The Flash’s 21st episode (“Cause and Effect”) was delightfully bonkers, but it had a lot of heart. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out what a fantastic job Grant Gustin did in this episode. It’s easy to take his performance for granted (ha), but he shined in multiple ways. It was a treat seeing him as Evil Barry. There was a tremendous distinction in the character, an edge, a brokenness, and even a wariness that was tinged with weariness. His mannerisms were different, too. It was a great turn.
But even better? Amnesia Barry (“Who are all of you? … Where the hell am I? Is this a dentist’s office?” SNORT.), with all his weight lifted, all his worries gone. I mean, he wanted to go by Bart and hilariously quipped that his full name was awful. He didn’t remember his parents. It was quite a situation, because (as the ever-wise Joe pointed out) without his memories, he’s not Barry. Our experiences, good and bad, easy or hellbeasts, make us who we are. Without our memories, we are shells. Even Savitar is not immune, because as Cisco put it, “It’s like in Star Trek, when the transporter splits Kirk into Good Kirk and Bad Kirk.” They’re linked. And the effects of Barry’s amnesia trickled all the way to Wally, like speedster set of dominos.
I really enjoyed seeing the Barry that might’ve been, had his life not been a shit circus run by murderous clowns. I mean, he has had it rough, from watching both his parents die to facing the prospect of losing Iris—that’s a lot for one soul to take on. And it does take its toll. But he had no sense of self (“I definitely had quite the nerd thing going on.” Yes, Barry. And that’s something we all love about you.), and yet, he still wanted to rush in and save people from a burning building—to be a hero, even though he didn’t know how. The inherent good in him is on full display: “I can’t stand by and watch people die, if I can prevent it. … How do I save everybody inside?” Of course, it all worked out in the end, but I thought that was a nice detail. Experiences or not, the core of who we are is steady. And that’s pretty powerful.
For another delight, let’s talk about Tracy and HR. You guuuuuuuys, I love them. Unabashedly. They’re perfect for each other. And I love that he was able to inspire her with regard to her speed trap. I love that their connection is silly but fiery, and obviously I love their mutual affection for coffee. I suspect they will coffee and chill shortly, if you know what I mean. *wink* Spoiler alert: I am here for it. Of course, by the end of the episode, Tracy has figured out the speed trap and that need a crap ton of energy to power it! Which is apparently being guarded by…King Shark! Someone call Quint.
Lastly, of course, we need to talk about Killer Frost/Caitlin. Sure, she came to help Team Flash for her own gain, but there something that thawed in Caitlin during that lab scene. It was smart of Cisco to mention Ronnie, to appeal to her heart: “I think about all the memories I cherish most, and you’re in every single one of them, Caitlin.” Later, as she goes to leave, Julian tries too—and his desperation and desire to help her are heartbreaking. The words may have been sharp, but it lacked Killer Frost’s usual sneer and disdain. Maybe Team Flash made a little progress on the ice queen, after all.