Last season on "The Flash," we watched Team Flash deal with the fallout of Flashpoint after Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) went back in time to save his mother and forever altered the timeline. After correcting the timeline as much as possible, he found himself fighting metahumans who had powers in the Flashpoint timeline, but not the original one.

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They were being created by Savitar, the self-proclaimed God of Speed. After accidentally racing into the future, Barry learned that Savitar would murder Iris West (Candice Patton) and set out on a quest to become fast enough to save her. After defeating Savitar, however, Barry found a new challenge: the Speed Force had become unbalanced, and he was forced to go into the Speed Force to save the world.

Six months later

Six months after Barry's disappearance, Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), Joe West (Jesse Martin), Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), and Iris are working to protect the city in Barry's absence.

'The Flash' season 4 trailer; (Image Credit: The CW / Youtube)
'The Flash' season 4 trailer; (Image Credit: The CW / Youtube)

The episode opens with the four of them taking out a teleporting meta, albeit without as much grace as Barry could have. They come together at Star Labs to celebrate taking down this new meta, but Iris isn't happy. She sends Wally off to train for a few hours while she and Joe go to have dinner with Cecile Horton (Danielle Nicolet), Joe's boyfriend where Joe tries to have her confront Barry's absence. She refuses. This is an interesting display of Iris's character.

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She won't confront the fact that Barry's gone because he told her to keep moving, refusing to have a funeral and trying to focus on solving problems with the new team.

We see more of this behavior after a new threat appears: A flying samurai who looks suspiciously like a "Power Ranger" villain who says he'll destroy Central City unless the Flash comes to fight him. When he blows Joe, Wally, and Cisco away with a single attack, Cisco reveals to the team that he's been working on the way to get Barry out of the Speed Force and stabilize it, so the world isn't ripped apart.

But Iris is vehemently opposed to this, trying to move forward like Barry told her and focused on stopping the samurai with the team they have. Cisco decides that they need Barry and gets the help of Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), who has conquered her Killer Frost persona, to set up the experiment needed to get Barry out behind Iris's back. When it fails, they all agree to help Iris the way she wanted until they get a call from Cecile. This offered a lot of interesting information.

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Firstly, Caitlin was able to overcome Killer Frost and is currently working in a bar as she tries to find out more about herself. The way Iris has been forcing herself to move forward reinforces the strength of her character; last season, she was able to keep her head a little bit better than Barry after learning of her imminent death.

The return of the Flash

Shortly after the experiment, the team receives a call from Cecile calling them down to the police station.

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Cisco's experiment did free Barry from the Speed Force; he just came out of it several hundred miles away from where they expected him to. But he came out changed, physically with a beard and mentally. He had written hundreds of symbols across the walls of the room he was in. When the show-up, he starts talking nonsense about the stars melting until Catlin knocks him out and they take him back to Star Labs. This changes the dynamic of the group; now their entire focus is on figuring out what's wrong with Barry. The changes to Barry throw a wrench in the show, as he doesn't recognize anybody and thinks they're different people. This is just one of the challenges presented this episode.

After running several tests at the lab, Caitlin concludes that Barry is in perfect health and thinks his memories may have gotten jumbled in the Speed Force. But she has a second theory: Because the Speed Force exists outside of time and space, what was six months for everybody on Earth-1 may have been thousands of years for Barry, driving him into dementia. Cisco tries to decrypt the symbols Barry has been drawing, but that is also a dead end.

All of this forces the team to confront Barry finally. Iris is very conflicted; she almost has him back, but not quite. She tries to bring Barry out of it, but he goes out of control, racing around the labs until Caitlin stops him and he gets put into a containment cell. Cisco admits to Caitlin that he didn't free Barry to save the city, he just used it as a reason to bring Barry back. Joe also talks to Iris about how she needs faith that Barry will come back to them. When the samurai reappears, she puts that faith to the test by making the samurai take her prisoner so that Barry will come for her. And he does, racing away to a wind farm where he saves Iris and learns that the samurai was a robot.

A fresh start

After the samurai is defeated and Caitlin runs more tests on Barry now that he's him again, the team separates. Iris and Barry go home, and Caitlin assures Cisco that he'll see more of him. At home, Iris tells Barry that she couldn't bring herself to sleep in their bed alone and Barry tells her that he feels free.

This was a surprising opening. I honestly didn't expect Barry to return from the Speed Force so quickly and when he did, I didn't expect him to get his wits back in the same episode. It's not likely that it's completely resolved; he's sure to be feeling aftereffects of being trapped in the Speed Force all season. We were also introduced to a few villains, both old and new, leaving us with plenty of conflicts open for future episodes. The Scarlet Speedster has returned, kicking off the return to the Arrowverse for the new season.

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