Season Two, Episode Eleven — “The Reverse-Flash Returns”
By Jarrod Jones. You don’t title an episode “The Reverse-Flash Returns” and not make it absolutely bonkers.
There’s an immediate apprehension that comes with Eobard Thawne’s return, not just because he’s easily the worst nemesis The Flash ever had, but because how can this show just pile on Barry like that. And besides, wasn’t Thawne erased from history? Well. Seems with the glut of Barry’s recent dilemmas — his quickly deteriorating relationship with Patty, his adoptive family troubles, Zoom — the Scarlet Speedster has let the past catch up with him. Almost quite literally.
But as scary as all this is (and it is scary), it’s pretty damned remarkable too. Eobard Thawne’s presence means that The Flash gets to freely explore its already-vast multiverse in rapid burst of absurd pseudoscience, which is always a wonderful thing. But there’s also the small matter of dealing with this fiend from the future, and how Barry Allen goes about that is definitely one of the hardest things our hero has ever done. Halfway through its second season, The Flash gave us one of its best episodes yet.
WHAT WORKED: Where do I begin.
Well, for starters I absolutely love it when a writer (or in this case, a group of writers) cares enough to give a part of the hero’s uniform its very own backstory. Superman’s cape in All-Star Superman? Baby blanket. Why does Batman have those weird gauntlets in Batman Begins? Because Liam Neeson. And now we have a story for Cisco Ramon’s Vibe goggles: hand-made with severe importance by the compromised Harrison Wells of Earth-2. So cool.
Speaking of Wells-2, was that genuine concern he was exhibiting for the ailing Cisco, or was he just worried that his vibing ace-in-the-hole was about to get swallowed up by time? Who can say, but given Tom Cavanagh and Carlos Valdes’ top-notch chemistry this season, I’m willing to suggest the former. I know Harrison Wells is not technically what you’d call “a good guy”, but Cavanagh’s function in this show, his energy, and his peculiar Adam West-ian elocution is definitely one thing that keeps me coming back each week. I don’t want him to go.
Matt Letscher returns to The Flash in grand fashion. His seething, smarmy performance as The Reverse-Flash is a stunning reminder of how underutilized he was in Season One. If we are to have Eobard Thawne return to this show as a heavy, I’m glad it’s Letscher under that yellow hood. However…
WHAT DIDN’T: …Having Eobard back kinda negates Eddie’s sacrifice at the end of Season One. While the “time remnants” jargon Wells-2 feeds us fortifies the show’s decision to bring The Reverse-Flash back to the series, knowing that Thawne is still out there sours my feelings about killing off poor Eddie.
Okay, I’ve really had it with that giant-ass Guantanamo the S.T.A.R. Kids are running in the basement. Now a suspect has been killed on their watch without once being properly detained and given due process. Does this gross anyone else out? Either get the police involved with your super-jail, or stop using this plot device, because it’s creepy, it’s poorly conceived, and worse, it’s utterly unheroic. (So what are we doing with The Turtles corpse? Gonna chuck it in the incinerator?)
Cisco: “Are you telling me I can see the future?” Wells-2: “That’s exactly what I’m telling you.” Cisco: “Those goggles are getting named. Immediately.”
“You’re not fast enough, Thawne. I will never lose you again.” – Barry.
BEST MOMENT: Barry vs. Eobard, Round Two. With an entire season’s worth of hunting the Reverse-Flash on their resume, Barry Allen and the S.T.A.R. Kids have gotten pretty durned good at locking up speedsters. (Just don’t tell that to Zoom.) But before Eobard gets tossed in the hoosegow, there’s the small matter of comeuppance. And Barry doesn’t hold back. Watching The Flash pin his greatest adversary against a wall and declare that this “war” between them is over elicited the kind of goosebumps you get when you know you’re watching something legendary.
EPISODE’S MVP: Barry Allen. Grant Gustin’s finally stepping back into the center stage of The Flash after the first half of this season worked overtime to set up Legends of Tomorrow, Zoom’s season-long arc, and the mind-boggling concepts behind Earth-2. And where do we find him? In utter turmoil. But Gustin’s thoughtful performance this week was a firm reminder that the actor is nothing more than the definitive Barry Allen. And his dark turn at the center of this episode gave me the chills like you wouldn’t believe.
– I dunno the physics so good, but I’m pretty sure you can’t remove a tire while it’s in motion. Let alone sixteen of them. Still, that was a pretty killer save, Barry.
– Cisco’s squeal is likely one of the all-time great TV squeals.
– So what’s the deal? Is Gideon like the Siri of the 25th Century or what?
– Now that we have Vibe’s goggles in working fashion, how long before Cisco makes himself a snazzy super-vest?
– Adios, Patty Spivot. I hope to see your smiling face again some day, hopefully under better circumstances.
– So the Jay Garrick of Earth-1 exists, and his name is Hunter Zolomon. I’m pretty sure no one saw that coming.
– Hunter Zolomon was created by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins, and he first appeared in The Flash: Secret Files & Origins #3.
– It can’t be a coincidence that the Zolomon Jay and Dr. Snow saw in the park that night was wearing nothing but black. In some circles, that could be considered damning evidence, and when you couple that with the fact that Hunter Zolomon is Zoom in the comics, it might just mean that we have just discovered Zoom’s true identity. But this show is definitely good at the ol’ bait-and-switch.
9 out of 10