While it was quite easily the best season finale of this television season, and of the best comic book superhero television series ever, in my opinion, – the “Fast Enough” episode of “The Flash” left perhaps more unanswered questions than the questions that it in fact answered. And although, sneak peeks and trailers aside, it will be between five to six months before we even have a hint to those questions, we can have some fun guessing. Meet me after the jump, and let the speculation begin!
In the comics, the Flash has always been about time travel. The Cosmic Treadmill, a time travel (and dimensional travel) device is centric to many stories as well as the Flash’s own power to break the time barrier. Enemies the Reverse-Flash and Abra Kadabra were from the future, the 25th and 64th centuries respectively, Iris West herself was born in the early pre-Legion 30th century, and it has theorized that Barry Allen himself was the lightning bolt that gave him his powers, traveling from the future to do it.
Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the television series should follow suit immersing itself in the minutiae of time travel storytelling. The basis and the big bad of the first season were steeped in it, and his end was brought about by it. Eobard Thawne, AKA Harrison Wells, AKA the Reverse-Flash, was from an unspecified point in the future (he gave different answers at different times, he is a liar), and ceased to exist when his ancestor Eddie took his own life before procreating.
Back to the Future
The showrunners have made no secret of their love of the Back to the Future film trilogy, so one might assume, along with the many in-jokes and references from the movies, they might also be playing by the Back to the Future time travel rules as well, right? If this is the case, when there are alternate timelines, only the actual time travelers (Cisco being the exception because he has the power to see alternate timelines) should be able to remember what was, and what has been changed.
If you remember the movies, only Marty, and at some points Doc, remembered how things were, and what they became. It was never explored in the films, but one has to wonder if, and for how long, they retained memories of the various timelines. Or, more importantly if they had memories of new timelines they created while changing the past. Now let’s use these Back to the Future rules to figure out what may have happened on “The Flash.”
Good (and Bad) Vibrations
As stated, Cisco Ramon, who in the comics is the superhero Vibe, will remember the timelines that have been erased. Vibe has not just the power to see other timelines, but to enter other dimensions (more on this later), and also more conventionally, generate waves of concussive force, a sort of vibrational attack. While I think a spandex costume, a superhero name, and a Justice League membership are not in his immediate future on television, I think we will definitely see Cisco as our (and the cast’s) guide to these alternate timelines. Even if folks don’t remember Eddie or the Reverse-Flash, Cisco could easily tell them about them.
In this way, Cisco will be our reality check from the first season if everyone else remembers it differently. I hope that won’t be the case. I suspect that everyone who was there at the end, when Eddie sacrificed himself to stop the Reverse-Flash, will remember the timeline as it existed – although the rest of the world might not. There is a distinct possibility that everyone else on Earth remembers everything happening slightly (or maybe drastically) differently.
Reversing the Reverse-Flash
Time travel makes my head hurt sometimes. You might ask, that if the Reverse-Flash never existed, why did Eddie sacrifice himself? And who killed Barry’s mother? Well, the obviously answer is that it is a paradox, and just leave it at that, because, as I said, time travel makes my head hurt. Perhaps the world will remember Eddie dying while stopping some other threat? The Reverse-Flash maybe?
In the comics, Eobard Thawne was not the only Reverse-Flash. He was preceded in the Golden Age (just wait) by Dr. Clariss who also called himself the Rival, and a speedster named simply Zoom took on the title some time after Thawne died in the comics. Zoom was especially nasty as he was former police profiler Hunter Zolomon who specialized in the Rogues Gallery. He was deranged in a most unique way, trying to teach the Flash to be a better hero by living through tragedy. Zoom also moved physically through time rather than having actually super speed. Perhaps it is one of these Reverse-Flashes the world remembers instead?
The Real Harrison Wells
Let’s approach this from another direction. If there’s no Reverse-Flash, the real Harrison Wells doesn’t die, and he’s right on track building the particle accelerator with Tess Morgan. But… without the Reverse-Flash’s interference and help, it won’t be finished until 2020. Sooo… maybe the Flash got his powers some other way… maybe a lightning bolt from the future? And how did the Rogues, and Cisco, get their powers? Showrunners Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg have suggested that there’s a new way for villains to get their powers, maybe for the speedsters too?
Also, seeing how actor Tom Cavanaugh, who portrayed Wells/Thawne/Reverse-Flash, will also be a regular cast member in season two, I’m betting on the real Harrison Wells still being alive, and villainy aside, performing much the same mentor function he held in season one. The trick will of course be the rest of Team Flash trusting him after what they went through with someone who looks just like him in the first season. And while we’re talking cast, Rick Cosnett, the actor who played Eddie Thawne, will make a few appearances in season two as well. I’m guessing either flashback, or parallel dimension counterpart.
The Golden Age Flash
That’s right, parallel dimensions. In the comics, the Flash was not just a pioneer in time travel, but also in crossing over to other dimensions. It was Barry Allen who discovered Earth-Two, and the Golden Age Flash. As I’ve said before, there have been more than a few Flashes, but mainly three big ones. Barry Allen was the Flash from 1956-1985, returning from beyond in 2008; Wally West, the former Kid Flash took on the mantle in 1985 after Barry died in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and was the Flash until 2011, and then there’s Jay Garrick, the original Flash of the Golden Age of comics.
Jay Garrick gained super-speed in a hard water experiment in 1940 and began fighting crime as the Flash in a red and blue uniform and silver Mercury-like helmet. Yep, the same helmet that was thrown from the wormhole in “Fast Enough.” Originally Jay Garrick existed on a parallel Earth designated ‘Earth-Two,’ where a generation of heroes began their careers in the shadow of World War II. Jay and Barry became fast friends and visited each other often. And in case you’re wondering, the Speed Force, among other things, kept Jay young, and aging at a slower rate than normal humans.
This may be how Barry and company meet the Golden Age Flash, and alternate Eddie Thawnes as well, and any number of parallel dopplegangers. There are a few things which describe the mythology of the Flash. There’s the Rogues Gallery, Flash Facts, time travel, the Speed Force, legacy… and the Multiverse. Here’s a tricky secret for you all – Barry knew all about Jay Garrick before they ever met, because he read about him in comic books as a kid, comic books that chronicled the adventures of the Golden Age Flash as they happened. Flash Fact: Barry even named his superheroic identity after Jay’s, the Flash.
The Flash was one of the primary explorers of parallel Earths, and along with the Justice League, discovered more than a few. The scientific thinking on the Flash’s world was that there was an infinite number of other-dimensional Earths and universes. Until 1985, when a crossover event called the Crisis on Infinite Earths destroyed them all except one, the one that Barry Allen died saving. This is highly speculated to be the ‘crisis’ referenced in the Reverse-Flash’s holographic future newspaper. If the Flash doesn’t exist, Thawne has no future to return to.
So I think it’s a definite that we will see both Jay Garrick and the real Harrison Wells. There has been talk of other speedsters, so perhaps we will also see Wally West as well, maybe as Kid Flash. Grodd and Pied Piper are still on the loose, as are the rest of the Rogues who owe Captain Cold. Seeing the gathered Rogues against the Flash should be a treat. Considering how successful they were, we will definitely be seeing more crossover with “Arrow,” and I am sure there will be crossover with “Legends of Tomorrow” as well. If there will be the same with CBS’ “Supergirl,” we’ll just have to wait and see.
From the Flash’s journey through the Speed Force, we know that eventually we’ll see the Flash Museum from the comics, and that our hero will end up in jail at some point, and that Caitlin will become Killer Frost finally. Or will she? That could be an other Earth doppelganger. As I talked about on a recent episode of The GAR! Podcast, I’d like to see Doctor Alchemy and Mr. Element make an appearance, I’d like to see more of the Saints and Sinners bar, or maybe hear more about that missing Ferris Aircraft pilot who may or may not be Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
What did you think of my theories? And what would you like to see in season two? The new season just can’t get here ‘fast enough.’