The Flash season 7 continues its newest arc with episode 6, “The One With the Nineties.” In last week’s episode, Psych (Ennis Esmer), a metahuman who has the power to make people see their worst fears, attacks Central City. Team Flash manages to foil his plan, but he escapes. In “The One With the Nineties,” Team Flash searches for a way to help Barry (Grant Gustin) recover after his battle against Psych and protect the Speed Force (Michelle Harrison). Cisco (Carlos Valdez) and Chester (Brandon McKnight) attempt an experiment that will help them, but it backfires and causes an energy explosion. They soon realize that they were sent back through time. Finding themselves in the 1990s, they search for a way back home. Their quest gets even more dangerous when they realize that they are repeating the same day over and over.
While The Flash series is no stranger to having filler episodes throughout its seasons, it doesn’t make much sense to have one right now. Not all of “The One With the Nineties” is filler since the final Force was introduced, but the central plot of the episode is. It makes sense for the show to give Chester more character development, but it seems rather late to be doing this. An episode focused on him should have taken place during his introduction, especially since this season has three arcs in total that it plans to cover. At the conclusion of the episode, nothing about Chester’s arc resonated with me in any way. Nothing was set up to make him a critical member of Team Flash up to this point, and the episode didn’t make much of a case for him to still be around in the show. It doesn’t mean I’ve completely given up on his character, but it’s rather late in the series to be setting up new characters.
Much like with Legends of Tomorrow, this week’s episode of The Flash used the “Groundhog Day Loop” trope. For those unfamiliar with this trope, it’s a plot device used in shows or films in which a character, or characters, are forced caught in a time loop. They are forced to repeat a specific point in time, often only one day, until something is corrected. While Cisco and Chester are forced to relive the same day, the way it’s carried out in a way that doesn’t make it so formulaic. For instance, the episode broke away from some of the trope’s traits by not having Cisco and Chester go through too many repetitions. They also didn’t take very long to figure out that they were repeating the same day over and over. It fit well with their characters since they’re both established as geniuses. With a show that has a protagonist who can time travel, it’s strange that it took this long to have an episode like this. However, it was an enjoyable plot element that aided the episode in giving Chester the character development he should have already gotten.
The other story included in “The One With the Nineties” revolves around the Speed Force, who is still appearing in the form of Barry’s dead mother, is still in Star Labs under the protection of Team Flash. Harrison has made previous appearances as Barry’s mom and Jay Garrick’s wife, but this is by far the best character that she has played on the show. She is both protective of Barry while also being a cosmic entity that supplies his powers. This has the potential to lead to various situations and conflicts, especially for Barry. It would make sense for him to still feel conflicted with the way that the Speed Force decided to present itself. It also adds a bigger layer to just how important the Speed Force is within the realm of the show, which differs from how it is used within The Flash comics.
Ultimately, “The One With the Nineties” was both a filler episode while also providing character development for one of its new characters and gave more information for future episodes. It also incorporated the “Groundhog Day Loop” trope in a way that didn’t necessarily follow most of its traits, which differs from other shows in the Arrowverse that have done this. The episode also gave the Speed Force more importance within the show rather than just being something that gives speedsters their powers. With all Forces finally introduced, it will be interesting to see where the story goes next.
The Flash season 7 airs new episodes every Tuesday on the CW Network.
The Flash Season 7, Episode 6, "The One With the Nineties"
“The One With the Nineties” was both a filler episode while also providing character development for one of its new characters and gave more information for future episodes. It also incorporated the “Groundhog Day Loop” trope in a way that didn’t necessarily follow most of its traits, which differs from other shows in the Arrowverse that have done this.