When The Flash first aired, it was sometimes cheesy and goofy and I still loved it. But very rarely has a freshman series grown so much so fast; I often thought it was going to stumble somewhere along its final stretch of episodes. Luckily, it’s safe to say the show surpassed my expectations because that was one of the best season finales I’ve ever seen.
The best thing about the finale is surprisingly what often makes comic book adaptations weak: hitting the right amount of emotions alongside character development. Arrow gave us a fantastic sophomore season because it relied so much on twists and turns that helped make its characters intriguing, but it never gave us an emotionally heartbreaking episode like this one without dwelling too much into soap territory (see most of its third season). The Flash, on the other hand, was somehow capable of pulling off an episode where Barry Allen spends almost the entire hour talking to other characters about what to do and who he really is without ever becoming boring or less entertaining than usual.
All thanks to Grant Gustin for his harrowing performance here. It’s incredible how lovable he’s gotten at portraying a distressed and morally conflicted Barry because any time Grant is crying (and he did that a lot here), it’s extremely hard not to get emotional. His gut-wrenching scenes with his two fathers were all extremely powerful and difficult to watch, but it was his final confrontation with his mother that was the real nail in the coffin. We’ve been waiting for this reunion for 23 episodes now, and I was certainly not expecting things to go as they transpired. Everything from Future Flash signaling Present Flash not to save his mother to Present Flash telling her that he’s from the future and that he and his father were doing okay was poignant, touching and remarkable.
Another thing the show needs to be credited for is the amazing special effects it displayed over the course of the season, and especially in this finale. The black hole at the end was particularly astounding and felt like straight out of a big-budget Hollywood movie. And while I would have preferred a more definitive conclusion to the season rather than such an abrupt ending, the sight of The Flash running into the singularity was still a very strong way to finish such an emotionally packed hour. And how great was it to see Hawkgirl in the end? What a fantastic tease for the much-anticipated Legends of Tomorrow. I am beyond impressed.
If there are a few things to nitpick here, they would be about Iris. DC has a huge problem writing for its female characters and it all shows here (and in Arrow for ruining Felicity for me). At first, I loved her scene with Barry on the roof where they finally acknowledge that they’ve had a brother/sister kind of relationship for so long, and that it’s almost impossible to picture them as a couple. But it all felt too rushed and contrived later on when it became clear they just wanted to put Iris back on the table with Eddie so his heroic death (something I did not quite expect) would be more meaningful. Speaking of which, was that not reminiscent of Tommy’s fateful death in the season one finale of Arrow? Everything from the sacrifice to the love triangle to the woman screaming after him was similar. Only, I definitely liked Tommy way more than I did Eddie. Still sad to see him go though.
With such a strong end to one of the fastest first seasons I’ve ever seen, one can only hope the show doesn’t suffer through a sophomore slump. The stakes are higher than ever, especially in a show that seems to be hinting at a multiverse, but if done right and with less headache-inducing physics lessons, there’s nothing stopping The Flash from doing whatever it wants. Bring on season two!
– The cold-open has to be my favorite Flash teaser ever with Barry repeating the sometimes-dreadful monologue at the beginning while going to visit a captured Wells. Talk about chills.
– Incredible scene between Cisco and Harrison Wells who admits that Cisco has been affected by the particle accelerator. What a shocking twist! So, he’s going to be The Vibe? And I’m glad they finally explained why he was seeing things that happened in an alternate timeline.
– I didn’t really see it at first but yeah, that was definitely Caitlin as Killer Frost in the images from the future that Barry was seeing. I cannot wait for that!
– More pleasant references from the future include a Flash museum (hell yeah!) and Wells mentioning Rip Hunter.
– Amidst all the drama and pulse-pounding action that was going on in the finale, Caitlin and Ronnie got married. For some reason, I didn’t really love that wedding scene but I do love it anytime Caitlin is on screen. Maybe I thought Ronnie was going to die? It certainly would explain why he isn’t cast as the other half of Firestorm in Legends.
– Heartbreaking: seeing Barry cry in the other room while we hear Reverse Flash stabbing his mother to death. So much pain here.
– Even more tragic: Eddie’s last words to Iris about being her hero.
– Breathtaking visual: The Flash returning from the wormhole with his super-sonic punch and breaking Harrison’s time machine. Very satisfying.
– Martin Stein was absolutely delightful here. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him, but I always hate how TV weddings always have a character on the show who officiates. Seriously, every single wedding!
– Also remarkable is Tom Cavanaugh in his disturbing performance as the equally lovable yet villainous genius. I love that he tells Barry he’s become such fond of him in this timeline, but they will eventually come to hate each other in the future. There is no Big Bad better than Harrison Wells on TV right now, and I want to see more of him in season two.
– I really have to restate how emotional those Barry/Joe and Barry/Henry scenes were. Sniff.
– Comic book fans definitely recognized that helmet that fell off the wormhole, which belongs to Jay Garrick (the first Flash). This show…
– But if Eddie dies and Eobard Thawne is never born, does that mean he never goes back to the past and kills Barry’s mom? That’s one of the million questions I’ve had after the finale.
– How excited are you about the show potentially visiting two Earths? And about this finale? And SEASON TWO WHICH CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH?
Red Blurs & One-Liners
Henry: All the things you achieved and not just as the Flash but you, Barry. Your honesty, your heart. You’re always a hero, and your mom would be just as proud. And if she had a say in this, if she thought for one second that you going back to save her would mean losing what makes you so special, she would never want that. Barry, what I hope for you, maybe the greatest thing a father can hope for his son is that one day you will become a father yourself and then you will know how much I truly love you.
Stein: My father made me become a rabbi before he would send me to MIT. This will be legit, as the kids say.
Ronnie: No kids say that.
Stein: Let’s not fight on our wedding day.
Cisco: Ronnie, I love you but this is a time-machine, not a book case from IKEA.
Iris: I’ve done a lot of thinking up here. When I wasn’t having clandestine meetings with the mysterious streak.
Barry: Yeah, not mad we lost that name.
Iris: Hey, I thought it had pizzazz.
Stein: I have a mug that says “World’s Best Boss”. I doubt my teaching assistant would testify to its authenticity.
Harrison: Run, Barry! RUN!
While I was expecting a more conclusive finale than a hasty cliffhanger, the show still managed to wrap up a fantastic season with quite the epic ending.