Dear lord, The Flash is a good show.
I’m consistently blown away by the level of storytelling that The Flash regularly achieves while also balancing a fun and entertaining element of superhero action and silliness. Of course, guest director Kevin Smith’s notable turn behind the camera brings a lot to this particular week’s venture as well. This episode offered a lot of emotional payoff and growth for our characters, and sets up an exciting finale on the horizon.
There are a lot of ways the show could’ve decided to depict the Speed Force, but the choice to portray it through a representation of Barry’s loved ones (particularly his mother) was a powerful one. The episode succeeds at raising the story above the solutions of science and power, instead solving Barry’s problem with emotional growth and love. It’s a potentially problematic approach for a television show as the pitfall of being too corny could easily overtake the importance of the show’s message. But “The Runaway Dinosaur” manages to infuse the story with sincerity and weight, making for an unforgettable week and the highlight of the season.
Grant Gustin brings his strongest performance yet to the table. The interaction between Barry and his mother is so truthful and honest that it resonates throughout the entire series. We can easily believe that this is what has been holding Barry back, that this is the pain Barry holds that is beyond anything Zoom could do to him. It’s simultaneously heartening and difficult to watch, and this is why it’s a successful scene for the episode.
Team Flash (sans Barry) is struggling to bring Barry back from the beyond while also dealing with a zombie Tony (aka Girder). The villain of the week approach has never been when The Flash excels (or most other modern shows, for that matter), but Kevin Smith does his best to bring some element of superhero action to this week, injecting some trademark humor and a Jason Mewes cameo into it. While the Girder storyline doesn’t quite land, it’s a fun aspect of an episode which has already won.
Iris has always struggled a bit to find her place on this show. Candice Patton can be an enjoyable actress to watch, but her character has had issues fitting in correctly to the world of The Flash. This was notable in the previous episode, when she declares her feelings for Barry and…then nothing happened. The issue wasn’t a lack of response to it, but rather the feeling that it didn’t really matter much in the scheme of things. Yet here, as Iris reached across the abyss to Barry to bring him home, the moment felt earned. Barry’s speech to Iris at the foot of his mother’s grave was a moving one, and the emotion of the scene was satisfying.
Side note: The music on The Flash, particularly this week, continues to be stellar. The music across the last ten minutes stands out to me as some of the best music in television this year. Blake Neely’s use of brass in particular to punctuate moments gives me goosebumps every time. The soundtrack elevates each scene to a new level.
Let’s look at that final scene – Zoom has Caitlyn hostage, and he has collected a mob of Earth-2 meta humans to help him take over Central City. Some of these characters look pretty ridiculous (like someone raided a high school costume department), but the impact remains intact: Zoom is going to cause some damage, and we have a pretty exciting finale run ahead of us.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW