‘The Runaway Dinosaur’
If you were expecting an episode titled ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’ to feature an actual runaway dinosaur you are going to be disappointed. The Runaway Dinosaur is the title of Barry’s (Grant Gustin) favourite childhood book and the episode features as much heart and emotion as that revelation suggests.
After being disintegrated in the closing moments of last week’s episode, Barry is trapped in the speed force. It’s a smart move to expand the show’s mythology and turning the speed force into something akin to speedster purgatory is bold. The show’s swagger exists for a reason and it’s great to see it treat the audience as equals. Far too often superhero media dumbs down comic book mythology, so it is great to see The Flash be open about its weirdness and let the audience catch up.
That is simply what Barry has to do to return — catch up with his speeding shadow and learn some on-the-nose lessons along the way. His trip through the speed force is a bit lacklustre as he bumps into certain characters who only tell him enough of what the plot lets them tell him, but Gustin, as always, brings honest emotion to the material and elevates these scenes.Back on Earth, the S.T.A.R Labs squad deals with losing Barry and Jesse’s (Violet Beane) comatose status that is JUST LIKE BARRY’S. The show hasn’t subtly foreshadowed its future plans for Harry’s (Tom Cavanagh) daughter, so, it was nice to see her future status as a speedster spelled out for us. Her nickname is Jesse Quick, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. If the perpetual mourning wasn’t enough an actual freakin’ zombie turns up.
Because there needs to be a villain-of-the-week and an external threat to build tension, whilst Barry has an existential crisis, the show brings back Girder (Greg Finley), a knock off Colossus and the old school bully Barry supersonic punched in the first season. Girder groans and walks but his inclusion allows Cisco (Carlos Valdes) to say one of the best ever meta references.
“Is iZombie still behind you?” is just a great meta line. For some, it might be too knowing, but it is presented in a simple manner and is really effective. Finley played a zombie in iZombie, which is on immediately after The Flash in the States. It’s just a nice little throwaway moment that stays true to Cisco’s character. Understandably, a lot of the focus has been on Barry’s relationship with Harry but the chemistry between Cavanagh and Valdes is insane and they sell the character banter really well. Normally, their relationship is played out in quips but Kevin Smith’s direction knows Cavanagh’s facial expressions are the true star of the show and he plays into this by giving him lots of welcomed reaction shots.Yes, Kevin Smith directed this episode. No, Jay and Silent Bob do not turn up (but Jason Mewes has a cameo) and neither does Buddy Christ as Smith stays in the show’s sandpit. Regardless of your views on him, Smith does a solid job, and unsurprisingly for the director of Clerks and Chasing Amy he nails the group dynamic.
Sidenote: Why isn’t Kevin Smith in the conversation to direct one of the DC movies? I know he’s never worked with a big budget before and has been wandering around in director wilderness but he’s clearly a fan, is a competent director and is buddies with Batfleck. I’m saying it here first, Smith for The Flash film.