The Flash gave us its weirdest, most existential, and perhaps best episode yet last week with “The Runaway Dinosaur,” which follows the STAR Labs team and Barry after his second attempt at surviving a particle accelerator explosion went haywire. Plus, WESTALLEN Y’ALL!
The episode was also notably directed by filmmaker and comic guru Kevin Smith, whose movies you probably recognize if you spent a lot of time sneakily watching age-inappropriate titles in the late 90s and early 2000s like us.
The episode picks up right where the last left off. The team is in distress after Barry disintegrates right in front of their eyes and shortly after, they find Wally and Jesse blown away by the particle accelerator blast. Wally wakes up, but Jesse doesn’t. Cisco is able to vibe Barry and realizes that somewhere out there, Barry is still alive.
Barry wakes up suddenly in his old childhood bedroom… except not really. Downstairs, Joe is investigating Nora Allen’s murder again… but again, not really.
“Joe” is not really Joe. He’s a physical manifestation of the Speedforce, the enigmatic entity that grants special power to the speedsters of the world. It’s happening in a place in between life and death, where perhaps this is all just a complex illusion in Barry’s mind.
The Speedforce isn’t just willing to let Barry have his power back after he gives it up and tasks him with literally running after shadows to start earning them back.
In the real world, Harry grows increasingly worried as Jesse remains in her coma. Thankfully, Barry’s father, Henry, is there and he’s a doctor. The two dads strike a deal: If Harry does all he can to save Barry, Henry will do his best to help Jesse. He starts by sending Iris and Cisco down to the morgue to get the details of Barry’s treatment.
But once Iris and Cisco venture down there, they discover Barry, Wally, and Jesse weren’t the only ones affected by the secondary accelerator blast in the building. Eobard Thawne had kept the body of Tony Woodward aka Girder there for safe-keeping and study and now, he’s back in zombie form!
An absolute episode highlight is when Cisco tries to play the gentleman hero and gets schooled on how things really go in Central City.
Back the the Speedforce, Barry is confronted again. This time, his power is taking the form of Iris.
The Speedforce still doesn’t think Barry is ready and doesn’t realize some big truths about his powers. When Cisco vibes into the strange dimension, the Speedforce tells Barry he can go– but he’ll never get his powers back. Barry stays, still chasing after that shadow.
In Central City, it becomes clear that zombie Girder is still subconsciously after Iris, tearing through all the places they used to meet and eliciting a hilarious cameo featuring Jason Mewes. So the West family headed home, hoping Tony will show up and Iris can lure him into a trap devised by the team at STAR Labs.
Meanwhile, Joe is convinced that Wally being hit by the accelerator blast means something and just waiting for his powers to emerge. Wally feels fine and thinks Joe is just a wee bit crazy.
Zombie Girder shows up. Iris leads him to Cisco’s trap. Said trap fails spectacularly. AWWWW MAN!
But that’s okay, because Barry is simultaneously being confronted by the last two forms of the Speedforce. The first is disguised as his father, who tells Barry the real reason he hasn’t go his power back: He hasn’t accepted his mother’s death. In order to be a hero, Barry needs to recognize that he can’t save everyone all the time. He needs to accept death as part of his journey.
And then, finally, Barry goes back to the house and it’s her.
Barry knows it’s not truly her, of course, but this version of the Speedforce is comforting and understanding, pulling on all the heartstrings as she convinces her son that her life was worth sacrificing so that he could live on to save so many others.
As night turns to day again, the two sit down and read Barry’s favorite childhood book, The Runaway Dinosaur (a take on The Runaway Bunny, if you didn’t know.) Barry loved it so much as a kid that he still knows the words now and ends up reading to Speedforce Nora.
While all this is happening, zombie Girder has trapped the STAR Labs team in the room where Barry disappeared. They need Barry more than ever, so Cisco plans to vibe him again. He wants someone else to come along to help convince Barry to return and after a quick debate, it’s obviously Iris.
From within the Speedforce, Cisco opens up the path again. Iris calls out to Barry. And the Speedforce knows its finally time for Barry to be the hero again.
And so he does, right to the girl who loves.
The Flash in full power once again, Barry handily destroys Girder and saves the day. Then he’s able to use a zap from the Speedforce to awaken Jesse from her slumber. Not quite a fairy tale princess moment, BUT CLOSE.
Afterward, he and Iris head to Nora’s gravesite for the first time. Barry shares some emotions with Iris that he’s held in for all these years and it soon turns out Barry and Iris sharing their feelings for each other. FINALLY.
No, they don’t kiss. But they’re also standing on front of his mom’s grave, so is there really any need for a make-out session? Nope!
Either way, Westallen is official now!
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL FOLKS!
We didn’t hear from them so far this episode, but Zoom and Caitlin are back!
Zoom has brought a small army of metahumans from Earth-2 to conquer Earth-1 with him. He’s frustrated with his obsession but giving her a choice: Join him or go back to STAR Labs, where he’ll find her and eventually kill her.
Soooo that relationship is going to explode and we’re all doomed. YAY!