In many ways The Flash‘s writers have learned a lot from the mistakes of the early episodes of Arrow. And in other ways they’re doing the same things and making the same mistakes made by the CW’s first successful superhero show, one of them being how it writes women. In other words, it doesn’t know how to.
The Flash has no problem producing meaningful and important moments for male characters. As the lead, Barry’s got that in spades, but even Joe and Eddie get moments where their characters, and their relationships with one another, get developed. As Joe’s targeted this week by a vengeful Mark Mardon (the new Weather Wizard), his relationships with Eddie and even the snarky Captain Singh get some depth. Meanwhile none of The Flash‘s female characters even seem to know the other exist, and when they do they have to have a mini-catfight which is one of the most glaring missteps of an otherwise stellar episode.
Caitlin and Iris talking a few episodes back about Ronnie was a nice moment that should have been happening way sooner and should be happening now. But the two haven’t spoken since, and now the only interaction we get between Iris and Linda is combative, and not fairly so. Linda being irritated by her boyfriend’s feelings for another woman makes sense, but weird comments about women doing things to one another make it all just seem superficially catty, like someone in the writer’s room was like “Well, you know, women.” which isn’t fair to the cool but self-assured Linda we met in the beginning or the assertive but sweet Iris we’ve known. The Bechdel Test may not be the most conclusive indicator of a show’s worth in the equality department, but it’s a start, and The Flash is a big flop no matter what test you’re using.
As far as Iris screentime goes, “Out of Time” is a much more promising episode than previous ones. She’s everywhere, from the awkward bowling double date to the tsunami approaching Central City in the final minutes. The episode’s all the better for actually integrating her into the storyline, even if the love quadrangle only becomes more and more painful to watch. Her personal life doesn’t have the depth it should, hers completely defined by her connection to Barry and her faltering relationship with Eddie.
I’m not opposed to the Barry/Iris romance at all, but Iris can be a much bigger character outside of being Barry’s love interest. We already know how things will end up for them. They’re the couple, and this season’s been only leading to them finally realizing that themselves. This knowledge makes the questions and the slow burn feel more boring than effective at times, and Iris’ character being so thinly fleshed outside of it doesn’t do anyone any favors. What’s going to happen once Iris and Barry actually get together? The show can’t exactly continue to mine the uncertainty of their feelings once they’ve become certain. “Out of Time” takes some steps in that direction as well, Iris confessing her feelings and the two kissing before Barry reveals himself to be the Flash to stop the approaching tsunami.
We’ll come back to the tsunami (this episode had a lot of stuff going on!), but Iris’ professional life is what the show should be using to further develop her character and give her something to do. It’s finally finding a root in the show’s grander arc with Mason declaring that Wells isn’t who he seems and likely has been involved in the disappearance of Simon Stagg. Now Iris is interested herself, and she’ll likely start looking into it, and that’s great because Candice Patton deserves more to do. Naturally her maybe crossing paths with the duplictious and murderous Wells isn’t going to help my anxiety, but there’s a lot of storyline potential that the show can work with.
Though Barry shrugs off the implication of Wells’ evil fairly quickly, Cisco has a harder time and starts investigating it himself. Eventually someone’s going to have to find out about Wells, and “Out of Time” does a good job satisfying this particular urge even though it ends with Cisco dead at Wells’ hand. The reveal and its consequences won’t stick (more on that later), but it’s a nice moment to have after spending the entire season waiting for somebody to figure it out. Wells offers the explanation himself before killing Cisco. He came back in time to kill Barry, killing his mother instead and has been trapped in their time ever since and is now looking to return, which requires building up Barry’s abilities.
And now onto the tsunami.
Liam Mcintyre is a lot of fun in the role of the Weather Wizard, and like always it’s fun to see a Spartacus alum in the CW’s DC-verse. And with him, the show employs some of the best special effects it’s ever had. The shots of him using his powers, manifesting gigantic hail to kill the coroner, lightning in the precinct and that episode-ending tsunami, were fantastic. And even though he’s likely to be rounded up pretty quick in next week’s “Rogue Time”, I hope it’s not the last we’ll see of him.
And finally, just to cap off the already packed episode, Barry finally time travels! Granted it’s on accident, but it still counts. Trying to stop that tsunami he goes so fast he hops back in time, which is an especially exciting beat for the show to finally hit. Being such a large part of The Flash mythos, it was only a matter of time before Barry starting breaking the time-space continuum on his own. And seeing how he works with it, and how the the show works with or around the huge moments of the episode, is going to make next week a major trip. Recently The Flash hasn’t been as exciting to me as it once was, but “Out of Time” is a near perfect episode and reminds me why I was so excited about the show to begin with.
- Joe lol’ing about Barry wanting advice about Iris is my favorite thing.
- Candice Patton’s face when Barry revealed himself was really great.
- I wonder what Wells’ plan was after killing Cisco? Was he just going to leave his body there and let someone else take the fall? And how would that have worked after he revealed his ability to walk to Caitlin? I know we don’t have to worry about it with time going backward but still.
- I’m sure Cisco will survive next week’s episode, but what will that mean? When will they find out about Wells? When? When? When?
- At least Captain Singh is gonna be on the up and up when the timeline redoes itself next week. And this time hopefully Barry won’t ruin his new jacket.