Barry comes up with a timey-wimey solution to his speed problem that, of course, causes some other problems.
With the revelation of Jay’s betrayal, Barry has become even more determined to figure out the speed equation and make himself fast enough to beat Zoom. However, he’s hit a wall trying to figure out the equation. After a family dinner, he gets the idea to go back in time and get help from the old Wells (aka Eobard Thawne). Completely ignoring what he should’ve learned from previous time traveling experiences and warnings from the present Wells, Barry decides that this is a good idea. He runs back to the time where they were dealing with the Pied Piper because it was also the time that the team was upset with Wells after finding out that he knew the particle accelerator could explode.
When Barry gets back to the past, he switches places with himself during the first Pied Piper fight. He does have to use a heavy duty tranquilizer to knock his past self out but, I guess he’s okay with that. What he doesn’t realize is that his trip has caught the attention of a Time Wraith. The Time Wraith is a phantasmic entity that’s meant to help prevent speedsters from altering the timeline recklessly. That’s right, there are other speedsters that have traveled through time. This is a fact that’s revealed by Thawne later in the episode. The appearance of the wraith along with the speed formula allows Thawne to easily figure out that Barry isn’t the Barry from that timeline. Fortunately, Barry did plan for this eventuality. Barry convinces Thawne to help him by telling him that he manages to get back home in the future and that, in the event that he doesn’t help Barry (or if he kills him), there’s a message that will be released to the current Barry revealing Thawne’s plan and how to beat him.
Even though Thawne agrees to help, things are complicated. The Time Wraith is coming after Barry aggressively and the STAR Labs is only able to hold it off temporarily using the Pied Piper’s sonic technology. On top of that, the current Barry wakes up and rushes back to the Lab, ruining any chance of Barry not messing with the timeline. With no way of stopping the Time Wraith, Thawne figures the best thing to do is send Barry back to the future. Thawne downloads the solution to help Barry enhance his speed and tells him to figure the rest out on his own. Before he leaves, Barry tells Cisco that Hartley knows where Ronnie Raymond is. He also tells them that they have a year to figure out how to stop the Time Wraith. When he arrives back in the future, Caitlin and Cisco try their Wraith solution, but it fails. Fortunately for Barry, Hartley is still alive and now works with the STAR Labs team. He uses his gauntlets to destroy the Time Wraith.
When he gets back, Barry reveals one more thing that he got from the past. Barry had Eddie Thawne record a message for Iris, telling her what she meant to him. Iris had been struggling with moving on with Eddie, so it’s a particularly timely thing for her to get.
With his little escapade through time completed, Barry refocuses himself on combating Zoom.
- Cisco Rick Rolls Hartley into helping him
We, as a society, will never be able to escape Rick Astley. I wonder if this kind of treatment of a prisoner is covered by the Geneva Convention.
- Holy Harry Potter – Pied Piper
The Time Wraith did look like some kind of a dementor mixed with a Black Flash. The fact that the Wraiths are tied to the speedsters is another reason that they make me think of the Black Flash which is a kind of Grim Reaper for speedsters, an entity that they see before they die.
- The group from the past finds out about time travel
There was so much loaded into this conversation: Star Trek references; the references to doppelgangers and other Earths; Cisco rehashing his white emblem causality theory. I also loved how Thawne just drove the conversation with the, “yes, he’s from the future but we have more important things to deal with” attitude.
After last week’s big reveal, this episode felt more like a diversion in order to prevent things from getting too serious. Granted it was a fun diversion, revisiting some things from the show’s past. Wells was back in the wheelchair and Eddie and Hartley Rathaway were alive again. There was also the usual time travel shenanigans, including a Flash vs Flash fight and Cisco’s freakout. One of the best character moments of the episode came from Barry standing up to Thawne, showing just how different he is now than he was back when he first found out about Thawne.
I also thought that the way that Barry handled seeing Eddie showed how much he has grown in accepting the past for the sake of the future. Season 1 Barry would’ve likely tried to find someway to save Eddie’s life and unwittingly caused a hundred other terrible things to happen. Instead, Barry managed to find a way to bring a little bit of Eddie back to the future without jeopardizing the timeline. Granted, he did also manage to accidentally save Hartley’s life, but that wasn’t something he tried to do. I think that was also a clever way of the show incorporating the Pied Piper’s “rogue-to-hero” progression from the comics.
Now that Barry’s managed to navigate the time travel mine field, he seems like he’s going straight back in to figuring out how to defeat Zoom. I doubt that the information that Thawne gave him will end up being the thing that allows Barry to defeat Zoom. No matter how they’re created, the source and degree of a Speedster’s speed is always related, in some way, to the Speed Force. The TV show hasn’t really covered this in detail, but Barry is the progenitor of the Speed Force. So, the answer for him usually lies in diving deeper into the Speed Force, not with technology. I’m not sure how he’s going to get there, but I have a feeling that’s where things are going.