Saturday, April 15, 2023

The Flash 9x08 Review: "Partners in Time" (A Magnet for Trouble) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“Partners in Time”
Original Airdate: April 5, 2023

This week on The Flash, we get what’s probably my favorite of these little interlude episodes before another season arc is due to begin. What “Partners in Time” lacks in plotty significance, it makes up for in quirky cuteness and all-around fun. We get echoes of the time loop that opened the season, with Barry and Iris locked into the A-plot together — but while that episode was weighed down in slightly frustrating emotional character stuff, this one’s all silliness and showcases the West-Allen duo being a charming team. Basically, this week is probably a last hurrah before angst barrels down on us for the last half of the season.


We start off a hundred years in the future, where an unknown someone is sneaking around the Flash Museum and sets off an alarm while trying to access the weapons vault. Why is there a weapons vault in a publicly accessible museum? Between this and the treadmill that can send you back in time, I’m starting to think that museum was a bad idea.

One April 5, 2023, Barry has finished the baby’s crib seven months ahead of the due date and already stocked the freezer with (adult) Nora’s favorite ice cream. Again, the show seems way too certain that the baby who’s about to be born will be Nora despite being off schedule by three months, which makes me assume this will not be the case. I’m betting it’ll end up being the comics-canon Tornado Twins, but I’m usually wrong about these things so don’t take that bet.

What Barry has also done in preparation of having a child is schedule a mold inspection for STAR Labs, since he’s certain he’ll want to bring an infant to that incredibly dangerous location where everything goes wrong constantly. Just after Barry meets his friends’ worry over handling the inspection on his own by declaring, “I’m the Flash. I’m pretty sure I can handle one mold inspector,” complete with cheesy grin and a farcical camera pan-in, a whole inspection crew arrives. Calling in the mold inspector apparently triggered code enforcement, since the lab has been operating without permits for the entirety of the series. Wow. Sounds illegal.

“What’s a speed lab for, anyway?” the lead inspector asks. Speed, bro. Duh-doy. All the inspectors are weird characters, with a stoner mold guy, an electrical inspector who doesn’t know what a breaker box is, and a nerdy-prim radiation scientist. Iris even says they all seem like characters from a sitcom, and I think it’s meant to be a bit of obfuscation since a whodunnit mystery is coming up and the new characters should all be suspicious, but the episode really doesn’t try all that hard. And that’s just fine.

Things start going wrong when Barry and Iris direct the inspectors out of the speed lab, only for them to end up back in the speed lab. They try to laugh it off as a joke, but another trip out only leads them back in again — this time, an antique grandfather clock that looks brand new is also sitting in the room. Then, after Barry tries zipping to the future to find out how they can escape, everyone’s clothing changes to random historical costumes.

Barry shows back up wearing a knock-off Star Trek: The Next Generation uniform (which Iris says is “Star Wars” — adorable, you little anti-nerd, you) and it’s clear they can no longer pass off what’s going on as a prank. The running joke that is Barry’s secret identity continues as Barry immediately admits to this bunch of absolute strangers he’s the Flash. Granted, he becomes the voice of authority on Weird Time Stuff as soon as he does, so it’s justified in this case.

Our timestuck heroes quickly figure out what’s going on: they’re being trapped by a time magnet, stolen from the weapons vault that the speed lab will become in a hundred years. In the vault, the time magnet would have had a stabilizer to avoid this very thing, but the thief failed to steal the stabilizer along with the magnet so they’re trapped with the rest of them. Thus begins the brief mystery concept of the episode: who’s the thief?

Said mystery lasts through one iffy radiation test before people start turning into statues and the electrical inspector who didn’t know what a breaker box was is revealed to be Lady Chronos, “the greatest thief time has ever known.” Her costume’s dumb as hell, by the way. She’s got clock hands stuck to her forehead.

Anyway, Lady Chronos threatens Iris with the time magnet to get Barry to help her get out, but Barry’s just as stuck as she is and asks how she got there in the first place. She has a “chrono belt” that lets her jump through time to a single location. She used it to go back to 2023, disguise herself as an inspector on the date of STAR Labs’ last inspection before becoming a museum, and backdoor into the vault to swipe the time magnet but, alas, she forgot the stabilizer and got stuck. Now her chrono belt is out of charge and they’re out of options, until Barry offers to use his speed energy to charge the belt.

Lady Chronos returns to 2123 and a wave of reality-fixing glowiness passes through the speed lab, returning everything to normal. The inspectors — including the actual electrical inspector — arrive without any memory of what happened while under the influence of the time magnet. The real electrical inspector is wearing an eyepatch, by the way, which is perhaps the weirdest trait they could’ve given an utterly inconsequential non-character. I’d like to know more about that guy.

After debriefing with Khione and the three of them having dinner together, Iris and Barry spend the denouement eating ice cream at home and contemplating the future. Being trapped in the same time taught Iris a lesson about not only looking at the past and Barry a lesson about not only looking toward the future and the two have decided to pay more attention to the now. I thought that was the same lesson they learned from the time loop but, hey. Learn and learn again, I guess.

Other Things:

  • This episode only raises more questions about STAR Labs’ legitimacy, how they finance stuff, what sort of access the public has...
  • A weird amount of camera attention was paid to the magazine with Barry’s father on the front. Will it play into future episodes? Were they just proud of that prop and the ad for a comically 1990s computer on the back? I guess we’ll see.
  • Iris: “Barry’s not even a funny guy, like, at all.” Since season three, at least.
  • I love Iris giving the radiation inspector the squinty eye when she asks to study Barry’s “quantum biochemistry.”
  • Apparently the Flash museum has unbeatable security. Right, just like STAR Labs security is totally unbeatable.
  • Allegra and Chester once again get their plotline relegated to the Other Things section. They love each other now, yay! The little drama between them was only slightly annoying rather than very annoying like the four-episode-long will-they/won’t-they nonsense at the start of the season.
  • Wait, this inspection is the last one before STAR Labs becomes a museum, so the time for the Flash Museum happening must be coming up really soon. Either that or they only do inspections for dangerous nuclear facilities once every so often in this universe, which doesn’t seem that smart — oh. Yeah, it’s probably that last thing.


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