“I’m not going anywhere until Wally is free,” says Barry Allen (Grant Gustin). “Then be prepared to spend an eternity in here,” replies the Speed Force in the form of Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) as Barry searches for Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) in The CW’s The Flash season three episode 16.
The episode begins with a voice-over from Barry saying he’s tired of everyone he cares for and loves suffering and their lives being made worse due to his actions. Of course, he’s referring to creating Flashpoint and this new timeline.
Determined to save Wally from wherever he’s trapped, Barry tells Cisco (Carlos Valdes) to get the breach room ready because he’s going into the Speed Force to find Wally. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) questions Barry about it, saying he doesn’t want to lose two sons and reminding him that Barry himself said it was like being in space the last time he was in it. H.R. (Tom Cavanagh) then comes up with a great idea for Cisco to create a tether so that if Barry gets lost or in deep trouble, Cisco can pull him out. Thankfully, Cisco thinks he can handle the task.
Barry pulls Iris (Candice Patton) aside to briefly reassure her he’ll bring Wally back, asking if he’s lost her. Iris, still upset over Barry proposing to her to try to change the future and not just out of pure love, walks off without answering him.
A little while later, Cisco connects the tether to Barry’s lightning bolt symbol on his chest which Julian (Tom Felton) also adjusted so it can monitor Barry’s vitals. Barry hugs Joe and promises he’ll get Wally back and tells Iris he loves her. Cisco vibes Barry into the Speed Force, reminding him that once he lets go he’s on his own. Barry tells Cisco to do it and Cisco takes a second to place both of his hands on Barry, look him in the eye, and wish him luck before he releases his friend.
Next thing Barry knows, he’s looking for Wally in what resembles the CCPD. He heads downstairs and into an office where a figure is standing across the way. “Hello,” says Barry in a questioning tone and the figure turns to face him. “Hey Bar,” replies Eddie Thawne. It’s not really Eddie – remember the Speed Force takes the form of people Barry knows in order to converse with him. However, unlike the last time Barry was in the Speed Force, this time it’s taking the forms of people Barry blames himself for being dead, starting with Eddie. The Speed Force as Eddie warns Barry they’re not going to be as accommodating as last time. It reminds him he lied to them saying he had come to terms with his mother’s death, and after he got his powers back he went back and saved her, creating Flashpoint and its fall out. Barry argues it was because he lost his dad, but Eddie reminds him that actions have consequences and that they can’t allow him to make those kinds of decisions anymore.
The Speed Force shows Barry that Eddie was going to marry Iris but instead sacrificed himself for Barry. Barry is adamant and tells Eddie he won’t leave without Wally. Eddie asks if there’s another reason why Barry came into the Speed Force and Barry says no. Eddie tells Barry if he wants to get to Wally he needs to go through the elevator doors, but first he has to outrun a Time Wraith. After racing up and down the stairs and making a quick reverse move, Barry makes it into the elevator.
Back in the real world, Jesse (Violett Beane) and Cisco are trying to figure out a way to use the blade that Barry broke off from Savitar to find him. Cisco asks her what she’ll do when they are successful, and she admits she plans on going after him solo. Cisco tells her she needs to wait for Barry to get back with Wally. H.R. is listening in on their conversation and looks concerned.
Meanwhile, Joe tries to comfort Iris who’s now afraid she’s made things worse by breaking off the engagement and pushing Barry away. Joe says Barry was going to go after Wally no matter what and it’s not because of their break up. She agrees, saying, “That’s the kind of hero he is.” Joe also tells her to look deep down into herself and she’ll figure out what’s the right decision for her to make about her relationship with Barry.
Back in the Speed Force, Barry is walking in what looks like S.T.A.R. Labs and hears a baby crying. He starts walking toward the sound and hears a soft, soothing female voice singing a lullaby. Barry recognizes the voice almost immediately and enters the medical lab to find Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) holding a baby in her arms. “Is that a baby girl?” Barry starts to ask but gets cut off by someone saying, “Beautiful, like her mother.”
Barry turns to see Ronnie (Robbie Amell) walking up. “Hello, Barry. We need to talk,” says the Speed Force, now looking like Ronnie. Barry says he’s aware Ronnie is showing him the life he and Caitlin – and their child – would have had if Barry hadn’t created the singularity by mistake and Ronnie ended up sacrificing himself to save Central City and The Flash. Ronnie tells Barry it’s this thought that still haunts him, especially with Caitlin, and asks why he’s there. Again, Barry says he’s come for Wally and Ronnie replies, “Leave, Barry, while you still can.” Barry won’t go and reveals he’s willing to trade places with Wally, a response that seems to anger the Speed Force even more.
Ronnie says he tried to warn him just as the Black Flash (a.k.a Hunter Zolomon) attacks Barry. Barry tries to fight him off and race away, but the Black Flash is too strong and pins Barry down on the ground, with Barry’s body starting to decay. Ronnie reveals Barry’s mistake was trying to avoid his responsibility to stop Savitar and training Wally to do it instead. Barry uses his tether to Cisco against the Black Flash and it causes him to flash white and disappear. Barry has won the fight but now has no way back home.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Team Flash is very upset because they realize they have lost contact with Barry and just before they lost contact his vitals were extremely bad. Joe asks how they’re going to get Barry and Wally out now, and a wide-eyed Caitlin confesses she doesn’t know if they can.
After Cisco and Jesse realize the blade actually is trying to reconnect with the rest of Savitar’s armor, Jesse decides to use it to find him. H.R. puts his foot in his mouth again, advising her to wait for the ‘real’ Flash as he attempts to talk her out of tracking down Savitar. He even tries to stop her by standing in her way and she responds by giving him a speedster’s left hook before going on her way.
Continuing in the Speed Force, Barry finds himself outside a hospital room door and sees Wally standing still, looking at an empty bed. Barry calls out to him but Wally doesn’t respond and when he tries to enter the room, a blast of cold freezes the door shut. “Visiting hours are over, Barry,” says the Speed Force, this time taking the form of Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller). Snart tells Barry that Wally is trapped in a loop reliving the worst moment in his life: the death of his mother. Barry once again says he wants to take Wally’s place so that Kid Flash can stop Savitar, but Snart tells Barry he hasn’t learned his lesson yet. The Speed Force reminds Barry that the real Snart sacrificed himself to save his friends because Barry had inspired him and made him want to be a hero. It’s clear the Speed Force wants it to be Barry who stops Savitar because Barry created him with Flashpoint. Savitar is Barry’s Frankenstein’s monster. Barry, determined to stay and free Wally, says he’s not going to fight anymore and Snart blasts him with his cold gun which sends Barry flying.
Barry is struggling to free himself when Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) shows up and knocks Snart off his feet. “Let’s get you outta here!” says Jay.
Barry asks if it’s really Jay and not the Speed Force testing him and Jay confirms it’s really him. Barry asks how he knew what was happening and Jay tells Barry that Cisco came to Earth-3 and told him what was happening the minute they lost contact with Barry. The two speedsters attempt to free Wally but Speed Force Snart says he can’t allow that and starts to blast Jay. Barry uses his speed to grab Jay’s helmet and use it as a shield against the blast. He tells Snart he’s leaving with Wally and if he doesn’t like it, he can try to stop him. Barry vibrates, breaking the cold off the door. He and Jay head into the room and as they do Speed Force Snart smiles.
Barry is able to snap Wally out of his trance and tells him they’re going home. The two speedsters are about to leave, however Jay stands still. Barry doesn’t understand what’s happening and Jay reveals he’s there to take Wally’s place. Barry can’t believe he’d remain so that Wally can leave, upset because Jay was already trapped by Zoom once. Jay says he owes this to Barry for saving him from Zoom. Jay adds that it’s time for Barry to step up and beat Savitar. Barry asks how and Jay replies, “Do what you do best. BE The Flash.” Barry promises he’ll come back and get him out and Jay tells him Cisco fixed up his helmet so he can get them back with that.
Meanwhile, Jesse uses the blade to track Savitar. He taunts her, telling her he knew she would come because he’s lived this all before. Savitar says he has big plans for her and Jesse uses her speed to throw lightening at him. He hurls it back at her, knocking Jesse off her feet. As she gets up, Jesse hears H.R. in her intercom. She asks him for some ideas as Savitar starts drawing her close to him by summoning his blade Jesse still has in her hand. H.R. realizes that Savitar must be vulnerable underneath his armor, so he tells Jesse to find an opening and use the blade. She does and causes Savitar to cry out in pain before speeding off.
Back at S.T.A.R Labs, everyone’s happy and relieved to have Barry and Wally back, and Caitlin takes Wally to the medical bay to check him out. Barry tells Team Flash that he learned from the Speed Force he alone needs to take on and beat Savitar. Caitlin tells Barry they can’t leave Jay trapped in the Speed Force and Barry assures her after he stops Savitar they’ll find a way to free Jay.
Jesse lets Wally know she’s made up her mind and is going to Earth-3 to fill the void left since Jay is trapped in the Speed Force. Wally is sad she’s leaving but understands, hugging Jesse and telling her he loves her. Team Flash says goodbye to Jesse, with Barry reminding her they’re right here if she needs them. Jesse stops and thanks H.R. for being a real friend just before she steps through the breach Cisco opened for her. H.R. tells Team Flash they’ve learned that Savitar can feel pain which means underneath all that armor he’s just a man.
The last scene has Barry walking into his apartment where Iris is waiting for him. She’s had time to think while Barry risked his life to save Wally and even though she doesn’t like the fact Barry didn’t propose out of pure love, she still wants to be his wife. Barry tells Iris he loves her but that he’s lived with death most of his life and seeing her die in the future is all-consuming for him. He’s learned he has to be the one to save her, not by changing the future but by embracing it. Confused, Iris asks what that means and Barry confesses he doesn’t see them moving forward until this is over and that what they need is time and space. Upset, Iris says she’ll go to her dad’s but Barry quickly says he’ll stay at Cisco’s.
The Flash Season 3 Episode 16 Review:
Dark, foreboding, and haunting, episode 16 titled “Into the Speed Force” shows Barry struggling with the guilt he still feels (and always will) for those who have sacrificed themselves to save him, and his own determination to sacrifice himself to save Wally from a fate worse than death. This episode is almost a part two to season two episode 21’s “The Runaway Dinosaur” with Barry once again entering the Speed Force but this time instead of it seeming like a purgatory, it looks and feels more like a haunted house filled with ghosts of the past around every corner and demons (Black Flash and Time Wraith) chasing after him.
The stand-out performance once again goes to Grant Gustin for his portrayal of Barry struggling with the guilt he feels for letting Eddie and Ronnie sacrifice themselves to save him and robbing the two most important women in his life – Iris and Caitlin – of normal, happy lives. The strongest scene is the final one in which Barry, realizing he needs to focus on stopping Savitar, doesn’t allow himself to get back together with Iris and instead actually goes through with the break-up. It shows a maturity, seriousness, and a selflessness in Barry that has been sadly lacking for most of this season.
With the realization that Savitar is human and can be hurt, it will be both interesting and exciting to see how Team Flash plan on stopping him in order to save Iris from dying and Caitlin from becoming Killer Frost.