Into the Speedforce: The Flash Recap & Review, Plus a Romance Soapbox

After the beatdown I gave The Flash for last week's idiocies, it was nice to see the show bounce back with a fairly strong episode this week... with some caveats.

"Into the Speedforce" has Barry running back to the Speedforce to rescue Wally, who is now trapped there thanks to Savitar's trickery.

But I still have reasons to get up on my soapbox, so read on and find out why The Flash, and the CW in general, continues to exasperate me.

Spoilers beyond the fold.

So let's get the recap out of the way first.

Barry decides he has to go into the Speedforce to bring Wally back from whatever hell he is in. Iris is still belly-aching about the whole marriage thing, and Jesse wants desperately to accompany Flash into the Speedforce, but is told, as usual, that she needs to stay behind to protect Earth-1 while Barry is gone.

Meh. Rehashed excuses to keep the female speedster down are rehashed.

Jesse is, not surprisingly, pretty frustrated and feeling useless. Apparently idiocy is part of a speedster's superpower, because she decides that she has to take on Savitar on her own, despite everyone telling her it's a bad idea. After HR is a jackass and tells her to wait for "the real Flash" to get back (and THANK YOU Jesse for clocking him on the chin, he 100% deserved it), Jesse uses the armor piece they obtained last week to track down Savitar.

Okay, so far, despite the fact that I know it's dumb for her to face Savitar on her own because he's clearly a superpowered badass, I am 100% with her up to this point. She had a bunch of dudes just tell her that she can't do this on her own, that she's not "the real Flash," and that she needs to stay behind because reasons. I mean, she rightly points out that on Earth-2, she was the only Flash, and she had to face baddies down on her own, so why would this be any different?

Yeah, it's different. Because Hindu god of speed or something. 
I was with this plot up until the moment that HR gets on the commlink (where the hell was everyone else? Dinner break?) and ends up being the one that tells Jesse how to temporarily defeat Savitar. HR points out that there's no reason to wear armor if you're immortal, so find a weak spot in the armor.

This is pretty logical and I'm surprised that it's take like 16 episodes for anyone to figure this out, considering all the geniuses operating on Team Flash. A team of geniuses, I remind you, that includes Jesse Wells herself, because we have been told since the beginning that she's her father's daughter, and she knows science.

Tell me again why it's the clueless fiction writer that has to tell her that people don't wear armor if they are invulnerable?

Anyway, she stabs Savitar with the piece of armor, which causes him to run off yelping in pain.

Meanwhile, back in the Speedforce, Barry does not find the warm welcome he got in last season's "The Runaway Dinosaur." Not surprisingly, the Speedforce is slightly pissed that immediately after it helped Barry get over his mother's death, he went back in time to save his mother and caused Flashpoint. This time around, the Speedforce tells him that he needs to learn to deal with stuff on his own, instead of being babied by everyone else.

Totes Magotes! This show has spent three seasons babying Barry Allen, and the only reason he's even remotely successful is because of the people around him. I go back once again to Jesse pointing out that she was the sole Flash on Earth-2 and she had to fight things on her own, probably only with the help of her father.

Speedforce Eddie does not approve
So color me giddy at the Speedforce being super ornery and telling Barry he needs to grow up! It takes the form of Eddie Thawne, pointing out that Barry has never really had to sacrifice all that much to deal with stuff. Eddie, on the other hand, gave up his future with Iris and his very life, in order to save the world because Barry couldn't defeat Reverse-Flash on his own. And then the Speedforce turns into Ronnie Raymond, Caitlin's dead fiancee, another man who gave up his future and life in order to do what Barry couldn't do.

Speedforce Cold is best Speedforce!
But the best part was totally when the Speedforce manifested as Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold, who sacrificed his life to save the Legends team. We are told here that Snart was inspired by Barry's heroism to make that sacrifice. Which okay... umm... what? I would never have credited Barry Allen with being the reason that Leonard Snart makes the hero's journey. Snart made his journey with the other Legends, and ultimately learned to be part of that team. He cared about those people, and specific to the moment of sacrifice, he cared especially about his partner, Mick Rory.

The hell does Barry have to do with that?

Okay, whatever. Having Wentworth Miller back, even for this briefest of moments, made up for the iffy reasons. As usual, Miller delivers his lines with a certain pizazz and bored intonation that just makes everything he says better. He could be reading the phone book and his sarcastic drawl would make that worth watching for hours. My favorite part was his bad Golden Age pun that he shoots at Jay Garrick.

Lolz look at me, Jay, I'm Captain America!
Yeah, Jay Garrick shows up. To save Barry of course. Don't get me wrong, I freaking love Jay and I was glad to see him. But the sacrifice that Jay makes--taking Wally's place so Barry can take Kid Flash home--seems to really go against everything the Speedforce was just trying to tell Barry. Yet another hero has sacrificed his life so that Barry can move on. I kind of wish Speedforce Snart had rolled his eyes and been like, "aww geez, not this shit again" and disappeared in a huff.

 So yeah, Wally and Barry get back home, Jay is now trapped in the Speedforce, and Barry has learned that he can't schlep the responsibility of saving Iris onto Wally... that it is his battle to fight and his alone. Jesse randomly decides that she is moving to Earth-3 to replace Jay there, because to hell with Earth-2, I guess, and there are apparently way too many speedsters on Earth-1 so screw it, let's get rid of the female speedster because of course.


Time to get on my soapbox. Don't get me wrong, overall this episode wasn't bad. I probably sound really sarcastic and ornery about it. The Speedforce scenes were well done overall. But as I mentioned last week, I am a little bit tired of Barry and Co. having to relearn the same lessons, over and over again, and that seemed to be part of what the Speedforce was trying to tell him.

But whatever, because we need to talk about Iris.

Guys... seriously?
If this episode was pretty decent, it was ruined by the last scene, because we get what I have to call the "CW Melodrama Moment." This whole thing feeds the ridiculous and tired trope of Superheroes being incapable of keeping stable romantic relationships and ultimately settling down and having happiness. This is known as the Superheroes Stay Single trope, and the CW is particularly awful about it.

The romantic drama in The Flash this season can be boiled down to the following:

Barry: Will you marry me?
Iris: Yes. Wait, you asked me to marry you because reasons? I can't marry you! Because reasons!
Barry: But I love you! *goes off and does something heroic*
Iris: Ok while you were gone being heroic, I thought about it and changed my mind. I can marry you!
Barry: That's great! But I can't marry you. Because reasons!

Arrow did the same crap last season with Felicity walking out on her engagement to Oliver, and it was some of the worst characterizing and writing I've seen on a television show in a long time. Legends of Tomorrow's first season was plagued by the constant will they/won't they junk between Hawkgirl, Hawkdudebro, and Ray Palmer, and the best thing to happen to that show was when the Hawk people buggered off to wherever at the end of the season. See, they get to be happy and have a life together because they ditched the superheroics. Good riddance!

We're going to go be happy together. See ya, bitches! This is us exiting stage left!
And Supergirl, oh my goddess. Other than silly tension between Kara and James in the first season, Supergirl on CBS mostly avoided this kind of nonsense. Mostly. But the minute the show came to the CW, suddenly the black guy was shoved aside so he could be replaced by a hot white dudebro from Daxam. Like, don't get me wrong, I ship Mon-El and Kara simply because of the chemistry the actors have together, but the writers really needed to do a better job of making Mon-El worthy of Kara's love, because he isn't. And despite the fact that for whatever reason Kara is putting up with his crap, we can all bet on this: in the next episode or two, Kara will discover that Mon-El has been lying about his identity, so she's going to kick him to the curb. Which is logical and right, but it goes back to that Superheroes Stay Single trope I mentioned before. The Fandomentals blog has a fabulous analysis of why the Supergirl/Mon-El romance is problematic, to say the least. Worth the read!

Trumped-up romantic drama ruins these shows. Even Supergirl's lesbian romance between Alex and Maggie has been plagued by stupid drama. Both characters, despite being grown-ass women and professional badasses, sometimes act like they have the emotional maturity of children. Like, I can't believe they spent an episode recently with all the drama centered around Maggie hating Valentine's Day but Alex wanting to celebrate it. There were lots of tears. Good lord, I don't care. But at least they are staying together. Then again, neither of them are actual superheroes, so it's okay for them to stay together.

I can't believe I am going to write the following sentence, but here goes. Possibly having learned hard lessons from all the fan hatred over Olicity and the Hawkpeople last season, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow have been the most mature in terms of relationships and romance of all the CW shows this year. Like seriously, Arrow has been mature about it. And "mature" is not a word I would normally have ever associated with Legends of Tomorrow. But there you have it, folks. Instead of hooking up long-term and trumping up more relationship drama, people on these shows have slept with other people, and acted like adults about it. Well so far; I guess the season isn't over yet. I hope they don't decide to have Adrian Chase kill Susan Williams on Arrow. Oh my god, please don't do this, Arrow.

Susan Williams: Look, I'm just here for the solid action in bed. Y'all can keep your crappy romance AND your superheroics...
So we are probably going to be plagued by at least another two, three, four seasons of Iris and Barry dancing the dance of the miserable and alone superhero.

And by the way? Candice Patton proves why she is better than the writers of this show give her any credit for. She believes that given Iris' fairly strong development this season, the only real answer on who can save Iris from Savitar is this: Iris has to save herself.

Well, that's the best idea I've heard from Team Flash or Team Flash in a long time.

The Flash airs on Tuesdays at 8/7c on the CW.

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