The Flash – Season 2 Episode 10
The Flash returns after a long hiatus with an episode that is broadly back to basics as Team Flash deal with a metahuman from Earth-1 to give us a break from all of the Earth-2 threats that have been prominent this season.
Zoom is still on everyone’s mind but he doesn’t really feel like the urgent threat that Team Flash see him as. I think a lot of that is to do with the fact that the reveal of his plan was so underwhelming. It was mentioned in the last episode that he has been sending metahumans to challenge Barry so that he gets faster before Zoom finally steals his speed. It’s a really boring plan that is fairly identical to the one hatched by Reverse Flash last season. Zoom was being built up as a truly terrifying force of nature with mysterious intentions but has been largely neutered now.
Despite being absent from the episode, Zoom’s presence manifests in different ways for different people. For Harry he represents a barrier to reuniting with his daughter which definitely counts as the most relatable of the struggles faced by anyone on Team Flash. Harry is driven to the point of obsession trying to come up with a solution. He is frustrated with all the joking around that goes on within the team and wants to stay focused on the goal. The look he gives Cisco and the tone of his voice at one point clearly sends the “stop wasting time” message and even though Cisco covers it up with a joke, it does force him to turn his attention to that immediate threat.
Tom Cavenagh is doing an amazing job with the Earth-2 Harrison Wells. I’ve never been reminded of the Earth-1 version in his performance despite the fact that the same actor plays both. The performance highlight for him was his intense explanation of Zoom’s massacre of cops to prove how much of a threat he is. His delivery of it was very haunting and had an undercurrent of fear to it. Harry is afraid of Zoom but isn’t going to let his fear drive him to inaction. His deal with Zoom is still to come into play but I’m inclined to believe that he only wanted to delay Zoom’s attack until he came up with a plan to stop him. Either way, Harry is willing to go to any extreme to save his daughter as shown by his determined log entry where he talks about the first time he was worried he might lose his daughter.
Jay Garrick has a personal stake in Zoom’s defeat as well. It turns out that he has some kind of terminal illness that can only be cured by him regaining his speed. He’s been keeping that quiet for some reason which kind of makes him seem a little insensitive considering he is pursuing Caitlin romantically and is well aware of the fact that she lost her husband. I was excited to have Jay around at first but his contribution has been fairly minimal so far. Hopefully he’ll get his speed back soon and can be put to some use.
Barry is still haunted by his devastating defeat at the hands of Zoom to the point that it’s impacting his relationship with Patty. He is waking up in the middle of the night due to -what I assume to be- a recurring dream of her being captured and killed by Zoom which causes him to retreat into himself. Patty has noticed this and doesn’t accept his explanation that it isn’t anything to worry about.
The handling of Barry and Patty’s relationship in this episode didn’t really work for me as it went too far down into angsty territory for my liking. It went through the tired beats of Patty knowing that he’s hiding something while Barry insists that he isn’t. There was also the turmoil caused by the fact that Barry is trying to maintain his secret identity which means that his sorry excuses don’t stack up. It’s much the same as the situation with Iris last season which is a shame as I thought Barry and Patty’s relationship was more adult than that and has been built gradually enough that problems like this shouldn’t really be happening.
Patty was pretty much relegated to the damsel in distress role in this episode. She was strong enough in the face of danger and didn’t seem terrified to the point of inaction but the fact remains that she came across as something of an object for Barry to rescue. It’s a bit of a betrayal of the character that has been set up and the reason for kidnapping her is somewhat flimsy. There was no indication from an outsider perspective that the Flash was any more attached to her than anyone else. He was trying to save her as he would any other person so that didn’t really make sense.
The whole secret identity thing is a problem in this show mainly because it has been so poorly handled. In various Spider-Man animated shows Peter Parker constantly disappears which really upsets those he is close to. People perceive him as a coward but he keeps it going because he wants to preserve his secret. The opposite appears to be true here as Barry is very cavalier with the truth of his identity to the point where everyone close to him already knows. He revealed it to Eddie last season with no real need to and there are plenty of other examples of him doing so. Using protecting loved ones as a justification for hiding the truth doesn’t work for him as all it takes is for some villain to find out the truth and they’ll go after the people closest to him anyway. Villains finding out is a regular occurrence so keeping Patty ignorant of the truth is doing nothing to keep her safe considering she is routinely in danger going after metahumans.
A good contrast for this is the Peter Parker example as he approaches keeping his identity secret in different ways. His approach is to sacrifice a lot to keep it hidden. This means that people think less of him and deep connections aren’t forged very often because he doesn’t allow many people to get that close to him. In this show Barry doesn’t really have that as he wants to have close friendships with those around him but generally can’t do this if he wants to keep living a double life.
Patty leaving to pursue her dream because Barry isn’t giving her a reason to stay is overly melodramatic for me. It’s one of those ultimatum situations without being an ultimatum. It’s unclear if Patty is actually gone or if Barry will need to employ some kind of grand gesture to convince her to stay. Either way it’s a fairly flimsy plot point and delves too far into frustrating teen angst which comes across as worse because the characters are supposed to be adults.
The villain of this episode was Turtle (Aaron Douglas) and he suffers from the same problem as most of the villains do. He was almost bereft of any kind of characterisation beyond his desire to steal stuff. This would be fine if there wasn’t a half-baked attempt to throw in some backstory involving his wife right at the end of the episode. On a visual level he was really memorable with his ability to suck energy from a space to the point that Barry’s speed is almost cancelled. He felt like a viable threat to the Flash unlike many of the other villains.
One thing that didn’t work about him was the fact that he had apparently been active in Central City for quite a while without Team Flash getting around to dealing with him. He was built up as being elusive to the point that he was impossible to track down but when the team put their minds to it he was found pretty quickly and his threat level suddenly became more urgent. It made no sense that he was someone that had been around for longer than the timeframe of this episode.
As a means to an end his powers might prove really useful since they can hopefully be used to slow down Zoom and level the playing field. I’d like to see this attempted and then not work because Zoom’s abilities work differently. Judging by the treatment of the character so far it doesn’t seem to be the case but it would help make his menace greater.
The last episode introduced Joe’s son and Iris’ brother Wallace -or Wally- West and this episode dealt with him more significantly. I liked how understated it all was with a level of awkwardness between him and Joe that feels very real. Jesse L. Martin completely rises to the occasion of Joe trying to get to know his son but feeling isolated from him. He spends the episode trying to find that common ground but never quite gets there. It’s clear that it’s going to be a difficult road for them as they get to know one another.
Wally’s characterisation is a little bit thin at this point but the relationship is mostly seen from Joe’s perspective so that is to be expected. The headlines to take away in this episode for Wally is that he is a thrill seeker who likes to engage in Fast & Furious style street racing and he has really embraced his role as the “man of the house”. He feels responsible for his mother’s hospital bills and his pride won’t let him accept Joe’s help with that. It’s clear he has some integrity which is a good launching point for his character.
The ending of the episode was a really well done cliffhanger. Seeing Matt Letscher’s Eobard Thawne appear being all confused as to where -and presumably- when he is. On the surface it seems similar to him being stuck in the present day last season including a similar conversation with Gideon but I’m hopeful that there will be a twist to it. It’s unclear if this is the Earth-2 version or another version of the Earth-1 Reverse Flash. Maybe this version of Reverse Flash won’t be a villain or it’s possible that he will be the real villain and Zoom was only a distraction. There are a number of possibilities and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.
An uneven episode that relies too heavily on angst and melodrama to add tension to Barry and Patty’s relationship in ways that don’t really work.
Despite being mentioned a lot Zoom doesn’t really feel like the urgent threat that people constantly say he is. A lot of this is to do with the reveal of his plan in the previous episode being underwhelming.
Zoom’s presence manifests in different ways for different people. For Harry he represents a barrier to reuniting with his daughter. Harry is driven to the point of obsession trying to come up with a solution. He is frustrated with the joking around and tells Cisco to stop wasting time in such a way that Cisco is forced to pay attention.
Tom Cavenagh is doing a great job with Earth-2 Harrison Wells. His performance never reminds me of the Earth-1 version despite the same actor playing both. His intense explanation of Zoom’s massacre of cops was a particular chilling highlight in this episode. The deal he made with Zoom has still to play out but I’m inclined to believe that it’s a delay tactic while he comes up with a solution. Either way, Harry is willing to go to extremes to save his daughter as shown by his determined log entry where he recounts the first time he thought he might lose his daughter.
Jay Garrick has a personal stake in Zoom’s defeat. It turns out that he has a terminal illness that can only be cured by regaining his speed. He’s been keeping it quiet for some reason which makes his pursuit of Caitlin seem insensitive given that he is well aware that she lost her husband. Hopefully Jay will get his speed back soon and can be put to some use.
Barry is still haunted by the defeat that he suffered at the hands of Zoom. This manifests as a recurring dream of Patty being captured and killed by him which causes him to retreat into himself. This impacts his relationship with Patty as she realises that something is wrong even though he denies it.
The handling of Patty and Barry’s relationship didn’t work for me as it went to far into angsty territory. There was the tired beats of Patty knowing that Barry is hiding something as well as the turmoil associated with Barry maintaining his secret identity.
Patty was more or less relegated to the damsel in distress role. She was strong in the face of danger and wasn’t cripplingly terrified but she was an object for Barry to rescue. Doing this betrays the character that has been set up and the reason for her kidnapping was really flimsy since there was no outside indication that the Flash cared more about her than anyone else he would try to save.
The secret identity issue is something that doesn’t really work in this show as Barry makes no real sacrifice to preserve it. People routinely find out his secret and everyone close to him already knows so the way it has been set up doesn’t make sense. In the case of Patty she is no safer being kept in the dark.
Patty leaving to pursue her dream is overly melodramatic for me. It’s unclear if she’s gone or awaiting some kind of grand gesture to convince her to stay but either way I’m less than interested.
The villain of this episode was as underdeveloped as usual which would be fine if there wasn’t a contrived attempt to throw in some backstory involving his wife at the last minute. Visually he was memorable with his ability to suck energy making him seem like a viable threat to the Flash.
Having him be active in Central City for a while but eluding Cisco didn’t work as he was found far too easily. His threat level became more urgent for reasons that don’t work. The story wouldn’t have changed if he had just turned up this week.
Wally West is dealt with more significantly in this episode but mostly from the perspective of Joe. This is played with a level of awkwardness and feels very real. Joe spends the episode trying to find common ground but never quite gets there.
The characterisation of Wally is a bit thin but since this is from Joe’s perspective it makes sense. We know that he’s a thrill seeker and has fully embraced his role as “man of the house”. He won’t let Joe help with his mother’s hospital bills which clearly shows integrity. It’s a solid launching point for his character.
Reverse Flash’s appearance at the end is an effective cliffhanger. There are lots of possibilities for where this can go in the coming episodes and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.