Over the last three seasons of The Flash, the actions of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) have resulted in consequences that everyone around him must pay for. “Into the Speed Force” began with this thesis, and to solve the central dilemma — Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) is stuck in the Speed Force — two allies of Team Flash make a huge sacrifice. The Speed Force is mad at Barry Allen, and as always, someone else is paying for his mistakes.
Last week, Savitar traded places with Wally in the Speed Force, trapping Wally in his own “personal hell” reliving his mother’s death over and over. Barry decides to re-enter the Speed Force to get Wally back, but unlike last time (in the amazing Kevin Smith-directed “The Runaway Dinosaur”), the Speed Force isn’t putting on kid gloves. They’re mad as hell over Flashpoint, and at Barry for lying when he promised he’d finally come to terms with his mother’s passing — and they’re not having any of it.
The Speed Force treats Barry like a hostile presence and actively tries to stop him from getting to Wally, tormenting him with guest stars Rick Cosnett, Robbie Amell, and Wentworth Miller reprising their roles as Eddie Thawne, Ronnie Raymond, and Captain Cold, respectively. It even retrieves the spirit of Hunter Zolomon, aka Zoom, to defend against Barry.
Eventually, Wally finds Barry, but with Barry’s lifeline to the real world cut off, Team Flash seeks the help of Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) to get him back. They succeed, but Jay reminds Barry of an unfortunate price: There has to be a speedster in the Speed Force (for reasons that still aren’t completely clear). Jay believes “every marathon” eventually comes to an end, and willingly submits himself to the Speed Force.
It’s a convenient sacrifice, but it’s also an unfortunate one. Not only is there still someone in the Speed Force — thereby not changing anything despite all this effort — but it’s a sacrifice made by someone who didn’t even have to help at all. This will weigh heavily on the morally righteous (but selfish) Barry Allen, making the fight against Savitar that much harder.
Jay isn’t the only one making sacrifices either. Now that Earth-3 doesn’t have a Flash, Jesse Quick (Violett Beane) — after learning she can’t fight Savitar herself — volunteers to protect Earth-3 in Jay’s stead. It’s yet another price for Barry’s actions paid for by someone else. You can be sure that Wally isn’t going to be very happy about this.
“Into the Speed Force” is a darker episode than the first Speed Force-centric “The Runaway Dinosaur”, but it also propelled the plot forward tenfold. When Jesse confronted Savitar, Team Flash learned Savitar is only human. The identity of Savitar has been shrouded in mystery and actively avoided; he might as well have been an alien. But Jesse wounded Savitar, proving Predator-style that because he can bleed, they can kill him. Or, since this is The Flash, just stop him in a really permanent way.