Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Best Yet. “Out Of Time” Makes The Flash Great Television!

The Good: Excellent character moments, Performances, Effects, Plot progression
The Bad: One important detail . . .
The Basics: Everything happens for The Flash in “Out Of Time!”

After yet another hiatus, The Flash returned with “Out Of Time.” And it was worth the wait. The Flash has been one of the pleasant surprises for the current television season and its odd “on again, off again” schedule on The CW (especially while they are teasing the next DC Universe spinoff in the news almost daily) has been frustrating. “Out Of Time” more than makes up for the frustration by taking an unlikely concept and pulling it off amazingly. “Out Of Time” acts as, interestingly enough, a direct sequel to the pilot episode “City Of Heroes” (reviewed here!) and encompasses all of the information learned since. Without seeing “The Man In The Yellow Suit” (reviewed here!) and “City Of Heroes,” the climactic events of “Out Of Time” are nowhere near as significant; this is definitely an episode for the fans!

Following the events of “Fallout” (reviewed here), the suspicions surrounding Harrison Wells are growing. With the revelation that Wells is the Reverse Flash, a whole boatload of questions have been raised and “Out Of Time” does an awesome job of bringing together those plot elements while addressing some of the most significant character issues in the first season. The Flash suddenly becomes less of a CW science fiction soap opera and instead develops into a well-rounded character-motivates superhero story.

Opening with a flashback to the night of the reactor disaster, Clyde and Mark Mardon escape in their small plane from Joe West and Chyre moments before the reactor goes critical. Both Mardons, as it turns out, survived. A year later, on a night when Iris and Eddie are out bowling, Barry Allen and Linda Park end up at the same bowling lane while Mark Mardon resurfaces. Mark goes after the City Coroner, looking for information on who killed his brother Clyde. Called to the murder scene, the police (include Eddie, Joe and Barry), hear the dead coroner give up Joe West, which puts the Central City Police Force on the defensive. With Joe targeted by the Weather Wizard, Barry and Eddie close ranks to protect him.

While Joe tries to evade the Weather Wizard, Cisco encounters Iris’s coworker, Mason Bridge. Bridge has suspicions about Harrison Wells, based on the disappearance of Simon Staggs six months prior. Cisco begins to ask questions and when he discovers that the trap the Reverse Flash was placed in might have been deactivated by Wells, he enlists Caitlin Snow to distract their boss while he looks into it. Cisco’s search for the truth puts him in mortal danger while Barry and Iris find themselves trapped as pawns in Mark Mardon’s revenge scheme!

Peppered throughout “Out Of Time” is an incident that furthers the time-travel plot concept that finally became explicit in “Fallout.” While running to his first crime scene, Barry sees another version of himself running beside himself and that sets up a mystery that leads to a somewhat problematic ending. The troubles with the episode’s final shots come after a series of powerful acts where the biggest real problems are an obvious stunt car (Joe and Barry are driving along in a car that has way to much play for an ordinary vehicle, setting up an event with it) and an integral decision that makes no real sense for the otherwise careful Harrison Wells to make.

On the character front, “Out Of Time” does not at all disappoint. The brilliance of “Out Of Time” is that minor characters who have been neglected, like Captain Singh, have decent character moments, without at all diminishing from the main characters. Mark Mardon is anything but a monolithic villain and Linda Park is not treated as a stupid love interest. But all the main characters have something significant and important to do in “Out Of Time.” While Caitlin Snow might be used only as a decoy in the final stratagem, her inability to credibly lie plays perfectly into the plot events that follow.

After weeks of completely neglecting Eddie Thawne, Eddie pops back to the forefront for two key scenes. After bowling with Iris, Eddie delivers an incredibly evolved and emotionally-realized scene where he tells Iris that she was not honest with him about her lingering feelings for Barry. A scene that could have been written or acted as troubling and misogynistic is delivered and executed as a surprisingly highbrow metaconscious discussion of relationship and emotions and it works perfectly. Following that, he is restored to truly being Joe West’s partner in the hunt for Mardon and that works brilliantly.

After weeks of speculation, Harrison Wells is truly revealed in “Out Of Time.” His part in the episode is to give little more than plot exposition for several episodes worth of questions, but actor Tom Cavanagh does it well-enough to be perfectly compelling television. It also allows for Carlos Valdes to bring on the performance of the season for him as Cisco.

Candice Patton and Grant Gustin deliver undeniable on-screen chemistry in “Out Of Time” that completely reinvigorates the Barry/Iris relationship. While elements of “Out Of Time” might be just a little predictable (that Joe West is walking into a trap is telegraphed by the weather in ways that are troubling Joe does not notice!), the big leap forward in the Iris/Barry relationship comes at a welcome time and is perfectly executed!

Unfortunately, “Out Of Time” sets itself up to be undone in the very next episode. There are huge events and while I was initially excited by the idea that Singh’s paralysis might lead Dr. Snow to finally put together that Wells is not paralyzed, “Out Of Time” went in a delightfully different direction. But the seeds are there; Barry Allen knows how dangerous Mark Mardon is, he knows that Mason Bridge has an encrypted file about Harrison Wells and all signs point to the idea that the three biggest moments of “Out Of Time” will be undone by time travel in the subsequent episode make the engaged viewer instantly frustrated. But that is a problem for the next episode; “Out Of Time” sets it all up immaculately!

For other works with Fred Henderson, check out my reviews of:
The Interview
“Duane Barry” - The X-Files
“Beyond The Sea” - The X-Files

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into The Flash - The Complete First Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!


For other television and movie reviews, please visit my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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