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THE FLASH Review: “Potential Energy”

THE FLASH Review: “Potential Energy”

Aaaand we’re back… After a long winter holiday, The Flash returns for the second half of its sophomore season, courtesy of Batgirl comic writer Bryan Q. Miller. With it returns the family drama, Cisco’s one-liners, and a new villain-of-the-week. But this time around, it’s not just any super-powered foe that’s battling our hero. No sir! We have the very first baddie ever to confront Barry Allen in a Flash comic book: The Turtle (played by Battlestar Galactica alum Aaron Douglas).

When the villain was first introduced, all the way back in 1945’s All-Flash #21 (written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Martin Naydel), he fought the original Flash, Jay Garrick. But he was given a reboot of sorts when Barry made his first appearance in 1956’s Showcase #4. Dubbed the Turtle Man (“The slowest man on Earth”), this new character was eventually revealed to be a protégé of the original Turtle. Not that any of this matters much to this week’s episode.

What does matter is that Patty has serious doubts about her and Barry’s relationship. Doubts that prompt her to respond by episode’s end to an acceptance letter she’s received from Midway City University. While she claims she always wanted to go to school to become a CSI, one can’t help but suspect that Barry helped her decision along through his increasingly guarded behavior, brought on by a recurring nightmare in which Zoom kills his girlfriend.

The Flash 2

Meanwhile, Wells has grown frantic in his quest to rescue his daughter from Zoom. While he promised the villain he’d help him steal Barry’s speed in exchange for Cassie’s life, he’s open to Cisco’s idea of stealing Zoom’s speed instead. When Team Flash finally captures the Turtle—after he’s revealed to be a bit more of a serial killer than he was in his original incarnation—Wells steals a portion of the bad guy’s brain tissue via his nose. (Ewww…) It’s a little unclear, however, as to whether he’ll use the metahuman’s ability to go after Zoom or the Scarlet Speedster.

Joe has problems of his own this week when he tries to bond with his newfound son Wally, who turns out to be a Vin Diesel wannabe. Wally has taken to competing in Central City street races because no one will race him anymore in Keystone City. Detective West is ready to give up on the kid, but Wally does an about-face (after chewing his dad out) after Joe promises not to try too hard to form a relationship with him. I’m just counting the days until he gets his super speed, because we already know where this story is headed. Still, to his credit, actor Keiynan Lonsdale—after having spoken only a few words in his first episode—makes a decent impression here with what Wally’s given, unfairly cutting into Joe for being an absentee father while demonstrating concern for his mother by racing to earn money to pay for her medical expenses. (And with the Oscars’ shut-out of African-American performers freshly on the mind, let’s give props to The Flash for now regularly featuring three strong actors of color.)

The only really murky bit of writing this week comes from Caitlin’s discovery that Jay not only lost his speed to Zoom but is terminally sick. Just what kind of sickness he has or how he became ill is left unclear. But it’s enough for the S.T.A.R. Labs scientist to commit to finding a way to get her new beau his speed back.

As for Patty’s sudden departure… I’m a little frustrated that I’m not heartbroken to see her go. But the truth is, she’s never been as quirky, interesting, or funny as she was in her debut episode. She and Barry suffer from the same problem he had with Felicity: they’re just too perfect for each other. Patty’s leaving also spares us from seeing Barry reveal his secret identity to yet another person. And since Ronnie is, for the time being, out of the picture (though that may soon change) perhaps those of us shipping #Snowbarry may someday have new cause for hope…

In any case, the script finds a useful metaphor in potential energy. It not only factors into the Turtle’s modus operandi but also into Patty’s decision to go to grad school.

Accelerated Particles

– “From Hell’s heart I stab at thee…” Either Cisco knows his Moby Dick or he’s just watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan one too many times. I’m guessing the latter.

– “I think we’ve found the next target for our Thirtysomething Not a Ninja Turtle.” Seriously, the rest of the cast must be jealous as all hell of Carlos Valdes’ lines.

– Just in case anyone else was uncertain, Jay is six-foot-four. Not six-foot-two.

– Can we please find more opportunities on this show for Caitlin to wear evening gowns?

– This is the second episode of this season in which Patty has been captured and tied to a chair… Yeah, it might be time for her to go.

– If Wells 2.0 does, like his predecessor, go bad, it’s at least comforting to think he’ll be a much more sympathetic villain—one who’s motivated to save his daughter and not just his own skin.

Next week: The title says all we need to know: “The Reverse-Flash Returns.”

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

IMAGES: THE CW

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