Runaway Dinosaur Plot Summary:
With Barry (Grant Gustin) gone, the team must figure out a way to handle the return of an old enemy – Girder (guest star Greg Finley). Realizing Girder is retracing his steps from his last attack, Iris (Candice Patton) volunteers to act as bait to trap him in S.T.A.R. Labs. Meanwhile, Barry fights to return to his old life. Kevin Smith directed the episode written by Zack Stentz.
I really didn’t know how I felt about this episode going in. Barry hanging out with some weird thing pretending to be Joe in the Speed Force while the rest of the crew fights zombie Girder is a tall order. And while I’m still not completely sold on some of the zombie Girder bits, I think the Speed Force bits where not only pretty touching but also brought back a part of the show that I have been missing for so long: the weird.
And if we wanted weird on the show, Kevin Smith really is the perfect person to bring it back. The man understands how to tell a story and respects comics. Now I know people say that some of his comic work is hit or miss, but I honestly can’t think of another director who can do what Kevin Smith did. He took what we loved about the show and enhanced that with a story that can only come from a deep understanding of what makes Barry Allen a great character.
So let’s talk about the Speed Force scenes. They didn’t make any logical sense. The Speed Force is a living being? Or a group of living beings? And they are essentially gods but they want to teach Barry a lesson? And the way they do that is by (conveniently) impersonating Barry’s friends and family in an attempt to get Barry over his mother’s death?
And you know what? It was awesome. The Speed Force isn’t supposed to make sense. Otherwise it wouldn’t be the Speed Force. The day the Speed Force makes sense is that day I stop watching. I like that going forward it looks like Barry is going to believe in the Speed Force differently, but treating it like a deity is a really interesting premise. Maybe it will lead us to another Speed Force worshiping villain in the future. Who knows?
But the Speed Force also led Barry to some emotional closure that we haven’t really seen yet. While the Season 1 finale had Barry accepting that his mother had to die, he never really moved on from that point. Now that Barry has reunited with his mother and dealt with her passing in a way that he hasn’t had to, he can grow as a character. It also led us to a great scene with Barry and Iris that was right out of FlashPoint and if there is one thing this season has been great at, it’s taking the page and translating it flawlessly to the screen.
I remember when Kevin Smith was brought on to direct the episode. It was shortly after he put up this video of himself reacting very emotionally to the Season 1 finale, specifically the bit where Barry has to watch his mom die. And he wasn’t wrong to cry like a baby. That scene was great. I really appreciate how Smith and episode writer Zack Stentz took that story beat and built on it in “Runaway Dinosaur.” It felt completely sincere and I would be lying if I didn’t tear up a bit while watching. It also couldn’t have come at a better time in the series. When a psychotic speedster is bringing metahumans from another dimension to takeover the world, who thought it would be a whole episode about the speedforce that grounded the series?
And on the same week that another character from another very high profile show came back from the dead, we were reminded that the how and the why aren’t really important. It’s all about how the experience changes them as a character. And that’s a great lesson for life in general. Strife is always tough, even when it doesn’t end up with you getting brutally murdered but the important thing isn’t how it happens but how you grow from the experience. I’m glad The Flash did a solid job conveying that message.
On the other side of things, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Iris stole the show. It’s not that I don’t usually like Candice Patton. I think she’s great. My issue is that her character isn’t usually as fun as the rest of that characters and it bums me out. All of that changed this week.
Iris was hanging with the team. She was making jokes. She was distracting the villain and it wasn’t incredibly dramatic. I love fun Iris. Flash team, if this episode only gets to keep one thing it has to be fun Iris. And while she was clearly an emotional focus of the episode thankfully didn’t mean she had to be nothing but serious. She was there for Barry and it felt real because her character was more well rounded than ever.
Everyone else was playing their part well. Specifically there was a great moment where I think Cisco really worked. Barry comes back from the Speed Force and everyone is related. Iris hugs Barry. Joe hugs Henry. And Cisco says to Barry “I am so glad you’re back…cause we’re about to die,” referring to Girder being dangerously close to reaching the group. I think one of Carlos Valdes’ most valuable skills is his ability to pivot. He can take a moment with a ton of emotion and comedically move it in the direction where it needs to go to move the plot forward without losing anything. I think it’s a really valuable skill. It also doesn’t hurt that Kevin Smith really knows how to blend comedy and emotion pretty flawlessly.
Overall this episode was a winner. The only thing I didn’t love was the final scene where Zoom enacted another part of his clearly improvised plan that was up until now never even kind of mentioned involving an army of completely expendable and most likely unmemorable metahumans. Does it belong at the end of this season? Not even a little. Is a main character going to die? Yeah, probably one of the dads. Do I want Zoom to be over as soon as possible so we can move on to Grodd or the Rogues? Yes, please. Geez. When is Captain Cold when you need him?
Matthew Nando Kelly is an incredibly cool and handsome Senior Staff Writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he focuses on film, television, music, and video games. Matthew also has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he discusses pop culture related brackets with fellow Pop-Break writer DJ Chapman. He has an unshakable love for U2, cats, and the New Orleans Saints. His twitter handle is @NationofNando. Did we mention how handsome he was?