Season Two, Episode Nineteen — “Back to Normal”

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

By Jarrod Jones. There’s no way around it now — The Flash is officially dragging its feet.

There’s a level of anguish that comes with that realization. Right now The Flash is as popular as it’s ever been; it’s frequently the #1 show of its time slot, which an impressive feat considering that it’s on The CW. At this moment in time, allowing a show like The Flash to fall into a rut is — for the lack of a kinder word — disastrous. And yet.

It’s become clear that the writers on this show have found no problem with the present status quo; a fact that’s punctuated by this week’s episode, titled rather cheekily, “Back to Normal”. What could be considered “normal” for devoted viewers of The Flash — exhilarating action, touching heart-to-hearts, the mounting threat of a worthy adversary, Wentworth Miller’s beautiful face — has been consistently shoved aside in order for the show to justify the undercooked narrative of its laughably over-long second season. (Is Kevin Smith’s upcoming episode, “The Runaway Dinosaur”, totally necessary, guys? Is it?) In padding its length, The Flash has lost its momentum.

This week The Flash continues to idle in neutral, sapping any tension from this season’s number one heavy with a dopey kidnapping subplot while generally making Barry even more unappealing by having him mope about his lost speed. (This was your idea, Allen.) Yes, Barry handed his powers over to Zoom last week, an act of defeatism that felt unnatural (and patently wrong) for such a hard-scrabble group like Team Flash. And while it’s clear that next week’s conceit looks to right that ship — likely providing Jesse and Wally superpowers of their very own in the process (on top of doubling down on Earth-1’s supervillain quotient) — “Back to Normal” does nothing unique or exciting with the material. It seems that in painting itself into a corner (however briefly), The Flash didn’t leave itself enough room in which to move around.

WHAT WORKED: While Griffin Grey (who looks more like this in the comics) wasn’t an exceptionally fleshed-out villain, the idea behind him was intriguing enough to keep my interest: a victim of the Season One particle collider explosion, Griffin’s powers of super-strength and nigh-invulnerability (a head-on collision with a S.T.A.R. Labs van did not leave Mr. Grey entirely unscathed) are wasting away his youth — literally. That’s right, Griffin is aging rapidly and only Harrison Wells can save him. (Insert your Reverse-Dorian Gray joke here.) The aging effects accomplished by The Flash‘s makeup department were also top-notch.

WHAT DIDN’T: I’m actively disliking that everyone’s made to hate the legend of Jay Garrick. “I really don’t like that we have to keep Jay’s helmet around. I hate this thing,” says Cisco. Despite Greg Berlanti’s insistence to the contraryThe Flash has gone out of its way to make Jay Garrick look like a hideous liar. And while it’s painfully obvious that the Man in the Iron Mask is the really real Jay Garrick (because Hunter Zolomon’s penchant for lying likely hasn’t gone away even though the cat’s out of the bag), I’m worried that the tarnished reputation of the Earth-2 Flash will not wash away so easily.

You just knew this was gonna happen. Caitlin Snow and her Earth-2 doppelganger Killer Frost finally got to meet this week. Feels like The Flash is merely checking off from a list of potential pair-ups from within its own show, primarily because it has no other ideas with which to pad this season’s ridiculous length. (Still to come, probably: an entire episode devoted to that Jesse Quick/Captain Singh team-up nobody wants.) What makes this match-up all the more trite is that Caitlin had to become Zoom’s prisoner in order for it to happen. (That’s right! Caitlin Snow’s been damseled, y’all.) And the sequence had to dilute Dr. Snow’s intelligence in order to siphon any drama from it too: looks like Caitlin has placed her faith in a person who has “Killer” for a first name. *slaps forehead*


Wells-2: (in the show’s latest burst of pseudoscience) “People from my world vibrate at a different frequency than the people of your world. They leave cellular dead zones wherever they go.” Cisco: “That’s why I’m always dropping calls around you?”


EPISODE’S MVP: Generally, my impulse is to always give this to Cisco, but in reality The Flash has a hard time finding things for him to do even when his presence is absolutely necessary. (And that’s never been more apparent than in this week’s episode.) So I’m going to use this space to plug The CW’s “Chronicles of Cisco” spinoff webseries while simultaneously throwing shade at the armada of writers The Flash is currently employing. You guys are making The Flash boring, something I know in my heart isn’t actually illegal, but really, really ought to be.

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.


– It appears that Jessie has adapted to the tres chic Millennial schtick that’s so popular on Earth-1.

– Look. I know Jay and Caitlin had a cute little in-joke about Big Belly Burger. But seeing Caitlin chained to a bed, left to stare at a goddamned cheeseburger with a side of french-fried potato garnish was too much. Do you want us to be afraid of Zoom or what, Show?

– Killer Frost has definitely adopted the Wentworth Miller “talllk rrreal slllowww” affectation. Because she’s cold.

– Griffin Grey — or just Griffin — was once a foe of Bart Allen’s Flash. (Neither Griffin nor Bart lasted very long in their adversarial roles, sad to say.) He first appeared in Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1 (2006).

– Ace Chemical? Make no mistake — that is a Batman reference. Ace Chemical is infamous for being the spot where The Red Hood fell in battle against the Dark Knight, only to pop up again with makeup on his face. (Or something, I don’t really remember.)

– Ray Palmer and Felicity Smoak get a shout this week, which is nice, all things considered. (Ray’s been busy languishing over on Legends of Tomorrow.) I wonder if Team Arrow will pop by for a visit before this season’s out. (Probably not.)

– Now that it’s been said out loud, Jesse Quick sounds an awful lot like Nestle Quick, provided you say it fast enough.

4.5 out of 10

Next: “Rupture”, soon.

Before: “Versus Zoom”, here.