This is The Flash's best episode yet, the one which will be referenced in ten years time, discussing when people realised it was more than just an immensely fun superhero show. Eyes set to cry mode.
Warning: Spoilers. If you haven’t seen this episode… you have been warned.
It’s entirely possible that someone somewhere is discussing “Out of Time” in exactly the same way we as a culture, discussed “Ozymandias”. Arguably the best episode of Breaking Bad ever, containing so much development that it was simply scary. All the tension and build-up of not just that season, but possibly every season of the show finally climaxed. While The Flash can hardly ever be compared to Vince Gilligan’s masterpiece, this episode makes the comparison not only justifiable, but positively obligatory.
The basic plot is that Mark Mardon (Liam McIntyre) is looking to get revenge on Joe (Jesse L. Martin) for killing his younger brother Clyde in the very first episode. Using his powers over the weather he sets himself against The Flash and Joe. Meanwhile Cisco (Carlos Valdes) continues to question Wells’ innocence, there looks to be relationship troubles for both Barry and Iris, and Barry gets a glimpse at a future/past version of himself. It’s a packed 42 minutes.
It’s been coming ever since the mid-season finale, the moment when Harrison Wells’ (Tom Cavanagh) secret identity as the Reverse-Flash was revealed. Ever since the pilot, we’ve been waiting for Iris (Candice Patton) and Barry (Grant Gustin) to kiss, and to tell the truth for once. The past two episodes as well, have left us wondering just when time travel will first be used. All of that, and a lot more for good measure, happen. In one episode. This would be a great time for any other series to end, except it’s coming right back next week with another episode. That’s the nature of comic books. No matter the big changes and upheavals, given enough time it can all reset to (nearly) identical circumstances. There’s no telling exactly how it will all have changed or not next week, but one thing that won’t change is what the audience knows.
The biggest moment of the whole episode was of course the confrontation. Wells is really Eobard Thawne. In the comics, he has been an adversary for Barry for many years, holding the mantle of the Reverse-Flash, or Professor Zoom. Here he is a ‘distant relative’ of Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), a man out of time, looking to go back to his own. He’s also a total psychopath. Cavanagh has long been this show’s secret weapon, but here his scenes with Carlos Valdes (playing Cisco) bring out the best in each other. The bond between them feels absolutely real, and despite all we know he’s done and could still do, we still like Wells. Cisco meanwhile, is the heart of the show. Which is why it was so painful to see his heart ripped out by a man he respected and loved, before his heart was literally crushed – a moment which is literally yelp-inducing. Thank god for the time travel.
In fact the whole episode is filled with character defining moments; as in they literally sum up why these people and their relationships are so important. Joe is stubborn and endlessly protective, but simultaneously funny and caring. Caitlin and Cisco trust each other completely, even when they aren’t fully convinced. Eddie is still a genuinely good man (though how long that lasts is definitely becoming an issue) and even Captain Singh (Patrick Sabongui) is granted more to do than simply be annoyed at Barry. If there’s a weak link in the cast of characters this episode, it’s actually Barry and Iris. With anyone else the former is fantastic, but when he’s with Iris, you can’t help but wonder how they can both be sabotaging each other’s relationships so blithely. Their last moment together is a huge step forward, and ‘Whoop’s will be shouted. Yet Iris still feels like a partly drawn girl. So much so that she’s almost unlikeable. Almost.
The action is as impressive as always, especially when the ‘Weather Wizard’ (if Cisco died, who on earth would come up with the names with such glee?) attacks the Police station. There is real tension and fear in Mardon’s shared scenes with Joe – of course the former will still have his vendetta to fulfil in later episodes, so we can look forward to his return. Yet with all the other monumental scenes this episode between the characters we already know, discussing anything else feels trite. The only worry left is how future episodes can continue to be satisfying, when the audience know more than the characters. Dramatic irony would not really play into The Flash’s wheelhouse. Their style is more about real heart and fun. Except when it gets dark. Here’s hoping that the sheer confidence of “Out of Time” was not a one-off.
The Flash is broadcast on Sky One on Tuesdays at 8pm. Watch the trailer for next week’s episode below: