When a nuclear bomb detonates in downtown Central City, Barry (Grant Gustin), Jesse Quick (guest star Violett Beane) and Jay Garrick (guest star John Wesley Shipp) slow down time by entering Flashtime. As everyone in the city is frozen, the three speedsters push themselves to the breaking point to save the city and everyone in it.
Noted in our recent reviews of The Flash how repetitive some of the plots have been and the lack of strong character development or story progression. This is one reason why The Flash Season 4 Episode 15, “Enter Flashtime,” was such a huge breath of fresh air, and not only the best episode of Season 4 yet, but one of the best episodes of the series overall.
A Matter of Seconds
From the beginning, the set-up was the first unique one to the show we’ve seen in a long time as the majority of the episode took place over mere seconds, placing the focus on Barry (and guests Jesse Quick and Jay Garrick). It was great to see an episode devoted nearly entirely to them as they had to prevent a nuclear bomb from detonating in the milliseconds before the atoms split. “Enter Flashtime” created a specific problem only the speedsters could solve; this act of terrorism put Barry’s skills and intellect to the test as he largely had to solve this one on his own. Even the brief interactions with Cisco, Caitlin, and Harry weren’t too much help to him as there was little they could do. The episode forced Barry to think outside of the box in order to save the day. The real excitement came with his team-up with Jesse and Jay, and the three speedsters did everything they could to save Central City.
It’s even funnier when you think of just how simple the story really was. There was nothing overly complicated or nearly as complex as DeVoe’s plans, just a matter of stopping a bomb from going off. Yet, despite that simplicity, the writers told an entertaining, concise, and gripping story that was both emotionally compelling and well-written. All in all, it was a large improvement over the past several episodes.
The Return of Jesse and Jay
As much fun as it is to see Barry work with Cisco, Killer Frost, and other heroes, it’s always a blast for other speedsters to join him. It’s been too long since we’ve seen Jesse or Jay, and their return was a very welcome one, especially after recent weeks. They added something different to the story: a problem that only the three of them could really share in the span of a second. It also added a further wrinkle to their predicament when Barry and Harry’s plan put speedsters all across the multiverse at risk. Violett Beane showed a tremendous amount of talent as Jesse, offering a more mature and nuanced look the hero. I was very happy with her portrayal here because I was afraid they might have made Jesse an overconfident or even bratty hero given her dismissal of both Harry and Wally.
Instead, she was portrayed just right, and Beane’s performance was a large part of that. She displayed some great chemistry with Grant Gustin, an impressive feat given how she’s been gone for so long. Her reconciliation with Harry was particularly strong since the scene relied mostly on silence rather than a lot of dialogue. John Wesley Shipp’s appearance was also very welcome. It’s always nice to see the original Flash star pop up, especially since he has a great on-screen relationship with Gustin, but Shipp’s version of Jay Garrick brings a level of experience that Barry and Jesse don’t have. Though his role wasn’t quite as big as Beane’s, Shipp used every moment he had to deliver a solid performance.
Simple and Grounded
As I said before, the story’s simplicity was one factor which really helped the episode soar. It was also a nice break from the usual plots we’ve seen multiple times of the team hunting down the bus-metas in order to deal with something much more grounded, like preventing a nuclear explosion—even if it did involve Flash moving so fast to stretch out seconds. What’s ironic about the use of Flash’s powers is the fact that they were hardly used by the special effects department. Barry, Jesse, and Jay interacted as they were “normal” while everything was frozen around them. It was a fairly clever way to depict their speed and also reinforced the idea that The Flash doesn’t need to utilize crazy special effects to showcase their abilities, but can find subtle ways to do it.
One such subtle way was how every time Flash went back to the hangar, the case housing the nuke was a bit more cracked or bodies were starting to be thrown off the ground. Little things like that did more to display the power of the speedsters than a, ahem, flashy display of effects. This grounded effect really elevated the episode. The Flash Season 4 Episode 15 was a great installment of the show that reminded me how good it can be. “Enter Flashtime” utilized a unique idea with a strong focus on Barry, Jesse and Jay. Each of the three actors did very well in their performances and the grounded, simplistic approach forced the show do think outside the box in how to present this situation. It is definitely the best of the season and one of the series’ best yet.
What did you think of this interesting take on an episode of The Flash? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!