Warning: spoilers for last night’s episode of The Flash are ahead!
Last night’s episode of The Flash, a.k.a. “Flash Back,” marked the fourth time Barry Allen time traveled in the DC TV universe. This time, however, his messing around with the time stream brought a new problem: Time Wraiths. As Barry attempted to get some answers from Eobard Thawne about how to increase his speed the year before when the S.T.A.R. Labs team was dealing with Pied Piper, that ghoulish creature was flying around Central City trying to find Barry. Its goal: neutralize anyone who goes back to alter the past. However, their main targets are speedsters, which is why it’s doubtful we’ll see them on Legends of Tomorrow.
Questionable CGI aside, these freakish Time Wraiths now make time travel even more complicated on The Flash. It may be a while until we see them again, but for now, we thought we’d go over what we learned about them on “Flash Back” and how they might play into the show at a later point.
They Aren’t From The ComicsThe Flash has done an excellent job of incorporating characters and elements from the comic books, but these Time Wraiths are one of the show’s few completely original creations. The closest thing they resemble are the Black Flash, a manifestation of death in the DC universe that only appears to those connected to the Speed Force when their demise is near. They also share the same M.O. as the same-named Time Wraiths in the Doctor Who episode “Father’s Day,” only in that case, time itself was also trying to correct itself. As for why The Flash’s Time Wraiths haven’t been seen before when Barry went back into the past, our only clue came from Eobard Thawne, who said that Barry “ran out of luck.” That doesn’t really clear things up, but just as a guess, maybe the Time Wraith only targets those who are trying to change the past, as opposed to just the speedsters who go back in time and go about their lives. When Barry traveled back in time before, he either stayed in the past (thus merging with his younger self) or didn’t change anything. This isn’t the greatest explanation, but hopefully we’ll get more answers later this season or in Season 3.
How They Can Easily Stop A SpeedsterLike the ghosts of old, Time Wraiths float around and make themselves intangible, allowing them to easily pass through any physical obstacle. This lack of tangibility made it so that it didn’t leave any traces behind when it attacked Barry’s CCPD lab. However, that thing could also make itself tangible, as seen when it started smashing the glass of that Pipeline prison cell. The Time Wraith also isn't bound by our physical dimension, as it was able to travel through the Speed Force as it chased Barry back to the present. It was only near the end of the episode that we saw arguably its worst ability: life absorption. When Barry arrived back at present-day S.T.A.R. Labs, the Wraith grabbed onto him and started rapidly aging his body. Evidently even if you go back to when you belong, that thing doesn’t forgive easily.
Their Main Weakness Is SoundIt’s a good thing that Barry went back to when Pied Piper was in town, because sound is the Time Wraith’s primary weakness. When Cisco, Caitlin and Hartley Rathaway locked themselves in one of the Pipeline cells, the only reason they were able to drive it away was because Hartley was able to let loose a concentrated sound burst from his gauntlets. Later, when Barry arrived back in the present and nearly was killed by that thing, it was finally destroyed by the now-good Hartley, who commented that they key for getting the harnessed sound right was “low frequency, high intensity.” They may have another weakness we haven’t seen yet, but for now, sound will do just fine. So if a Time Wraith rears its head at Flash or another speedster in the future, someone call Pied Piper so he can make those things go up in smoke again.
How They May Be Used in The FutureRest assured, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Time Wraiths on The Flash. They may not appear again this season given everything that needs to be resolved with Earth-2, but if Barry tries to change the past in Season 3 or beyond, another Wraith will likely show up to interfere with their time traveling. Because those things appear to be a natural force rather than manmade, it’s unlikely the main characters will ever get rid of Time Wraiths completely, but thankfully, the main character knows how to deal with one. However, a thought does come to mind. If Barry ever tries to alter the course of the past more than he did in “Flash Back,” what if the Time Wraiths grow bigger and more powerful? If that happens, then it may take more than just a sound blast to get rid of them, if they even can be destroyed once they reach a certain power level.