The following THE FLASH article contains spoilers through Season 7, Episode 17.
The Flash Season 7 Episode 17
Look, as much as it hurts my heart to admit it, The Flash Season 7 has frequently been a bumpy ride. Its storylines have run the gamut from the truly dreadful (anything involving the Forces of Nature) to the nonsensical (the inexplicable Joe West and Kristen Kramer team-up), with a few dollops of brilliance (splitting Frost and Caitlin, the brief return of Sue Dearbon) sprinkled throughout.
Therefore, it makes sense that some of us (read: me) were pretty nervous about what might happen in the show’s landmark 150th episode, which has been touted all season as a big, fanservice-filled deal, complete with the introduction of Jordan Fisher’s Bart Allen.
To be fair, “Heart of the Matter, Part 1” still struggles with some of the same problems that have plagued the rest of this season. No one would have noticed if such an important anniversary episode skipped the Allegra drama or whatever is going on with Kramer’s nemesis Adam. And it’s not as much of a nostalgia-fest as I personally might have liked, given how generally inconsequential The Flash’s 100th episode was. (Particularly when other Arrowverse properties, such as Supergirl, manage to get big landmark episodes like this so right.) But it’s hard to be but so upset at an hour that’s filled with such pure fun and so much potential for the future.
You can call Season 7 many things, but fun hasn’t often been one of them. And, sure, the August Heart timey-wimey stuff in this episode remains head-scratchingly bizarre, but it’s hardly the first time The Flash has played fast and loose with their own internal logic or the basic rules of time travel. The Godspeeds remain visually compelling at least, and the way the show ties them to both Bart and John Wesley Shipp’s Jay Garrick is well done.
Nora and Bart may not (exactly) be the infamous Tornado Twins of the comics, but they’re honestly delightful whenever they’re onscreen together. Jessica Parker Kennedy has always sparkled as Barry and Iris’ daughter from the future, but this incarnation of Nora feels much lighter and freer than the version we met in Season 5. (Hopefully indicating a now-happier home life than the one we learned about previously.)
Though Jordan Fisher’s Bart owes more to Ezra Miller’s Flash from Justice League than he does Grant Gustin’s here, he’s still extremely entertaining and brings a much-needed burst of energy to a canvas that’s been all too dour this year. Kennedy and Fisher are particularly wonderful together, radiating the sort of easy sibling chemistry and genuine emotional connection that instantly make every scene they share believable and richer than it would be otherwise. And, of course, there’s something especially magical about seeing the West-Allen family together at least, even if Iris’s sudden return from the Still Force is as inexplicable as her multi-episode absence was in the first place.
The Flash has been renewed for an eighth season with the bulk of its regulars returning, but many fans (once again: me) may be wondering how long the series can possibly go on telling the story of Barry Allen in its own right. But, much as Arrow did in its final seasons, The Flash seems to be setting up the possibility that its story could easily evolve to focus on its younger generation as much as it does the original cast. After all, this version of Bart and Nora already have their own shared history, as well as established goals, relationships with existing characters, and even a nemesis or two.
And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I wouldn’t mind that at all. There’s simply so much potential in these two characters and their relationship with one another, that I ca’t imagine someone somewhere isn’t thinking about how to keep them around past the end of this season and whether they can be leveraged to naturally extended the future of The CW’s highest-rated superhero show.
The bulk of “Heart of the Matter, Part 1” is simply table setting for next week’s finale, as the episode finally engineers a confrontation between Barry and the real Godspeed, albeit by basically astral projecting Barry’s consciousness into August. To no real end, though, given that we still have no idea what the OG Godspeed actually wants other than to kill Barry and steal his speed. Perhaps that’s something the show will finally deign to tell us in the season finale, I don’t know. Truly, Season 7 is the absolute weirdest of times.
Elsewhere, Carlos Valdes returns before we’ve ever even really had a chance to properly miss him, but Cisco gets such a badass entrance, it’s hard to mind. Jay Garrick is also back, with his speed freshly restored thanks to the rebirth of the Speed Force, and everyone gets to make multiple jokes about Bart being impulsive. Killer Frost remembers she can actually shoot ice at her enemies. And Allegra’s powers are on the fritz in the wake of Esperanza’s death, which feels like a Chekov’s gun sort of situation, except that would imply this particular subplot had a larger purpose than wasting three episodes’ worth of screentime to sort of redeem a villain and then fridge her.
Where this will all go, narratively speaking, with just one more episode in the season is hard to guess. So much of Season 7 hasn’t exactly been what you’d call satisfying from a storytelling standpoint. (Do we know why the Godspeeds suddenly decide it’s more important to torture Bart than, say, track down the man they traveled through time to kill?) But, thankfully, “Heart of the Matter, Part 1” is nothing so much as a timely and welcome reminder that none of that stuff is the reason we fell in love with this show in the first place – or why we’re still watching it, 150 episodes on.