The Flash -- "Heart of the Matter, Part 1" -- Image Number: FLA717a_0041r.jpg -- Pictured: Jordan Fisher as Bart/Impulse -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

We have something here in the upper Midwest called the Minnesota Goodbye, which is where you say you’re going to leave, and then take at least half an hour to do so, spending a solid fifteen minutes standing by the door with your coat on, sweating because you’re wearing a coat rated for -30 degrees while inside a house. Minnesotans don’t know how to say goodbye, and neither does The Flash. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 7, Episode 17, “Heart of the Matter, Part 1.”

“Heart of the Matter, Part 1”

As The Flash heads into part 1 of its season finale, it also lands on its 150th episode–a landmark that so far only Arrow has passed in the Arrowverse. It’s a pretty big anniversary for any show, let alone an hour-long show powered by CGI and superhero goofiness. To celebrate, the show is bringing back some old favorites and some new blood–not to mention a weirdly-timed reunion.

The Flash War is escalating as Godspeed clones are not only recovering more and more quickly, but growing in number as well. To make it worse, every one of them seems to be a match for Barry Allen. Nora West-Allen, Barry’s future daughter, has been appearing to him in visions and, at the end of last week’s episode, appeared for real. As promised, though, she brought her brother Bart with her. Gotta love that Crisis on Infinite Earths. The three scramble to fight the Godspeed clones, eventually enlisting the help of Jay Garrick, who got his speed back when Flash rebooted the Speed Force.

The first attempt fails when Allegra’s powers go haywire. The second fails when the Godspeed clones manage to capture Bart and Jay; a surprise visit from Vibe is their saving grace. With the help of Jay and Cecile, Flash enters the mind of August Heart, the future Godspeed. Also, we get an update on Joe West and Kristen Kramer’s storyline. Who knows why–it’s the least interesting thing in an already bumpy season.

This is a nearly overfull episode, but a lot more of it works than doesn’t, thankfully.

Say hi to the kids for me

Nora and Bart show up from the future and grab a large chunk of screentime. I’m pretty okay with that. Jordan Fisher’s Bart is a solid take on Impulse both from writing and portrayal perspectives. He’s the right kind of impulsive–he has a good heart and a strong moral compass and wants to follow them at any cost. Jessica Parker Kennedy’s Nora, meanwhile, is different from the one we met before. That one quite literally died for that storyline, and this one is from a post-Crisis timeline. She seems to have grown up in a better version of the West-Allen home and is more positive and joyous on-screen.

Importantly, I quickly believed that the two characters were siblings. Nora works hard to play the role of the older sister, but sometimes oversteps her authority. At the same time, though, she’s still pretty young (though technically the actress is actually five years older than Grant Gustin) and acts rashly at times.

So far, I like this version of Nora better, and Bart is obnoxious in that lovable little brother sort of way; he’s easy to care about but is constantly making both Barry and the viewer watch through their fingers preparing for disaster.

Also enjoyable is the return of John Wesley Shipp as Jay Garrick. Shipp played the first live-action portrayal of the Flash on the 1990s TV show and has played a handful of roles in the Arrowverse, from Barry’s father Henry Allen to Jay Garrick and even his 90s Barry Allen complete with that velvet muscle suit that looked so comics-accurate at the time. His presence always lends warmth to the show, and he’s been an absolute joy every time. This episode is no exception. Each of his characters are wise, calm, and hopeful to a fault.

In Central City, you can go back home again

These three elevate Barry as well, who seems more hopeful and less defeatist than usual, making for an overall fun tone for the show.

My biggest complaint, of course, is the return of Carlos Valdes as Cisco/Vibe. This is the second time in one season that The Flash has said goodbye to a character only to bring them right back. They did it twice with Tom Cavanaugh’s many Wells; they killed Nash, brought back Harrison, gave Harrison a beautiful send off, and then brought him back for a disappointing go-nowhere hour of television. Cisco just left, and he’s back again? Why do the send-off, then? Just say he’s stepping away to scope out his new living situation, and then send him off after this. I suppose they wanted to send him off in Season 7, but not have that be the finale, but it just feels silly.

Whether or not this two-parter sticks the landing is still up in the air. This season has been very, very rough. Bright spots include Sue Dearbon’s return, Cisco’s send-off, and the handling of the Caitlin/Frost dynamic. But the entire Forces storyline, Allegra’s arc, nearly every scene with Chillblaine, and whatever the show is doing with Joe West have dragged those few good parts down.

I’m hopeful that the season will end on a strong note, and curious to see what that means for Season 8.