REVIEW: The Flash – Season 9, Episode 1 “Wednesday Ever After”

The Flash is back for its final season, with a truncated 13-episode run (which isn’t meant as the same pun everyone is making; there are just only so many words you can call it) closing out the show’s tenure at the CW. The producers must feel pressure to make this last season a great one, and with “Wednesday Ever After,” they’ve started things off well. This isn’t a classic or anything, but it’s the right foot to put forward at the beginning of a season.

While trying to foil a tech robbery, Barry gets himself and Iris caught in a time loop, reliving the same Wednesday over and over again. Both of them face big career decisions, but Iris isn’t so sure about what she wants. Making things murkier is a secret Barry has been harboring, one that could throw their future into chaos – or take away their freedom.

The title “Wednesday Ever After” is a gag about the show’s new timeslot on Wednesdays for its last season, and the episode is full of nods like that to this being the end of the line for The Flash. It even starts with one, as the Flash arrives to stop a monster attack and speaks the first words of the episode and the season: “Welcome back. Let’s do this… one last time.” It’s pretty on the nose, sure, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for rolling their eyes, but I don’t mind it. It fits the show’s tone, and it’s appreciated that they’re thanking the audience for sticking with them for nine years. Less appreciated are the subsequent lame-o one-liners from Team Flash, each one cornier than the last, although I guess it’s a reminder that Barry is the lead for a reason.


But it turns out to be a dream, which makes you wonder if this is just how Barry sees his friends. The monster is a one-time dream deal (which is kind of a shame because it doesn’t look bad, especially for a CW show), but its premonition about Barry keeping his loved ones safe haunts the rest of “Wednesday Ever After.” After believing that he’d lost Iris for good at the end of last season, Barry traveled through the future and mapped out every major event of their lives in a notebook. Everything from career choices to the day their children are conceived to what they have for breakfast is accounted for, and Barry is determined to have them follow it to the letter. If he can control the outcome of every situation, he can keep his family and friends safe for the rest of their lives.

Thematically, this means that Barry is abandoning his belief in the immediate good and choosing utilitarianism instead, which is what he does when he’s scared and uncertain about the future. That’s also when he screws up the most, and in “Wednesday Ever After,” his determination to control the future traps him and Iris in a time loop. The allegory is clear: if you always know what’s going to happen, you’re essentially living out each day as if it’s the same, with a routine that must be followed and no surprises possible. But Iris understands that that’s not a life; it’s a script. Barry is letting his fear of loss close him off from living, and he’s taking Iris with him. His attempts to escape the time loop follow this same pattern, with him trying – and failing – to break the loop with Chester.

As always – or for about half of this season’s episodes, anyway – Joe is the voice of reason, making Barry understand that he’s throwing away the joy of living for himself and Iris for an ultimately hopeless attempt to secure the future he wants. Sticking to his plan got him caught in a time loop because the very fact that he knows what will happen is an x-factor that could change the future, as it does in “Wednesday Ever After.” There is no such thing as certainty, and embracing that is what sets Barry and Iris free, literally a figuratively. Iris achieves the same career outcomes for herself by doing it differently than Barry’s road map dictates, and Barry saves the day from Captain Boomerang with a new use of his powers (which is very cool). And they’re all the happier for it.

The Flash "Wednesday Ever After"

That’s right; Captain Boomerang makes his first appearance on The Flash in “Wednesday Ever After.” I thought he’d be more annoying than he is when I first saw him with his pink scarf and made-up face, but he’s fine. He’s barely in the episode, and although he escapes at the end, he’s an emissary for what I assume is the season’s big bad. I don’t know who this is – perhaps viewers better-versed in the Flash’s comic book history will have an idea – but it looks like another speedster, this one appearing in an ominous cloud and leaving a symbol that looks an awful lot like a bat. As much as they had become rote after a few seasons, the speedsters tend to be the show’s best villains, so I’m hopeful this new one will stack up well with his predecessors, but it’s too early to tell.

The main point of “Wednesday Ever After” is to get everyone situated for the season, and it does. Barry and Iris are centered and sure of how they’re preparing for their future, even if they’re just going with the flow. The bad guy is established as being a bad guy who hates the Flash. Cecile is training to use her new powers – and still reading people’s minds, or auras, or whatever she does without permission or remorse, and no one seems to care as much as they should. And Joe is thinking about moving, which makes me wonder if his episodes will be front-loaded and then he’ll leave. I hope that’s not the case; I’d rather he show up every other week, so his presence is felt more. But perhaps the biggest surprise is when Chester and Allegra get over themselves and kiss already! I’m not invested in this romance at all, but I’ve been tired of them acting like idiots for a long time.

And Caitlin is back… kind of. Danielle Panabaker is here, but her character claims not to be Caitlin or Frost. Presumably, this means Caitlin’s attempt to resurrect Frost has gone predictably wrong, and Barry will have to save her. I hope this is the last time Panabaker is relegated to the last minute or so of an episode; she’s too good to sideline, especially in the final season.

The Flash "Wednesday Ever After"

There are some good laughs throughout “Wednesday Ever After,” too. There’s a requisite reference to Groundhog Day from Cecile, but a better one is the date of Barry and Iris’ time loop: February 1. That almost requires a Maxwell Smart-style “Missed it by that much!” Iris has some good lines as well, especially the ones about drinking in the morning because time no longer matters. And I love the visual gag of Barry speeding off to start his day and accidentally making a mess of Iris’ hair. It’s also amusing watching Barry and Chester get vaporized over and over as they experiment with the sci-fi doohickey Captain Boomerang is trying to steal. This is a fun one, if not an all-timer, and it makes me glad to have The Flash back for the last time.

The Flash – "Wednesday Ever After"

Plot - 7
Acting - 8
Progression - 7
Production Design - 7
Themes - 8



“Wednesday Ever After” is a good start to what will hopefully be a satisfying final season of The Flash. It’s an ultimately lightweight episode with a mediocre villain, but there’s some good comedy, one long-overdue payoff, and the stage is set for the last chapter of Barry’s journey.

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