In this episode of The Flash season 2, “Flash Back,” Barry decides to travel back in time to seek help from his former mentor, “Dr. Wells”/Eobard Thawne. However, as with most of Barry’s plans, things do not go as expected and he runs into several faces from the past — including a now-deceased Eddie Thawne (former series regular Rick Cosnett) and former foe Hartley Rathaway. Meanwhile, Iris is having trouble moving forward with her life while her heart is stuck in the past.
Barry is still upset that he didn’t see the truth about Jay and he blames himself for letting Jay manipulate him. Jay’s betrayal has prompted Barry to become even more obsessed with increasing his speed so he can take Zoom/Jay down. The only problem is that Barry still does not know how to do that.
Caitlin tells Barry that she ran tests and discovered that Barry, Reverse Flash and Zoom all move their legs at the same rate, but Reverse Flash and Zoom do not keep their feet on the ground as long as Barry does, so it makes them much faster than Barry is. Barry wonders what he can do to change that. Luckily, a chat with Wally later that night gives him the inspiration he needs.
Barry is getting ready to have dinner with his family when Wally arrives late with some news. He has been invited to help out his adviser with an engineering project. Everyone is excited for Wally, who explains that he studied the journals of great engineers from the past as a way to learn from the best. This gives Barry the idea that he can learn from the best by going back in time and getting Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash/fake Harrison Wells to teach him how to be faster. (To make things easier, I will be referring to this character as ‘Eobard-Wells’ for the rest of this recap.)
Barry rushes back to S.T.A.R. Labs to share his idea with Cisco and Caitlin. Barry explains that he will go back to a time last year in order to question Eobard-Wells about increasing his speed. Barry manages to convince Caitlin and Cisco of his plan — which includes knocking out his younger self before posing as him — but Harry tells Barry that he should not do this. Harry is concerned that Eobard-Wells has been studying The Flash for so long that he will be able to figure out who Barry really is. If Eobard-Wells figures out who Barry is, the timeline will be altered and only Barry will know what the differences are. Alas, Barry is convinced that this is the only way to get faster so he can beat Zoom.
Barry is going back to the time when Eobard-Wells was distracted by the return of his former protege, Hartley Rathaway. This was also around the time the team learned that Eobard-Wells knew the particle accelerator might explode and proceeded with it anyway, so any odd behavior on Barry’s part could be attributed to that.
Caitlin gives Barry a tranquilizer-dart to use on his younger self and it will give Barry just enough time to learn what he needs to and return home. Cisco reminds Barry to not mention anything to their younger versions about Eobard-Wells’ real identity and tells him to try to return to the exact moment he left.
While Barry is traveling through the time tunnel, he sees some kind of creature and it spooks him enough to knock him out of the time tunnel too soon. Barry makes it to the past, but he arrives too early in the timeline. Barry quickly recovers and follows through on the plan to knock out his younger self. He then captures Hartley and takes him back to S.T.A.R. Labs. Barry uses his knowledge of the past to stop Hartley from using his ear devices to break out of his cell the way he did the first time around.
With Rathaway secured in the pipeline, Barry continues with his plan to question Eobard-Wells about increasing his speed. Barry shows Eobard-Wells the speed equation he has been working on, but before they can get into it, the creature Barry saw during his time travel attacks the CCPD. Barry arrives at the station too late to stop the creature and then has to deal with the shock of seeing Eddie alive and well.
Eobard-Wells Figures Out Who Barry Is
Barry does his best at posing as his younger self, but it is clear that Eobard-Wells is suspicious of his behavior right from the start. Once the creature shows up, Eobard-Wells realizes that Barry isn’t his Barry and he knocks Barry out. When Barry comes to, Eobard-Wells explains that he knows Barry is not his younger self, and Barry eventually confirms that he knows Wells is actually Eobard Thawne. Barry says he came back in time because Eobard-Wells is the only one who has figured out how to manipulate the speed force and is therefore Barry’s only hope in learning how to increase his speed.
Eobard-Wells starts freaking out because he knows that if Barry had to return to the past to talk to him, it means his plan will fail. Barry lies and tells Eobard-Wells that his plan was successful and he beat Barry and returned to his own time. It is unclear if Eobard-Wells buys Barry’s story, but either way, he does not need this version of Barry. As Eobard-Wells is about to kill him, Barry comes up with an excellent bluff and tells his enemy that he has hidden a letter that will tell his younger self exactly what he needs to know to defeat Eobard-Wells and keep him from returning to his own time. This makes Eobard-Wells back down from his attack.
The Time Wraith
Eobard-Wells explains to Barry that the creature that attacked the CCPD is a Time Wraith and it followed Barry through time because Barry does not know how to cover his tracks. Eobard-Wells says that no one knows how to defeat a Time Wraith, which is why speedsters go out of their way to avoid them. They need to stop the Time Wraith before they worry about helping Barry with his speed.
While Eobard-Wells is distracted with Barry, the Time Wraith makes its way to S.T.A.R. Labs. Caitlin and Cisco hide from the creature by jumping into Hartley’s cell in the pipeline, but it is clear that the cell will not keep the Wraith out for good. Hartley figures out a way to adjust the frequency on his gauntlets and uses it against the Wraith. It is enough to chase the creature off.
Before they figure out how to defeat the Time Wraith, younger Barry comes to and confronts present Barry. In a delightful scene, younger Barry and his friends try to figure out which Barry is the real one, until Eobard-Wells explains that present Barry is from the future. Younger Barry and Cisco freak out at the knowledge that Barry can time travel, but they have a more pressing issue to deal with thanks to the Time Wraith.
Eobard-Wells takes Barry to his time vault and downloads all the information he has on how to manipulate the speed force. Barry takes the drive but warns his enemy that if the information does not help him increase his speed, he will be back. As Barry heads back to his own time, he tells Cisco and Caitlin that they have a year to figure out how to defeat the Time Wraith.
The Time Wraith goes after Barry again and it takes help from his younger self before Barry can go fast enough to travel back through time. Barry draws the Time Wraith with him back to the present, and Caitlin and Cisco try to stop it. Alas, their first try is not successful and the Wraith begins attacking Barry. Luckily for everyone, Hartley shows up with a device that is capable of destroying the Time Wraith. Apparently, Barry’s alteration of the past changed things so that Hartley is now working with Team Flash on a regular basis.
After Hartley leaves, Cisco asks Barry how things went in the past. Barry then plugs the drive Eobard-Wells gave him into the time vault and it (eventually) works, revealing the information they need to finish the speed equation. The episode ends with Barry holding Jay’s helmet and vowing to go after him.
Barry Helps Iris Find Closure
Before Barry heads back in time, he and Iris have a discussion about her former love, Eddie Thawne. Iris tells Barry that she (sort of) went on a date with her new boss, but though Scott is a nice guy, even thinking about dating again brings up her feelings for Eddie. Iris confesses that she thinks about Eddie every day and moving on just feels wrong. Barry tells Iris that Eddie would want her to find love again and that she shouldn’t keep herself too closed-off because she might miss out on something special.
While in the past, Barry takes the opportunity to give Iris closure with her lost love. Barry has Eddie film a video for Iris — Barry claims it’s a video montage he is putting together for Iris’ birthday — where Eddie tells her what he would want her to know if it was the last thing he was ever going to say to her.
When Barry returns to the present, he gives Iris the video message. On the recording, Eddie tells Iris that one of the things he loves about her is that she can handle things on her own. He also says that getting involved with her was the best decision he ever made and that each day he spends with her is a gift. In this touching goodbye message, Eddie says that Iris deserves to be happy for the rest of her life and no one wants that more than he does. Here’s hoping Eddie’s words are enough to help Iris let him go and move forward with her life.
What did you think of this episode of The Flash? Were you pleased to see Reverse Flash/Eobard-Wells again or do you wish the show would move on from his character? What did you think of Hartley’s return and his now present-day involvement with Team Flash? Is Hartley’s presence on the team the only thing Barry changed by going back in time? Were you as happy as I was to see Eddie again?
Were you disappointed that this episode did not address Barry’s trip to National City? I know this episode is meant to take place before Barry’s trip to Kara’s Earth, but I thought the episode would end with Barry accidentally winding up on the wrong Earth. (If you missed the crossover episode with CBS’ Supergirl, Barry and Kara became fast friends as Barry helped Kara deal with two villains, and Kara eventually helped Barry return home to his Earth.) Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
The Flash airs Tuesday nights at 8pm on The CW.
(Image courtesy of The CW)