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Barry Allen hopscotches across the past, Present, and a dire future in an intense midseason finale that excels at reinforcing the emotional pain that drives the Scarlet Speedster.
"The Present" may lack cohesion, but it does illuminate how the nature of time and our desire to move beyond its constraints shape us.
It gave us some much-needed answers while also sending the show in a new direction.
As this very episode clearly demonstrates, The Flash is at its best when the angst and heaviness are at a minimum.
These things-fear, loss-drive so many superhero plots, including Flashpoint. But at its best, The Flash remembers that loss and loneliness drive regular human lives as well.
I'm so glad they're finally giving Iris a legitimate roll on this team. Homegirl is a talent they've been wasting on damsel duties.
With all the doom and gloom this week, it was nice to see the writers take some time at the end of the episode to celebrate the holiday season and wrap up 2016 on a more upbeat note.
As mid-season finales go, 'The Present' is a fairly strong one, giving its characters some emotionally heavy material to work through while also setting up the framework for the back half of season 3.
The Flash is still figuring out to the rules and how to make things work, something it had a lot of confidence in to start. But as its world becomes more complicated, its narrative mechanics must as well.
One hell of a pre-hiatus entry despite its shortcomings.
Until that inevitable collapse from the fading thrill of The Flash beating another speedster, we can enjoy the fun while it lasts.