BACK TO NORMAL – 7/10.
What makes a hero? It’s not superpowers, or fancy gadgets or even an unhealthy obsession with spandex; the true definition of a hero is a willingness to do what is right no matter what the cost. There are few heroes more earnest than Barry Allen; even without his speed he is still willing to give his life to protect the innocent, and even the not so innocent. But his greatest strength may also be his weakness as Zoom was able to manipulate Barry into relinquishing his speed by holding Wally hostage. Of course Zoom had already released Wally before Barry gave him his speed, but it’s probably best to ignore that gaping plot hole. So now Barry must adapt to life without the Speed Force at a time when he needs it most if he is to recue Caitlin and defeat Zoom.
Wells is understandably distraught about the current situation as everything he has done, including the murder of The Turtle, was done to ensure the safety of his daughter. With Zoom now more powerful than ever he can pass between worlds with ease, making Jesse a target once again. Wells makes it clear that he holds Barry responsible before heading off to track Jesse down. He finds her with relative ease but she refuses to return to S.T.A.R. Labs as she still is unable to forgive him for the awful things he did in her name. Wells leaves but he is quite literally stopped in his tracks by a meta with super strength. The meta turns out to be a young man named Griffin Grey whose powers are causing him to age rapidly. He gives Wells an ultimatum; fix him or die.
It doesn’t take long for Team Flash to work out what has happened and to follow the trail back to Grey. However, stopping him without the Speed Force will be an altogether more complicated task. The team corners him at Ace Chemicals (a nice nod to the Bat-verse) where Grey easily takes out Barry by flinging a barrel of chemicals at him. Barry notices that the use of his powers is clearly speeding up Grey’s aging process and deducts that this will be the key to defeating him. Cisco uses some of Ray Palmer’s dwarf star alloy to fashion a temporary chest plate for the Flash suit. The plate will only protect Barry from one of Grey’s punches, but hopefully that will be enough to completely drain him of his powers.
Jesse helps Team Flash to track her father down to the abandoned amusement park where Grey is keeping him hostage. Griffin rants at Wells about responsibility and although his condition is actually the fault of Eobard Thawne, his words still resonate with Harry. Barry arrives in time to stop Grey from killing Wells but he ends up taking a beating from the rapidly aging teenager.The attack completely drains Griffin of his life force and he reverts back to his youthful form after his death. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs Jesse reconciles with her father but makes him vow to never go to those extremes again. But it is a minor victory for Barry, while he may have rescued Wells and defeated Griffin he is still no closer to saving Caitlin.
After being snatched by the now supercharged Zoom, Caitlin finds herself chained up in his lair on Earth-2. Hunter Zolomon claims to be in love with her and he honestly believes that she still loves him. He even goes so far as to unchain her, leaving her free to explore his lair where she comes across her evil doppelganger, Killer Frost. Zoom has kept Frost alive in one of his glass cells and after some awkward bonding she finally convinces Caitlin to help her escape. Caitlin releases Frost, who thanks her by immediately trying to kill her. Caitlin is only saved when Zoom reappears, phasing through her and killing Frost with her own icicle. Infuriated, Zoom vows to return Caitlin to Earth-1, but only so she can watch him conquer yet another world.
Back on Earth-2, Joe arranges a meeting between Wally and the Flash so that his son can thank the Scarlet Speedster for saving his life. The Flash gave up his speed to save Wally and that fact isn’t lost on the young man. He vows to make the most of this opportunity and to make Flash proud. But the fact remains that Barry did indeed give up everything to save Wally (even though he didn’t actually have to) and without his speed there is no way he can rescue Caitlin or defeat Zoom. But it seems that all may not be lost as Wells plans to atone for his sins by restoring Barry’s powers. When Barry asks how he intends to do that he receives an alarming response; Wells plans to create another particle accelerator explosion.
This was an enjoyable if forgettable episode, while it was nice to see a villain of the week fleshed out beyond “have powers, will smash”, Griffin still ended up being somewhat of a throwaway character. Last week’s episode left a lot of unanswered questions in regards to Zoom; the time-remnant explanation felt overly convoluted and ill-conceived and some clarity is still needed. It seems to be almost a certainty that man in the mask is the real Jay Garrick as he is far too big of a character in the Flash lore to simply sweep away. As ever Grant Gustin delivered a fantastic performance as Barry struggled to adapt to life without his powers. Despite Wells’ plan I hope that we get at least another episode to explore this story arc. After all, The Flash has never been the kind of show to rush things.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Anyone who knows their Flash lore would have been excited to hear Wells refer to Jesse as Jesse Quick. With another accelerator explosion on the way it seems as if Wally and Jesse are about to fulfil their destinies.
- For anyone still struggling to understand Zoom’s explanation here it is again; Hunter Zolomon claims to have created Jay Garrick to give the people of Central City hope so that he could take it away. He then travelled back in time and convinced a past version of himself to help him steal Barry’s speed which still makes absolutely no sense and actually goes against all the established rules of the show. Then again as any fan of Doctor Who can attest to, writers rarely tend to stick to their own established rules of time travel.