Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Flash Season 7, Episode 6: The One With The Nineties

Welcome to The Flash's first filler episode of the season! 

OK, so this week we did get the introduction of the last of the four forces of nature. But the bulk of the episode consisted of Cisco and Chester playing dress up and wandering around in 1998 for forty two minutes. Seriously, that's pretty much all that happened!

In fact this episode was so inconsequential that Barry didn't even bother showing up for it! That's right, Grant Gustin sits out the bulk of this entry, deigning to appear for about three minutes at the end of the third act.

While it isn't unheard of for a star to sit out an episode now and then, the timing here seems a bit peculiar. Did Gustin just need a week off? Was he filming a guest spot on another Arrowverse show? Or more ominously, was he forced to quarantine after a possible Covid exposure? It's unclear at this time.

As you can probably tell from the title, the main plot this week involves time travel. Unfortunately it's incredibly sloppy and ridiculous time travel, that doesn't make an ounce of logical sense. 

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Chester's the one saving grace this week. His reconciliation with his estranged father was very well done and incredibly touching, and was the heart and soul of the episode. Kudos to actor Brandon McKnight, for turning in a subtle and emotional performance for once, and actually making Chester a real person instead of a caricature. 

Lastly, the worst thing about this episode is the fact that it's now possible to write a story in which the characters time travel to the distant past... of 1998! Jesus wept! Now excuse me while I go take my rheumatiz medicine.


The Plot:
Late at night in Central City, a woman named Natalie exits Jitters. She's startled when a Roman centurion who runs screaming past her. She assumes he's a cosplayer till she sees a submarine pop up in the middle of the street. Just then a massive T-Rex appears and chases her.

Flashback to twenty four hours earlier. Yep, it's one of those episodes...

At STAR Labs, Barry's still recovering in his cryopod. The Speed Force, which has taken on the physical form of Barry's late mother Nora, paces back and forth as it frets about him. She tells Team Flash she's giving him all her strength to heal him, which makes her vulnerable. She says if Fuerza and Psych, the other two Forces, were to attack her now, she wouldn't survive.

Chester enters and is stunned to see the Speed Force in the flesh (it's about time someone was!). He says he's figured out a way to detect the other Forces' isotope signatures. Cisco says they can use Chester's discovery to 
build sensors and place them around the city as an early warning system if any of the Forces appear.

Later that night, Caitlin comes home to her apartment, which she's now sharing with Frost. She's less than thrilled to see Frost's filled the immaculate apartment with her clutter. It's The New Odd Couple, ladies & gentlemen!

Meanwhile, Cisco & Chester are setting up a sensor on a deserted street outside the city. Chester suggests they go to nearby Masonville for a coffee run (again with the coffee!). He says he used to live there till he & his Granny moved to Central City.

They power up the sensor, and it immediately begins detecting a power buildup. Just then a wave of green energy sweeps over them. They assume it was harmless, till they notice their smartphones and van have disappeared. Chester walks toward the van's former location, and slams into an invisible barrier. They realize they're trapped under some sort of energy dome.

Cisco & Chester walk to Masonville, where they spot a Blockbuster Video store— which of course no longer exists in 2020 (yes, it's still last year on the show). Even stranger, the store's advertising the movie Space Jam

Cisco puts two & two together and says the green wave must have contained temporal energy which transported them to 1998. He says they need to find their way back to 2020 (yes, it's still last year on the show!) ASAP.

Unfortunately their sensor is fried, and the components needed to fix it don't exist in '98. Chester says he has an idea. Cut to him dumpster diving, as he finds discarded tech they can use to repair their device.

They use the sensor to detect temporal energy emanating from Masonville High School. Cisco wants to barge right in, but Chester used to go there, and says the Principal's a hard case and they'll need to blend in. To that end, they go through the school's Lost & Found box, find a ton of suspiciously nice clothing, and dress in period-appropriate outfits.

Chester begins questioning various students, as Cisco surreptitiously scans them for temporal spikes. They see a jock named Deon belittle Parker, the towel boy. Cisco gets a mild reading from Parker and questions him. Unfortunately he casually mentions The Matrix, which didn't come out until 1999. Parker somehow knows this, and begs them to help him, as he's been reliving the same day over and over. He suddenly senses that "It" knows he's broken free, as the temporal energy wave washes over them again.

Chester & Cisco find themselves out on the street, back where they started. Oddly enough though, they're still in their pilfered '90s clothing. Cisco looks around in horror, revealing he's now mentally a seven year old— the age he was in 1998. He sees Chester, thinks he's a predator and takes off running from him.

Eventually Chester catches up to Cisco and is able to mention enough modern pop culture references to restore his memory. They realize they're in a Groundhog Day-type time loop, and need to break free before it resets again.

Unfortunately, now their sensor's power converter has been damaged (if it ain't one thing...). Chester suggest going to his grandmother's to get one, till he sees the date is December 4th. Suddenly he changes his mind and suggests going to the local tech store.

Back in 2020, the Speed Force is still fretting about Barry. Iris takes her to their apartment, where she shows her Barry's favorite blanket. Iris says it's special to Barry because his mother Nora make it. She says he doesn't talk much about his mother, because doing so reminds him of her violent death at the hands of Thawne. The Speed Force sees a photo of Barry & his parents and zooms off, visibly upset.

Elsewhen, Cisco & Chester arrive at the tech store. Unfortunately they're too late, as they just sold the last power converter to another customer. Cisco suggests trying to buy it back from the man, but Chester balks. After some prodding, he admits the customer's his father, who would never help them.

Chester infodumps his backstory, saying his father was an inventor who was constantly trying to make it rich, and never had any time for him. He died in a car crash on December 5, 1998— one day from "today." Cisco says this is more than a coincidence and they must be here for a reason. He tells Chester it's his chance to talk to his dad one last time.

Iris finds the Speed Force sitting at Jitters, sipping coffee (so the Force can eat & drink?). She fears she's hurting Barry by taking on the physical form of his late mother. Iris assures her that's not true, saying she's a happy reminder of Nora (!).

Chester shows up at his Dad's workshop, where he asks to buy the power converter (he lies & says the store told him who purchased the last one). "Pops" refuses to sell it, saying his son needs it. He then throws it in the trash (?), as Chester asks what the hell. Pops says his son will need it for a science project in a few days, and he wants him to find it. He says he's not always around, so he's teaching his son to be self reliant and to see treasure in trash or something.

Pops than says he's away from home so often because he's working hard to give his son a better life, and doesn't believe in quitting. He says he's just a man trying to do the right thing and make his son proud. Chester's so moved by this previously unseen glimpse into his father's life that he gives Pops a big hug.

Pops is weirded out by Chester's gesture, and still won't sell the converter. But he does offer to show Chester how to make one.

Chester returns to Cisco and hands him the converter. Just then Deon (remember him from the brief glimpse we got of him earlier?) enters and says they don't belong in 1998. He releases a huge burst of temporal energy, and Cisco & Chester realize he's their target.

Somehow Deon's temporal wave hits Central City in 2020, where it affects Team Flash. For no good reason it causes their clothing to revert to earlier fashions. Joe looks like he stepped out of the 1940s, Frost the 1960s, Iris the 1970s and Caitlin the 1980s. For some reason the Speed Force's clothing 
remains unchanged.

Deon tells Cisco & Chester he's scheduled to play in the big game that night, where he'll permanently injure his knee— ending his football career and ruining his life. He's states he's been using the temporal energy he's been gifted to relive the same day over and over in an attempt to change the past and prevent his injury.

Cisco blasts Deon with the sensor, but he laughs and erases it from time.

Back in Central city, we catch up with the opening scene, as time goes haywire and the T-Rex chases Natalie in front of Jitters. At STAR, Caitlin traces the temporal wave to Masonville, and says they're dealing with yet another Universal Force.

Deon starts to reset the time loop, laughing as he says Cisco & Chester will forget everything they've already learned. Cisco tells Chester to run, but he refuses. He quotes Pops, saying he doesn't believe in quitting. We then get yet another Power Of Friendship ending, as Chester tells Deon that he knows he's hurting, but he needs to let go of his pain and accept his future— just like he did. Sigh...

Amazingly this seems to affect Deon, as he begins questioning his plan. Suddenly he smiles as he realizes he doesn't have to limit himself to his own life— he can decide what happens to everyone! Well, that didn't work! He disappears and Cisco & Chester's clothing revert to normal. They then use the sensor to somehow return to 2020.

Cut to later, after Barry's recovered and he finally shows up in his own series. Cisco says he can't find any trace of Deon anywhere— or anywhen. He says he doesn't think he'll be coming to destroy the Speed Force, as he likely doesn't know about her. Cisco says Deon represents the Still Force, while Fuerza is the Strength Force and Psych the Sage Force.

The Speed Force thanks Iris for her help earlier, and says she's going to spend the night in STAR Labs for her own safety. Iris invites her to stay with her and Barry at their apartment. Barry seems reluctant at first (most likely because the Force looks exactly like his dead mother), but eventually agrees.

Later Frost sits in the Lounge, inexplicably knitting. Joe enters and tells her that State Prosecutor Kristen Kramer is in town, looking to arrest her. Frost protests, claiming she's a good guy now. Joe says he knows that, but has to figure a way to make Kristen realize it too. Yeah, I don't think any of these people understand how the law works. He tells Frost to lay low for a while. She refuses, saying she just got her own body and no one's going to take that from her. She dares Kristen to come for her.

• Of course the name of this week's episode is a nod to 1990s 
sitcom Friends, whose titles always began "The One With..." or "The One Where...," etc.

Legends Of Tomorrow already did this schtick last year, in their Season 5 episode The One Where We're Trapped On TV.

• Speaking of Legends Of Tomorrow, when this episode began I honestly wondered if I'd tuned into that show by mistake. In the Legends Season 3 episode Aruba-Con, the team accidentally broke time, which resulted in numerous temporal anomalies— such as dinosaurs, ancient warriors and futuristic architecture.

This week The Flash pretty much lifts that entire plotline directly from Legends. As the episode begins, a woman named Natalie walks through Central City late at night. Due to time shenanigans, she encounters a very out of place Roman centurion on a rampage.

Something very similar happened in Aruba-Con, as the Legends had to deal with the real Julius Caesar running loose in present day LA.

Next Natalie sees a submarine sitting in the middle of the street, blasting what sounds like an ocean liner's horn. I was all set to chalk this up as a mistake, but it turns out subs actually do have the same kind of horns. Who knew?

Also, was this a possible The Hunt For Red October reference? It came out in 1990, and this episode's all about that decade, so...

Next the hapless Natalie notices that something very big is causing impact ripples in her coffee cup. She looks up and screams as she sees a T-Rex looming over her. Again, this exact same thing happens in Aruba-Con. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if they even used the same CGI dinosaur model!

This one's definitely a nineties reference, as the original Jurassic Park premiered in 1993.

About Natalie's coffee cup... notice anything unusual about it? That's right, there's no lid! Obviously the producers wanted an homage to the "Approaching T-Rex Causes Ripples In The Water Glass" scene from Jurassic Park, but they couldn't very well do so if Natalie's cup had a lid on it. So she's the only person in the last twenty years who's ever walked around with an uncovered Starbucks-esque coffee cup!

• Once the intro's over, we see this unwelcome caption. Ugh... it's another dreaded "Flashback Episode." One of my least favorite narrative tropes, right behind "It Was All A Dream."

• Last week I noted that Team Flash seemed very unimpressed that the Speed Force had taken on the physical form of Barry's late mother Nora and paid them a visit. It was as if the Sun turned into a person, put on an outfit, strolled into STAR Labs and everyone said, "Yeah, that's cool I guess." There's basically a god in their midst now, and their indifferent reactions were puzzling and illogical.

This week Chester meets the Speed Force for the first time, and is suitably astounded as he begins gushing about it uncontrollably. FINALLY! It's about time someone on the show reacted accordingly to this phenomenon!

By the way, when Chester first sees the Speed Force he utters, "Holy Henry T. Sampson!" OK, I'm not too proud to admit I had to look up that reference. Henry Thomas Sampson Jr. was an American engineer, inventor and film historian (?). In 1971 he created the gamma-electric cell, a device which generates power from the shielding of nuclear reactors. He was also a prominent black scientist, hence Chester's fanboying here.

• Caitlin comes home to her apartment, which she's now sharing with her new roommate Frost. Hijinx ensue as Frost creates a truly atrocious collage to hang on the wall, just as the uptight Caitlin brings home her own piece of art. Com-O-Dee!

Obviously we're supposed to laugh here because Frost's piece is quite literally garbage, while Caitlin's is a work of fine art. Here's the thing though— they both suck! Caitlin's canvas features leaves or lily pads or something floating in a pond. Unfortunately it's the worst kind of hotel/waiting room art imaginable, which completely ruins the joke.

• Chester figures out a way to build isotopic sensors and place them all around the city, so Team Flash can detect when any of the Forces appear. 

We then see Cisco & Chester setting up one of these sensors at the side of a road outside Central City. Were... were they really going to just leave this expensive piece of equipment sitting out in the middle of nowhere, where anyone could steal it or knock it over? As filmed, I'd say yes. Yes they were.

• When Cisco & Chester first encounter the time displacement wave, if forms a large bubble over them, preventing them from leaving the Masonville area. Realizing this, Cisco says, "We've just been Under The Domed."

Of course he's referring to the bloated & awful 2009 Stephen King novel Under The Dome, in which a small Maine (natch) town is cut off from the rest of the world by a large, invisible energy bubble. Spoiler Alert: It was aliens that did it. Trust me, I just saved you the hundreds of hours it'd have taken you to read it.

• Writing time travel stories is hard! Writing ones that are consistent and make sense is even harder. So much so that the writers of this episode just threw their hands in the air and gave up!

When the temporal energy wave washes over Cisco & Chester, it sends them back in time to 1998. This causes their smart phones and the STAR Labs van to disappear, implying 
that the temporal energy wiped out anything made after 1998. 

Yet the clothing Cisco & Chester are wearing remains untouched. Surely their clothes aren't twenty two years old? Unless they're both wearing vintage outfits?

Ah, but it gets stranger! In order to blend in with the past, they dress in 90s-era clothing they pilfer from a very well equipped Lost & Found box. When they question Parker the towel boy, the wave appears again and sends them back to the point when they first arrived in 1998. For no good reason, they're still wearing their 90s clothing after the day resets! 

Even more amazing, the first time the day resets, Cisco's mind reverts to that of a seven year old— the age he was in 1998. Yet somehow he retains his adult body.

Honestly at this point it's best to just go along with all this and not think about it too hard. As I said, clearly the writers didn't!

• After the temporal wave washes over them, Cisco & Chester find themselves in nearby Masonville, where the streets lined with twenty year old cars and obsolete shops. From this they deduce they've somehow traveled back in time to the year 1998.

Masonville's actually been mentioned on the show before. In Season 3's Finish Line, Barry stated that he & his parents were on their way to Midway City, when a flat tire forced them to stop in Masonville. There they ate ice cream & french fries with gravy (wow, this show IS filmed in Canada!) while they waited.

The part of Masonville is played here by the small town of Cloverdale, in Surrey, British Columbia. It's a small suburb just outside of Vancouver (where most of the Arrowverse shows are regularly filmed).

Smallville and Supernatural often filmed in Cloverdale as well.

As proof, there's even "Destination Cloverdale" signage in the background as Cisco & Chester wander around.

All the Masonville exteriors were filmed on 176th St. in Cloverdale, which I guess must be the town's main drag. The director used various camera angles to make it look like a much larger space than it really was, when in reality they just kept walking up & down the same two blocks.

• Cisco & Chester realize they've traveled in time when they encounter a working Blockbuster Video store in Masonville. Several things here:

First of all, I don't think the producers remember how Blockbuster worked. Every one I ever saw was housed in a very distinctive-looking standalone building, with a parking lot & large sign in front. Yes, there were exceptions here & there, but for the most part this was the standard model.

The alleged Blockbuster in this episode is clearly a repurposed movie theater, with a logo hurriedly stuck on the front. Heck, you can even see the ticket booth, along with the marquee above it! Not to mention the large vertical illuminated sign reading "CLOVA," which is the name of the theater!

C'mon, guys! I know there aren't any more Blockbusters around, so you couldn't just show up and film at one. And it would have been too expensive to recreate one just for a couple scenes in a single episode. But if you couldn't do any of that, then maybe pick a different business to simulate, rather than slapping together this embarrassing mockup.

How the heck would a Blockbuster fit in a movie theater, anyway? Would the store just be in the lobby? Or would they take out all the seats in the theater and set up the shelves full of tapes on the slanted floor?

Secondly, this particular Blockbuster's marquee is very heavily promoting the movie Space Jam. That's odd, as that film premiered in theaters in 1996, and came out on home video on March 11, 1997— well over a year and a half before this episode is set. Why the hell would this store still be hyping a movie it's had in stock for twenty one months?

If I was a little more cynical I'd think there was a sequel titled Space Jam: A New Legacy coming out in about three months, and that Warner Bros. was using this episode to promote it. Nahhhhh, no corporation would be that blatant.

This Blockbuster's advertising other videos as well, including Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Fallen, Sphere and Practical Magic (all Warner Bros. properties, natch!). Unlike Space Jam, those movies really did come out in 1998, so well done there. Of course whether they were out on home video that same year is another matter entirely. Even I'm not obsessive enough to look THAT up!

Lastly, out here in the real world, the former Clova Theater is now some sort of Christian church. Note that it's right next to the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation, so I bet that's a lot of fun for the residents!

• OK, The Flash's Production Designer may have dropped the ball with the Blockbuster, but he (or she!) really hit it out of the park in the rest of the episode. There are several scenes featuring authentic-looking signage, such as the Masonville Falcons high school mascot logo, and a Masonville Waste Management label on the side of a dumpster. Well done!

• When Cisco realizes he & Chester have been transported to 1998, he suspects Turtle 2.0 is responsible. 

As you can probably guess, Turtle 2.0 (aka Frida Novikov) is the second meta to use that name. She first appeared in Season 6's Death Of The Speed Force, and had the power to create "time bubbles" that could encase a victim and either put them in stasis or rapidly age them.

Feels like Cisco's really reaching here, as Turtle 2.0's powers aren't really able to send someone back in time. 

• Shortly after he & Chester arrive in Masonville, we see Cisco munching on a bagel or donut he presumably bought. Hopefully the clerk didn't look very closely at his 2020 money! 

A bit later Cisco suggests they try to buy the power converter from Pops. With what? More worthless money from the future?

• At one point when Cisco & Chester are wandering around Masonville, we see a man and woman in the background watching them intently. If you zoom in, you can see these two onlookers are both wearing face masks!

Woah, woah, woah! Masked citizens? On The Flash? What the hell's going on here? Nobody wears masks in the Arrowverse! This is Earth-Prime! There's no Covid pandemic here!

I'm assuming these masked looky-loos must have accidentally wandered into the background during filming, and no one on the production team noticed till after it was too late to reshoot the scene. Whoops!

• Chester goes dumpster diving to look for electronic components he can use to fix the scanner. Among the junk he finds is an Ultrafax 4000 fax machine. 

Sadly, there's no such product in the real world. As is clear by the obviously phony logo seen here.

• Math is hard! Cisco & Chester question several high school students, trying to figure out which of them is the new Force in town. They're currently in 1998, and at one point Chester asks one of the students where he sees himself in twenty three years— which would be 2021.

But the events of Central City Strong established that due to the Covid shutdown, the show's still stuck in mid-2020. Whoops again!

• At the high school, we're (very) briefly introduced to Deon, who turns out to be the episode's Big Bad. I dunno... I'm having a hard time believing a muscle-head like him is one of the Universal Forces.

The Speed Force recently appeared on Earth, looking exactly like Barry's late mother. Fuerza, aks the Strength Force, lives up to her name as she looks like a massive, twelve foot tall Amazon. I have no problem believing those two are forces of nature in human form.

Psych's a bit of a wild card. He could be a force of nature in a human body. Or he might be an ordinary person who learned how to tap into the Sage Force. Until I'm told otherwise, I'm king of leaning toward the latter, as he told Barry he wanted to destroy the Stock Market because "it brings fortune to the fortunate and dooms the rest." That sounds like human revenge to me, and not something a god would concern itself with.

But Deon... he's just a dumb jock who's using time travel to undo his sports injury and win the big game! I refuse to believe he's a god made flesh, and the living embodiment of the Still Force!

• When questioning Parker the towel boy, Cisco tries to pass himself off as seventeen, while Chester claims he's only sixteen. Seriously? They're both clearly at least thirty! Do any of the other students actually believe this? Parker comments that the two "talk like his dad," but seems oblivious to their true ages.

And are there any teachers in this school? At no time do we ever see a single one. That's lucky for Cisco & Chester, as an adult would see through their disguises in a second.

I'm assuming the lack of teachers is another result of The CW's strict Covid protocols and precautions, as they're limited as to how many people can be on set at any one time.

• After Deon does his Groundhog Day schtick and resets the time loop, Cisco inexplicably thinks he's seven years old (the age he was in 1998). Chester chases after him to try and restore his memory.

During Cisco's regression, he feels both sides of his face, and becomes visibly distraught as he asks Chester if he stole his head gear. Based on that line I think we can assume Cisco had some major league braces when he was a kid.

Also, for reasons known only to the producers, they chose to film this confrontation from within an abandoned storefront (?). That's certainly an unusual cinematography choice. Was there really nowhere else they could have set up the camera? Or were they trying to hide the fact that they were filming over and over on the same two blocks of the town? 

• Cisco & Chester go in to Toshe Station to pick up some power converters, er, I mean go to the local Tech Station store to pick up a power converter. 

The Tech Station is actually a hurriedly redressed Traditional Learning Academy in Cloverdale, complete with signage inexplicably covering the windows so customers can't see in. 

Inside the store we see there's a ton of empty floor space, and very little in the way of actual merchandise. I guess there wasn't enough money in this week's budget to whip up a realistic-looking electronics store interior?

There's also what appears to be a cardboard cutout of a person and a couple of mannequins in the background. What the hell? OK, the cardboard cutout I can accept, as stores often use them as in-store advertising. But the mannequins? I don't ever recall seeing a lot of those in any Best Buy or Radio Shack I've visited.

Did... did they set up those mannequins because they couldn't afford to hire any more extras, and they were trying to make it look busier? Or once again, did Covid restrictions prevent them from filling the store? Either way, that's the most pitiful thing I've seen in a while.

• The Speed Force realizes that by taking the form of Barry's late mom, she may have inadvertently caused him pain. She feels so badly about this that she runs out of STAR Labs. Iris finds her later, sipping coffee at Jitters. A couple things here:

First of all, where the hell did the Speed Force get money for an espresso? Or did they give her a cup of free water?

Secondly, Iris reassures the Speed Force, telling her she's not hurting Barry, but is a reminder of something good in his life, that gives him comfort and peace.

Yeahhhhhh... that sounds a lot like Iris projecting her own feelings onto the situation. Does she know for sure that Barry feels that way? I'd think seeing some thing that looks like his dead mother parading around would make him uncomfortable and weirded out.

• By far the best part of this episode was when Chester encountered his estranged father in 1998— the day before he died. I enjoyed this scene quite a bit, as it was the heart and soul of the episode. It was especially poignant when Chester realized his father wasn't really cold and distant, but constantly working in order to give his son a better life. It gave Chester a newfound perspective on his Pops, as well as some much-needed closure. Kudos to the writers here!

If only the rest of the episode had been as good as this all-too-brief scene.

• When Deon's time wave sweeps through Central City, it changes Frost's clothing into a 1960s outfit. If you look closely, you'll also see that her flatscreen TV was tuned to some sort of cooking show, but the wave switches it to an episode of The Jetsons

Wait, what? Why would that happen? Wouldn't the wave have turned the TV into an old school picture tube set? Why would it change the program and not the TV itself?

• For no good reason (other than the fact that the cast wanted to play dress up), the time wave causes Team Flash's clothing to revert to decade-specific styles. For instance, Joe enters wearing a snappy 1940s suit...

Frost becomes a 1960s hippy chick...

Iris is transformed into a 1970s icon (prompting Joe to creepily gaze at her and say, "Baby Girl... you look incredible!)...

And Caitlin's decked out in a 1980s ensemble, looking like she just stepped off the set of Tootsie.

Oddly enough, the Speed Force's clothing is unchanged by the temporal wave. Either she was protected because she's a force of nature, or she's not actually wearing any clothing and her outfit is part of her body!

It's a fun scene, but like I said earlier, the time shenanigans in this episode are completely nonsensical. Supposedly Deon's wave is created various time bubbles throughout Central City, and it's a different year in each one. That would explain why each member of Team Flash gets an outfit from a different decade. But then wouldn't their clothing change as they exited one time bubble and entered another? Shouldn't EVERYONE be wearing 1980s clothing like Caitlin when they walk into STAR Labs?

And speaking of STAR, why doesn't it disappear when the time wave hits? Cisco's smartphone and van disappeared when the wave sent them to 1998. Presumably this new wave has sent Team Flash to the '80s. A time when STAR Labs didn't exist. Yet it's still there.

Why do I get the feeling I'm putting far more thinking into the logic of this episode than the writers did?

• Once the wave begins selectively altering time, Joe says, "Would somebody please tell me what this green energy is doing to my city?" Caitlin replies, "We know it's one of the Four Forces, we're just trying to figure out which one."

Well gosh, Caity, considering you're all wearing clothing from different decades, I think there's a good chance it's the Still Force, which controls TIME.

• For the third week in a row, a member of Team Flash uses the Power Of Friendship to defeat the Big Bad. When Deon threatens to reset the time loop again, Chester starts spouting twaddle about letting go of past regrets and concentrating on the living life to the fullest and looking forward to the future.

This heartfelt speech seems to deeply affect Deon. Then he gives Chester an evil smile, as he realizes he can alter the future of the entire world. He then disappears in a blast of time energy. 

Well THAT didn't work! Congratulations, Chester! You just unleashed a Time God on an unsuspecting world!

While it was extremely annoying to see yet another of these Care Bear scenes on the show, it was somewhat satisfying to see it blow up in the characters' faces for once, and not work out for the best.

• After his adventure in time & space, Chester digs out an old blueprint of a device his father drew, with the intent of building it in his memory. 

Based on the signature at the lower right of the blueprint, Pop's first name was "Quincy." Also, it's unclear if this device is a throwaway gag, or it it'll have some significance in a future episode. That'd actually be pretty cool if something Pops designed ended up defeating a Big Bad two decades later.

• At the end of the episode, Iris senses the Speed Force is lonely and invites it to stay with her and Barry. The Speed Force says it doesn't want to intrude, and asks Barry if it's OK with him. Pressed into a corner, he stiffly says it's fine. He then gives it THIS look as it exits the room.

What's going on here? The Speed Force give Barry his powers after all. The fact that it's alive and well is a good thing, right? So why's Barry giving it the stink eye? Eh, it could be any of a number of reasons.

First off, as I've stated before, he could simply be unnerved by the Speed Force. Despite Iris' clumsy & insensitive assurances, seeing it take his mother's form is likely painful to him. I know if I saw something that looked like my late mother walking around in my house, I would NOT be OK with it.

There's also the matter that the Speed Force seems to be obsessed with Barry. It doesn't want to leave his side when he's in his cryopod, and even expresses a brief look of jealously whenever Iris mentions him. As currently written and portrayed, she comes off as downright clingy, like a helicopter parent! Maybe that's why he doesn't want her bunking with them.

Lastly, it's entirely possible that Barry senses something off about the Speed Force. It's basically a god in human form, trying to figure out how to act like a person— which makes it act awkwardly and off-putting. But what if there's more to it than that?

There's a rumor going around the internet that the Speed Force isn't actually the Speed Force at all, but rather Eobard Thawne in an elaborate disguise. Honestly I'm not sure why he'd do that or go to such trouble. Maybe to gain Barry's trust and then strike when he least expects it? 

Eh, I dunno. If it's true and this isn't really the real Speed Force— then where's Barry getting his powers? 

On the other hand, if it really is Thawne in disguise, then it's entirely possible that Barry senses him on some subconscious level— which would explain why he's so uneasy around it. Stay tuned!

• In the tag scene, Joe meets with Frost, who's hanging out in STAR Labs for some reason. He tells her that Kristen Kramer's coming with an arrest warrant for dangerous metahuman Killer Frost. She protests, saying, "That's not who I am anymore," as if that makes any sort of difference. Joe says he knows that, but they just need to get Kristen to believe it as well.

Once again, these people don't seem to understand how the law works. Frost may have dropped the "Killer" from her name, but that doesn't change the fact that she's guilty of numerous crimes. Feeling bad about them and pledging to do better doesn't mean anything, as she still has to pay for what she's done. Surely the writers know this, right?

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