The Flash Season 2 Recap

The Flash Recap: Past, Imperfect

This week on The CW’s The Flash, Barry traveled back in time to get a crash course from the old “Dr. Wells” — but what he also came back with helped a loved one’s future.

While this was a plenty entertaining episode, in a Back to the Future sort of way, I sit here afterward thinking that in the end, not very much happened. Which isn’t a horrible thing. Maybe the show is simply so good with those last-minute “stings” that when it doesn’t deliver one, there’s an emptiness.

With everyone (Joe included) beating themselves up over the Zoom/Jay Garrick reveal, Barry is committed more than ever to upping his speed. But, Caitlin asks, “What if you just can’t?,” after they realize that Zoom and Reverse-Flash before him ran faster because their feet made less contact with the ground. Dinner with the Wests proves fruitful, though, when Wally gives Barry the idea to pick the brain of a dead man — as in the old Dr. Wells (aka Eobard Thawne).

Defying Harry’s many warnings but with plenty of coaching from Cicsco and Caitlin on when and who he’ll be running into, Barry travels back to the team’s first clash with the Pied Piper. After KOing himself with a tranq art, Barry goes to S.T.A.R. Labs and nudges Wells to help him out with a speed equation. Wells obviously senses something is up, especially when a speedster-hating Time Wraith surfaces in Central City. Wells then KOs our Barry and locks him up, asking what his game is. At first, Wells/Thawne fears that if Barry is alive in the future, then his plan fails, so he must re-calibrate. But Barry lies that Eobard is successful in getting back to his time — “You won.” Barry just needs more speed in order to stop the singularity that was created. Evil Eobard points out that he doesn’t need this Barry and goes in for the kill, but Barry bluffs that he left a hidden letter for his other self to find, revealing all of Eobard’s secrets. Smart boy.

Shortly after the flash-recap-two-barrysTime Wraith storms S.T.A.R. Labs (only to get briefly fended off by the Pied Piper’s gauntlet tech), the other Barry comes to and shows up — face to face with his slightly older self, and leaving Cisco’s jaw on the floor. After some quarrelling over who the “real” Barry is, Wells steps in to spin a version of the truth that sates everyone’s curiosity. Wells then takes our Barry aside to give him the info he needs on the speed equation. (But before going, Barry whispers into Cisco’s ear about Hartley knowing where Ronnie is.)

With help from his other self, Barry zips back into the time tunnel and brings the Wraith with him. Upon plopping back in S.T.A.R. Labs with the spectre in tow, Barry barks at Cisco to use the tech he developed to stop it in the past, but it doesn’t quite work, Luckily, Hartley himself is there to zap the spook away, before heading off to dinner with his parents. Barry then cues up the flash drive from Wells, which is, as promised, loaded with speed force data.

But afterward, Barry reveals something else he brought back with him — the video he asked a still-alive Eddie to record, allegedly for Iris’ birthday video. In it, Eddie gushes about his love’s “fearless, independent, loving and kind” ways, calling every day they were together “a gift.” He then says what Barry sensed Iris needs to hear now, that “you deserve to be happy for the rest of your life,” as tears stream down her and our faces.

What did you think of the episode “Flash Back”?

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81 Comments
  1. Mark says:

    I thought that the Wraith was going to be a reason for Barry not use time travel to solve his problems anymore, but then Hartley dispatched it so easily.

    • MrG says:

      Time travel is being used way too often in this show and is a major crutch nowadays. Kinda off-putting every time they do it.

      • Have you ever read a Flash comic? Time travel is as common for him as speed.

        • Hytecker says:

          But getting a do-over every time Barry screws up makes it pretty anticlimactic.

        • MrG says:

          No, never read a Flash comic and don’t care to.
          But traveling thru time every time you make a mistake or need to find out info is silly. Especially when they don’t care about screwing anything up in the past or future and they certainly do engage in a crapton of activities that should change the timeline.

          They have no regard for time so let’s just time travel every episode to make things right.

          • Phoenix5634 says:

            He doesn’t travel time everytime he messes up. He only does when he doesn’t have any other option, and since he is able to travel time, why not.. And he has regard for the timeline, but he also cares about his friends and the people around him. So if he can fix something bad by doing something very small in the past, it’s hard for him not to. As it would be for anyone… Now please shut up and stop complaining and being impatient with the show about something you don’t understand.

    • Phoenix5634 says:

      Saying the flash isn’t going to time travel, is like saying supergirl isn’t going to fly. It’s a huge part of his powers.

    • Jmanepic10 says:

      I thought this episode was really good. I even re-watched it, which I barely do with these shows because seeing it nice is enough. I kind of wished the speed wraith was the undead flash that goes after dead speedsters though.

      • Phoenix5634 says:

        I think the time wraith was a way for the show to seed in the concept of black flash. I think once the time wraith gets a speedster, we’ll see the first black flash, but probably not for a season or two becuz Zooms costume is black and it would likely confuse people. I’m wondering if now that they killed or disbursed the time wraith, if it will adapt now…

  2. herman1959 says:

    I love this show all over again. Everything just happened AGAIN!

  3. Mary says:

    Enjoyed the episode and again Barry didn’t go running off to Kara’s Earth, just got the info for the tachyon device he uses/used.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Correct; the Supergirl crossover reference is next episode (April 19).

      • Bob Wood says:

        Actually you are wrong, this is what Greg Belanti had to say:

        While the crossover is airing as an episode of Supergirl on Monday, “Worlds Finest,” the events that Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) lives through in National City with Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) will carry over to Tuesday’s episode of The Flash, “Flash Back.” But The Flash episode technically comes first. “The audience has to forgive us because one has to air before the other, but they shouldn’t wait to watch Supergirl until after The Flash episode. They should certainly watch it before. But you’ll see the shout out in the episode. It deals with Barry increasing his speed and we’re very excited about next week’s episode of The Flash, too.”

        • kitsunesaru says:

          I don’t realy see where he’s wrong. Those comments basically just say that this ep, revolving around Barry finding out how to get faster, happen before the Supergirl ep.
          So when he get’s back it could be referenced in next weeks Flash.

          • DD says:

            This Flash episode already cleared up one surprising thing about the Supergirl episode – How Barry had the tachion gizmo! I assume in the next Flash episode we will see the team (well, Cicso, maybe with the help of Good Hartley) build it based on the info Wells/Thawn gave Barry.
            Also, loved the line when Cisco thought Barry was a doppleganger, and Barry replied “not yet”!
            Kudos to Gustin Gant for playing multiple versions of himself so well in several episodes!

  4. James says:

    But if you change something from the past, wouldnt’t there be consequences today? Barry just couldn’t go back, talk to everyone and then come back and find everything the same… It’s weird (even for metahuman show standards).

    • MrG says:

      Whats more weird is 10000 years of human history and Earth 2 has the exact same mating history from caveman to present day. The same people are born with the same parents and the same siblings and the only thing different is sometimes one goes evil instead of good, sometimes one becomes a detective instead of a journalist or a musician.
      You end up meeting and mating the same people and you all have the same birthdays and your personalities are the same but your profession is pretty much the only thing different.

      That’s weird.

      • Phoenix5634 says:

        Try to comprehend an infinite number of something… We’ve seen 3 so far. And it’s only reasonable to assume the universes closest to our own frequency, would be the most similar.

      • Jim Beck says:

        I’ve actually brought this same detail up to people. As someone else noted, though, it is possible that E-2 resonates at a similar frequency, so changes are less pronounced. This is further evidenced on the Supergirl episode, where — SPOILER ALERT — we discover that Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, etc. don’t exist at all. So, yes, there would be Earths where things are completely different (as shown in Supergirl), ones where things are very similar (The Flash), and ones where some things are changed (which we haven’t seen, but for instance, Barry has the same parents, but Iris’ mom was a different person, so her appearance is considerably altered).

        • DD says:

          No one says that Barry et al don’t exist on Supergirl’s earth -Barry figured out that STAR Labs doesnt exist, meaning there is no Flash, thus she just hasn’t heard of them.

          • Jim Beck says:

            Barry says: “You guys have Central City, but you don’t have S.T.A.R. Labs… no Cisco Ramone, no Harrison Wells, no Caitlyn Snow… nobody who’s going to be able to help me get back home.” I took that to mean that those people simply don’t exist, because if they did, even if they weren’t at S.T.A.R Labs, there is a big chance that they might be scientists elsewhere and could assist him.

          • Per your comment and Jim Beck’s comment below, I took Barry’s “no Cisco, no Harrison, no Caitlin” remark to probably mean those people don’t exist on Supergirl’s earth in a way that would make them useful contacts in getting him back to his own earth. It might be “Cisco the medical student” and “Harrison the museum curator” and “Caitlin the accountant,” for example.

            If you look at the multiverse in the way some real-world physicists do — almost like bubble wrap, where each universe is slightly different from the one next to it, shaped by individual changes in outcomes (like that Gwyneth Paltrow movie “Sliding Doors”), then Barry’s earth and Kara’s earth would be pretty far apart on the sheet of bubble wrap. All the people from his universe aren’t superheroes on his earth … Kryptonians haven’t made their presence known on his earth. And our own boring universe, where none of that stuff happened, is probably somewhere in between. :)

      • Antoinette says:

        Uuummmm has no one seen Sliders? Anything can happen in multiple Universes….

        • drhenning says:

          Exactly… I wonder how that show would do today??? Parallel universes also a part of Star Trek lore going back to the original ( Bad Spock become Good Spock…etc…)… TNG had that episode with Thousands of Enterprises…

    • ? says:

      Hartley was a good guy who works with Team Flash sometimes now. He changed that! In the comics Hartley is a rogue who reforms into a hero and stays on the good side. This episode was an interesting way to do it. The reference to his parents at the end is a big part of his story, the show will probably get back to that eventually.

  5. BarryFlash says:

    The episode was ok. I think the writers could have let someone in the present figure out how to make Barry faster without going back in time.

    • prada says:

      i think they just to do the time travel thing and bring Hartley back.

    • Jim Beck says:

      I disagree. I think this episode was easily one of the best of the entire series. Why can’t a TV show make people happy these days by doing an episode that is just fun? When Buffy was on, no one was bitching about the episode with the alternate Sunnydale. No, their fans were like, “Cool. Vampire Willow!” Seriously, how unhappy people have become these days just boggles my mind. Overall, this was a unique and interesting way to help him go faster… and the little in-jokes and all that (like Cisco once again questioning the white emblem…and Barry cluing him in about Ronnie to ensure that the timeline stayed intact… and the bad guy coming back at the end as someone good) were fantastic. We’ve already had multiple episodes where someone in the present tried to figure out how to make Barry faster, and doing that again would be a lot less interesting (read: dull).

  6. Sylvia says:

    I loved this episode. I sense there is more to come with the timeline changes. To start with Hartley is an ally in the current present, we don’t know what else we could have missed. I really hope that Barry can get his speedforce up to beat down Zoom’s ass. What I am still trying to understand, is why and how were there more than one Jay Garrick at the same time in the same timeline.

  7. Katie says:

    I really enjoyed this episode and most definitely shed a tear during Eddie’s video at the end. I just need to know what the deal was with Barry telling Cisco about Hartley knowing where Ronnie is. That can’t be a throw away. That must have changed something, right? Right?

    • PolarSteamArray says:

      No it was meant to preserve the timeline that has happened so far. Remember way back in season 1 that this episode was taking place, Cisco had a confrontation with pied piper and during the confrontation, the pied piper revealed he knew where Ronnie is. This event leads to the discovery of Ronnie/Martin stein being alive as well as the firestorm matrix. if Barry hadn’t said that, Cisco wouldn’t have revealed any info on Ronnie which would have altered the timeline drastically and everything that has happened in season 2 wouldn’t have happened at all.

    • Anthony says:

      In the original season 1 Pied Piper sequence, Hartley’s knowledge of what had happened to Ronnie & Stein was what enabled them to eventually find him … but it happened during Hartley’s escape, if I recall, and so Hartley remained an enemy. Since Present-Barry stopped Hartley from escaping the cell by mentioning the in-ear explosives, he realized he had to give Cisco a heads-up, or it would result in even more damage to the timeline. Good on Barry for thinking that far ahead!

  8. Phoenix5634 says:

    Awesome episode! I really enjoy the reverse flash storyline. I’m wondering, is the time wraith a lead-in for a black flash, later? And will Eobard/Wells come after Barry now, and maybe show up during the Zoom fight?? The speed equation Barry just got from Eobard/ Wells will be how Barry gains greater understanding over the speedforce, and thus more control, plus be able to charge himself further. Will this be when his lightening finally turns yellow? And so is Hartley team flash now, and who are his parents?

  9. Phoenix5634 says:

    What would Hartley being there at the end mean for Ronnie, and then for Caitlyn?

    Also Barry told Eobard/Wells about the singularity, but swapped the ending for what happen with him and earlier Eobard this season. And barry told that same earlier Eobard about killing him at the singularity. If Eobard/Wells figures this out, or maybe they both meet up, or he makes extra preparations when he sees what Barry told him happening, he could stop what happened to him in season 1 finale

    • Phoenix5634 says:

      Eobard/Wells would be very curious why Barry had Eddie make that video. He would have to assume it’s probably cuz he’s not around anymore, dead. And that would concern Eobard even more so than we seen in season 1 to keep Eddie safe.

      • Jim Beck says:

        When did Eobard seen Eddie’s video? I don’t remember that happening.

        • Phoenix5634 says:

          It didn’t, but just because our Barry left that timeline doesn’t mean that timeline won’t still continue. So what if he hears about it, like maybe that Barry tries to figure out what his future self did, he mentions it to Eobard/Wells. That Barry doesn’t know Wells is Eobard yet, but Eobard would be instantly curious why our Barry had Eddie make the video. And if he realizes it was becuz Eddies dead, Eobard would act.. Either changing his plans, or leaving the timeline so Eddies death wouldn’t affect him.

        • Phoenix5634 says:

          They ended it with Hartley changed from the timline, that’s an ominious clue I think, what else was change?… Eobard definitely reacted and changed something now

        • Phoenix5634 says:

          Even if he never sees it, he still has a lot of reason to change his plans/ go after Barry.

        • Phoenix5634 says:

          But remember the fake message (letter) Barry used as an excuse to save himself. Well, Eddies message is a real message left behind.

          Ironic too cuz Barry’s “letter” was supposed to consist of the info he’d need to beat Eobard. Well, if Eobard finds Eddies message, he’ll realize he’s likely dead and that’s how they beat him.

          • Jim Beck says:

            What do you mean that Eddie’s message is a real message left behind? Barry recorded it on his phone and took it with him. Besides, except toward the end of the season, Eobard didn’t interact with Eddie, so it’s a stretch to imagine that he would have been led to him. In reality, Eobard probably assumed that the “letter” was hidden in the future and that it would be sent back to Barry if he didn’t return to his own time.

            Anyway… you could play “what if” with thousands of different scenarios of what might have happened, but you seem to have missed part of the ending. Caitlyn very specifically says that Evil Wells had been erased from existence. The writers probably stuck that line in there because they didn’t want people to question whether or not the events at the end of season one had been altered. This is further backed up by the fact that Eddie is still dead in Barry’s timeline.

            In other words, Eddie still kills himself and Eobard still dies.

          • Phoenix5634 says:

            Yeah but Eddie will still wonder why Iris never got the message, as far as he knows. And yeah I get what Barry was doing by saying about the letter…But what I’m saying is that message was fake, this one is real, and they both contain basically the same information, how they beat reverse flash. Eddie. And in season 1, in this episode(time), Joe would have had Eddie start investigatin Dr Wells.

          • Jim Beck says:

            Not that it matters, but my guess is that Barry of the earlier timeline will cover for older Barry if and when Iris’ birthday comes into play. All it would take is Barry saying something like, “Oh. What? Oh yeah, man. Um… the message got deleted somehow.” Barry isn’t stupid… he can cover for himself. ;-)

            I’m not clear on what you mean by “both contain basically the same information, how they beat Reverse Flash.” Did you listen to Eddie’s message at the end? The message to Iris didn’t say anything at all about how they defeat the Reverse Flash… it just said “I love you” and things like that. But even so, I’m not sure why this message is such a big deal to you because the message (on Barry’s phone) is now a year into the future. Even if the message DID contain a clue as to how to beat RF, which it did not, there’s no way that RF would know this or get to it. The possibility of Eobard tracking down Eddie and even learning about the message is infinitesimal. The message is really inconsequential, but you seem to want to turn it into a history-changing event, which it isn’t at all.

            Regardless, though, you still seem to be missing a HUGE point — when Barry returns to his timeline, it is stated that Eobard had still been erased from existence when Eddie killed himself. So no matter what the message said or what you may speculate that the RF, the fact is that nothing he did changed his fate.

          • Phoenix5634 says:

            If Eobard knew Barry had Eddie make a special video for the future, he could infere that the reason is that Eddie is dead in the future and that’s how they beat him.

            And this happened before Barry had time travelled, this was before the tsunami, and our Barry knocked out past Barry for most of this episode.

          • Phoenix5634 says:

            And Eobard/Wells wont have to go to Eddie, cuz like I said, Eddie is about to start investigating him in that time, so infact Eddie goes to Wells. And Eobard/ Wells could pull his trick with the guy who can turn into anyone, or the hologram trick to fake his own death now that he knows his plan fails. So yes they might think RF is dead… But I’m almost certain he’s not, he knows now his plan fails, so he’s going to react.

  10. Phoenix5634 says:

    Also what do you think happens if you kill/ or disburse a time wraith ? … Lol I bet not good…

    • grys03 says:

      Absolutely. The Time Wraith is there when there’s interference in the timeline? Is there more than one Time Wraith? Who else is ‘zooming’ around the timelines? & how does it affect the Legends story lines?
      .
      & why didn’t someone say ‘this time travel stuff hurts my head’?

  11. Phoenix5634 says:

    Cisco and Hartley should work together to master their powers.

  12. Nellie says:

    I think I spent half the episode talking to my TV, telling Barry to stop messing with the timeline! I loved this episode — so much of what I’ve always loved about The Flash was in full effect. This episode was so much fun.

    I would have liked Jesse to somehow be involved in developing the speed equation (but that’s a very, very minor quibble borne of my fondness for the comics’ Jesse Chambers).

    And everything is forgiven, of course, thanks to the Pied Piper, also one of my faves.

  13. It was such a good way to redeem the Pied Piper and turn him from enemy to ally! The friendship between the reformed Rogue and the Wally West version of The Flash in the late ’80s and through the ’90s and the ’00s was one of my favorite elements of that particular version of the comic.

  14. abz says:

    Can someone explain to me how they were all on good terms with Hartley at the end of the episode in the current timeline? I must have forgot something that happened last season maybe.
    Side note: I do like Hartley and I hope he’ll recur on the show more in the future.

    • Donald Holcomb says:

      Originally, in the pre time travel timeline, Hartley intentionally gets caught by the Flash to get into Starlabs & get info on the team. He uses the bomb in his ear implants & his knowledge on Ronnie to escape & this leads to Hartley fighting Flash on the bridge where he puts civilians into harm’s way in his attempt to best the Flash & prove his worth. Flash beats him & Hartley is an irredeemable villain.

      In this new timeline, Flash captures Hartley again as Hartley wants, but he exposes the bomb in his ear & kills Hartley’s escape plan. Flash tells Cisco about the knowledge Hartley has about Ronnie because that missed info would completely screw up the timeline, but in turn, I believe it’s that info that changes Hartley’s fate.

      Hartley cannot escape now & Cisco knows about Hartley’s knowledge of Ronnie so surely investigates this. Hartley surely helps them because he has no escape & his knowledge is the only thing he has to get him out of the pipeline. In helping team Flash figure out the Firestorm/Ronnie thing a trust is built between team Flash & Hartley that grew with time.

      Therefore, everything in the timeline remains the same except Hartley as he couldn’t escape & go on to put citizens in danger on the bridge & become an irredeemable villain. Instead, he helps them finding Ronnie, rather than them doing it themselves originally, and a new trust in Hartley is built & he eventually redeems himself & becomes a good guy.

  15. I’m a huge fan of this show, it’s quite possibly my favorite show of all time, but it’s really starting to tick me off how they take random weeks-long breaks every few episodes. Keep the show coming! WE WANT MORE ZOOM!!!!!

  16. Phoenix5634 says:

    In season 1, the Hartley episode was the one where Joe and Eddie started investigating Wells. And the next one, Wells made the fusion splicer for Firestorm

  17. Aaj says:

    I’m trying to picture what tranq art is. Perhaps Van Gogh’s paintings of poppies?

  18. Robert Dassler says:

    Boring episode that skates by too much on past glories.

  19. Donna says:

    I was afraid to watch it because I thought he was going to screw something up! Lol. Is Hartley a threat? Don’t remember his story.

  20. Robert says:

    In the mind of a 64 year old who spent countless hours reading comics up until 1968, The Flash hits all the right notes all the time. One day earlier, Supergirl’s high-flying antics soared by getting an infusion of Flash’s levity. Arrow’s cyclical soap operas bored us last year and now we don’t bother. Legends,.. the jury’s still out–gotta be fair, guys. But The Flash is the gold standard for these much loved characters from the youth of baby boomers.

  21. Emily says:

    Cisco and Hartley were hilarious in the back, while Iris/Barry/Eddie were heartbreaking and moving in the present.

    I love that this episode showcased how deeply Iris loves and how she takes her time with matters of the heart, and at the same time it highlighted how selfless Barry is in his love for her. He’s reckless and impulsive with almost everything else, but with Iris he manages to slow down, which is something he desperately needs sometimes.

  22. robandco says:

    That Iris/Eddie scene was heartbreaking. While I do not miss Eddie one bit (that episode sealed my feelings towards the character), I have to admit it’s nice to have him back for one episode.
    Time travel is cool, like super cool, but I’ll trade it for multiverse jumping in a flash (see what I did there?). It’s way less complicated, and it’s more fun!

  23. April says:

    This episode was good. I love the Flash buttttt…this episode also showed how the writer’s hands are tied by fear of changing too much.

    Every episode that deals with traveling back in time Barry is warned about not changing anything and how if he does something huge can be altered. Yet it never seems to happen.

    First time he traveled back he changed the timeline by catching weather wizard. And the only thing that really changed was Cisco didn’t die, Iris never told him how she felt and didn’t find out he is the flash til later.

    Now he travels back again and makes even bigger changes, not allowing piper to escape, allowing himself to be seen by himself (during the first fight scene), telling himself, Cisco, and Caitlyn yhat he can travel back in time…yet the only thing that appears to alter is that piper is now good.

    The writers are not going to make a huge change because that would change the whole direction of the show.

    It would be nice if for once they followed through with the consequences that cancome from changing the past. Like maybe how Eobard did make it home and was not erased, or maybe Iris got married to Joe, or something to show he messed up.

    I just feel it weakens the warning that changing the past can alter the future big time.

    • Time Fluctuation says:

      “Like maybe how Eobard did make it home and was not erased, or maybe Iris got married to Joe, or something to show he messed up.” Why would Barry traveling back in time cause Iris to get married to her father? That’s not even legal last time I checked.

  24. David Finucane says:

    I’m here looking to see if I missed another spoiler or “egg” loke I did with the supergirl one when he traveled to earth 2

  25. Phoenix5634 says:

    Which episode had Iris’s birthday in season 1?

    • KCC says:

      I don’t think there was one. Barry told Iris before he showed her the video that with everything going on around her birthday he never showed her the video. So it appears there was no party for Iris that year.

      • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

        Whoa, nellie! Don’t inflame the Internet! Surely there was a party, we just didn’t see it in an episode.

        • KCC says:

          Things happen to characters that aren’t shown in an episode?!?! No way! If they don’t show it, it never happened. Don’t make me use my imagination.

  26. Brian Nguyen says:

    Wait so is this before or after the Supergirl Crossover episode?

    • Jim Beck says:

      Before. I would estimate that it’s toward the 19th or 20th episode of Flash. At first I thought this was strange, but I’d say it’s out of sync because they wanted to boost Supergirl’s ratings now and actually had the next few episodes of Flash set in stone and didn’t want to screw around with the story.