I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan. Not only do I have a deep love for his films, I also listen to a few of his podcasts. When it was announced that he would direct an episode of The Flash, I was both excited for him and interested to see how it would turn out. My excitement for him was due to how he landed the job in the first place. Smith filmed himself watching the first season’s finale of The Flash, and was in legitimate tears by the end of the episode. Posted on YouTube for the world to see, it became somewhat popular and scored the attention of the showrunners of The Flash. After one of Kevin’s friends contacted the show on his behalf and asked if they were willing to allow the superfan to direct an episode, Kevin found himself in the director’s seat on his favorite television show.
With Kevin behind the wheel, it’s understandable to believe that the comedic elements of the show would be the focus point. But the show was surprisingly deep and emotional instead, and it was obvious that a lot of love was put in to the episode. Runaway Dinosaur is more of a fan made episode than just a regular episode of The Flash. It was made with the kind of care only a die hard fan can deliver, and it shows. Easily one of the most emotional episodes of the season, Runaway Dinosaur delivers in great performances, and a sense of Barry moving forward comfortably in his life by the end of the episode.
After being disintegrated in the previous episode, Barry finds himself in a weird alternate world later revealed as the speed force itself. Trapped inside the speed force until he can catch a fast moving shadow like shape, Barry is forced to confront his willingness to give up his powers while also being forced to finally confront his mother’s death. Meanwhile, the explosion reanimates Girder, a previous Flash villain, and leaves him in a zombie like state. The team tries to deal with Girder, Jesse’s injuries due to the particle accelerator explosion, and try to bring Barry back from the speed force. After finally coming to terms with his mother’s death, and finally catching the shadow like figure revealing it as himself all along, Barry finally leaves the speed force and takes down Girder with the help of the rest of the team. Barry is able to wake Jesse up from being unconscious by touching her, and now has a better understanding of himself and his path in life due to his experience in the speed force. The episode ends with him embracing Iris before it shows Zoom putting together a huge army to invade Earth-1.
What I liked
The emotion in the episode was the selling point of it. The episode consisted of some of the best performances from the cast all around. The pain and hurt of these characters were on display in a way that we have never seen before. From the distraught look on Henry’s face after realizing that he’d just lost the only person he had left in this world, to Barry breaking down at his mother’s grave, the episode was filled with great performances that dealt with the idea of loss. We’ve all lost someone in the past, and this episode displayed the grief behind losing a loved one perfectly to the point that it hits home.
But through the grief of losing his mother and finally confronting that loss, Barry was able to move forward in his life without the weight of not saving her on his conscience. The concept of everything happening for a reason, and that he wouldn’t be the person he is today if it wasn’t for his mother’s death gave a little more clarity as to why Barry would stop himself from saving her in the first season. And it also gave him the courage to finally move forward with Iris without the fear of what happens next. Barry Allen grew as a character due to this episode, and is now on a different path than before.
What I disliked
The only dislike I have for this episode is how forgettable the villain was. To be honest, I can’t remember Girder from his first episode on the show. While that might fall on me more than the show itself, it didn’t help that he was basically in an undead zombie state this entire episode. There was nothing interesting about him as a villain at all, and he mostly served as a means for action in a heavenly drama filled episode. He served his purpose well. With all of the storytelling, there just wasn’t enough time to develop a compelling new villain for the episode and dedicate enough time to him/her. So it’s forgivable that the main villain of the episode was just walking undead muscles, but it’s still worth noting how forgettable the character was in a episode fill with great performances.
Kevin Smith has received praise from the showrunners of The Flash, and they are interested in having him return to direct possibly three episodes next season. But with the celebrity directing aside, this was a solid tearjerker of an episode with great performances and character development. With only two episodes left in the season, the show is headed to what would surely be an action packed conclusion with a lot of emotion involved. This episode provided the groundwork for Barry to rebuild his confidence in order to finally take on Zoom for the final time. And if this is the emotion the show brings to the final episodes of this season, then let’s get our tissues ready.