The Flash S02 Ep21,"The Runaway Dinosaur" Recap & Thoughts

Recap and Review

So this is the episode the internet has been waiting weeks to see, because it was directed by Kevin Smith. Let’s dive right into it!

After last week’s episode, where Harry apparently blew Barry to bits with a particle accelerator explosion, we find out pretty quickly that Barry isn’t gone. Cisco vibes and discovers our hero is trapped within the speed force.

Harry is freaked by the discovery that Jesse (and Wally) was caught in the explosion, so he spends a good chunk of the first act moping over his comatose daughter. Cisco and Iris head down to the basement to try to find Reverse-Flash’s notes about Barry’s initial coma. While there, they get attacked by a zombie, no foolin’. Girder is back, Walking Dead style. It’s ok if you don’t remember who this is from S1, because I sure didn’t. He’s the Freak-of-the-Week, and only notable because Smith clearly had such a blast with the horror-movie aspect.

"Zombie? For real?"
Meanwhile, Barry is having a much quieter experience. He ends up in a surrealistic version of his life, talking to familiar people. Except that they aren’t actually Joe or Iris… they are the Speed Force, there to offer Barry some serious speedster therapy. The Speed Force challenges him to catch a speedster shadow. But Barry struggles to do it, and the Speed Force explains that it’s because he has never come to terms with the choice he had to make to not save his mother, despite all the good he’s done since. Anyone who knows anything about the Flash (either by way of comics or animated DC) knows this crisis is essential to his development. The Flash must go through this experience and these questions before he can become great.

Back at STAR Labs, Team Flash splits up to deal with the various emergencies. While Henry keeps an eye on Jesse, the Wests take on the task of dealing with Girder, who is rampaging through Central City. Bonus points for Girder trashing Jason (the Jay in Jay & Silent Bob) Mewes’ mom’s car.

Best Cameo Ever. 
Meanwhile, Harry comes up with a plan to have Cisco vibe while using the machine that blasted Barry last week, so that Cisco can bring him home. It works and Cisco and Barry do see each other and Cisco holds out his hand, but at the time, SpeedForceIris is telling our hero that while he could go home if he wants to, he would do so without his powers. He must complete his trial if he wants to become the Flash again. Barry turns away from Cisco.

Back at home briefly, Joe suspects Wally may have gotten speedy powers during the explosion, so he drops a cup of coffee, assuming Wally will react naturally. Instead, he just trashes a mug that Iris gave him. :( No time to explain things to Wally, because Girder has arrived. Iris leads him back to STAR Labs, where Cisco has set up a machine to take out Girder once and for all. Of course, it doesn’t work, so everyone ends up trapped down in the vault with Girder banging the door down. Harry and Cisco decide to try contacting Barry again, but this time Iris insists on going.

Anyone who watched this episode had tears in their eyes during the pivotal scene when Barry confronts SpeedForceNora. You are lying if you say otherwise. Or just not human. Everything about this scene was pure emotional perfection. Michelle Harrison was brilliant as the serene Nora Allen. And Grant Gustin gave the performance of his freaking life here, in my opinion. Even though this was Nora as the Speed Force embodied her, it didn’t matter. In talking to her, and in reading his favorite kid’s book with her, Barry finally comes to term with her death and his part in it. And more importantly, with the fact that despite his powers, he can't stop all the tragedies in the world. It’s only then that Barry is able to catch the shadow, which turns out to be himself. Then he hears Iris calling for him, and Nora delivers the heart-wrenching line, “Run, Barry. Run.”

For my money, the episode could have ended there and it would have been perfect. But we get added sprinkles of sugar as Barry and Iris pop back out into reality, and Cisco reveals that they are all about to die.

"I'm so glad you're back... cuz we're about to die." Never change Cisco. Never change. 
Even better was Cisco and Harry’s bumbling to quickly explain why and how Girder is back. Not surprisingly, Barry defeats Girder pretty easily, and then in yet another pivotal moment, he zaps the comatose Jesse with the speed force, and she wakes up. Barry and Iris get their important scene at Nora’s grave, and the show seems to be heading towards getting them together. I’m fine with that, personally, but hope that Iris--who was pretty strong in this episode--gets to do more than moon over Barry.

We finally see poor Caitlyn, sitting untied in a chair, as Zoom gives her an ultimatum. If he comes back and she’s still there, then she will be spared in the coming apocalypse. But if she is gone, then he won’t show her any mercy when he takes over Earth-1. Then he runs off to deliver a speech to his army of meta goons. Decision time, Caitlyn!

Guys... shit's getting real
I have to admit, for a good chunk of Season 2, especially recently, I’ve been struggling with The Flash. I’ve been annoyed with the uselessness of the female characters, annoyed with Barry’s idiocy, and kind of annoyed about a lot of things. “The Runaway Dinosaur” made me feel like it was Season 1 again, the show that I fell in love with. I don’t know if it was the writing--the episode was written by Zack Stentz of Thor and X-Men: First Class--or the directing, or a combination, but it worked. It was outstanding in every way. Iris didn’t suck, there were some genuinely funny moments that didn’t take away from the drama and action, and Grant Gustin, as I mentioned earlier, killed it, especially in his scenes with Nora.

If I have any qualms at all about the future of this show, it’s that Henry Allen’s declaration of intent to stay sounds like he’s signing his own death warrant. Or, even worse, that he might be replacing Caitlyn (Cisco made a comment about Caitlyn being gone, and Henry being their medical person). Women haven’t had much luck in staying alive on TV lately, and Caitlyn in particular has been incredibly underutilized this season, so I just have a bad feeling about it.

The Flash seriously needs to have Kevin Smith come back more often, because whatever magic wand he waved, it worked. Bonus points for the hilarious and sometimes vulgar description of how he got the job.

What did you think? Sound off in the comments!

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.