The Flash has just a few episodes left. And yet, the showrunners have constantly thrown us standalone villain of the week episodes and episodes that excise Barry almost completely from his own show. Barry is here this week, but the episode still feels like filler. And right now, that’s more frustrating than ever. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 9, Episode 08, “Partners in Time.”
“Partners in Time”
A seemingly simple mold inspection at S.T.A.R. Labs leads to unexpected time anomalies. Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) try to make sense of the confusion – and figure out how to get back to their reality. Chester (Brandon McKnight) admits a secret to Allegra (Kayla Compton) which makes things awkward between the two, and Allegra relies on Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) to act as a buffer. Meanwhile, Khione (Danielle Panabaker) meets with an old friend of Team Flash.
A worried father-to-be wants to make sure his whole world is ready for his child, and so Barry decides to get Star Labs looked at by inspectors. Things go sideways, though, when Barry, Iris, and the inspectors find out that they can’t seem to leave the Speed Lab. Oh, and then a grandfather clock shows up, and everyone is dressed in period clothing. Meanwhile, Chester and Allegra have relationship drama.
Chester and Allegra
I’ve said it before, and hopefully, I won’t have to say it again: this show spends too much time on these characters. I like the actors as part of the Flash ensemble, but without superhero drama to keep them busy, it becomes apparent pretty quickly how little chemistry they actually have. The characters say aloud what they should be showing with actions, making for lots of ham-fisted dialogue that ends in an awkward kiss.
With this couple, it feels almost as if the writers dug themselves too deep with the characters and feel like they can’t just leave the plot thread hanging–or maybe writing an awkward nerd romance is just easy pickings and good time filler. If that’s the case, I’d rather just have a shorter episode, because the scenes with them add nothing to the story, and at this late stage it continues to feel like wasted time.
With Barry and Iris, the episode tries to cut a nice balance between villain-of-the-week stuff and actual character development. The story itself is a whodunit, but you can tell literally right away which of the inspectors is responsible because the show telegraphs it like an anime character announcing their superpower attack. You know who the thief is within moments of their introduction.
Once she outs herself, Lady Chronos is a pretty funny villain, and if she’d popped up in an earlier season I think she would be remembered as a fun, silly villain. Right now though, it’s hard to understand why we’re once again stuck in a room like Iris and Nia were last week. Why we’re trying to suss out who the meta-perp is, just like Cecile the week before that. Or why we’re in a loop like in the season premiere.
Thanks to Lady Chronos and lots of time spent with Barry–finally–the episode doesn’t feel like a total loss. The push and pull of the episode works okay as a metaphor for Barry and Iris’ different anxieties about parenthood. Barry is running toward it too fast, and Iris is pulling away from it a bit too much.
Even though I liked parts of this episode, I can’t help but feel like the show is just stalling for time.