The Flash – Season 9 Episode 1

Feb 9, 2023 | Posted by in TV
Flash

“Wednesday Ever After”

The Flash begins its ninth and final season with a time loop and preparing for a happy future.

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that I’ve been covering this show since day one. A lot of life has happened in the time between Barry being struck by that bolt of lightning and today as well as a lot of TV. The Flash has been present through the growth of the Arrowverse and is the last show standing now that it’s due to end when the credits role on episode 13 of this season. Regular readers will know that I feel that this show rapidly declined in quality after an excellent first season and my continued viewing of it has been out of some sort of twisted obligation. Even though I don’t enjoy it most of the time, it’s a show that I don’t mind watching. There’s something about the actors playing these characters and the occasional injection of creative superhero action that keeps me coming back. Now it’s near the end and the sense of obligation will have no hold over me.

Flash

Dream Team

The opening of season 9 is far from the worst the show has been. There’s a refreshing lack of angst or bafflingly over-the-top exposition to explain the nonsense that’s going on. The season starts with a simple premise and things are kept light for the most part. This isn’t the first time loop story The Flash has delivered though it’s likely to be the last. The most explicit prior example is the season 5 episode “Cause and XS” but there have been a few episodes where someone has to repeat a day to solve a problem. Time loops are a staple of science fiction storytelling and mileage varies on the quality of how a given show handles the concept.

“Wednesday Ever After” isn’t an especially strong example of the time loop concept. It seems reluctant to truly have fun with the idea. There’s a failure montage, there’s a point where Iris decides to refuse to engage in the repetitive activities that constantly reset, there’s using what was learned in previous loops to react to something that was previously unexpected and other hallmarks of the concept being utilised but there’s a half baked quality to it, likely caused by the scenarios at play not being that interesting and containing very little scope to alter them in creative ways. Some examples of Barry and Iris trying some truly insane things because they know there are no consequences would have enhanced things greatly.

The literal time loop isn’t the only repetition within the episode. Barry once again has to go through the motions of learning a lesson he has learned on several occasions. The catalyst for this is a book he has created that chronicles most of the major events in the future. His rationale is that it can be used as a roadmap to happiness because the book contains stories of successful careers and a happy family life. Instead of being blindsided by unexpected villain plans they can pre-empt what’s coming and prepare for it. The key difference in Barry’s mind is that they’re following the timeline rather than trying to change it.

Flash

Captain Boomerang 2.0

Naturally, this comes with a list of problems with one of the most significant ones never being discussed. At no point does anyone mention the possibility of the future being changed because expecting events to play out in a certain way may prevent the actions that need to be performed in order to make them happen. Joe touches on this by pointing out that the book is full of information but is lacking in substance. Barry fails to see Iris’ point of view because he sees the headings that have been noted down as perfection. On the surface, they do seem idyllic. Details like Iris building a successful media empire, winning two Pulitzer Prizes for her work, Barry taking charge of CCPD’s CSI division and having two happy children make for a strong list of accomplishments but, as Joe points out, what is missing is what surrounds them.

Developing in a career requires effort and sacrifice to earn it for example so simply waiting for it to happen isn’t going to get it done. The episode covers this through Barry going to Kramer to ask her to put him forward for the position. He does this because the book says that he takes on that role but it clearly isn’t something he has actively weighed up. Some of the loops have Kramer express concerns that he won’t be able to juggle the extra responsibility of the job and his responsibilities as the Flash. Barry assumes that he can because the book says so but he hasn’t actually thought about how he would accomplish this. Perhaps without the book he would have weighed up the options and made an informed request to take on the extra responsibility but Kramer ends up seeing through his naive assumption in at least some of the loops.

It’s a good example that highlights the general problem with Barry’s approach. Iris has an offer from Cat Grant that will expand her media empire but is reluctant to take it because she doesn’t want to feel like her life is on rails. It bothers her that Barry is content with them following this roadmap because she feels that he is suggesting removing choice and spontaneity from their lives. She wants to choose how to progress but Barry’s perspective is that the choice is already made and it works out for the best so they might as well follow the path laid out for them.

Flash

Here we go again!

Barry sees no issues with his plan and initially lacks the ability to understand why Iris wouldn’t buy into it. In theory, this is a good thing because it makes Barry a flawed character and making mistakes to learn from is good for character growth. The problem is that this is well-worn ground for Barry and a lesson he has learned on several occasions. Many stories this show has delivered feature Team Flash working to prevent a terrible future from coming to pass. Season 3 was built around the inevitable death of Iris and the constant evidence that changing it was impossible.

At the very least, Barry should understand that the future he has written in his book is malleable. He should also understand that there’s no guarantee that what he has noted is even accurate. It’s mentioned that he pulled it together from what he had learned time traveling, Gideon’s files and various other sources so the events are very much in flux and he should understand that. It’s almost unfortunate that the book idea was resolved in this episode as Barry experiencing an event that differs significantly from what was written could have made for a strong story.

The time loop does act as an effective metaphor for what the book represents; the loss of uncertainty in the future. While stuck in the time loop, Barry and Iris know that the day will keep restarting so they know exactly what will come next. Barry intends for knowing what comes next to be the rest of their lives and Iris ends up feeling less trapped by the time loop as at least she knows that the mapped out future won’t play out in front of them. When trapped in the same day she is able to do whatever she wants and that comforts her. Eventually Barry realises that the book is a bad idea and together the free themselves from the loop by taking control of the events presented to them. Iris expands her business on her own terms and Barry confidently puts himself forward for the promotion.

Flash

Living their best lives

Barry and Iris being unstoppable when united is something the show delivers often so it’s more of a feature than a bug by this point and it can work well. This is a good example of it because they approach the challenges in front of them as a couple with evidence of them having discussed what the best course of action should be prior to taking action. It’s rare to see their relationship handled with this kind of sophistication and refreshing to see it handled so naturally.

The time loop plot makes up the bulk of the episode which makes sense as the other characters continually reset so are prevented from developing but some attention is given to other aspects of the show. Joe eventually opens up to Cecile about the weight of being part of Team Flash for so long and laments the impact it’s had on his own life. He suggests to Cecile that they should leave Central City and the conversation is left as that. It was reported that Jesse L. Martin will be leaving the show for the final season and appear periodically so this is the start of that playing out. Cecile recently became far more powerful than she was before so it’s currently unknown whether she will join him or stay with Team Flash.

Another development is that Chester and Allegra finally kiss after a long time of dancing around their feelings for each other. Their extended courtship hasn’t been tedious and them taking that step feels like a satisfying step forward for them as characters.

It wouldn’t be The Flash without teases leading into the coming episodes. One is the mystery of what Caitlin/Frost has become following the events of the season 8 finale. The new character played by Danielle Panabaker summons Barry and promises to explain everything but the explanation will have to wait until the following episode.

Another tease involves the new Captain Boomerang, Owen Mercer (Richard Harmon) and his mysterious partner. Mercer makes a strong impression in his first appearance even if the time loop prevents an antagonistic relationship from progressing. Richard Harmon chews scenery nicely and makes Mercer a fun presence in the episode. The tease of the combined Bat and Flash symbols following the appearance of yet another evil Speedster isn’t all that exciting as presented but time will tell.

Flash

Holy Speedster Batman


Verdict

A solid start to the season with a refreshing lack of angst and over-the-top exposition that has fun with a simple premise and delivers natural characterisation. This isn’t an especially strong example of the time loop concept in terms of execution as the episode seems reluctant to truly have fun with the idea and presents scenarios that aren’t all that interesting. Barry once again goes through the motions of learning a lesson that he has learned on several occasions. Barry’s book that is used as a roadmap for an idyllic future comes with a list of problems with one of the most significant ones never being discussed. The possibility of the future being changed because expecting events to play out in certain ways may prevent taking the action that allows them to happen. Joe touches on this by pointing out that there’s on substance but it remains unexplored. Barry fails to see Iris’ point of view because he sees the headings that have been noted down as perfection. On the surface, they seem idyllic but Iris feels that choice and spontaneity has been taken from her and, as Joe points out, what surrounds the accomplishments isn’t in there. Barry expecting to be put forward for a promotion makes for a good example of this as it’s clear he’s putting himself forward because the book says so rather than having considered it himself. In theory, the disagreement between Barry and Iris is a good thing because it makes Barry a flawed character but the drawback is that this is well-worn ground for him. At the very least he should understand that the future is in flux and there are no guarantees.

The time loop does act as an effective metaphor for what the book represents; the loss of uncertainty in the future. Iris feels less trapped by the time loop than Barry’s book. Eventually Barry realises that the book is a bad idea and together the free themselves from the loop by taking control of the events presented to them. Iris expands her business on her own terms and Barry confidently puts himself forward for the promotion. Barry and Iris being unstoppable when united is something the show delivers often so it’s more of a feature than a bug by this point and it can work well, as it does here. ’s rare to see their relationship handled with this kind of sophistication and refreshing to see it handled so naturally. The time loop makes up the bulk of the episode but there is time for other developments. Joe suggests to Cecile that they leave Central City because of how overwhelming being part of Team Flash can be, the new character played by Danielle Panabaker makes her debut but remains mysterious for now, Chester and Allegra finally act on their feelings and the new Captain Boomerang is revealed to be working with a Bat-themed Speedster.

Overall
  • 7.5/10
    Wednesday Ever After - 7.5/10
7.5/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • a refreshingly light-hearted episode
  • the Barry and Iris relationship being handled with sophistication
  • interesting ideas surrounding the book chronicling the future
  • the natural development of the Chester and Allegra relationship

 

Rise Against…

  • an underwhelming example of a time loop plot
  • Barry once again learning a lesson he has learned several times
  • failure to cover one of the most important problems with Barry’s book

 

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6.5/10 (5 votes)

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