'The Flash' Episode 2.10 "Potential Energy" (7 out of 10) Starring Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Jesse L. Martin, and Tom Cavanagh. Guest starring Shantel VanSanten, Keiynan Lonsdale, Teddy Sears, Aaron Douglas.
"The Flash" is back after the 6 week winter hiatus, and I'm not sure if it's just the debut of the supervillain the Turtle who has things moving slowly. Everything seems kind of sluggish, with too many storylines to really invest in any single one of them. This season has been more scattered than the first, with requirements to spin off "DC's Legends of Tomorrow," introduce Wally West, have a new love interest for Barry, get across the concept of an Earth-2, and still tell an entertaining story with an arc starring the supervillain Zoom as the season's Big Bad. And all of that is just in the first ten episodes of the season. With "Legends of Tomorrow" premiering this week, I'm hoping some of these distracting tangents will calm down and let us enjoy the main storyline. You know, about, you know. The Flash.
Even with as messy as this season and episode has been, it's still the best, most fun superhero series on TV. This episode introduces us to the character usually held up as the worst of the Flash's villains: Russell Glosson, AKA the Turtle. His meta-ability? Slowing down time in his immediate vicinity, so everyone around him seems to freeze, and he zips into (just strolls, really) into the room and steals whatever precious item he's taking. Intriguingly (and borrowing a Mr. Freeze storyline from 'Batman: the Animated Series), he's not taking things that are of monetary value, as much as things that are personally valuable to the victims. That may include things like diamonds and paintings, but it's really about hurting the people he's stealing from.
Evidently Cisco has been tracking the Turtle for some time, but with the Flash being busy with Zoom and Reverse Flash and other more salient threats, this minor villain has been on the back burner. Cisco has a whole backlog of these villains, so we'll be meeting more of them in the future. As for the Turtle himself, I loved how they made his powers work on TV. The effects made his powers understandable and even formidable, and the dude is creepy as hell. I'm glad they rounded him up and put him in the pipeline...not sure if we'll see him again. Because of spoilery events in the episode itself.
Much of the episode has nothing to do with the Turtle, a strategy the writers often use when they need to move multiple storylines forward. And it usually works. This time, those stories include Barry and Patty's relationship, Joe West trying to build a relationship with his newly-discovered son Wally, and Caitlin finding out that Jay has an incurable disease. His life can only be saved if he gets his speed back from Zoom. Of these, the Barry/Patty storyline will have the most immediate impact.
Barry's been having nightmares about Zoom kidnapping and killing Patty, and it's kept him from getting closer to her. I mean, they're close, since when he wakes up from his nightmare they're in the same bed. But he still hasn't told her that he's the Flash, and she knows there's something big between them that he's keeping to himself. After a few run-ins with the Turtle, and then being kidnapped by the Turtle, she's ready to leave Barry. He tells the S.T.A.R. Labs gang that he's going to reveal his secret identity, and just as he's about to do so, she drops the bomb -- she's leaving Central City. And him.
Part of me likes that she's strong enough to do this--the way she explains it is that she's finished the job she was there to do--get justice for her father's death. She wants to go back and finish her training as a CSI in Midway City, she'll be a stronger person for this, getting back on track. But we all know that the catalyst is the problems with her relationship with Barry. Would they have been solved knowing he's the Flash? Would they have been compounded? We don't know. I really, really liked their relationship. They're both just...cute. Goofy. A bright spot in the series. She'll be missed. I haven't read any behind-the-scenes stuff to know if she comes back or not, but I'd welcome her back. On the other hand...it frees up one of those storylines that can slow down an episode.
The stinger at the end of the episode has Reverse Flash popping onto a suburban street in autumn. He pulls back his cowl to reveal not Harrison Wells' face, but Eobard Thawne. With next week's episode titled "The Reverse Flash Returns," we're in for a wild ride.