After the chaos of the Deathstorm saga, and the emotionally charged funeral for Frost, you’d think Team Flash would be due for a break. Unfortunately, Central City is rarely a calm place. Rather than a big, overarching threat, the team spends most of the episode split up and dealing with different issues. Naturally, the Barry and Iris part of the story gets the title, as they go “Into the Still Force.”
In the morning, Barry goes through his routine and decides to surprise Iris since she pulled at all-nighter at the Citizen. Instead, he gets more and more worried as he figures out she isn’t anywhere she’s supposed to be. He interrupts Cecile and Chester hanging out at STAR, and what’s either a throwaway line or a setup for a coming story, and they all try their different ways to find the missing reporter, and come up blank. I will say the writers don’t seem to have a firm grasp on how Cecile’s power works, or the difference between empathy and telepathy. Eventually, they figure out she’s way, way out of town, and Barry takes off to follow the one lead they have.
In what’s probably the most disturbing story going this week, Caitlin reveals more of her plan to bring back Frost in her apartment-converted-to-underground-lab. Mark Blaine, Frost’s boyfriend, is increasingly appalled at what Caitlin has planned, and walks away. He points out some problems with the way she’s keeping secrets before leaving, and I think it’s a great point. Taking full advantage of his superspeed, and not exactly being subtle, Barry travels to Coast City to find Tinya and ask about the last time Iris disappeared. Tinya, not at all pleased with how her last visit with Iris went, is in no mood to help, and tells Barry off before leaving him behind. In the wake of her dramatic exit, Barry realizes something is wrong in the Coast City Jitters (have those shown up on any other show in the Arroweverse?), and has an unexpected, brief, and worrying meeting with Deon, the Still Force avatar.
Back at STAR, a reduced team meets up about what’s going on. Barry, Allegra, Joe, Cecile, and Chester talk over options. Retired but still as sharp as any detective, Joe notices some things Barry isn’t sharing and drags a few more details out of the hero. Barry is worried enough about getting Iris back that he isn’t going to be listening to doubts. There’s at least a passing reference to the other Force avatars (not to be confused with Force ghosts, fandom is getting confusing), and the team goes off to take care of various tasks. Not at all happy with how Barry is acting, Joe runs him down after the meeting and shares his concerns. What I’ve noticed over time is Joe is very rarely wrong, and folks really need to realize that.
Off on his own, Chester gets a surprising call and goes to what I guess could be his cover job as a special consultant for Kramer at the CCPD. Barry, sporting the costume but no mask look he seems to be favoring lately, meets up with Deon, who isn’t looking great. For that matter, his appearances from the Still Force are now accompanied by a disturbing sound effect. Deon gives Barry a few warnings and then they live up to the episode title. Once they get there, Deon shows the many changes to this world and emphasizes how much they need to find Iris. They have an unexpected encounter and we start to get a hint that maybe Deon has changed a bit.
Chester meets up with Kramer, and we get a moment of the writers trying to give her character some more depth before plunging into why she called him. Chester breaks out his tools to examine the gadget du jour, and gets a big surprise. Kramer notices something is bothering him, but doesn’t press him on it, which seems really out of character to me. Maybe they’re trying to make her seem nicer. After some weird time glitches that foreshadow a plot I’ve seen coming a while now, Deon and Barry use their newest gizmo, but don’t quite find what was expected. After several surprises at once, the two get separated and Barry ends up trapped in a replica of the West home. They do love reusing sets with weird lighting to show dimensional travel on this show. I guess it saves on the construction budget.
Once again reusing sets, the next scene is in the loft, but not as we usually see it. Apparently Nora and Bart live here in 2049. Bart remains an off-screen presence, but we see a bit about what Nora is up to before things get really confusing and she ends up being brought to Barry. This bit seems to contradict some of what we saw earlier, so I presume there’s a lot going on we aren’t aware of yet. After a joyful reunion and a nice flashback that ties in something we saw a few episodes ago, the father and daughter begin working together. At STAR, Chester is plagued with doubts after something he discovered, and Allegra does her best to reassure him, pointing out some things he’s overlooking.
In the pseudo-West home, Barry and Nora strategize and try and figure out what they need to do next while ignoring a very dangerous visitor outside. Nora takes on the role of motivational speaker, sharing a few small details from her time to give Barry some ideas about how to try and escape from their unusual suburban prison. There’s what seems like a reference to one of the few DC speedsters that hasn’t appeared or been mentioned in the Arrowverse yet which has me curious and cautiously hopeful. Finally, after a nice nod to a character we haven’t seen for a while, they manage to figure out how to get out of the house, with some unexpected help from a very confused Joe. Then they have another obstacle to overcome, and it’s a bit harder, with a much rougher landing. Finally, with some truly bizarre reasoning, they figure out what they need to do and end up back in the basement at STAR. Which isn’t where either of them left from. I have questions.
Later, Barry, Nora, Joe, and Cecile kick off the series of wrap-up scenes. They talk over what’s just happened and some puzzling developments. They don’t seem to have gotten anywhere at all with how to find Iris, and have more questions than answers. Nora has apparently mastered something very hard, and makes a passing reference to it as she takes off. Barry takes his turn to offer some reassurance before we switch to Allegra and Chester. Chester’s subplot felt very rushed and was resolved off screen. I don’t know if the issue was time, budget, or COVID complications with bringing on more actors. It really seemed like an afterthought. That scene ends with some hacking of STAR’s computers that is worrying. Then we see who is behind it and it’s a big surprise that I don’t quite see the need for.
The final scene revisits Caitlin. She and Mark have another long, emotional talk, and she’s up to some more disturbing tasks. I also don’t think the science tracks for what she’s talking about, but it’s dramatic. After some discussion, they come to a decision and things are going to start getting really creepy for what’s usually a more or less upbeat show.
What I liked: This show is about family, natural and chosen, and they play to those strengths. It was nice seeing Nora again, and hearing at least some references to some other characters. I’m especially excited about the reference to the so-far unseen speedster.
What I didn’t: I’m puzzled by some of the things that happened. I’ll give them enough credit to go with there’s some things we don’t know yet rather than what looks like some blatant contradictions. It was nice they tried to give Chester a story, but it felt rushed and brushed aside. The possible glimpse into the near future is something I’ve been expecting for a bit now, and I don’t like it. I think they’re trying to rehab Kramer into a more likeable character after her coming in initially as an antagonist. Even with including something that’s of interest to me, I still don’t like her. Tinya seems to be “generic sullen teen” with a grudge and powers. That can’t be a good combination.
It was a decent episode, but not great. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. I am curious to see where the Iris story goes.