NOTE: Full spoilers for the first season finale of The Flash. including multiple major character deaths, are present in this review
Boy, my work is cut out for me here. Where Arrow face-planted at the finish line with a really clumsy and disappointing third season finale last week, The Flash on the other hand roared to an amazing finish for the final episode of its debut season, with every lingering storyline resolved perfectly, and tons of promise laid out for a rapid expansion of the show’s scale in Season Two.
At long last, Barry has Harrison Wells contained in the pipeline, seeking answers for Wells’ entire operation, and the very existence of Barry’s identity as The Flash. Wells tries to get Barry in on his scheme however, by claiming that he will give Barry the opportunity of a lifetime if he helps Wells, or Eobard Thawne as it were, return to his timeline over a century and a half into the future. This begs the question of why Wells previously suggested that people like Cisco had been, “Dead for centuries” if he wasn’t from a future that far flung, but whatever.
Anyway, said opportunity comes when Barry is given the chance to exploit the rupture in the space-time continuum to return to the night his mother died, and prevent his mother from being killed by Reverse Flash. Yes, as all of the pieces seemed to suggest, this was building up to one giant Flashpoint-style conflict, where Barry is given the chance to right a great, decisive wrong from his past, though at the cost of permanently altering history.
Much of the episode involves Barry consulting all of the people he looks up to in his life, after Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein hang around to get involved, no doubt due to Firestorm being called in at the end of last week’s episode. Stein outlines all of the metaphysics and worst-case scenarios imaginable, with Cisco avidly opposing any motion that could nullify Barry’s identity as The Flash, while Caitlin seemed to be all for this reality-shattering action.
In fact, despite this season finale being thoroughly excellent, I do have to admit that the Caitlin material was the one sour note in it. Caitlin completely shirking the scientific angle of Barry’s situation felt very out-of-character, and if anything, it felt like the perspectives of Cisco and Caitlin should have actually been reversed, with Caitlin discouraging Barry going back in time, and Cisco encouraging it.
Similarly, a wedding between Ronnie and Caitlin awkwardly unfolded in the middle of the episode, with Dr. Stein conveniently being an ordained rabbi, so that he could make the whole thing official on the campus of S.T.A.R. Labs. What, just like that? I can’t understand why the show didn’t make a bigger deal out of this wedding, simply stashing it into an already story-packed season finale, and then forgetting about it in the very next scene, but it’s no doubt because this marriage is probably spectacularly doomed, particularly when we get a shocking glimpse of Caitlin’s potential dark side later in the episode.
Better executed was a scene where Cisco confronts Wells, which comes with a pretty shocking reveal. Apparently, Cisco sensing the events of the aborted timeline is not a normal occurrence, with Wells revealing that he’d been observing Cisco since the Particle Accelerator explosion, announcing that he correctly speculated that Cisco has actually been a metahuman this whole time, with the ability to sense vibrations in the fabric of reality. That was quite the twist, though it might make sense to DC fans, since Cisco will no doubt one day become the vibration-harnessing superhero, Vibe on this series, as he is in DC Comics.
As Barry goes to discuss his options with Detective West and his father, we see Barry having to confront some harsh emotional truth between his two father figures, with West initially encouraging Barry to go back in time, and Henry claiming that it’s a bad idea, and Barry shouldn’t do it. These scenes were awesome, and really showed off Grant Gustin’s acting capability like the show has never done before. There probably won’t be any dry eyes amongst viewers when these unfold. Better still is that these aren’t even the most tear-jerking moment of this season finale. Not even close!
While this is going on, Eddie decides to reconcile with Iris, saying that he no longer cares about the future that he was shown, and just wants to be with the woman he loves. Iris takes him back, and everything now seems dandy with these two. This would be annoyingly convenient, but, it doesn’t end the way you may think.
Anyway, Barry eventually decides to go through with the time travel plot, having to run through the rebuilt Particle Accelerator at over Mach Two to collide with a specialized particle that will hurl him through the dimensional fabric of time and space. As Wells sees Barry get up to top speed, Barry leaps into the particle, and starts to travel back through the past.
Now, this sequence is going to be Disneyland for avid DC fans who are anticipating future developments of the show in subsequent seasons. Barry starts to see every metaphysical possibility of the past, the future, and even parallel universes, as he dashes through the time vortex. This proves to be an onslaught of awesome DC Easter Eggs, starting with, and best of all, our first look at Caitlin Snow as icy DC villainess, Killer Frost! Danielle Panabaker is shown in full Killer Frost garb very quickly, with ice streaming from her fingers, and this is sure to have fans brimming with excitement, as it confirms that, at least in some universe, Caitlin does become Killer Frost at some point. Beyond that, we also catch a quick glimpse of the Flash Museum in the far future, and a look at a slightly altered Barry in an Iron Heights prison uniform, with a brooding hairstyle and a villainous expression. More than likely, this is a peek at Johnny Quick, the evil Flash counterpart from Earth-Three, presenting another look at a parallel universe. It looks like the show’s scale really will be blown up to incredible proportions after Season One!
After that parade of awesome teases, Barry arrives in the past, and peeks out of the door, right as his adult self whisks away his child self. Right as Barry is about to save his mother however, his adult self returns, and very quickly signals to Barry not to interfere in Nora’s death, before he continues the battle against Reverse Flash. This is no doubt the Barry that experienced the events of celebrated Flash graphic novel, Flashpoint, where Flash saving his mother led to a dark future where humanity was conquered by the forces of Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Thus, Barry is left to tearfully hide away, listening to Thawne stab his mother to death, and waiting for the villain to chase after his adult self.
Barry does however get a chance to comfort his mother in her final moments. He identifies himself, taking off his Flash mask, and embraces his mother before having to let her go. This was easily the most tragic and heartbreaking moment in the history of this series, and may even surpass most of the sad scenes in Arrow, as a matter of fact! It was executed perfectly, and audiences will really feel the weight of Barry having to make the ultimate sacrifice to preserve a better future. This, more than anything else, was the moment where Barry truly became a hero, and no longer just an optimistic do-gooder with cool super-speed powers. It made for perfect material in this first season finale.
Next, Barry charges back through time to destroy Wells’ machine, right as he’s about to return to the future. The two fight for a bit, and it initially looks like Barry is once again doomed… Until a gunshot is heard, and we see that Eddie has shot himself through the heart! This leads to Wells, Eobard Thawne, and the rest of the future Thawne bloodline, being erased from history, thus destroying the ultimate villain. Iris is then left to scream in anguish over Eddie’s corpse, with Eddie also making the ultimate sacrifice for the good of the future, but the group are forced to flee when the time singularity starts to grow out of control, leaving Eddie’s body behind to get sucked in.
So, in one fell swoop, we’ve lost Wells and Eddie. Eddie didn’t really become much of a character until later in the season, but even still, his loss was felt, especially when it really seemed like he was finally going to get that happy ending with Iris. His death actually felt more impactful than I thought it would, even if I’m also surprised at the show’s decision to so irreversibly erase its title hero’s arch-nemesis! Then again, the door is still open for parallel universe renditions of Reverse Flash, or perhaps the Hunter Zolomon incarnation of Zoom that eventually succeeded Eobard Thawne in DC lore.
Sadly, the group has no time to mourn Eddie, as Central City, and the world at large, starts to become threatened by the ever-growing time singularity. Among the citizens bearing witness to it are Captain Cold, Captain Singh, and even Kendra Saunders, the future rendition of Hawkgirl that will be featured on ensemble spin-off series, Legends of Tomorrow next year. With everyone out of options, Barry must try to close the singularity by running even faster around it. The episode, and the season, then close out with Barry rushing toward the singularity, to try and stop it.
Now, it stands to reason that the world obviously isn’t going to be destroyed, since both The Flash and Arrow are getting new seasons, on top of Legends of Tomorrow kicking off next year. Still, this was a surprisingly effective way to end the season, keeping audiences flush with speculation about how Barry will stop the singularity, and what its implications will mean for Season Two.
Overall though, The Flash could not possibly have ended its first season better. This was a season finale that was emotional, exciting and climactic, while opening all sorts of doors for the show’s return in the Fall. “Fast Enough” is one of the best episodes that any primetime superhero show has delivered, and it officially cements The Flash as the grand champion of this season’s comic book dramas!
- Excellent, highly emotional performances from all
- Tons of awesome teases for the show's future
- Eddie's shocking sacrifice
- Caitlin material was a bit awkward