Oh yes, Eobard Thawne is back… When we last saw the Reverse-Flash, he was written out of existence, thanks to the self-sacrifice of his ancestor Eddie Thawne. But in this week’s episode of The Flash, the Scarlet Speedster’s arch-nemesis arrives in present day Central City… though at a point in his personal timeline before he killed Barry’s mom. If that doesn’t make sense, Wells is able to explain this “timeline remnant” a little bit better with a chalkboard. Suffice it to say, Thawne needs the help of Mercury Labs’ Christina McGee to to send him home via tachyon technology. (Hey, it’s not that much worse than the technobabble Star Trek: The Next Generation used to be spew.)
Naturally, Team Flash wants to stop him. Until they learn that by remaining in their present, Thawne will cause no end of deadly anomalies, not the least of which poses a threat to Cisco’s life. An initially reluctant Barry (and really, who can blame his reluctance, since the bastard murdered his poor mother) combines his speed with that of Thawne and throws him back to the future.
Speaking of mothers, Iris and Wally’s is nearing death, which furthers the intrepid reporter’s storyline. While this season has almost stuck Iris in a different TV show altogether, The Flash‘s leading lady—unfortunately, its weakest link in its first season—still fares a helluva lot better than that of Arrow in that show’s sophomore year, which put Laurel through that labored alcoholism storyline. Iris’ newly discovered brother is fated to become Kid Flash, but it’s uncertain where things will go with her once her mother finally does pass.
Meanwhile, Patty wants Barry to stop her from leaving for Midway City University. And after digging through his old case files, she deduces he’s the Flash, which both he and Joe deny. Apparently after having one too many of his friends taken hostage, Barry has decided he’ll only reveal his identity to other superheroes. In the end, Patty leaves, but not before tricking him into confirming her suspicions.
In this episode’s D storyline, Caitlin continues to look for a way to save Jay from his “sickness.” Determined to find his Earth-One doppelganger, and replace Jay’s cells with his, she learns from Jay that it won’t help him, since his own cells mutated when he acquired his speed. Thus the only way to cure her new beau remains catching Zoom and returning Jay his powers. At least we learn a little bit more about Caitlin’s past and why she’s such a natural caregiver. It turns out her father died of multiple sclerosis.
The one problem with “The Reverse-Flash Returns”—and it’s not an especially big one; this show continues to feature the leanest scripting of any melodrama on TV—is that we have less emotional history with this version of the Reverse-Flash, as played by actor Matt Letscher. Sure he was introduced last season, but he’s not the incarnation of Eobard Thawne we spent a whole season getting to know and hate (and Letscher, at least here, isn’t really in Tom Cavanagh’s league as far as charisma or acting go). So it’s hard to muster quite the same level of fear or hatred for him that Barry does. But Grant Gustin’s performance still manages to drive home the weight his presence places on him. Although Tina’s life doesn’t really have the same importance to the show or Barry as his mom does (even for those of us who remember her from the ’90s Flash TV series). In any case, there’s a nice layer of tragic inevitability to the revelation that Barry and Thawne’s fates are essentially linked, with the two forever reliant on each other, not unlike positive and negative electrical poles.
— “You better not be pulling a Juliet. Yeah, that’s right. I see plays.”
— When Joe calls Barry “Bar,” it sometimes sounds like he’s saying “Bear.” Which is a nickname I have for my wife. Which makes it sound… weird. Yeah, I realize this means nothing to anyone but me.
— Cisco finally gets his Vibe goggles and gets to enter “full-on Vibe mode”!
— “Are you telling me I can see the future?! These goggles are getting named. Immediately.”
— The name of Jay’s Earth-One doppelganger is Hunter Zolomon, which in DC comic books is—spoiler alert!—the name of the third Reverse-Flash, a.k.a. Zoom.
Next week: Barry battles a new enemy, Tar Pit, while Zoom returns and threatens Iris’ life.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).