assumed they would even choose amongst their friends.