The Flash gets a bit surreal this week, but then, with the title of “The Runaway Dinosaur,” it wasn’t going to be one of their more normal episodes. The STAR team is trying to figure out what happened when Barry suddenly disappeared when they get another surprise. After Jessie and Wally don’t answer the intercom, Wells and the Wests find Wally and Jessie on the floor of the hallway. Wally comes around, but Jessie is out cold and initially even her heart seems to have stopped. Henry, after he’s shaken off the shock of Barry’s vanishing, agrees to use his medical training to check her out. Cisco uses his powers to figure out Barry is still alive, but trapped in some weird energy vortex.
Barry himself wakes up in what looks like his childhood room. Downstairs, in what appears to be the crime scene where his mother died, Barry finds Joe. Well, something that looks like Joe, anyway. They have a very confusing conversation about what’s going on and what Barry needs to do. “Joe” is only clear about the fact that Barry needs to catch something that we barely see, blurring past the house.
Tension is high at STAR Labs. Wells is worried about Jessie, Henry is brooding about Barry, and everyone is worried about what’s going to happen next. Wells recognizes Cisco’s description of his vision and tells them all Barry is trapped in the Speed Force. Cisco compares what’s going on with Caitlin to Barry’s initial coma after getting his powers. Henry thinks the notes from Barry’s treatment might be helpful, so Cisco and Iris go down to the morgue after a very confusing conversation about Wells/Thawne who was around before. They find the records, but they find something else, too. Wells/Thawne was experimenting on/studying some of the metas Flash captured, and somehow or other, the attempt to re-power Barry has partially revived Girder.
There are a few great bits about the Girder-as-zombie idea. Greg Finley gets to come back to the show, and as a zombie even. Finley is probably better known to CW viewers as Drake, Liv’s most recent love interest over on iZombie. Also, Cisco mentions Walking Dead, and one of the former cast members of Walking Dead has showed up on both Flash and Arrow as the Bug Eyed Bandit. Also, Cisco spends the rest of the episode unsure if the returned Girder is of the brain-eating variety of zombie, which is just sort an amusing running joke in and of itself. I even liked his initial reaction to seeing the re-animated villain: “A zombie? For real?”
Iris makes an attempt to talk Girder down, but he lumbers out into the night after breaking out of STAR. I guess it’s as easy to get out of STAR as it is for the various people who keep wandering in. Seriously, they need a much better security protocol. Butch on Gotham had the same complaint earlier this week.
Back on Barry’s excellent adventure, he meets another of these strange beings (or the same one) connected to the Speed Force, now looking like Iris. They’re now in the park where Barry and Iris first kissed. “Iris” claims that Barry was given a gift and he rejected it. Barry defends himself and his choice by saying he saved a life.
Cisco tells the rest of the group about their newest problem. Joe gives a great speech, rousing everyone up and giving them all things to do. Joe has a very good fix on who can do what, and deploys them all accordingly. They might not all get sent where they want to be, but Joe made the right calls in my opinion.
After a random scene of some of Girder’s shambling rampage, Cisco and Wells get to work in the lab that Barry vanished from. Wells doesn’t make the experiment sound pleasant, but Cisco goes ahead anyway to help Barry. Cisco manages a glimpse of Barry, but Barry’s weird Speed Force guides tell him if he goes back now, it will be without his powers. Cisco loses Barry as Iris makes Wells shut the machine down because Cisco is really not looking good.
After Girder lumbers around some more, they finally figure out what he wants- Iris. They devise a plan to bring him back to STAR using Iris as bait. Iris is fine with this, Joe a lot less so. The team is pulling together well considering everything that’s going on.
A very out of breath Barry ends up at the next stop on his magical mystery tour- his mother’s grave. Shockingly, he’s never been there. The Speed Force being is now Henry, and talks to him about accepting his mother’s death. It’s a kind of odd scene, with the Speed Force waxing very philosophical.
Back at the West home, Iris and Joe are waiting for Girder to show up. Once again, they haven’t told Wally what’s going on. This policy of leaving him in the dark is going to come back and bite them some day, probably soon. Because they are keeping Wally in the dark, Joe has a very weird conversation with Wally, trying to see if he got powers from the incident at STAR. So far, it doesn’t appear he did. Girder finally shows up, which leads to a very (and justifiably) aggravated Wally being sent to his room while Iris starts drawing Girder back to STAR. Apparently, she’s jogging the whole way. Either STAR is a lot closer to the Wests’ home than I thought, or Iris is in really amazing shape.
Barry and not-Henry have more conversation about Barry’s sacrifices and heroics before he takes off again after the mysterious blur he’s supposed to catch. Cisco has rigged up a gadget to stop Girder back at STAR, amusingly calling him “Guy-Zombie.” Of course, the gadget fails and everyone retreats to the most secure room they have, down where Barry vanished. Cisco, as he runs for his life, yells that Plans A-J did not work.
In the Speed Force, Barry has another conversation, this time with his mother. It’s a touching scene, nudging Barry towards accepting the bad things that have happened to him. Barry finally catches the blur. I guessed right as to what the blur turned out to be. At any rate, Barry, thanks in part to Cisco and Iris’ great timing in trying to contact him again, makes a wonderfully timed return to the real world with his speed. He manages to get Cisco’s new toy up and running, and Girder is put down. Again.
In the aftermath of Barry’s return, several things happen. He visits Jessie and bring her out of her coma by touching her, lightning jumping between them. It seems even more likely that she has powers now. Barry and Iris go to Nora’s grave, and Barry reflects on how much he does actually have in his life. Henry announces he’s returning to Central City… which I swear he said last episode, too.
Heading in the opposite direction from all the happy scenes, we see Caitlin, still Zoom’s prisoner at the Central City Police Department. If this has been going on for as long as it seems, shouldn’t the government have gotten involved? ARGUS? Team Arrow? Someone? At any rate, Zoom gives Caitlin a chance to run, but pretty much tells her if she does, he’ll kill her next time they meet. Then he goes out to give a stirring speech to what turns out to be an evil army of metahumans. Barry’s going to have a busy few episodes between now and the finale.
What I liked: As is usually the case, there were some great lines. Cisco got some really good ones, and the Walking Dead/iZombie references were great. The scene with Joe and Wally at the West house was funny. Barry’s trip through the Speed Force was an interesting slant on his powers. I also like what appears to be Jessie’s origin.
What I didn’t: Iris running back to STAR wasn’t a great plan. The ongoing hostage drama at the CCPD really should be drawing more attention by now. And I’m not sure how Cisco kept vibing off Barry’s costume, yet Barry returned wearing it.
It was a good episode, and I’m glad they didn’t draw out Barry’s lack of powers. I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.