Barry Allen is a frustrating human being. The speed force seems to think so, too. Just like the last time he went “Into the Speed Force,” Barry was given some sage advice, some lessons to be learned. But the well-meaning speedster only ever takes half of these lessons and then finds a way to sabotage his own happiness (see “The New Rogues:” “It’s easier to fail than to succeed.”). He has to be the one to sacrifice and rely on himself in order to save Iris, says the speed force, not Wally. So he chooses to sacrifice the stability of his relationship with Iris in order to save her. That optimism and confidence he had in saving her is gone. He told Iris not that long ago that they’d face the future together, but Barry is nothing but his own worst enemy and so the episode ended in heartbreak instead of with an apology.

Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW

Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW

After Wally got sucked into the speed force last week, Barry vowed to go in and save him from a “fate worse than death.” He leaves the team a little broken and his relationship with Iris on rocky ground. Her decision to end the engagement was still hanging in the air between them like a ton of heavy bricks waiting to fall. It feels like this decision weighs on Barry throughout the episode, with his willingness to sacrifice himself to the speed force coming too easily. It’s hard not to compare this speed force trip with the first one from “The Runaway Dinosaur.” This time around, though, the speed force wasn’t as kind, but rather demanding of Barry to step up and stop relying on others to sacrifice for him. Through the visages of Eddie, Ronnie, and Captain Cold, Barry is faced with the consequences of his actions at the end of last season (although, to be fair, all three of these characters sacrificed themselves without having to be asked). The speed force was messing with Barry’s psyche and throwing some massive guilt his way. Although a lot of it was good, it didn’t carry the same weight as his first encounter.

But was the speed force being helpful or trying to push him to eventually sacrifice himself to it in exchange for ruining everything? It really lays on the guilt, but of the people who showed up, none of their deaths are directly his fault. By thinking so, it takes away from the choices these characters made. I did like that no matter what, Barry remained stubborn in the fact that he wasn’t leaving Wally behind, time wraiths and Black Flash be damned. Speaking of Wally, although he didn’t get too much to do (which is a shame), his heartbreak and despair were truly felt. Having to watch his mother die over and over echoes the same thing Barry has had to do and it’s striking how similar the two are in their tragedy, but still very much different. The speed force itself seemed warped. If it wants Barry to save Iris so badly, why go through all this trouble to make him seem like he’s the only one who can do so? Why not give him more information about Savitar in addition to all of that? What was the speed god seeing in his version of hell? It could have been useful in trying to figure out who he is and the origin of his motives. Instead, Jay comes to help and sacrifices himself to take Wally’s place, allowing Wally and Barry to escape.

“You told me you wanted to marry someone because they love you and not because they were trying to save you and I get that. I’ve lived with a lot of death and tragedy in my life and seeing you die, it’s impossible not to be consumed by that.

“I get that, I do. It just… it made me question if you were asking me for the right reasons, you know? If it was out of love or responsibility. Look, while you were gone I realized something. I don’t have to doubt why you want to marry me, it’s the same reason I want to marry you. I want to be your wife, Barry.”

Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

I’ve shown a lot of love for “The Flash” for breaking the “I need to be push you away to protect you” bullshit that other superhero shows and movies love doing. At least until tonight’s episode, where there was a bit of contrived drama to allow for the circumstances to roll over into the musical episode next week (because let’s be real, their temporary separation won’t last longer than that). Fearing that the lack of a ring on Iris’ finger signified that Barry had lost her ended with a conclusion that made no sense. In order to “embrace the future,” Barry needs “space?” Earlier in the episode, he was concerned that he had lost Iris by screwing up in regards to the reasons behind his proposal. In the end, Iris comes to the conclusion that, indeed, she does want to be his wife in spite of his reasons for proposing and then… Barry puts their relationship on hold? What? It would have made more sense if he’d apologized for the way he’d gone about the proposal and, since he isn’t in the right head space for it right now, they should just put the engagement on pause. Not walk away for awhile and reaffirm Iris’ doubts about why he asked.

Savitar is literally roaming the streets at this very moment and Barry wants to leave Iris alone to save her? It just didn’t sit well with me. I don’t see this as a break-up so much as a screw-up. We’ve known Barry to sabotage himself before, like when he left Iris to Flashpoint at the end of last season. But at that point in time, it made sense because his father had just been killed. In “Into the Speed Force,” it feels like it came out of nowhere and it was cause for a lot of frustration. It’s not that I don’t completely understand that he needs to clear his mind after everything that’s happened and his experiences in the speed force. However, the speed force literally told him to save Iris, not leave her alone while trying to do so.

Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

Iris looked even more heartbroken in that scene than she did at the thought of her own death and, while I’m positive they will be ok by next week, the way the writers went about the entire situation was irritating. Hell, Iris could have taken another episode to decide whether she wanted to be engaged to Barry under these circumstances and that would have made more sense so long as they talked about it. The conversation itself was fine up until the last thirty seconds or so. Iris scoffs as she walks away and it’s exactly how I felt after the scene ended. It was contrived and lazy writing. It also kind of devalued the entire conversation they were having moments before.

I love you. But, you were right. I proposed because I thought it would save you. I thought Wally would save you. I was wrong. I alone have to save you in the future and I’m going to, but not by changing it. By embracing it.”

“Ok… what does that mean?”

“It means that… I think that we need some space for awhile. I’m sorry, I don’t know how we can move forward like this.”

The team standing around going on and on with the pseudo-science kind of grated on the nerves a bit and I’m glad Jesse was the voice of reason, even if her decision to go after Savitar on her own was unwise. It reminded me that there needs to be less time spent at S.T.A.R. Labs and that certain characters don’t really carry all that much weight or add much to the narrative. However, some good news came out of it when Jesse and H.R. figure out that there’s a man beneath Savitar’s armor, which means he can be defeated. Besides that, though, the episode doesn’t offer much in the way of figuring out who Savitar is. Jesse’s abrupt departure (because Earth-3 needs a speedster now that Jay is in the speed force, but Earth-2 doesn’t need one?) was also a bit frustrating only because it continues to prove that the writers don’t know how to balance their large cast and keep going back and forth with what they want to do with some of them. This cripples the show in a lot of ways and it’s really glaring in episodes like this one.

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

It’s not that I hated “Into the Speed Force,” but following up on an episode that had so much great angst and tension last week with “The Wrath of Savitar,” it was average at best. The episode provided some solid character moments, but my biggest frustration is that Barry seems to have completely missed the point of the speed force’s lessons. Last week, the angst made sense and was warranted. This week, it was fine before the final moment stole the episode’s thunder and made Barry look questionable in his actions regarding Iris, their relationship, and how he intends to go about things moving forward. The musical episode might be filler, but let’s hope that Barry will learn that he can’t do this alone and needs Iris by his side.

Next week, the much talked about musical crossover episode! I’m looking forward to the outfits!

Random Thoughts: 

  • I felt very protective of Wally in this episode.
  • I have absolutely adored Iris and Joe’s heart-to-hearts the last couple of episodes. I need more!
  • “I’ll stay with Cisco.” Did you even ask Cisco if that was ok, Barry?
  • Barry better be thinking up ways to outdo even himself when it comes to apologizing to Iris. He made her cry. This is unacceptable!
  • Despite my frustration with Barry at the moment, Grant Gustin and Candice Patton absolutely killed that scene at the end. SO MANY EMOTIONS!
  • My sister sometimes watches with me and she slapped my arm really hard after Barry asked Iris, “Did I lose you?” as if I myself had caused this distance between them.
  • Everyone is so concerned with the byline; Barry disappears in 2024 and no one seems to care or pay attention to this detail!
  • I still don’t understand why Earth-3 needs to be protected, but not Earth-2? Also, does this mean Jesse is stuck there for now?
  • The S.T.A.R. Labs team kind of got on my nerves in this episode.
  • Eddie will forever think that Iris was going to be his wife and Joe his father-in-law. She never said yes, and we all know Joe said no. I shake my head at his blissful ignorance. I also chuckled. A lot.
  • Real question: Why are Ronnie and Eddie considered “fan favorites?” Maybe it’s just me, but I never really cared about either of them all that much.
  • Eddie calling Barry, “Bar.” Ugh. Why? Why, writers?
  • Both Iris and Barry say “I love you” to each other (although Iris wasn’t technically there in the speed force) before almost dying. I weep.
  • Savitar knows everything that will happen because it’s already happened for him. This is creepy.
  • Jesse punching H.R. It was a public service, really. He was a bit irritating in this episode.
  • Jesse leaves because Savitar also has plans for her. So this is an option? But Savitar can obviously see other Earths and timelines, so I guess we’ll be seeing Jesse at some point again.
  • I legit wanted to smack Barry upside his pretty little head. How dare he?!
  • Remember when Barry decided to not see Iris for awhile back in season one? Sigh. He’s so dramatic.
  • No more contrived drama between my favorite couple, please, Flash writers. Thanks!
  • Barry should have just apologized. Double sigh.
  • “I thought I’d lost you, too.” “I’m right here.” *cries forever*
60%
60%
Decent

In "The Wrath of Savitar," the angst made sense and was warranted. "Into the Speed Force" was fine before the final moment stole the episode's thunder and made Barry look questionable in his actions regarding Iris, their relationship, and how he intends to go about things moving forward.

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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