By Mina Haq
On this week’s episode of “The Flash,” Barry struggles to balance his new life and his old relationships, all while dealing with the self-doubt that comes along with constantly saving people.
Barry, with the help of Cisco and under Caitlin and Joe’s noses, has been stopping small crimes around Central City, despite the fact that his agreement with Star Labs was to find and stop the meta-humans. He’s also having a lot of dizzy spells, which initially sounded like a ridiculous problem for a superhero to have until it was explained that his diet is now inadequate.
Either way, his inconvenient fainting is getting in the way of his crime fighting abilities, evident when he passes out after saving a police officer from being shot during Simon Stagg’s (guest star William Sadler) man of the year award ceremony. The detectives of the CCPD are looking for the six men who opened fire, as their end goal seems to be killing Stagg. This is unsurprising, as he seems like the kind of guy who’s made more than a few enemies.
The flashbacks are also very revealing, showing a young Barry struggling to cope with his father’s imprisonment and taking it out on Joe. He repeatedly tells Joe that Joe isn’t his father and he has no right to stop Barry from visiting his actual father, directly mirroring the conflict between them in present day.
When Joe finds out that Barry has been working with the Star Labs scientists, he reminds Barry that he’s still just a kid who needs to let the police do their jobs. The familiarity of the situation probably gets to Barry, as he reminds Joe that he’s not his father once again and their relationship becomes even more strained. Regardless of Joe’s intentions, he plants a pretty significant seed of doubt in Barry’s mind that affects his ability to properly fight.
Barry’s relationship with Iris is also crumbling due to the stress of his new life. He keeps unintentionally flaking on her, causing her to become suspicious of the new Barry. I would assume she’d cut him some slack since he just woke up from a nine month coma, which is enough to make anyone act a little weird even without the presence of superpowers, but Iris sincerely cannot comprehend why Barry is behaving the way he is. To complicate matters further, she decides to do her journalism story on the mysterious red blur that keeps popping up and saving people.
It turns out that the team of assassins after Stagg are just one meta-human named Danton Black with the power to regenerate. Black wants Stagg dead because he stole the research that was supposed to grow Black’s wife a new heart (she had degenerative coronary disease), resulting in her death. When Barry fails to fight off Black’s army, he decides to quit saving people. This is obviously the self-doubt speaking, because when Caitlin figures out that Black’s replicates are empty shells and that they need to kill off the real Black to kill off his army, Barry’s back in.
The final battle shows Barry fighting off hundreds of Black’s replicates who are all trying to kill Stagg. Thanks to some inspirational words of wisdom from Joe, Barry manages to locate the only Danton Black who shows signs of fatigue and knocks him out, effectively knocking out the entire army. However, his true heroic character comes out when Black launches himself out a window and Barry attempts to save the man who doesn’t want to be saved.
In the end, peace is seemingly restored in Barry’s life. He makes amends with Joe over some delicious looking pizza, he’s finally on the same page as the rest of the Star Labs team, and is sort of okay with Iris (I can never tell with those two). Hopefully next week the writers show Iris as more than just the clueless love interest, because that’ll get old very quickly.
I also hope they develop the Star Labs team even more, as I’m super interested in learning more about Caitlin and Cisco’s backgrounds. And obviously there’s reliably creepy Harrison, who is once again the star of the episode’s final plot twist. This week (warning, spoilers ahead!), he stabs Stagg to keep him from taking advantage of Barry’s abilities. His “protectiveness” of Barry extends far beyond what I expected and I’m very curious to learn what his true motives are.