Spoilers ahead for “Potential Energy,” Tuesday night’s episode of The Flash!
After having a fairly good run of things in his personal life (the pending death threat from Zoom aside), things are not going well for Barry Allen — and if only he knew how bad things were about to get.
Along with reintroducing us to the effortlessly fun dynamic of Team Flash, Tuesday night’s midseason premiere for The CW’s Flash blew a hole in Barry Allen’s love life and even managed to bring back one of the series’ most iconic villains. Oh, and we also met a villain of the week who could hold the key to stopping Zoom. Not bad for one hour of television, right?
We’ll miss you, Patty
Oh, Barry. Barry, Barry, Barry. It seems like just about everyone in Central City knows Barry Allen is The Flash, but the angsty speedster has kept his secret identity from his near-perfect girlfriend Patty Spivot for entirely too long. After getting thisclose to telling Patty his big secret a couple of times, Barry backs down, leaving Patty wondering why on Earth she’s dating the weird guy who conveniently keeps disappearing every time her life is in danger. Which, from Patty’s perspective, it’s hard to argue with her logic. Patty has a chance to start a new life and pursue the career she has always wanted, and with Barry being the Biggest Flake on the Planet, she pulls the trigger.
When she pleas with Barry that, “Holy crap, I’ve been a really, really cool girlfriend,” it’s impossible to argue. Patty was great, and Barry’s character had a whole lot more chemistry (and things in common) with her than he ever has with Iris. Yes, we realize where this story is supposed to go in Flash lore, but c’mon. Arrow has pivoted from the expected pairing with Olicity, and this seemed like a great opportunity for Flash to potentially follow suit. But alas, it seems Patty will be heading off to college leaving Barry to dive back into his muddled angst. Keeping Patty in the dark this long ended exactly as you’d expect, which is insanely annoying. Seriously, we’ve been over this before, and it feels like one of those boneheaded plot points added solely to keep the drama going. Which, yes, this show is a drama — but make it a bit less obvious, next time.
The Turtle was surprisingly not terrible
Having Barry be the only person in Central City who doesn’t know about the Turtle was a cute twist, but the speed at which they managed to identify him was a bit convenient (you’re telling me Cisco couldn’t do it for years, but 10 minutes on the full-fledged Team Flash radar cracked the case?). Plus, no one brought up the potential usefulness of this guy before? Back when you were battling another speedster in Reverse-Flash? C’mon. I’ll confess: When Chief Tyrol Aaron Douglas showed up in a hoodie and the nickname the Turtle, the confidence level was not very high for the latest “metahuman of the week” storyline. But, it managed to surprise.
They took the story of a slouchy thief with the ability to slow down time (but not really, he’s actually sapping kinetic energy, or whatever) and turned it into a very dark and creepy serial killer-type story, which was a wicked twist for The Flash. The Turtle’s motivations seemed fairly dumb and convenient up to that point, but when he pulls back the curtain to show his wife behind the glass in that display case, you almost had to tip your hat that they’d take it that far. His presence in the STAR Labs underground prison (how they go to the bathroom, and live solely off the occasional Big Belly Burger, we may never know) also gave Harry a chance to push some limits, and we’re curious about exactly what he did to the Turtle, and what he plans to do next. Tom Cavanagh’s Earth-2 native Harry has been the perfect wildcard this season, and a surprisingly nice counterbalance to the cheeriness of the show as a whole.
The Reverse-Flash is back
Never underestimate the stinger scene. The Flash held back its biggest reveal for the final 30 seconds, with the Reverse-Flash (played by Matt Letscher, the original face of Eobard Thawne before he body snatched Harrison Wells) flying into town in an apparently very confused state. Seriously, we’d already heard he’d be back this season, but it was a jaw-dropping moment to see the iconic speedster come crashing back into Central City. It also raises a mountain of questions.
Thanks to Eddie Thawne’s sacrifice in the Season 1 finale, Eobard Thawne was essentially erased from existence, right? So, how could he be here, now? There are a few options, the most obvious is that he’s the Earth-2 version of Reverse-Flash, though it’s possible he could be from some alternate version of the future, or [Insert Other Crazy Theory Here]. It also begs the question: Is this Thawne even a villain? In the brief time we saw him, he seemed genuinely confused and almost goofy — not exactly like a guy traveling through time intent on killing an archenemy. If nothing else, the Flash writers have a whole lot of explaining to do.
Wally Wells is bordering on Dawn-level annoying
There’s a bar for just how annoying a teenager can be on genre television, and Michelle Trachtenberg’s introduction as Dawn Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer set it. Seriously, she was the most annoying and whiny character in the history of television during that first season, though the writers did manage to rehabilitate her before the series ended.
Wally isn’t quite that annoying here, but his whininess is extremely off-putting in the scenes we get with Keiynan Lonsdale. His asides about Barry taking his place in the West family, and his dig about Joe apparently not being that good of a detective, since he never realized he had a son (seriously a low blow) set Wally up as surprisingly unlikeable in his first full episode as a member of the cast. It makes sense Wally would have some conflicting emotions about the situation, but he seems like a bright guy.
If anything — he should be upset at his mother for keeping him a secret. Not the other way around. He was pretty much acting like a douche, and that’s not what I want from my Wally West. Of course, he did have a nice bonding moment with Joe to close out the episode, so perhaps they were just laying it on a bit thick so they could move past it fairly quickly? We'd hope that's the case, though some of that sibling rivalry with Barry will be sticking around. If nothing else, Lonsdale is a likeable dude, so it fits.
Notes and such:
Harry and Cisco: Put these two together in every scene. Seriously. They have the perfect amount of biting snark, and Harry purposefully throwing Cisco’s tools a second time was the perfect encapsulation of their relationship. There’s respect there, deep down, but he really just loves to get under his skin. Also, Cavanagh got a chance to stretch his acting muscles while recounting the origin story of the name “Zoom” (seriously who didn’t get a chill when he hit that final note, where Zoom comes back to kill the last remaining cop?).
Jay and Caitlin are adorable: Yes, we had reservations about Caitlin moving on following Ronnie’s death (R.I.P., bro), but she really does seem to be a perfect fit with Jay Garrick. Now, they just need to give Jay something to actually do. They introduced a second Flash to just mope around for half a season about how Zoom is mean and took his speed. Buck up, bro. You’re supposed to be a superhero — act like it. There’s so much wasted potential there.
What’s next: With Reverse-Flash back in town, Barry’s heart broken, and Zoom seemingly MIA for another week (maybe?), Team Flash will certainly be busy enough. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we hear about the Turtle’s abilities. You’d have to think his unique, metahuman skill set could crack the fight with Zoom wide open, right?