After a couple of interlude episodes, CW’s “The Flash” is back on track, bringing Barry back into action, but somehow the eighth episode of this final season, titled “Partners in Time,” still feels like a filler or interlude. In the previous episode, we saw the Dreamer, aka Nia Nal, get her farewell in the Arrowverse. Mark Blaine left the team and went on a journey of his own after he realized his mistake of forcing Khione to shape herself in the image of his deceased partner, Frost. The pain Khione felt after Mark’s departure manifested into her newfound cryokinetic powers. The eighth episode focuses on Barry and Iris as they struggle with the responsibilities of upcoming parenthood in their own way and once again get into a loop, but unlike the time loop situation in the first episode, this one focuses on being stuck in space.
Beginning In The Future
Exactly a century in the future, in the year 2123, the STAR lab has been transformed into the Flash Museum. The episode opens in the nighttime, and we see a hooded figure break in. The figure stops in front of the weapons vault section, where gadgets collected from several villainous metahumans have been stored. After getting through the ID security, the figure fails to bypass the laser protection, which results in the security alarm going off. The figure creates a wormhole and escapes, and the camera focuses on an inspection record approved by the DOE (Department of Energy), dated April 5, 2023.
In the West-Allen household, Barry finishes up making the crib for baby Nora, even though Iris is hardly a couple of months pregnant. His excitement about what the future holds goes through the roof. Iris presents Barry with a copy of a science magazine with his late father, Henry Allen, on the cover, a precious memento for Barry that he lost during his younger days. After satiating his wife Iris’ pregnancy cravings by bringing some ice cream of her choice, Barry goes to STAR Labs for the mold inspection he has previously scheduled there for the sake of baby Nora’s safety. It seems like Barry just can’t help himself from worrying to death about the past and future, except for living in the present. Old habits die hard.
After going to STAR Labs, Barry meets Khione, who is feeling nervous as Caitlin’s mother, Carla Tannhauser, wants to meet her. Khione is the third and only alive personality in Caitlin’s body, but she doesn’t have the memories or experiences either Frost or Caitlin had; therefore, she is concerned that Carla will actually look for Caitlin in her, just like Mark tried to find Frost, and like the latter, Carla too will be disappointed. Barry assures her that, based on how much he has known Carla thus far, she will assess Khione for who she is and not for who Carla wants her to be. Also, Chester offers to stay during the mold inspection, but Barry gives him a day off, considering himself capable enough to deal with the situation.
However, along with the mold inspection crew, the DOE inspectors arrive as well, who have been informed by the former inspection department, and as STAR Lab hasn’t been checked up for the last nine years (since the beginning of the first season), they want to look through every nook and cranny before approving a nuclear facility as secretive as this. Barry doesn’t want his identity as the Flash to go public, and thankfully, Team Flash has already taken care of that. Iris drops by almost at the same time and assists Barry in handling these bureaucratic hassles.
However, as the duo gives the inspectors a tour of the facility, they inexplicably find themselves stuck in the Speed Lab section. They aren’t able to communicate with the outside world as well, and gradually the inspectors’ suspicion grows. Barry decides to go to the future and fix things secretively while Iris tries to distract them. Unfortunately, in the meantime, a blue barrier passes through them and causes a timeline shift, which changes the attire of every present member, including Barry, who rushes to the future and can’t change anything. With no options available at the moment, Flash is forced to reveal his identity to the inspectors, which causes chief inspector Howard to faint. Seriously, even in the ninth season, a citizen of Central City getting awestruck by the presence of Flash’s alter ego has to be one of the funniest things.
The team theorizes about how to get out of this predicament, and one of them conceptualizes the space-time continuum acting absurdly around them due to the presence of a time magnet. Barry remembers that such a device is going to be stored in STAR labs a century later, but along with it, a stabilizer will be present to contain its field. The team theorizes that there must be a time thief among them who has jumped from another timeline and hasn’t been able to acquire the stabilizer. As the stranger from a different timeline will emit radiation, a Geiger counter is used on everyone present, and unfortunately, before using it on Howard, he panics and gets turned into a statue.
After a moment of confusion, Barry realizes Howard has been transmogrified due to the law of conservation of matter, which might have been triggered by the time magnet, and also that they might suffer the same fate if they don’t act soon. Barry and Iris retire elsewhere in the Speed lab, and they ponder their situation. During the conversation, Iris feels anxious and troubled about the mental changes during pregnancy, as she still finds herself stuck in the past, while Barry keeps rushing to the future, knowing full well that it’s the present that needs both of their attention. After an honest acknowledgment of their shortcomings, Barry and Iris hit upon a plan to catch the imposter among the inspection team.
The Chester Allegra Situation
At Cecile’s house, Chester proposes to his girlfriend Allegra during a game of Scrabble, which catches her off guard. Cecile comes back to her home, and to avoid conversation regarding the proposal, Allegra asks her to join in on tabletop games with them. Afterward, as Cecile wishes to leave, Allegra requests that she stay. Chester reads the situation and, disappointed, leaves.
Cecile asks Allegra about the problem, and Allegra confesses that she is in love with Chester too, but her insecurity about losing the people she loves is creating distance between them. Allegra has been through abandonment and loss her whole life, and the prospect of emotional connection, therefore, naturally frightens her enough to lock up her feelings. Cecile convinces Allegra that her past experiences shouldn’t define their future relationship. Allegra goes to Chester, who is sulking in a caffeine-induced moping session in Jitters, and he reciprocates her love too.
Who Is Lady Chronos?
Meanwhile, at STAR Labs, Barry and Iris test the present inspectors with technical questions. Inspector Tao turns out to be a time thief who reveals herself to be the time-traveling criminal Lady Chronos. Chronos admits that she possesses a time magnet and uses it to turn the rest of the inspectors into statues. She also confesses that she went to the future, to the year 2123, to steal the stabilizer from the Flash museum but failed. However, she saw the inspection approval date and went back in time to manipulate the outcome in the future. But during her journey to this timeline, the temporal machine’s battery got depleted, and thanks to the time magnet, she got stuck in the spatial loop. Unwilling to give up her time magnet, she threatens Flash with Iris’ life to arrange a way for her to escape. Flash agrees to do so only if the girl gives up her time magnet. Knowing that she cannot escape the loop if she doesn’t move to the future, Chronos agrees, and Flash recharges the battery of her temporal machine through his electricity. Chronos creates a wormhole to the future and surrenders to the authorities, which changes everything back to normal and brings the inspectors back to life. Later, as Khione catches up regarding the incidents, she remarks that her nature-based powers could have identified everything regarding the mold inspection anyway. She also mentions that her visit with Carla went pretty well. As the episode ends, Barry and Iris once again wonder about the upcoming duties of parenthood.
In comics, Lady Chronos, aka Jia, was the former love interest of Second Atom (the shrinking one) Ryan Choi and later joined the villain Chronos, aka David Clinton. Having a time-oriented obscure villain is not new in The Flash, but showing how Barry and Iris are stuck in polar opposite points of time regarding their parenthood was an inventive way to relate the narrative with the villain. However, the series will gain tempo in accordance with its potential in the remaining five episodes of this final season by welcoming some of the most beloved Arrowverse characters when it returns after a midseason break three weeks later.