Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Psychogenic Retrograde Amnesia Brings Levity to The Flash

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With yet two weeks left before the great showdown between Savitar and Flash, this week was a tad more lighthearted as the story focused more on its characters’ relationships with one another, while still maintaining a grip on the season long arc.

We get back with Barry confronting Savitar and he gives one of those “villain exposition” monologues. In 2020, Barry Allen created time remnants to help him destroy Savitar. However, the armored speedsters purposefully did not kill these other Barrys because that’s who would end becoming Savitar. Basically, it’s a closed loop, as Cisco explains later on: Savitar doesn’t kill himself in the future and goes back to the past to ensure his creation/ascension when he kills Iris.

So, when this time remnant didn’t die, it got shunned by Team Flash and became sad and depressed. Thus, he decided “why be sad when I can be a god instead?”. In order for that to happen, he needs two things: to kill Iris so that Barry can be driven into darkness and create the time remnants, and *something else* that Savitar doesn’t disclose.

Barry threatens to kill himself so that Savitar can die two, but the villain explains that the rules of cause and effect are getting trickier and less rigid because of the constant time travels. As Savitar starts to leave, Barry attacks him, but gets overcome by Savitar’s suit who can act of its accord. The two Barrys try doing their little lightning-throw move, but it doesn’t achieve much.

Team Flash regroups at STAR Labs to chat about the recent discovery and some stuff starts making sense. For one, the voice message left by 2040 Barry to the Legends was referencing Savitar. Second, Killer Frost is working with Savitar because it’s a face she trusts, but it is not exactly *the* Barry Allen she resents. Third, he also lied about being the first speedster. Wally points out that, given Savitar knows all of Barry’s moves, how can they possibly stop him?

Barry and Iris talk about Savitar, how he reminded Barry of himself because of the pain in the villain’s eyes and how Barry himself has an inner dark side that wants to do bad things sometimes because of how hurt he feels.

“When the love that we feel in our hearts has drowned in anger… when the bad memories outweigh the good ones… what am I gonna have to become to stop him?” – Barry

Cisco interrupts the chat with news that he has come up with an idea that may be either the best or the worse ever. He made up a device that will prevent Barry from retaining memories which would give them an advantage, because Savitar wouldn’t remember what he has already lived as Barry. Naturally, Barry agrees to the procedure…which doesn’t go as expected. He gets a case of psychogenic retrograde amnesia, losing pretty much every memory he has.

We see the usual freaking out that comes when someone wakes up with no memories: he doesn’t know where he is, who he is, and who everyone else is. At that point, he reads up on his driver’s license and decides that “Barry” is not a good name, opting to go with a different shorthand for Bartholomew: Bart, which is as close as comic book reader may get to the original comics’ Bart Allen. Iris whips out some old photographs and calms him down, even telling him that they are engaged. As Joe calls in for a meeting, Wally stays with Barry who looks at his own skin when Wally tells him they are brothers.

Julian theorizes that they didn’t account for Barry’s accelerated brain metabolism for the device. They immediately test out Joe’s idea that Barry has no idea he is The Flash, which turns out to be true. Cecile calls Joe and asks him to bring Barry to CCPD urgently.

HR pays a visit to Tracy and they name the device she is working on as “The Speedforce Bazooka” which, well, is actually quite cool. However, Tracy is having some speedbumps on its manufacturing, so HR tries to calm her down and they almost kiss before HR walks back for some reason.

Cecile explains that she is trying a case of an arsonist that day and she needs Barry, the local CSI, to testify in order to hold the arsonist on trial. They quickly explain to Cecile what happened—Barry guesses her name is Felicia, which… wow—and she is not pleased whatsoever.

Barry starts talking to Iris and he is literally rediscovering himself: he asks if they are planning their wedding, invitations, and honeymoon, to which Iris oversimplifies her answer by stating that they have just been a little busy lately, not telling him anything too serious and murderous. Somewhere else, Killer Frost visits with Savitar who also happens to have amnesia.

At Jitters, Iris and Barry have probably one of their sweetest moments yet as they travel through memory lane and history. Iris is completely flabbergasted with how light and smiley Barry is without the weight he carries on his shoulders. Barry’s phone ring and he goes to the courthouse, but not before an awkward not-so-goodbye-kiss.

Cisco and Julian give Barry a pair of glasses with the advice of not getting them wet. Barry is asked to the stand and as Cecile start asking questions about the Heat Monger (such an embarrassing name!), Julian sends answers to the glasses so Barry can read them, and hilarity ensues. However, as things go, Barry’s sweat damages the glasses so he fails to answer the questions, allowing the arsonist to walk free.

Julian, Cisco, and Wally regroup at STAR Labs to find Killer Frost waiting for them. Wally tries to attack, but he realizes he doesn’t have his speed as a result of Savitar not having his memories anymore. Given this affects her goals, whichever they are, she decides to help get Barry’s memories back.

Iris takes Barry back to their place and she neglects to tell him about the atrocity that was his mother’s death. The two have another cute moment and, as they kiss, Barry’s speed comes to play and he ends up freaking out, but he gets excited about as they go back to STAR Labs. They initially debate whether or not to keep Barry the way he is if this a way to defeat Savitar, but as Killer Frost points out, Central City has a lot of villains and only one very untrained Flash to protect it.

HR goes back to Tracy and, as much as he wants to “just work”, Tracy kisses him and that inspires her to figure out the problem with the bazooka.

As they work on a new device, Killer Frost mentions to Cisco and Julian that it was stupid of them to try this without Caitlin, and Cisco calls her out for referring to herself in the third person. Cisco catches the mood and starts, very non-subtly, to appeal to nostalgia, telling the tale of a time they were working on the accelerator. He mentions Wells, Hartley, and even Ronnie, which gets Killer Frost to finish the story. She also reminisces about her dead husband, but she quickly snaps out of the genuine emotional moment.

Iris and Joe see a happy-happy Barry running around the lab. Joe remarks that he hadn’t seen Barry in such a good mood in a long time to which Iris points out that Barry has never been this happy because of the weight of his parents’ deaths. Joe catches Iris’s implications that she doesn’t quite want Barry to get his memories back and he explains that it is the memories of someone, the good and the bad, that really made Barry who he is.

We cut to the recently-freed Heat Monger who, unlike any other villain with a modicum of a brain, sets fire to a building, which I guess must be his definition of “laying low and enjoying getting away with murder”. Iris and Joe end up explaining to Barry that he is, in fact, The Flash—there’s another one of those “The Flash is not a great name” gags there—when the rest of the team comes on with the news of the arson.

In classic Barry fashion, despite his lack of experience without his memories, he volunteers to stop the fire, but he simply can’t. He does not have control or knowledge to do it. Thankfully, the device they were working on is ready to use, even if untested, and it’s basically The Flash’s suit charging Barry’s brain with electricity. They debate whether or not to do it, but end up doing it anyway without any memories being back. Killer Frost explains that he needs to access the memories with a visceral one to spark everything up.

Iris takes the lead and tells Barry about the night Barry’s mom died and the aftermath as he went to live with Joe and cried at night, alone, when Iris gave him support and comfort—that was the night they first fell in love. The tale is able to do its job as Barry remembers everything and is able to save everyone with Wally’s help. Sadly, that means that Savitar also got his memories back :/

Killer Frost starts to leave the premises as Cisco, Barry, and Julian try to appeal to her emotions asking her to stay. Julian even goes to say “I love you” to which she says she never loved any of them. She gets inside the elevator and, for one short second, the blue light in her eyes fade away giving space to Caitlin Snow before Killer Frost takes control once again. Personally, as much as I love Killer Frost’s arc and how Danielle Panabaker must be having fun with her new role (you have to remember that Caitlin has always been slightly underused), it’s moments like these that really get you depressed for what all of the character must be feeling and how much you do miss Caitlin too.

Barry and Iris talk again about how much she loved seeing this happier version of him and he replies that he also had that experience in Flashpoint. He points out that he could have stayed there, with his parents, allowing the memories of this timeline to fade, but he didn’t want to lose Iris, Joe, Caitlin, Cisco, and Wally. In the end, the pain and darkness are fundamental parts of Barry Allen and what pushes him to be good.

The couple’s moment is interrupted by Tracy and HR introducing the ready version of the Speedforce Bazooka with only one complication: it needs 3.86 TJ of energy which is more than the energy found in the sun. Iris asks where could they find energy like that and, much like a gift, we cut to a red orb-like-device that, from the looks of it, has the exact amount of energy they need. However, it also appears to be what is holding King Shark in prison.

As previewed by next week’s synopsis, we know that Barry will have to deal with King Shark as he allies himself with Captain Cold.

So, that was a lot more fun that I would have expected. In fact, because of how dark The Flash can get, I had almost forgotten the levity the script can bring when it is not just trying to fit in as many pop culture references as it can (we get it, Cisco watches so many popular shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Star Trek that he would probably be a DCTV fan too). What I am talking about here, more specifically, is seeing Barry having casual moments with Iris, it’s Julian and Cisco being allowed light moments like Julian inserting an emoji on Barry’s glasses and Barry going along with it as he verbally says “smiley face” in a court of law.

The Flash had me smiling and laughing all the way through with “Cause and Effect”, which is a good way to allow viewers a nice moment to be in touch with these characters we already love before Savitar comes crushing down in the next two weeks.

Images Courtesy of the CW. 

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