Returning from within the Speed Force has caused some problems for Grant Gustin's Barry Allen, in season 4 of The Flash. It didn’t take long for Carlos Vales’ Cisco Ramon to remove Barry from the Speed Force in the season premiere, and Barry snapped out of his initial brain issues after being told that Candice Patton’s Iris West was in danger. But, as it turns out, there were more consequences to come.
The Flash season 4 episode 2 played with the emotional and interpersonal issues that came with Barry’s return: Iris broke down in tears during couples therapy, because of the abandonment she felt after Barry disappeared into the Speed Force without a second thought in the finale of season 3. But still, the buck didn’t stop there.
In The Flash season 4 episode 3, another big consequence of Barry’s removal from the Speed Force was revealed. For the second week in a row, Barry and company went up against a brand new Metahuman who didn’t gain their powers through season 1's STAR Labs particle accelerator Dark Matter explosion. This week, the new metahuman was Sugar Lyn Beard’s Rebecca Sharpe (aka Hazard), and Team Flash succeeded in following her powers to their source – a swathe of Dark Matter detritus on a seemingly random intersection in Central City.
It didn’t take long for Barry to realize the significance of this intersection. He quickly pointed out, “This is where I came out of the Speed Force… This is where the portal opened.” And Tom Cavanagh’s Harry Wells soon added this: “And a wave of Dark Matter washed out with you. I can only imagine how many metahumans you created.” Cisco chimed in next, noticing a bus going past: “My best guess? A busload.”
It has been made abundantly clear that Team Flash’s decision to bring Barry back from the Speed Force resulted in a fair bit of Dark Matter entering Central City. The Dark Matter whacked straight into a bus, turning its inhabitants into Metahumans. It seems like Neil Sandilands’ big bad, The Thinker, is already aware of this: he has plans aplenty, and he is keeping tabs on Hazard and Kilg%re (last week’s new Meta, played by Dominic Burgess). It seems likely that The Thinker's ultimate evil plan will involve lots of these new Metahumans.
It’s nice to have some new baddies on the block, and The Thinker has been intriguingly aloof so far. But you could argue that this structural trope – a mistake is made at the start of the season, which sets in motion the whole season – is starting to get a little old hat. The decision to rescue Barry from the Speed Force is beginning to feel like season 4’s equivalent to Flashpoint: the source of all Barry’s issues in this batch of episodes. Here’s hoping that The Flash season 4 finds some ways to feel fresh, despite this repetition.
The Flash airs Tuesdays on The CW.