It’s been six months since Barry went into the speed force, and The Flash season 4 premiere sees the team doing the best they can in his absence. Unfortunately, their best isn’t the best (which is what the latest threat to the city wants to face) and they need Barry back. But can they make that happen without the speed force prison becoming unstable and destroying the city?

“The Flash Reborn” also catches up with Caitlin, who’s putting those two doctorates and PhD to good use … working at a bar? But she’s “just Caitlin” again, she tells Cisco when he seeks her out to help bring Barry home.

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Candice Patton delivers the best performance of the episode. She’s strong yet vulnerable, as she does what Barry told her to do before he left: keep running. For her, that means telling Joe that he should hire someone new in the crime lab (the official line is that Barry’s on sabbatical and Julian returned to London) because Barry’s not coming back. And even once Cisco says he may have a way to bring him back, she’s not immediately on board, for a reason she doesn’t reveal until Barry is in front of her.

Team … Vibe? Team … Kid Flash? Team … We Need The Flash ASAP!

In Barry’s absence, Iris is leading the team, directing Wally, Cisco and Joe in the field when metas threaten the city. And while they eventually capture Peek-a-Boo, one out of every three metas escapes. They obviously need Barry — and that’s before a samurai appears and threatens to destroy Central City if he doesn’t face The Flash in 24 hours.

Fortunately, Cisco has been working on a way to bring Barry home without the speed force prison becoming unstable and destroying the city (with some help, including from Arrow‘s Felicity and Curtis, so spoiler alert! They’re not dead!). However, Iris isn’t so certain that Cisco can be certain of his plan, so she thinks they’re better off coming up with a plan to take out the samurai.

Cisco chooses to instead seek out Caitlin to help with his plan, and he learns that not only is she “just Caitlin,” but she also has been keeping tabs on them enough to know that Barry’s in the speed force. She agrees to help and joins Cisco, Joe and Wally at the test track from the pilot (because where else would they do this?).

The plan is to use the modified speed force bazooka and a quark sphere to track Barry’s DNA and then trick the speed force into thinking he’s still there. They’re probably all already planning Barry’s welcome home bash, but once Cisco fires it up … nothing happens. And Iris shows up just in time for the disappointing result.

Cisco’s plan does seem to work, however, as Barry does run out of the speed force, naked and bearded, and collapses 300 miles away.

Cecile calls the team down to CCPD after the state police pick up Barry, but she warns them to prepare themselves. That’s because the Barry who came out of the speed force isn’t the same as the one who went in. He’s drawing symbols all over the walls and muttering what sounds like nonsense, talking like his mother is there and of stars melting and proclaiming his innocence.

They sedate him and bring him back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where Caitlin determines two possible reasons for his behavior: schizophasia (he’s actually making sense, but they need to figure out a way to translate what he’s saying and writing) or dementia caused by who knows how many years in isolation in the speed force since they don’t know how long it was for him in there.

They try to wake him up to figure out which is more likely, but he begins muttering and drawing again, and this is when Iris explains to him that she did what he said, that she kept running because she knew if she stopped to look back she’d remember he wasn’t behind her anymore. If Cisco hadn’t been able to bring him back or he’d turned out to be dead, it would have been like losing him all over again.

The samurai returns just as they’ve decided to put Barry into a containment cell after he speeds around S.T.A.R. Labs before he can seriously hurt anyone, and Wally tries to fool him into thinking he’s The Flash. It doesn’t work, and instead the samurai repeats his earlier threat and leaves Wally with an injury that would’ve cost him his leg if he wasn’t a speedster.

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Can Iris Get Barry Back?

Thanks to Caitlin’s comment that Barry’s symbols are “all Greek” to her, Cisco thinks he’s figured out a way to translate Barry’s writing, only for his algorithm to spit out, “This house is bitchin’,” which doesn’t sound like Barry. So much for that theory. Feeling down, Cisco admits to Caitlin that he just wanted his friend back because he missed him, not to save the city.

But maybe they can accomplish both? Off of some words of wisdom from Joe — “You got strength, baby girl. You just need a little faith” — Iris comes up with a plan to bring her Barry back and stop the samurai. When the 24 hours are up, she tells Barry, “Come get me,” before turning herself over to the samurai because The Flash will come for her. How does she know this? The samurai wants to know. She believes.

She’s right, as Barry speeds out of S.T.A.R. Labs (after stopping to get his new suit) when Joe runs to tell him that Iris is going to die. Running faster than anyone has before, Barry saves Iris and stops the samurai, only to realize it’s a robot?

Barry’s now back to normal and in perfect health. He feels incredible, like he’s been “reborn,” he tells the others. The last thing he remembered before seeing Iris was going into the speed force with his mother. So how’d he know Iris was in trouble? He doesn’t know, he says. (And no, “This house is bitchin'” doesn’t mean anything to him.)

Once they’re home, Barry tells Iris he’s proud of her for keeping everyone together while he was gone, but he considers his six months away a “blessing.” He feels like all his mistakes have been washed away.

As for who sent that robot samurai, a woman checks a newspaper headline and declares that it served its purpose and The Flash is back in Central City. What’s next? Her boss tells her he’s thinking. Hello, The Thinker.

Caitlin’s Totally Just Caitlin … Right?

Wrong. Though she claims that she is when Cisco initially seeks her out to help bring Barry back, there’s also clearly something going on at the dive bar where she works because a guy, Norvok, comes over to ask if everything’s okay.

And near the end of the episode, she tells Norvok to tell Amunet she’s out, but he warns her it doesn’t work that way. Well, it does for Killer Frost, who comes out with her own warning: touch her again and she’ll freeze his hand off. But once she’s outside, she turns back into Caitlin, and her reaction is, “Not again.” So much for being “just Caitlin.”

Do you think Barry’s telling the truth when he says he doesn’t remember his time in the speed force? What do you think is going on with Caitlin? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Flash season 4 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Flash Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of The CW)