The Flash: “The Runaway Dinosaur” Season 2 Episode 21 Review

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“The Runaway Dinosaur” was the episode of The Flash I’ve been waiting for. Season two has been at its best when it’s just been straight up weird. Whether its alternate dimensions featuring doppelgangers or Jaws homages with a giant shark humanoid, The Flash has benefited from going places only the thickest sci-fi nerds would expect it to. Here, we get a personified Speed Force that serves as the Morpheus to Barry’s Neo on another plane of existence, all while the rest of the gang battles a zombie with metal skin. This episode was silly, fun, and emotional, making it a serious contender for best of the season.

One of the smartest things “The Runaway Dinosaur” does is leave Zoom out of the equation almost entirely. The second season’s big bad’s plan to take over Earth-1 is both unearned and boring. This episode gets to be all about Barry learning from the mistakes he’s made this season.

Waking up in the West residence, Barry faces Joe, who tells him he’s not Joe, but the Speed Force. Barry amusingly equates this to talking to the force of gravity, to which this version of Joe sort of just nods and smiles. Whatever, we’re meant to be meditating on Barry’s choices. His demand for the Velocity 9. Giving up his powers. The writers may not have justified these moments on their own, but looking back, they show us how Zoom has challenged Barry in ways Reverse-Flash didn’t. Barry has rushed through his decisions to defeat Zoom, which is why he’s failed. This episode is about slowing Barry’s mind not so he can go faster, but become a wiser hero in general. How fast he can go was never really going to be the deciding factor in his battle with Zoom.

After Joe, the Speed Force manifests itself as Iris and then Henry, the latter of which details how giving up his speed nearly ruined the sacrifice he made in last season’s finale, letting his mother die so the Flash could save countless lives. Lastly, the Speed Force transforms into Barry’s mother, who shows him not only the way to forgiving himself, but not harping on the hardships of his life. Barry never really recovered from his mother’s death or his choice not to change it. The Flash could have done a better job showing us that in season two, but this episode wonderfully solidifies Barry’s arc for the year. Barry needs to accept his choices and not let his guilt consume him. The hero the Flash is meant to be isn’t driven by guilt, but by pure heroism. Barry has had a healthy dose of both since the pilot, but “The Runaway Dinosaur” looks to, at least for now, put guilt aside and help Barry ascend into a different kind of hero. One doing it not because his world needs saving, but because he has the ability to do something when other cannot.

Yet, for all the heavy metaphysics and character growth going on in the Speed Force, this episode also features the team rather hilariously dealing with a zombie Girder, the bully that turns his skin metal that died last year. The zombie makeup is cheesy, but not as much so as Greg Finley’s delightfully dopey zombie performance. He’s after Iris because he was hitting on her shortly before he died. It was great to see Iris take the lead on this one, leading zombie Girder around the city in circles before they all found a way to defeat him.

But once Barry learns all he needs to from the Speed Force, he takes Iris’ hand and returns to Earth-1, immediately thrown into a fight with this old foe. Without the help or advice of his friends, Flash subdues the walking dead. His friends notice the difference. Barry is now intrinsically connected to the Speed Force, and it’s made him more confident and powerful.

He’s going to need those qualities to defeat what’s coming. Zoom’s plan up to this point may not be that well constructed, but a legion of metahumans all working for him taking over Central City sounds like a fun episode to watch. So long as Barry is able to adhere to the lessons he learned in “The Runaway Dinosaur,” the odds look to be in his favor. Grade: A

Some Other Notes:

  • Kevin Smith directed this episode. I’m not too big a fan of his films, but I have to respect what he did here.
  • Barry’s mother saying, “Run Barry, run,” was a nice emotional touch. As with last season’s finale, still the show’s best episode, scenes shared between Barry and his mother still hit the heart in both the warmest and coldest of ways.
  • One of Zoom’s henchmen is Earth-2’s Laurel Lance. Fans of Arrow know why this is significant, and I like that The Flash gets to have its own sendoff of sorts for that character, even if the show rarely dealt with her directly.

By Matt Dougherty

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