Flash Has a Split-Second Between Detonation and Ka-BOOM!
A nuclear bomb has been detonated. The world comes to a standstill. The Flash, Jessie Quick and Jay Garrick race to save Central City in “Flashtime”, operating so quickly that the world seems frozen. As they grow exhausted, nanoseconds pass, and the likelihood that they’ll save the city becomes infinitesimal.
Enter Flashtime opens right in the middle of the action, setting the episode’s tone: fast paced, grand in scale, and surprisingly intimate. If I’m not mistaken, this week’s episode is only one of few episodes that acts as a contained story instead of a build-up to the “villain of the season” – and it benefits all the more for it.
High Stakes, Action Packed
It’s been a while since I actually started to buy into the stakes of a CW show. Instead of feeling shallow, this story is grounded in well-directed and well-acted emotion. This week’s episode comes from comic book writer Sterling Gates (co-writer on Sinestro Corps War and Superman: New Krypton), and executive-producer Todd Helbing (writer of Out of Time, Flashback). The strength in the duo is evident in an action-packed script which, for the most part, maintains a great pace. It was also nice to see writing relevant to the conflict, instead of average, soapy scenes. Although the episode does contain threads of the show’s tropes, they feel different in the context of the episode’s real, underlying threats. Thankfully, conversation is also cut short under time and pressure, and for the bulk of the episode, no one has time to stand around and pontificate.
Barry and Iris’s relationship was compelling in the story, too. Their connection, established particularly well in the first two scenes of the episode, carried the story to a earned and heart-felted conclusion. It was the kind of writing that makes you want to forgive the episode’s wacky pseudo-science, and an on-the-nose Harry/Jesse Wells side plot. Who am I kidding, though, even that had some nice moments attached to it.
Ultimately, Enter Flashtime excels because it spends less time on cramming in plot, and instead spends time on good storytelling.
What else may have stood out to any viewers was the slight bump in directorial style. Deviating from the series’ usual (and rather unoriginal) shot cues, director Gregory Smith builds tension and pressure through mounting closeup shots, particularly as the episode reaches a climax.
It’s possible that working on a smaller scale, mostly in Star Labs and warehouse sets, also allowed more creative control during filming. Details such as richer set lighting, closeup shots of items in the area, and better visual effects all contribute to making Enter Flashtime one of the best episodes of the show.
Characters We Actually Like, and Want to See More Of
It’s really no secret that fans of The Flash love The Flash family, and yet for some reason, the show avoids using them too liberally. It was great to finally have an episode where we saw neither hide nor hair of Ralph – his goofy character clearly having no place in the story. Instead, the reappearance of characters like Jesse Quick and Jay Garrick gave the episode that extra push which tipped the episode from good, to great.
In the same respect, it equally did a neat job of not over-explaining characters that aren’t integral to the story. In a twist, the best action in the episode didn’t come from the person behind the bomb, but rather the act of trying to stop the bomb itself. The switch from an antagonist as a person, to antagonist as a thing, was surprisingly fun. Hopefully these kinds of ‘outside the box’ episodes stay for the long run.
You can check out the trailer for next week’s episode below:
The Flash returns March 13th.
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The Flash: "Enter Flashtime"
The Flash gives us its best episode this season, less focused on The Thinker and more focused on meaningful storytelling.