Flash did a good job this week of dropping us back into the action. As I’ve said before, the first half of the season suffered from having to set up Legends of Tomorrow, and I’ve been hoping with that done, they’d have freedom to refocus on their own arc. This episode did that well enough.
Joe has been one of my favorite characters on The Flash, and while I’m excited for what introducing Wally West could mean, I didn’t really connect with his part of the story. I suspect it’s just that Wally’s anger feels forced, especially given that he came knocking on Joe’s door to begin with.
I’ve liked Patty much more than any other CW show’s love interest, and I’ve thought she and Barry have great chemistry. I’ve thought for some time, though, that Barry should have already told her about being The Flash, and this seemed like the episode where that was going to happen. What’s even more than that, it’s getting really hard to suspend disbelief to the point where Patty hasn’t figured it out. Barry suddenly disappearing, Flash appearing to save the day, being told by The Turtle that she’s what Flash values most, the clues were stacking up in front of her this week, and they’re really undermining her character if she genuinely hasn’t put two and two together now. My one hope is that Patty has figured it out, and she’s simply upset that Barry hasn’t come clean.
There isn’t much to say about The Turtle. He was another villain of the week, and he’s apparently being used as a plot device for Harrison, and the fight against Zoom. He was effective in those roles, but not particularly memorable.
The big reveal at the end offers more possibilities for the alternate dimension exploration, and it’s definitely got my attention, but The Flash needs to take care that they don’t kill the stakes with “alternate earth” versions of existing characters, in essence making that The Flash’s version of the Lazarus Pits.
“Potential Energy” showed promise but I don’t know if The Flash converted as much of the episode into kinetic energy as it could have. The Flash is turning the corner toward full CW soap opera this week—it’s all about artificial teen angst and relationships, baby—so forced emotions bogged down the main story.
I guess I agree with Patty and Barry as the least objectionable relationship on a current CW superhero show but that bar is as low as a limbo stick after The Atom has a turn. I also agree that secret identities went out of style in the DC TV/cinematic universe after Alfred let Vicki Vale into the Batcave in 1989’s Batman and yet I didn’t have an issue with Patty not learning Barry’s secret until this week. (Note: she may or may not know that Barry’s The Flash and she’s not much of a police detective if she doesn’t know after this week’s events.) Iris’s ignorance of The Flash’s identity bothered me more because she wasn’t just a love interest: she’s Barry’s pseudo-sister.
Could The Flash have used The Turtle better? Of course but he’s another example of The Flash taking a forgettable and pathetic DC comics villain (Rainbow Raider in last year’s crossover episode) and making them palatable as well as plot devices. The Flash may not have taken Turtle Man to the next level, but he didn’t stink and he lost the Dana Carvey Man of a Thousand Faces vibe. “Am I not turtley enough for you?” Yes. I could do with a little less turtle, and The Turtle was a little less turtle.
Before I get to the big ending, let’s cover some of those other pesky side-stories. I’d forgotten about Wally West (another piece of fan service eye candy) and Caitlin and Jay as an item, and I wasn’t too thrilled when The Flash reminded me that these two things were things. Earth-2’s Harrison Wells recapping the kidnapping of his daughter is good, that factors into the main arc, but I don’t know what the payoff is with a lot of these story scraps or if there even is a payoff.
And there isn’t much of a payoff when you have a spare of every character on Earth-2, and yet The Flash has two potential Lazarus Pits not just one. Time-travel is always an option. The Flash is treading dangerous water here, but I trust the writers room won’t dip into the bring people back from the dead well too often and “Potential Energy” got The Flash back on track with Zoom.
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