The Flash -- "Timeless" -- Image Number: FLA709a_0064r.jpg -- Pictured: Tom Cavanagh as Timeless Wells -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss

Tom Cavanaugh has been a crucial part of Team Flash since Season 1, Episode 1, playing a variety of characters with the last name of Wells. He’s always brought gravitas to the story, and his turn as Nash Wells was particularly emotional. So he deserves a good send-off, right? Uh oh. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 7, Episode 9, “Timeless.”

“Timeless”

As frustrating as last week’s episode was, this week’s somehow might be even more so thanks to how little actually happens and the way it treats some of its characters. Remember that time Barry Allen tried to change the past to fix the present, and how it went terribly? Over and over again?

Guess what Barry’s latest plan is to stop the war between the Speed Force the other Cosmic Forces–Still, Sage, and Strength.

In executing the plan, Barry first goes back to the year 2000 and asks Harrison Wells–called Timeless Wells by Cisco and Chester–for help. Barry wants to go back to the moment when he and Iris resurrected the Speed Force. Iris, a smart person, thinks this is a bad idea. While Barry is preparing to make mistakes, Iris seeks out the present holders of the Cosmic Forces in hopes of talking them into an alliance.

In the end, Barry stops just short of executing his plan while Iris battles Psych and realizes how it won’t be as simple as giving these people a rousing speech. Iris tried something, while Barry essentially did nothing.

Bye Bye Bye

The main story this episode was accomplished by giving Tom Cavanaugh–assuming this is really his last episode–a weird, disappointing sendoff. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is remembered as much for how many endings it had as anything else, and Cavanaugh’s run as Wells is the same. Nash Wells died for the Speed Force, and then Timeless Wells came back to say goodbye. And then, this week, Timeless Wells came back to help Barry do nothing before saying goodbye.

This Cosmic Forces storyline is dragging like crazy, with no help given in episodes like this and distractions like last week’s necessary but poorly-handled Killer Frost story. I admired The Flash in Season 1 because it went Full Comic Book, giving us a Flash who wears his costume and then having him fight Reverse-Flash, a genuinely scary villain with a ridiculous name and premise.

Over time, though, the show has given in more and more to melodrama and backed away from comic book stuff. We’ll go entire episodes and entire story arcs without seeing Flash in his costume, while Barry tries the same failed tactic over and over again. You could make a drinking game for Barry revealing his secret identity, trying to change the timeline, and losing his powers. And then get alcohol poisoning.

One of my favorite characters on this show left the show for the third time this week to absolutely no fanfare. It’s really hard to tell where the showrunners are going with any of this. At least Speed Force Nora is scary.