After Barry and Co. finally catch Wells, Wells offers Barry the chance to save his mother in exchange for allowing him to go back to his own time. If Barry can go fast enough and collide with a particle in the accelerator, it will open up a wormhole through time. Barry consults with his most trusted friends – Joe, who says go for it, Henry Allen, who says don’t, and Iris, who tells Barry to follow his heart. Barry decides in the end that he’s going for it, despite the risk to himself – who might die if he doesn’t go fast enough – or to Central City – that might end up getting sucked into a singularity. Barry goes back to the night of his mother’s murder, but just as he’s about to save her, his future self turns to look straight at him and motions for him to stop before taking younger Barry to safety. Barry is crushed, but knows he has to trust the judgement of his future self. Instead of saving his mother, he spends a final few moments with her and lets her know that everything is alright. Just as Wells prepares to return to his time, Barry comes crashing through the wormhole and destroys Wells’ time vehicle. They have a fight, and just as it appears Wells is about to kill Barry, Eddie shoots himself in the chest. As Eddie dies, Wells – one of Eddie’s direct descendants – disintegrates from reality. Of course, Wells set it up so that the accelerator would open up the singularity above the city and now Barry has to try to stop it using his speed. The season ends with Barry running up a building, into the sky, and around the inside of the black hole.
Love and Time
More than anything, this episode is about the complexities of time and the multitude of interconnected choices and events that lead to our present, our future, and the people we love. If Barry goes back in time, his entire life up to that moment will be completely different. He would never have grown up with Joe and Iris, never met Cisco and Caitlin, and never become the Flash (which I guess means that no one ever goes back in time to kill Barry or Nora, which cancels out this whole plotline?). Barry has a hard time choosing to erase the relationships with the people he treasures the most. And everyone else, knowing that their present may be about to change, takes the time to express their love. Caitlin and Ronnie get married, Eddie reconciles with Iris, and Barry lets Joe know that he will always be his dad. Of course, even though Barry leaves determined to save his mother, his future self obviously knows something he doesn’t. Future Barry, knowing full well what it means to both of them, turns to Barry and tells him to stop. Do not change your timeline, do not change the future. Barry comes back knowing that he has everything he’s meant to have – and really, everything he could ever want.
As I suspected, the “unimportant” Eddie Thawne really had the most important part to play. Dr. Stein is fascinated by Eddie’s inexplicable involvement with this group of people at this time. The staggering coincidence that Eobard Thawne would arrive in Central City and that Barry Allen and everyone else he would need to associate with just happened to work with or know his direct ancestor is incredible. Stein points out that out of all of them, Eddie is the only one with the freedom of choice – the designated wild card. Eddie takes this to mean that his future isn’t sealed, and that neither is Iris’. They reconcile, but only to have Eddie take his own life to save everyone else. Of course, his body goes flying up into that black hole, so who really knows who or what might come across it and miraculously revive him – perhaps making him into a crazed villain in the process?
Easter Eggs and the Multiverse
Lots of little easter eggs and teases in this episode, as well as establishing the existence of the multiverse. Wells mentions Rip Hunter, which neatly sets up the upcoming spin-off Legends of Tomorrow, in which Rip Hunter travels back in time to assemble a team to prevent the world’s destruction. Barry also sees glimpses of his future, some of which are teases from next season, including Caitlin as Killer Frost. Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick also has a helmet cameo as his headwear mysteriously comes flying through the wormhole as Wells’ “cue to leave”. As awesome as this episode was in writing, acting, and directing, it also managed to carry a lot of fan service with it. The Flash has always been a fun show – self-aware, warm-hearted, funny, awkward, and just a joy to watch – so it’s only natural that among these scenes of danger, destruction, and high emotion that there would be some playfulness involved too.