NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
The Flash’s seventh season may have finally started airing, but the series is still in the process of wrapping up the leftover villain arc from its previous season. “The Speed of Thought” once again feels like an episode that was originally meant to serve as a Season 6 offering, teeing up the climactic battle against Eva McCulloch, while Barry and Team Flash contend with the Artificial Speed Force granting an unexpected new ability to Central City’s resident superhero. At the same time, Iris and Kamilla continue to try and escape the MirrorVerse, which contrives yet another pressing deadline for them, after the horrible revelation of Eva’s true identity inevitably comes to light.
Season 7 of The Flash got off to a bit of an awkward start last week, seemingly because the show is now trying to hastily sweep away the ongoing story elements from Season 6, even if it has to rely on shaky retcons to do it. I don’t know if this was always going to be a problem with Season 6’s planned climax and resolution, or if the shakier writing is another COVID-19 casualty that’s left the writers and showrunners scrambling to transition The Flash into a new season arc, after Season 6 was retroactively cut short by the pandemic last year. Whatever the case, Season 7 remains in the rough in several respects here, presenting an interesting idea for Barry’s character, only to hastily chuck it out because it doesn’t have any time left before Team Flash has to fight their ultimate battle against Eva McCulloch next week.
This big idea comes from an unintended consequence of the Artificial Speed Force, one that grants Barry the power of ‘speed-thinking’. Because of this, Barry can solve problems almost instantaneously, effectively allowing Team Flash to quickly throw together a plan to both save Iris, and stop Eva. Initially, it appears as if Barry is going to render his teammates obsolete with this new power as well, since he can immediately address and solve every problem on his own, without the help of allies like Cisco or Caitlin. Maybe that was the original idea, but instead, the lack of real estate left in the show’s Eva/Mirror Master conflict sends Barry down a different path; He turns into an emotionless robot, one that will even endanger his own teammates, for want of preserving a perceived ideal outcome to any given situation
This is a neat idea in concept, one that doesn’t simply recycle the ‘evil Barry’ twist from the Bloodwork arc of last season. In execution however, Barry’s speed-thinking feels contrived and sloppy, essentially making him clairvoyant, which naturally serves as a convenient excuse to hastily wrap up the show’s ongoing Eva storyline. Eva’s barely had a chance to readjust to her role in the real world (or, the real Eva’s role in life, more accurately), but halfway through this episode, Barry simply brute forces his way into her company’s servers, instantly exposing to the world via a talk show appearance that Eva is a fake. This is incredibly rushed and rather convenient for the writing, especially when the footage of Eva hitting the mirror and being knocked out effectively proves nothing to the untamed eye! Everyone suddenly jumping down Eva’s throat sadly does feel believable to some extent, because the court of public opinion really can be that ruthless, but if this was meant to be some sort of commentary on cancel culture, it’s too hurried and unsatisfying to effectively land.
One thing that does land effectively however is when Barry steals mirror-shifting particles from Eva’s body, using Frost as a decoy (I wish there was more fallout from Barry practically leaving Frost to die, but whatever), only to then discover that he can’t save Iris, Kamilla and Singh from the MirrorVerse. Instead, Barry must sacrifice either Iris, or both Kamilla and Singh, and you can imagine who he chooses to save, though not for the reasons you may think! Once Barry opts not to consult Team Flash on the matter, and decides that Iris has more tactical value because she holds knowledge of Eva, his own team finally stands against him, complete with Frost even taking some Velocity-X! The resulting speed-powered Frost sequence is pretty cool as well, though it would have been ideal if it didn’t feel truncated and hamstrung by the strict constraints of a CW budget.
Barry nonetheless comes out on top though, ultimately forcing Iris out of the MirrorVerse, despite her protests that Kamilla and Singh are in urgent need of medical attention, due to complications from Eva’s Mirror Gun. This is the point when Barry realizes that his speed-thinking is out of control, at which point he forcibly deactivates the Artificial Speed Force. Again, this feels rather contrived and unsatisfying, since Barry being emotionally suppressed by the replacement agent for Eobard Thawne’s negative energy should logically leave him unfeeling and apathetic about endangering his friends, and his wife. Once again, the show clearly wrote itself into a corner here, leaving Barry to just awkwardly decide to liberate himself from his speed-thinking, because the narrative simply couldn’t move forward otherwise.
With Barry thus currently being de-powered, and Team Flash now being temporarily incapacitated as well, this buys Eva time to begin a campaign of seemingly trying to replace anyone and everyone with an army of mirror duplicates, in turn setting up next week’s episode, i.e. the originally planned Season 6 finale. At the same time, this episode also sets up another key twist that was likely planned as a season finale cliffhanger before COVID-19 hit, namely that the original Earth-1 variation of Harrison Wells, the one that Thawne originally stole the face of, has re-materialized on top of his grave! Is this another change for the post-Crisis Earth-Prime? Is some other magic at work here? Either way, I’m glad that Tom Cavanagh still appears to have a main role on The Flash, even with every other Wells doppelganger in DC’s live-action multiverse now effectively being dead, and merely serving as fuel for Barry’s Artificial Speed Force.
“The Speed of Thought” presents some really good ideas for Barry and Team Flash, but they’re not really used to their full potential. The former plan for Season 6, which had to be retroactively converted into the starting point for Season 7, has left the show’s current narrative without any real runway, aside from the expected climactic battle against Eva next week. Barry’s cold decision to leave Kamilla and Singh to die and/or go insane in the MirrorVerse is bound to have some big consequences later, but it would have been more exciting if Barry was still stuck in the throes of his speed-thinking, even if that would have somewhat copied the same Team Flash dilemma from the Bloodwork climax. Likewise, the public downfall of Eva feels far too quick and easy, once again using Barry’s speed-thinking as a Deus Ex Machina to unrealistically take down McCulloch Technologies’ security, and immediately expose video footage of Eva’s mirror duplicate’s creation, in the span of a few seconds, even though the footage is inconclusive and proves pretty much nothing to anyone that isn’t Eva!
I guess we can still hope that Team Flash’s big battle against Eva at least makes for an exciting episode next week. Hopefully shedding the last of Season 6’s leftovers after that can finally allow Season 7 of The Flash to find a renewed creative surge again.
- Barry's speed-thinking effectively making Team Flash obsolete
- Barry's cold decision to doom Kamilla and Singh
- Cool speed-powered Frost sequence
- Eva's public downfall comes far too easily
- Not enough focus on Team Flash's intellectual domination
- Barry freeing himself from his speed-thinking is unbelievable and lame