NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
The Flash is airing its landmark 150th episode this week!… In a bit of a weird spot. Under normal circumstances, wherein The Flash would have its usual 22-23-episode season length, this would be a fine spot for the 150th episode, seeing as we’re only on the 17th episode of its current season. Since Season 7 has been shortened to just 18 episodes due to production complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic however, The Flash’s 150th episode is now the penultimate episode of Season 7, as well as the first half of a two-part season finale event. That’s not really a great spot for a milestone episode like this, but, “Heart of the Matter, Part 1” does what it can to provide a noteworthy milestone episode for the series, one that brings in the extended Flash Family in order to battle the growing menace of the Godspeed War.
This episode ironically follows yet another event-style episode last week to boot, one where Arrow’s John Diggle made his obligatory guest appearance as part of a larger Arrowverse-spanning arc that includes almost all of The CW’s ongoing DC dramas. That episode was a little shaky, but fortunately, this one manages to be a bit of an improvement, providing an inspired opportunity to introduce Barry to another future child, while the true implications of the future battle against Godspeed in the Arrowverse are made known. These events are kicked into motion once Nora and Bart, the latter of whom being a son to Barry and Iris that seemingly didn’t exist in The Flash’s Pre-Crisis Earth-1 universe (likely because Barry is now alive and not missing in the revised future of the Post-Crisis Earth-Prime), follow Godspeed back to 2021 after he infiltrates the Flash Museum, in an incident that somehow spawned a growing amount of Godspeed clones in present-day Central City.
There are clearly more elements to the Godspeed mystery that have yet to be addressed, and I imagine that they’ll come into focus during Season 7’s proper finale episode next week. For now, Barry has to try and manage his two children as they attempt to quell the growing amounts of Godspeed clones, something that Bart is particularly obsessed with doing, in reference to some tragedy in his past, and Barry’s future. Avid Flash/DC fans will of course recognize Bart as being future-era DC superhero, Impulse, whereas Nora doesn’t exist in DC Comics lore (Barry and Iris do have a granddaughter that goes under the superheroine mantle, XS in the printed panels, but she’s not Nora in that case), and fittingly, Bart was trained by OG speedster, Jay Garrick in the Arrowverse. Yeah, I guess characters and settings from the Pre-Crisis Earth-3 were also merged into the Post-Crisis Earth-Prime, just like the Pre-Crisis Earth-2, Earth-38 and whichever unspecified Earth Black Lightning originally took place on. In appropriate fashion for a superhero backstory however, Godspeed eventually rose to the level of being Bart’s own ‘Thawne’ on Earth-Prime, after Godspeed goes on to murder Jay in the future, as a means of striking back at Bart.
This idea of Barry having to confront a loop of tragedy in his family is fascinating, especially when Bart naturally proves to be a more impulsive, less careful superhero than Barry is, or even Nora is. The over-arching theme behind this episode is actually fairly interesting as well, namely the idea that Barry and co. don’t manage to get the upper hand against the Godspeed clones until they stop trying to fight them carefully. That’s maybe not a tactically sound approach, but things do get desperate once Jay is kidnapped by the Godspeed clones, after his own diminishing speed is restored by the reborn Speed Force. This leaves Bart once again having to face the foundation of his grief, and the resulting dynamic throughout the West-Allen family to this effect is pretty well done, particularly considering that Jay being killed in the present would mean that he can’t train Bart in the future.
Of course, this logic goes the other way as well, once Barry determines that he can break the loop of tragedy in the Allen family by defeating Godspeed in present-day 2021. All the while, the amnesiac August Heart seemingly remains a benign presence at S.T.A.R Labs, whom Caitlin and Cecile vainly try to restore the memory of. Eventually though, after a fairly solid climax at an abandoned church, Cisco makes an unexpected return to help drive off the Godspeed clones, in easily one of this episode’s coolest surprises! Cisco then helps Barry and co. formulate a plan to get to the root of Godspeed, namely by having Barry infiltrate Heart’s mind, and access his lost memories. This is obviously a dangerous and highly unstable procedure, but it does make for a great cliffhanger for next week, as Barry confronts the mental avatar of Godspeed in Heart’s mind, right as this episode ends. Apparently, Godspeed has been expecting Barry as well, hopefully indicating that we’ll finally get definitive answers regarding the true agenda of the Godspeed War next week.
Outside of the core conflict with Godspeed and the West-Allen family, a couple of subplots creep into this episode, but neither of them are much to write home about. Joe and Kramer are completely wasted this week, despite the interesting mystery surrounding Kramer, as Joe’s interrogation of Kramer regarding her supposed fate is eventually interrupted by a Godspeed battle on the way back to Central City. At the same time, Allegra finds that she can no longer properly access her powers in the wake of Esperanza’s death, which feels like a pretty tedious contrivance, to say the least. Not only is a superhero being thrown off their game by negative emotions a very old, tired cliche, but Allegra not being able to charge any of the anti-Godspeed devices at this point also feels way too convenient for the show’s drama. Oh, and to top that off, Allegra spends most of her subplot being a dick to Chester this week, because of course she does. Frankly, I’m surprised that Team Flash is allowing Chester near Barry’s and Iris’ children in the future at all, considering how they usually treat Chester.
“Heart of the Matter, Part 1” delivers a solid core plot that forces Barry and his future son to reckon with the shared tragedy that defines their family’s superhero legacy, not to mention that a surprise return by Cisco, and a full team-up of Arrowverse speedster heroes (well, except for Wally), helps The Flash make its mark with its 150th episode. Disappointingly though, this week’s subplots aren’t even worth mentioning, as Joe and Kramer continue to waste time with their unrelated mystery, while Allegra wastes an episode moping about Esperanza, before simultaneously endangering the team and the city by inexplicably failing to inform her friends that her powers are glitching. Still, the mental confrontation between Barry and the true Godspeed should hopefully wrap up Season 7 of The Flash on an exciting note next week, and if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll even get some definitive answers about what’s going on with Kristen Kramer and Adam Creyke to boot.
- The West-Allen family confronting the tragedies that define them
- Cisco's unexpected return for the Godspeed battle
- A restored Jay Garrick returning for a full-on speedster team-up
- Allegra's tiresome pity party
- Joe and Kramer wasting more time