What. Just. Happened?!
The Flash returned tonight from its mini-hiatus, and if you weren't left speechless by the end of "Out of Time," then you're not human. Clearly.
Warning: Major spoilers below! If you have yet to see tonight's episode, turn back now!
Holy time-travel twist cliffhanger, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin)! It seemed like the CW superhero show put absolutely everything on the line—Cisco (Carlos Valdes) figured out Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is the Reverse Flash, and Wells killed him to keep his secret! Wells revealed his real name is Eobard Thawne, aka Eddie's (Rick Cosnett) distant relative from the future (and comic book fans know where this is going...)! Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) also realized Wells could walk, and tried to tip off Barry that something was wrong! Iris (Candice Patton) revealed she loves Barry, and they shared an epic, romantic kiss in the midst of certain death! Barry revealed to Iris that he's the Flash before saving the day!—until everything rewound, literally.
Barry tried to run as fast as he could to create a "wall" of wind to block the tidal wave heading for Central City after the Weather Wizard, aka Mark Mardon (Spartacus' hero Liam McIntyre killing it as a villain) tried to get revenge on Joe (Jesse L. Martin) for killing his brother back in the pilot, but he ended up running too fast...and accidentally time-traveled back to a few days earlier, effectively resetting the clock on everything that had just taken place.
So what does this all mean?! Has everything that just happened been negated? Is there a separate timeline for what just happened, and what's about to happen now that Barry's in the past? How much will stay the same, and how much will take a different course?
"That's the advantage of having a show that dabbles in time travel," executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told a stunned group of reporters after screening the episode early. "This episode allowed us to give people a taste and a tease and make some big reveals. We give the audience some of the things they've been craving but there's still plenty of things that have been unsaid, what Wells really wants for Barry ultimately and how things are going to play out. This episode felt like an amazing opportunity to do some crazy stuff."
But that still begs the question: Where does the show go from here and what does this time-travel cliffhanger mean?!
"The ramifications of this episode are the fun of episode 16," Kreisberg teased. "And seeing exactly what happened in [episode] 15, how much of it still happens and how much of it might possibly change. Part of the fun of [episode] 16 is watching how when time changes, certain events occur that prevent Cisco from following along this same trajectory, and watching how things play out but in a completely different way."
And yes, that means, for the time being, Cisco is still alive...and unaware of Wells' true identity.
"The scene between [Wells] and [Cisco], we didn't even script that Cisco cries," Kreisberg said. "But the notion that Tom and Carlos worked out, is that the minute [Wells] walks into the room, [Cisco] knows he's going to die. I get chills just thinking about it."
Just because Wells proved he's willing to kill Cisco for his goal to get back home to the future, doesn't mean he didn't feel terrible about it. Cavanagh promises "there are real feelings there" between the mentor and mentee.
"He's already dead [from Wells' futuristic point of view]. I'm killing a dead guy! Not a big deal," Cavanagh said. "But there's a genuine affection between them. That is not fake. When Thawne is in the current time, he's wholly invested and truly cares about Cisco. When we see the two of them meet, he's on his side. He's truly a wunderkind, a genius, and he sees some of him in Cisco. There's a protégé/mentorship happening and there's genuine affection. But at the same time, the guy's got to get home."
Kreisberg agreed, adding that Wells/Eobard Thawne is "not an evil man."
"He thinks of himself as a hero," Kreisberg said. "And bad people can love other people. Bad people are capable of love and incredible amounts of kindness and generosity. There's nothing he said to Cisco that wasn't the truth: He's sorry he found out, he's sorry it has to happen, but it does have to happen. There's a scene in episode 16 that mirrors this scene that really speaks to that. He wants to get home. He wanted to kill Barry, and he thought it would be a neat and easy thing but he's found himself trapped here for the last 15 years and all he wants to do is get back. And if he can kill Barry in the process? Two for two!"
Fans will get to learn more about Wells/Thawne's backstory in an upcoming episode that will make it clear what kind of a person he is and what he really wants.
"In episode 17 we're going to get a flashback story from [Wells]'s point of view," Kreisberg said. "And then in an upcoming episode, everyone's going to flash back to the time when Barry was in a coma. You'll see that time from Wells' point of view, from Barry's point of view, and Joe and Iris and you'll get to fill in more of that backstory. Towards the end of this season, a whole bunch of new questions will pop up and that will drive the series forward."
And now that we know Wells is related to Eddie, expect to see these two share more scenes together.
"You can take [Wells] at his word that there is obviously a family connection between the two of them," Kreisberg said. "There are some great scenes coming up between Tom and Rick that starts to become a storyline. It's cool stuff."
But what about Barry and Iris? Fans now know Iris feels the same way about Barry as he does about her, and Barry will still have that knowledge too. Iris, however, won't have any memory of professing her love for Barry and kissing him.
"We'll have to wait to see what the time travel does to all of these characters including Barry and Iris," Patton said. "But what's important about this episode is that we finally learn the answer to the question Barry asked Iris, 'How do you feel about me?' Iris, when she's backed against a wall and realizes they can both lose their lives, it propels her to finally come to grips with how she feels about Barry. She loves Barry, and that makes it complicated because she loves Eddie too, just in a different way."
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.