THE FLASH “WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE” REVIEW
BY JUSTIN CARTER
And here we are at 100 episodes of The Flash. Not that you’d know that at first, there’s no real fanfare around it. Perhaps that’s for the best, though, since time travel and screwing it up is something Team Flash dabbles in on the regular.
Now that they’ve finally deduced his identity and origin, Team Flash decides that the best way to take down Cicada is to make a magnet that takes his dagger away from him, a magnet made up of parts from key moments in previous seasons. Barry and Nora speed their way through the Savitar battle of season 3, Zoom jacking Barry’s speed and Barry’s time travel trip in season 2, and the particle accelerator explosion of the pilot.
There’s something to be said for having Nora along to really put the show’s history into perspective; the Flash museum in her time has skipped out on some key details, like Savitar being Barry who got shot by Iris, or her experiencing both Zoom and a Time Wraith (I think that’s the Black Flash?) for the first time. Barry’s refusal to let her come with him on his time travel sprint feels, at least to me, like the show wanting to not look back at the parts of the last five years where they didn’t stick the landing. But the whole point of 100 episode celebrations is to look back, and in Nora’s case, that means learning about the times her dad’s victories weren’t as clean as his future museum made them to be.
It’s fitting that “Past” is directed by Tom Cavanaugh. He really shines in particular when Barry and Nora have to go to season 2 Thawne-Wells for help. As someone who watched Thawne when he was played by Matt Lescher in Legends of Tomorrow season 2 and proved to be arrogant and prickly there, it’s delightful to see him and Barry trade barbs back and forth, even though the scene itself is incredibly tense. Really, it’s the most that Nora has ever felt like a child as she watches her dad and her uncle (or whatever Thawne and Nora’s relationship can be be called) argue, and Jessica Kennedy does some very good silent acting with her face as she makes herself look small during this big moment.
And let it be said that even though we’ve seen the particle accelerator go off multiple times from multiple views, there’s still something to seeing it happen with the flashbacks from previous episodes playing one after another. When the show does little callbacks, like Thawne-Wells shaking Past Cisco’s hand in the same way he vibrated through his chest back in season one, it’s hard not to feel something.
Fortunately, “Past” is more than just a fun to watch trip through memory lane. Seeing the metas of Team Flash kick Cicada’s ass after they barely survived last time around was incredibly satisfying to watch, from Cisco getting to Vibe freely, to Killer Frost coming in with the last minute save. It’s a well directed fight that lets the heroes come together after this season has largely had them all split apart in their own individual storylines. But, it is a shame that Cicada got to live another day and not only that, but summon his dagger back to him after it was Vibed to space. Weak.
I don’t know if “Past” is quite as great as Arrow’s 100th episode a few years back. Admittedly, that episode also just expanded to include characters who were only there to wind up on Legends later on. (Can you imagine if Mick Rory somehow ended up in this episode?) But it is a great episode regardless, even though the final reveal of Nora’s future BFF being Thawne means we have to wait until January for answers.
- Ralph’s needle drop of Huey Lewis was great, but you know what would’ve been better, Flash? Lady Gaga.
- Oh, Zoom. Can’t escape a Time Wraith even when you’re just taking a quick detour.
- “A disturbance in the Speed Force.”
- Baby Grodd!
- Hey, Nora’s a member of the Legion!
- Was Nora supposed to be named Dawn, or is another child on the way?
- Next week, Elseworlds!