The Flash Season 3 Recap And Review – Episode 16: ‘Into The Speed Force’
“Into The Speed Force” picked up mere hours after last week’s episode. Wally, trapped in a Speed Force prison built for Savitar, is trapped for eternity unless Barry tries to save him. With his home life in shambles, our titular hero dives into the Speed Force and delivers an episode that was memorable. Unfortunately it also stepped in some CW melodrama and tracked it onto the carpet.
After last week’s episode of positive destruction, “Into The Speed Force“ operated under a pretty darm cloud, which should be expected. With Barry revisiting the Speed Force, we were able to revisit one of Season Two’s best episodes “The Runaway Dinosaur“. Unfortunately for Barry the super dimensional Speed Force wasn’t as welcoming this time around.
When Barry previously communed with the Speed Force, it was to help him come to terms with the death of his mother. In fact, the Speed Force was so concerned with his well being, that it took her form in order to help accept what had happened. This time the Speed Force is angry and it’s not afraid to show it. Instead a warm welcoming mother figure, Barry is faced with Eddie Thawne, Ronnie Raymond and Leonard Snart: the metaphorical ghosts of Christmas past.
Each of these faces (played by Rick Cosnett, Robbie Amell and Wentworth Miller respectively) sacrificed themselves for the greater good. They saw a moment in time that they couldn’t move past and did what they had to do to help their friends, family and loved ones. It was a great call back to fallen comrades as each one tried to impart a valuable lesson: Barry can’t ask anyone else to fix the problems he created. It was a much needed lesson in the consequences of time travel and accepting mistakes. Barry created Flashpoint, which gave Savitar a chance to escape his otherworldly prison. As a result, Barry is the only person who can make it right again.
It was a welcome change of pace as the Speed Force called Barry on his choices and made it 100% clear that he was the only one who could correct this transgression. I mean let’s face it, when the source of your powers spanks you on the bottom and says “bad boy”, you tend to listen. Even so, there are still consequences and Barry had to overcome each one. The first was a classic Time Wraith, the ghostly specters that stop speedsters from altering time. Second came the Black Flash as he nearly killed Barry in a brutal fight. Third, and most important was the return of Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp).
I’ll be honest, we need way more Jay Garrick in our lives. The Barry/Jay dynamic is so thoroughly entertaining that it really makes me question why we don’t have our elder statesmen standing alongside H.R. in consultation with the rest of Team Flash. Unfortunately we may not get that answer because tonight’s was the end of Jay’s race. In a twisted sense of irony that created a nice bit of symmetry, Jay had to sacrifice his freedom (aka die) for Wally’s. It seems that Barry’s infinity prison has to contain a speedster. The specifics as to why are pretty vague but it was clear that the Speed Force was unwilling to let Barry sacrifice himself to free Wally. That left Jay to take his place. In a stunning piece of acting, Jay stands up to his own fears and steps into a prison of his own making. The hope is that Savitar will take his place one day, but we really don’t know how long that will be. Hopefully Jay get’s out sooner rather than later.
This brings me to one of the major issues I had with “Into The Speed Force”. Traditionally, the Speed Force is the dimension from which all momentum springs forth. Even more than that, it’s the Speedster Valhalla, a reward for a race well run. The Speed Force is a place where all speedsters are called to join others like them to exist in a paradise of momentum. So, to create a prison inside of the Speed Force seems like a bit of an oxymoron. Then again, the Speed Force is far more sentient than in previous representations. Regardless, it annoys me that “Speedster Heaven” has been stripped of any peaceful images and has been replaced with this realm of fear and pain. It just doesn’t sit right.
It also feels off for Jay’s capture/death to have so little impact. While Wally has been affected by his time in the Speed Force, Barry seems to have only picked up a big bag of “why me?” Frankly, it feels anticlimactic. This was another wasted opportunity to reveal more of the man beneath the Savitar armor. Who is he? Why does the Speed Force Prison Exist? Why was trapping Savitar in the prison preferable to say, death? Without these basic answers, we’re left feeling like something happened this week, but it didn’t amount to much.
Yeah, we did get a little subplot involving Jesse Quick that provided insight on Savitar’s armor. That was cool, but it really didn’t move the ball forward. All it did was give Jesse a hero complex and shuffled her off to Earth-3 to cover for Jay. That said, can we just give another shout out to Tom Cavangh for rocking H.R. Wells? His dynamic with Jesse was one of the best highlights this week. I mean just look at this.
That’s pure joy and a guy who’s loving his job. Which of course makes Jesse’s departure to Earth-3 all the more painful. Pair that with Wally on hiatus and Jay in “Heaven-but-Not” and we’re left with Barry on his own. What does that mean?
I hate this version of Barry. Truly it’s the lowest form of his character and seemingly his default nature when things get tough. They tried create “profound moment” of embracing the future but really all it did was give Barry an excuse to double down on the forced melodrama from last week. Now that Iris has her head straight, of course Barry has to create doubt of his own. The result is the two splitting up and making our hero miserable. Seriously, it’s manipulative melodrama that serves no purpose other than to stall an episode.
When it comes to this part of the show, the Flash has clearly fallen on hard times indeed. Thankfully we get a week off of the melodrama express with a fun musical episode featuring a TON of guest stars. Hopefully this will be a great palette cleanser and we can jump into April with a renewed sense of hope that the plot will finally pay off.