THE REVERSE FLASH RETURNS – 8/10.
The Flash has been consistently excellent since its debut, managing to put its own twist on comic book lore whilst keeping fans of the Flash brand happy. A lot of this comes down to the perfect tone of the show. Some may find it too cheesy, but like the comics the show manages to blend darker subject matter and heavy drama without ever losing the sense of hope that epitomises the Scarlet Speedster. Followers of this blog will know that I have been lamenting the loss of my favourite rogue, Captain Cold, from the Flash Universe. Well that sense of loss was somewhat eased last week by the apparent return of my second favourite rogue, Reverse Flash.
It seemed likely that Eobard Thawne would return at some point thanks to the Speed Force helping him to survive wibbly wobbly, time wimey nonsense. That’s more or less the excuse used here, as explained a lot more succinctly by Harrison Wells. Wells has a lot of expositional dialogue in this episode relating both to time travel and Cisco’s vibing power, which he boosts by creating Vibe’s actual glasses. This seems like a risky move for Wells considering he only just killed The Turtle. Thawne has travelled back in time to discover Flash’s era of origin. Having achieved his goal he proceeds to kidnap Catherine McGee so he can use her tachyon hoojamaflip to travel back to his own time.
After Cisco has a premonition of Thawne killing Dr McGee the race is on to rescue her before this vibe can become a reality. Whilst the brunt of the episode is focused on Flash vs Reverse Flash, there are also multiple subplots concerning Patty’s imminent departure from Central City, Francine West’s even more imminent death, and Jay Garrick’s considerably less imminent trip to Heaven 2, which is presumably where people from Earth 2 go when they die.
Of all the subplots it is Patty’s departure that resonates the most, Grant Gustin and Shantel Van Santen have great chemistry and you genuinely feel for the characters as their relationship draws to its end. As the Flash, Barry has no choice but to let her go (with great power comes yada yada yada), but having now worked out that Barry and Flash are one in the same it seems like Patty can finally understand the missing parts of their relationship. Whilst not the most engaging part of the story, Jay and Caitlin’s search for a potential cell donor did lead to one interesting development; Jay’s Earth-1 counterpart is named Hunter Zolomon, a name veeeery familiar and relevant for comic book readers.
The eventual confrontation between Flash and his nemesis was of course the highlight of the episode, Barry’s power has grown immensely since their last confrontation and he is more than a match now for Thawne. The battle ends with Thawne trapped in a holding cell at Star Labs and here is where things get interesting. Despite a lecture from Wells about timelines and causality, Barry, Cisco and even Wells himself, interact with Reverse Flash serving to influence the decisions he will make on his journey to the past. Quite possibly the best exchange is between Barry and Thawne, where we discover the route of their rivalry through an origin story taken verbatim from the comics (pre New 52 anyway).
Thawne’s stay at Star Labs turns out to be short lived as the ruptured timeline threatens to erase Cisco from existence. Barry is forced into an uneasy alliance with his mortal enemy to send him back to the future, thus repairing the timeline and saving Cisco. This is achieved by both speedsters racing through the Particle Accelerator to create a time portal. Reverse Flash taunts Barry before his departure, claiming that he will see him again, we know this to be true as moments such as his mother’s murder are fixed events in Barry’s timeline. He claims to have won, but it is Barry’s willingness to do what is right that means he will always have the edge over Thawne.
This was another solid episode that served to both expand the world of the show while also bringing multiple threads together. The Francine storyline was the only real weak point, although I can forgive this as its whole purpose is to bring Wally into the fold. Even Zoom’s two week absence is excusable as I’m just not sure there would have been room for him in this episode.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Despite certain events this week, the show continues to drop hints that Earth 2 Barry could potentially be Zoom.
- Rip Hunter’s ship on LOT has the same Gideon AI that Thawne uses, is Gideon the standard tech used by time travellers or is there a link between Thawne and Captain Hunter?
- So the gang are just going to let it slide that ‘someone’ killed Turtle in his locked cell?
- Surely creating another time portal isn’t the best idea, especially considering the last one opened a black hole over Central City.
- I don’t think we are ever going to discover how captured metas are fed or use the toilet in their cells. Maybe we will get a spin-off series to explain it.