And even more vaguely connected to the story that barely registers this season is this week’s “menace,” a bottom of the barrel meta-of-the-week with the equally dreadful name of “Sunshine.” You would think this episode would have bigger fish to fry, and there’s nothing to indicate we’ll ever see Sunshine again. Nor would we want to, when she’s here solely to have what might be the single most uninspired fight scene in the show’s history (her “battle” with Frost) and to spout lines like “ice vs. sun, guess who melts.” Those sure are six words that technically make up a sentence and could be considered dialogue, I suppose. And why we’re back to particle accelerator metas (or why all metas seem to need common origin sources…after hundreds of episodes of Arrowverse shows where the audience is now completely invested in the weirdness of this world) is similarly beyond me.
So there’s the matter of the literal “Death of the Speed Force” as we saw last week. This means that Barry has to ration his powers, as there’s still some residual speed within his DNA. How much? Nobody knows! The solution is a “speed gauge” built by Cisco, which monitors Barry’s speed output (although not what he has left). Caitlin recommends he keep it in the “green” zone as often as possible, but it’s not clear how long that would last…because everything related to this has been so vague.
If things were different, this could be a concept worth exploring (although I think all superhero storytelling needs an indefinite moratorium on “hero loses their powers” type stories). Would keeping that Speed Gauge “green” put Barry’s power levels similar to what Wally’s were in the late 1980s and early 1990s comics, where he could only move roughly at the speed of sound and had to consume massive amounts of calories to keep going? If he went beyond that would he risk prematurely aging himself? Perhaps if the show weren’t pulling in six other directions at once these would be questions worth answering or concepts worth worth exploring, but here, it just feels like an excuse to keep Barry out of costume for another episode and perhaps save on the FX budget.
Which brings us to the titular “Exorcism of Nash Wells.” We know that Thawne has been taking over Nash’s body. We know that Nash is seeing visions of now-departed Wells from alternate universes. We know that whenever Thawne shows up, he’s going to make life miserable for everyone around him, including/especially Barry (who, in one of the episode’s few truly memorable scenes, gets angry enough to nearly kill Thawne via his own “vibrating palm strike”). What we don’t know is a hell of a lot about Nash Wells. At the very least, this episode fixes that.
What only/almost saves this episode is, unsurprisingly, Tom Cavanagh, finally humanizing Nash Wells in ways we haven’t seen before. The initial flashback to his first meeting with Allegra’s doppleganger was this character’s best scene since his introduction. And while I don’t think there was ever really any mystery as to what happened to her and why Nash seems to determined to help the Earth-Prime version, we at least get some genuine drama here. I can’t help but feel that this would have played out better if more of the episode was devoted to these flashbacks, and we weren’t wasting valuable time with Sunshine and Mirror Iris and Mirror Kamilla, but hey, that’s why I write for Den of Geek and not for big budget network TV superhero shows.