The Flash – Season 9 Episode 8

Apr 6, 2023 | Posted by in TV
Flash

“Partners In Time”

The Flash traps Barry and Iris in the Speed Lab as Chester and Allegra navigate the depths of their feelings for each other.

This final season of not only The Flash but the entire Arrowverse has a disturbing amount of filler contained within it. The previous episode offered no meaningful progression of the characters and there is currently no ongoing plot outside of Iris’ pregnancy so the previous episode and the one prior are completely disposable. This one completes a hat trick of episodes that can be skipped without losing anything which is unforgivable in a final season where the showrunner stated that there wasn’t enough time to give other Arrowverse characters a sendoff. The time in this reduced season is unquestionably being wasted.

Flash

“When we’re done with this game, how about we manufacture needless relationship drama?”

Of all things, Barry decides that S.T.A.R. Labs is overdue a mould inspection so arranges to have one carried out. Requesting this automatically triggers every other kind of inspection and a group of inspectors arrive to carry out their checks. Barry’s reason for organising this is that he doesn’t want the newborn Nora to be exposed to mould if there is any. It’s a sensible enough precaution for someone who’s soon to become a parent to take but in context of the storytelling it comes across as a weak excuse to create the setup for a plot.

The inspection doesn’t go as planned as everyone present finds themselves unable to leave the Speed Lab. A ticking clock -literally- comes into play when it becomes apparent that there’s only a matter of time before everyone is erased from existence. There’s some talk about a “Time Magnet” and a vague quickfire explanation of what the device does in order to establish the threat that it represents to them. None of it is especially interesting and the episode has too much of a comedic slant for the threat to be taken seriously.

In fairness, not having a central villain -though one is eventually revealed- and instead building an episode around a dangerous situation is a good idea. The Flash is at times a sci-fi show more than it is a superhero show so putting the characters in weird circumstances they have to deal with rather than having a villain to punch can be a refreshing change of pace. That isn’t the case here as the execution is sloppy but the attempt isn’t without merit.

Flash

A very strange day

There really isn’t much to unpack from this plot as it plays out more or less as expected with very little of interest contained within. Iris puts it best when she states that the inspectors “all seem like characters from a sitcom”. That line must exist as an attempt to excuse the bland characterisation by demonstrating awareness of it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as nothing clever is done with the thinly realised characters so pointing out that they’re poorly developed isn’t the clever flex that it was clearly intended to be.

One of the characters does stand out in ways that aren’t explored. Jane (Natalie Moon) has a lot of knowledge about time travel and advanced physics which suggests she is in the wrong job and would be better placed doing scientific research of some kind. It’s odd that Barry and Iris don’t recognise her brilliance and comment on it in some way. She even takes on the role of drawing on the transparent board to illustrate her explanation though it’s likely she does this so that there are more voices inputting into the discussion. The other inspectors are forgettable aside from the one who turns out to be the villain responsible for the current predicament.

Inspector Tao aka Lady Chronos (Diana Bang) is memorable because of her distinct look after she is discovered. She’s a time travelling thief who wanted the Time Magnet and created this situation because she didn’t understand how it worked. It’s easily resolved with a quick conversation that ends with her returning the Time Magnet which resets everything that happened including the erased inspectors.

Flash

Definitely in the wrong job

The point of this plot was to examine Iris and Barry’s feelings about parenthood. Barry opens up about being worried about jumping the gun when it comes to preparing for what’s coming and Iris is worried about her life-changing radically because of her pregnancy. Both are valid concerns that could be weaved into a problem that they need to solve that helps them work through their anxieties about parenthood. Instead, they clumsily discuss it as they try to figure out an unrelated problem. A connection is forced by Barry attempting to run to the future to find out how they solve the problem and apply it to the present. It doesn’t work and he admits that running to the future never works while stating that he should know that by now. He absolutely should and it’s unlikely that this instance of him learning the lesson will stick just as none of the others have.

Ultimately both come to the conclusion that they have to live more in the moment and adapt to any changes in their lives as they occur. It all stems from Barry’s earlier efforts to map out their future. The smatterings of knowledge they have are overwhelming because they feel they need to live up to the example set by themselves. They seem to resolve to ignore that and just take each day as it comes. Whether this lesson will be repackaged into another plot in a future episode remains to be seen but it’s at least something they can carry forward.

It’s worth mentioning that Barry reveals his identity to the inspectors despite there being no need to do so. He and Iris could simply have been two ordinary people stuck in an outlandish situation. Being the Flash didn’t help solve the problem in any way nor was his identity in danger of being revealed if he hadn’t decided to take control of when that happens. Between that and running to the future, viewers can get two entries on their The Flash bingo card. Fortunately, a reset happens and the inspectors forget so Barry avoids punishment for his stupidity.

Flash

Looking the part

The secondary plot involves Chester and Allegra figuring out their relationship. Chester tells Allegra he loves her and it freaks her out as she is afraid of saying it back because of what happens to people she cares about. She mentions losing Nash and Esperanza -with flashbacks in case the viewer forgets who they were- and Cecile urges her to embrace her feelings because those losses weren’t her fault and there’s no reason to believe that Chester is going anywhere. There’s nothing technically wrong with this as Allegra has suffered significant losses and it makes sense that her grief would affect her relationships but it’s raised and resolved within the confines of this episode so comes across as needless melodrama rather than being a significant issue that Chester can help her deal with. Ultimately she heeds Cecile’s advice, tells Chester why she freaked out and they’re on the same page emotionally.

There is the suggestion of a third plot that could have been far more interesting than the other two but everything happens off-screen. Khione goes to meet Carla Tannhauser and feels very apprehensive about it for obvious reasons. Upon her return, she mentions that their meeting went great and all Carla wanted was to get to know Khione as a friend. It’s baffling that this would be introduced as an idea and the conversation not actually shown. If the intention was to show this conversation and explore what it means for Carla Tannhauser to see a woman who looks exactly like her daughters while being something entirely new and Susan Walters was unavailable to reprise her role then this should have been abandoned entirely as this episode delivers less than nothing. It’s relegated to a couple of lines of dialogue that close off any potential for interesting material, something Khione sorely needs. When taken as a whole, nothing in this episode is worth your time.

Captive Iris

In this episode, she is trapped with Barry in the Speed Lab. The time loop and dream are mentioned and she expresses frustration that this keeps happening to her so it appears she is fed up with being the victim of repetitive storytelling.

Flash

Living in the moment


Verdict

A poor episode that contributes nothing meaningful to any of the characters nor are the standalone plots interesting by themselves.

Overall
  • 1.5/10
    Partners In Time - 1.5/10
1.5/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • a plot built around a dangerous sci-fi situation having merit by itself
  • Lady Chronos’ distinct look

 

Rise Against…

  • poorly characterised guest characters
  • a lack of tension in the Time Magnet plot
  • forcing a connection to Iris and Barry’s feelings about parenthood
  • Barry unnecessarily revealing this identity to the inspectors
  • Allegra’s issues about her feelings for Chester doing nothing to deepen their relationship
  • not showing Khione meeting Carla and resolving it as being positive off-screen

 

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User Review
1.35/10 (10 votes)

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