TV REVIEW: The Flash Season One Finale “Fast Enough”
By Justin Carter
Well, that’s certainly one way to end a season.
Despite some complaints, I’ve been enjoying The Flash a lot. Even the dodgiest episode is still pretty good, especially when compared to this past season of Arrow. When the show fires on all cylinders, it’s hitting straight home runs, and “Fast Enough” is the show hitting a home run that knocks out all of the lights. It was a given that with Thawne in Barry’s custody, things weren’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows. And right from Barry’s somber intro narration compared to its normal upbeat tone, the show is basically telling its viewers to “buckle up and hold on tight, because we ain’t stopping.”
So much of this episode is dependent on the acting abilities of Grant Gustin and Jesse Martin. When they’re with others, they’re great, but together is when they both truly shine. Joe and Barry’s unhidden love is for each other is a far cry from what we usually see with father-son relationships on TV. The possibility of Barry’s time traveling to save his mother and possibly lose out on Joe as a father does nothing to stop the cop from telling his surrogate son to bring his real family together.
Martin does a great job of conveying the full extent of his pain through his eyes when his words are conveying the exact opposite of what he truly wants. It’s with credit to the writers and that aforementioned chemistry between Gustin and Martin that Barry’s ultimate decision feels right for both characters. Everyone may be telling Barry to think of himself, but he wouldn’t be who he is if he didn’t think of the people who’ve been with him from minute one. The big theme of the episode is family, from Barry and Joe’s talks to Barry talking with his father, who begs him to let his mother die. With role models like Joe and Henry in his life, it’s easy to see how well Barry turned out willing to sacrifice his own personal happiness for others.
Whereas Barry is uncertain of his choice, Wells/Thawne is completely committed to the mission. Even though he’s a prisoner, he’s perfectly willing to give Barry and the others advice to help him run fast enough to open a portal to the past, but not enough to tell them that failure could lead to Barry dying or a singularity opening up and swallowing the world. The reason for his hatred of Barry isn’t really given, aside from them fighting for years and years and always coming to a stalemate. But it hardly matters, since Tom Cavanaugh chews the scenery perfectly and manages to be threatening and funny at the drop of a hat. It’s in these final moments that he comes across less like a calculated madman and more someone just desperate to get away from the fighting and finally take a breather. Even his casual revelation to Cisco that the particle accelerator let him see the vibrations of the universe comes across like he’s finally cracked a puzzle that’s been bugging him for the longest time and now he can finally turn his brain off.
While this is a show about a guy who can break the sound barrier in his sneakers, it makes sure to keep things tight and personal until the final few moments. The addition of a subplot about a villain would only undermine the emotional feeling the episode is going for. When Barry finally does go back in time and watches Thawne kill his mother, it’s hard to not shout “STOP HIM BARRY, STOP HIM!”. Whether it’s because he thought of Joe’s words or saw his past self warn him to not enter the room yet, Barry ultimately uses his time to speak to his mother and assure her that everything will be fine. Certainly not the closure he wanted, but it’s what Barry deserved after so long of saving others. With that done, his only goal now is to stop Thawne from booking it back to his own time.
After making a return as Firestorm last week to help bring Wells in, Victor Garber and Robbie Amell are back as Stein and Ronnie. Ronnie and Caitlin finally get their wedding, albeit a smaller one than they expected. Not sure how all of that is going to work out, but going off of what Barry saw while running through time, Caitlin’s last name is going to be more appropriate in the future than it is now. Stein spends his time being a surrogate Wells, helping the team with their science work and breaking things down to viewers in the most basic sense, which is good because the science and time travel talk will definitely make peoples’ heads spin. It’s too bad Garber is already committed to Legends of Tomorrow, because he fits in with the rest of the team quite nicely. In his most important role of the episode, he surprisingly ends up being to Eddie what Wells was to Barry.
Eddie sacrificing himself in some ways feels like a copout. I’m not sure if he was meant to be intentionally one-note by design, or if there was some chopping up in the writing. His sole plot thread was basically just being a roadblock to the “WestAllen” ship, but Rick Cosnett played him well enough that you didn’t notice it all that much. Hell, even his declaration of “screw the future” feels like he’s telling off the future and his descendant for calling him unextraordinary. Like Stein says himself, Eddie is a wild card, so it’s fitting (and dark) that he does something pretty unexpected by shooting himself to stop Thawne from killing everyone in STAR Labs and wipe him out of existence. It may not be what the character deserved, but it was the first time that Eddie felt like he was doing what he wanted and not what destiny demanded of him.
Both Thawnes are out of the picture, but the singularity is still going off and swallowing the world. It’s swallowing everything in its path, and like the tsunami or tornado from earlier in the season, Barry has to run to stop it. The sight of him speeding up the rising debris is something to behold. There are plenty of questions that are going to be raised from this, like what happens to the metahumans Flash has fought, and does this means we’re finally going to see the multiverse that’s been mentioned by the producers?
And with that, The Flash has ended its debut season with a bang. It’s easy to say that of all the shows premiering this season, this was the surprising breakout star that ended up being way better than it had any right to be. It knew what it aimed to do and made a straight run for it with zero stops. While not everything has held together, it’s captured the spirit of the comic perfectly and is consistently fun and light on its feet. While it ends with a decent amount of questions, the answers won’t come until Fall, and we’re left with the visual of Barry running into the wormhole. Whatever happens when he stops running, I’ll certainly be there.
“You could’ve had everything you ever wanted!” shouts Thawne in anger. “I already do!” That is why Barry is a hero.
“I’ve controlled your life for so long, Barry. How will you get along without me?” The visual of Thawne disintegrating is pretty impressive, but that last line is very cryptic.
Pay attention to what Barry sees when he runs through the wormhole, that’s all I’ll say.
Besides Stein, fellow Legends of Tomorrow stars Wentworth Miller and Ciara Renee show up in the final minutes. Rip Hunter is casually name dropped by Thawne when talking about the time machine. If you haven’t seen the Legends of Tomorrow trailer, it’s right here. But be warned for spoilers if you haven’t finished all of this season of Arrow.
“I’m sorry, Cisco. Not for killing you, I’m sure I had a valid reason for that.” Not quite an apology, but closest thing you could expect from Eobard Thawne.
Season grade: A. Best episodes: “Pilot”, “Flash vs. Arrow”, “The Man in the Yellow Suit” “Revenge of the Rogues”, “Fast Enough.”