The Flash Review: Speed? Barry Don’t Need No Stinking Speed

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The Flash, Season 2, Episode 19 “Back to Normal”

Giving your powers away to Zoom wasn’t such a great idea after all, Barry. With Caitlin kidnapped to a different dimension, Barry’s Central City is still dealing with metahuman goons. Team Flash has to band together to save the day without speed.

The Big Deal

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The old “hero loses his powers” gag is a well-worn chestnut of comic storytelling. It can be window into the soul or a stalling tactic to stretch the main storyline out a couple extra issues. Since Barry has shown time and time again that he possesses heroic qualities that don’t require a mask and red long johns, stretch time it is. The road is well traveled but The Flash is nice enough to take us down it in a nice car. The before and after morning routine montages set the tone for Barry’s current bleak outlook. With Caitlin gone and with no speedster to manage, the rest of Team Flash isn’t exactly having a dance party either. A frustrated Harry, has decided to track down his daughter, who is anonymous and happy, to bring her back to a building with some of the worst security in the world so she’ll be “safe.” Jessie tells her dad as much when they meet and while driving back to Central City alone, Harry has a literal run-in with a metahuman who is super-strong, aging rapidly and has a beef with Harrison Wells. Thanks to Cisco’s version of OnStar – we’ll call it OnStarLabs – the team finds out Harrison’s van has crashed and he’s been captured. Seeing as how Barry and Iris don’t have real jobs they could be doing, they drive off to investigate. Before the Star Labs explosion, our villain of the week, Griffin Grey, was a carefree teenager with a high school sweetheart and a lifetime of good things in front of him. After the explosion, he was granted amazing strength, but using those powers aged him rapidly. Faced with his own mortality, he wants Wells to cure him. Team Flash, now with Jessie aboard, has a couple of run-ins with Grey to determine his weakness. They rig a trap with Barry as bait to trick Grey into using his powers enough that it turns him too old to be a danger. Barry takes some lumps along the way, but the day is saved. Harry’s short time in captivity give him a brilliant, yet insanely dangerous plan to give Barry his powers back.

On the Side

With all the dimensional travel and spin-off setup that’s gone on this season, Caitlin (Danielle Pannabaker) has not been given a lot to do. Pannabaker got a showcase of sorts in this episode, with her character as Zoom’s prisoner on Earth 2. Caitlin is soothing to Zoom’s savage nature, so he’s keeping her around as both a trophy and someone to make goo-goo eyes at. In a gesture of good will, Zoom lets Caitlin roam his lair without supervision. There she discovers her doppleganger Killer Frost in a cell. They compare backstories and fashion tips before Frost convinces Catlin to bust her out of her box so they can thwart Zoom together. Some electrical engineering and fake science later, the cell is open and Frost tries to double-cross Caitlin almost immediately. Zoom senses a disturbance with his potential three-way and breaks things up by killing Frost. Shaken by the whole experience, Caitlin later tells Zoom she just wants to go home, which gives Zoom a whole new psychopathy to explore: why torture one world, when he can torment them all?

Observation and Speculation

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*I might have Blade Runner on the brain or something but they made the actor who played Grey up to look a lot like William Sanderson’s J.F. Sebastian from that classic sci-fi movie.

*Wally has a bad case of the fan boys. Much like his half-sister before him, following a rescue by The Flash last week, all Wally wants to do is meet the Flash to thank him. So he bugs Joe mercilessly about it. Seeing as how the Flash can’t just zip in and out like he used to, a meeting a problematic. Joe eventually arranges a Romeo and Juliet style balcony meeting where Wally says his thanks and Barry barely disguises his voice to say “you’re welcome.”

*Ok guys what is going to happen first: Wally finds out who the Flash is or we find out who IronMask is?

*Those guys should have been more careful running around that Ace Chemicals warehouse. Mix the contents of those drums together and you get some hilarious side effects – I’m not Joker-ing.

*With five majors in college and more scientific knowledge than the rest of Team Flash combined, Jessie is now Queen Nerd of Star Labs, which only endeared her more to Cisco.

*They haven’t crossed over to romantic territory yet, but Iris and Barry are spending way too many intimate moments together for my comfort level.

Words to Live By

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“Why hide the girls? You’ve seen our body, right?” – Killer Frost. I’m not so sure about that Frost. Caitlin seems the type who bathes in complete darkness in a pair of cutoff shorts.

Verdict

Relentless optimism has been The Flash‘s strongest suit from the very beginning, so when the show edges into more morose Arrow-type territory the results are generally mixed as they were here. Harry’s whole arc was unnecessary except the plot demanded he leave Star Labs’ basement and it needed Jessie into the fold to make up for Caitlin’s absence. Thankfully, all those pieces have been moved around the chessboard and the run-up to the season’s climax can finally begin.

Craig Wack

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

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  • wally is iron face guy. or….. um…. It was a slow episode (slow clap) but it was ok i think. Also i have more earth 1 earth 2 questions

    ya i dunno but if cisco and jesse don’t hook up and harry doesn’t get pissed because DAD what is the point?

  • Angry dimples

    so, what are the other options for the ironmask man? besides wally? or, dunno, jessie’s mom? who else did we meet and they were not immediately killed?

  • Jelinas

    The last few eps have been… meh. I am dying to know who IronMask is, though, so they payoff had BETTER BE WORTH IT