The Flash: Potential Energy

"Fast is my specialty."

Tragedy strikes as Barry tries to work up the courage to share the deepest secret of his life with the woman who's won his heart and Wells wrestles with his inner darkness.

Joe West. You've been waiting for the son of your body for your entire life, and guess what? Wally turns out to be more than a little bit shady–and has been driven there by... having to find illegal means to make up financially for not having a father. This has got to hurt Joe, although I have to wonder: drag racing? I guess it's less stereotypical than drug dealing, and I noticed Wally's car had some interesting modifications. On the "son" side, I don't think Wally's even begun to deal with the fact that Francine had something to do with Wally and Joe's estrangement. I was happy they began to find some sort of common ground by the end. It's a pity this storyline had to take backseat, but it has the honor of backseating for (finally!) some movement on the Zoom storyline.


See, Barry's been feeling frustrated about his blockage in terms of Patty. (So have we.) And so is she; she gets together with Iris to talk it out and try to find some inroads into a higher relationship. Barry commits to telling Patty his secret identity, but right away, his secret identity begins to interfere in two very vital ways.

The first is the Turtle, who I think is arguably one of the more fun Flash villains in terms of special effects and general power. When he uses his Slow-Force, or whatever it is, you can feel the sticky. His motivations for crime, however, seem murky throughout. Why does he rob banks? Why does anyone rob a bank? Do people actually rob banks these days or does that just happen in the comics? These vital questions aren't answered well. He collects talismen of vital importance to the victims he robs, and he has a sort of Mister Freeze thing going on, with a cranky wife about to leave him 'frozen' in time. So, cool power, but poorly developed and implemented.

Defeating Turtle is similarly cool/interesting and sort of meh at the same time. The solution - Barry is just able to go faster because he transforms potential energy to kinetic energy - means he never has to worry about Turtle's powers, thus consigning Turtle perhaps inevitably to the end he reaches when this episode completes. But we'll talk about that in a second. I just want to make the point that these one-off baddies are a major weakness of this show and that they need to focus more on developing the Big Bad. Because that's what works in this episode. When Wells-2 (Harry just seems sort of wrong) tells Cisco about how Zoom got his name, that works. When Patty's telling Iris about Barry's dreams, it works. All these little moments, just like that second when Wells had Jesse in his arms before Zoom once again took Jesse back, they work. Zoom is fast coming to represent a primeval power which will stop at nothing to demonstrate its cruelty.

Does this justify what we see Wells-2 become? He tells himself he'll do anything to save his Jesse. Does murder not stretch the boundaries of 'anything'? His speech to Barry–that he should not tell Patty the Flash's secret identity, that Barry should fear losing his loved ones to Zoom and people like Zoom–is clearly based on the terror of his own experiences. I think it has the unintended side effect of checkmating Barry in his fight to move past the statements of Wells-1 in a quest for Barry's own self-fulfillment. If Barry's happiness means telling Patty, which would mean Patty's death, then there is no way for Patty to be happy. I'm convinced the scenes today spelled the end of their relationship; we won't see Patty giving Barry a second chance (and she shouldn't.)

Bye-bye, Patty. I think you made great decisions throughout, and you were a great girlfriend. But you are not a girlfriend robot designed by Warren Mears, and thus you needed more than an occasional directive to knit sweaters. You needed truth and honesty and purpose in life. You'll do well in CSI. But in general, what does this mean for Barry? Do these two factors–the constant interference of supervillains and the dread that such supervillains will harm the ones he loves–really mean Barry can't find love? I think no. I think it's the second-guessing that keeps Barry from finding love–with Iris, with Linda, and now with Patty. Second-guessing makes you a control freak and then everything goes downhill. Am I totally off?

In the end, Barry's single, and Patty's leaving. Wells has whatever makes the Turtle the Turtle. But will he come to give this substance to Zoom or use it against him? I'm not convinced Wells is totally evil. He's just willing to do evil things to save his daughter. He hasn't progressed to the point of developing ambitions of evil himself.

Oh, and Jay's sick and Caitlin is going to fight to figure out how to unsick him and get him his speed back. And I wonder if this isn't going to be part of the solution for Zoom in the end.

Bits and Pieces

The opening dream was very well done!


I don't like how Cisco was used in this episode, do you? I'm glad he has a little mother confessor thing going on, but sometimes I think it makes him lose momentum for developing his own story. He offers to vibe for Wells-2 in this episode; does this mean he's developed a moral system for when it's right to use his powers? There's a lot we're not seeing. More Cisco!

Caitlin's argument - that she can't believe Jay because he knew he was dying and she could be hurt again - rings hollow. Daily she fights evil metahumans.

I loved that Jay and Caitlin toasted each other out of beakers.

Quotables

Iris: You're not needed.
Joe: I'm needed somewhere. I... I'ma go there.

Wells: About two years ago... this is on Earth-2, now. The CCPD there–they got a 911 call about a hostage situation, but when the SWAT team got there, there were no hostages. It was a trap. Zoom set a trap in order to show the police that they could not stop him. And he killed 14 officers. Men and women. Slaughtered them. Left one alive to tell what happened. That officer described blue lightning "zooming" all about as his comrades, brothers and sisters in arms, were murdered. That officer... considered himself to be a lucky one, spared in order to tell the tale. Until Zoom went to his house that night and killed him too. Anyway, that's how he got the nickname Zoom.

Overall

A fun episode taking us one step closer not just to the confrontation between Zoom and Flash, but to knowing who's going to be standing and on which side. Four point five out of five Nasal Brain-sucking Syringes (I really did think Turtle could have been used better.)

4 comments:

FlopHairedWuss said...

I really hope they're not returning to the Barry/Iris well. The actors don't have the chemistry that Barry and Patty have. Everything that has happened over the last two seasons points to the Iris/Barry relationship not working.

If that happens, this relationship would've been a complete waste of time. It would have just been used as a placeholder to delay getting Barry and Iris together. What exactly was the point? What did Barry learn? I'm not a fan of the way things were left here at all. There's no reason why Patty shouldn't have found out by now. After all this unnecessary delay, this was the perfect time to tell her. Even Hawkgirl knows, and she'd only just met them. The inane logic that she would somehow be safer if she didn't know his identity despite the opposite being more likely is so completely infuriating. Especially as they do the same thing with pretty much every superhero and it's never convincing.

There were so many opportunities to tell her in the episode and he either doesn't or is conveniently interrupted. Not to mention that she probably should have figured it out by now. He literally tells her that he was struck by lightning. Plus Barry is The Flash, there's no such thing as a long-distance relationship. They did a similar thing in Arrow a few seasons ago and it was just as useless then as it was here.

There's no need to stick to the canon. The Iris/Barry thing clearly isn't working and they really need to drop it and move on.

Billie Doux said...

This is a superhero trope that drives me nuts -- hey, I'm not going to tell you my secret identity because it will put you in danger, making you completely ignorant of a serious threat to your life. Barry should have told her. Especially since she was Joe's partner. And I found the Wally plot annoying, too. Rebel without a cause? Why is Wally taking it out on Joe when Joe didn't even know Wally existed?

I'm so hoping that Wells-2 isn't going to do something unforgivable. I want him to trust the team. His cranky smartass comments and brusqueness make him even more fun with them than Wells-1 was.

FlopHairedWuss said...

Exactly. I'm really not a fan of the way the characters in this show treat Patty. That part where she (for completely understandable reasons) shot Wells-2, after giving him multiple warnings might I add, and Joe decides to yell at her and tell her to get out. Despite his initial reaction to seeing Wells-2 to shoot at him multiple times without so much as a warning. Not to mention that that would have been the perfect time to tell her everything and for her inclusion into the team. This show's insistence on using contrived secrets to create forced drama is getting increasingly annoying.

I really like this show but it's seems to be making similar decisions to those which Arrow made last season (and the crossover episode I watched this season), resulting in me quitting the show. I really hope that doesn't happen here but right now I'm quite worried.

Josie Kafka said...

How is nobody talking about the highlight of this episode?!

Cisco's shirt: a white bear and a black bear, with the words "Let's Make a Panda."

I would like that shirt, please. And any resultant cubs.