As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the subject of Time Travel has been broached on the current television series The Flash. Well this week, after a return from a 4-week hiatus, the show went to full-on time travel mode!
The setup for the episode was like a season finale. Characters are put in jeopardy, or killed. Secrets are revealed. Rivalries are formed. And then at the very end of the episode, as Barry is trying to stop a tsunami from destroying Central City, he runs so fast that he travels back in time to the previous night.
What’s visually interesting about this time travel is that Barry can see his other self. In the GIF above, that’s Barry-prime on the left of screen, and his past version on the right. Watch the GIF, and you’ll notice the past-Barry fades out, just before Barry-prime comes to a stop. Barry-prime, “survives” the timeline mingling. The same thing happened, in reverse, in the opening of the episode, when Barry-prime was on the right side of the scene, seeing his future self. The future self “vanished” and Barry-prime survived. This of course, gives the Flash the opportunity to “put right what once went wrong” and save all his friends, and family.
But why are there two Barry’s? That isn’t how time travel is supposed to work, is it? At least not by the rules noted by Dr Stein so far. There’s one of two scenarios that the show has setup: fixed timelines or dynamic timelines. So what’s going on here? I think that Barry, while he’s running, is part of the Speed Force. And while he’s in the Speed Force he sees other things in the Speed Force, like his future/past self. We may be talking about alternate dimensions or timelines here as well, as the fading Barry’s indicate either one timeline is losing out to another, or the divergence of the timelines. There should be more to discuss in next weeks episode.
There are a couple of other cool nods in this episode as well. One is, when Barry stops in this sequence (both times) he’s in a sort of a square. Even though it’s night, there’s a sort of Back to the Future vibe. He sees a woman with her dogs (and the clock in the background changing from 9:59 to 10:00), a man twirling one of those advertising signs, and a lady yelling after a taxi that she’s “going to be late!” Both times Barry appears in this square he sees these things, but they are slightly different each time. I believe that’s to indicate that he’s changing time just by being there. The other fun time travel nod, is to Quantum Leap, as Barry’s last words in the episode are “Oh boy,” mimicking the final words by Sam Beckett in every episode of that series.
If you’d like to hear my thoughts (as well as my co-host Josh’s) tune in to the episode of Scarlet Velocity: A Flash Podcast that features episode 15 of The Flash, “Out Of Time.”