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"I will say, she put bullets in King Shark and Harry. So as far as I'm concerned, that's Team Flash material to me."
It's been a long hiatus since we were last with Team Flash in Central City, and it seems like Barry has learned a thing or two in the interim. He intends to tell Patty his secret this week, finally, and everyone save gloom-and-doom Harry is on board with this plan. Cisco's not wrong when he says that Patty has earned her Flash stripes, and Iris isn't wrong when she tells Barry that if he's serious about being with Patty, there's really no other option but to tell her. So it's extremely frustrating that obstacles impede this plan not once but twice in "Potential Energy." If only Barry would just spit it out, he wouldn't keep getting interrupted by bad guys or Patty's own decision to leave.
Patty and Barry share some wonderful scenes this episode, their sweet and dorky banter as entertaining as ever, and Shantel VanSanten is never better than when she finally tells Barry to cut out the goofy grins, because she's really upset by his distance and dishonesty. These scenes, in which he tries to tell her but takes too long and loses his chance, are so familiar from every other superhero story as to become completely tired. It's a cliché that's beneath the characters and The Flash in general. Patty better come back - if the writers didn't intend for her to be a long-term love of Barry's, they shouldn't have cast such an impossibly likable actress.
All of that said, "Potential Energy" is a very strong return to form for The Flash after such a long time without our favorite speedster, and the last time a female character was ushered to the side by this show, the writers fixed it and then some. Iris is now an important part of the series, and her scenes with Patty and Barry this week are moving, a reminder that Iris has both wisdom and empathy in spades. I wish the episode, which is chock-a-block with very cool action, allowed a little more time to focus on Iris and Joe's feelings about Wally's sudden, emotional arrival. Keiynan Lonsdale gives a great performance as a son who feels both hope and resentment at the prospect of a new family, but we weren't given enough of a chance to see this fraught dynamic play out. The best exchange of the episode came as Joe admits that he's pushing Wally too hard to have a relationship, and Wally grudgingly asks, "All that food for you?" I look forward to much more time spent with this new West family.
The action this week came in the form of the time-slowing Turtle, played with surprising effectiveness by Battlestar Galactica's Aaron Douglas and making for a worthier opponent than these one-off metavillains tend to be. All of the stuff about Barry being the last to know and Cisco's list of nameless bad guys was really fun, and Douglas was truly menacing in his scenes with Patty. The tortoise and the hare scenario worked both narratively and visually, with some really cool effects employed to demonstrate Barry's speed versus the Turtle's...unspeed.
And the Turtle brought to the surface some simmering conflicts for both Jay and Harry. Harry intends to use the Turtle's powers to despeed Zoom and rescue his daughter without betraying The Flash, and Jay's own lack of speed has left him not only depressed but very ill. Teddy Sears is an appealing presence, but aside from his great chemistry with Caitlin, he hasn't proven to be a very significant addition to The Flash, so hopefully this new arc will give him something to do. But the same certainly can't be said for Harry, whose storyline grows in importance and impact every episode. His scene with Cisco, as he reveals Zoom's bleak origins, is incredibly powerful, as is his voiceover at the end of the episode, a furious and impassioned message for his lost daughter. There are no surprises anymore at Tom Cavanagh's talent, but every episode offers a new way to appreciate him.
And of course the big reveal of "Potential Energy" is that...Reverse-Flash is back! Zoom doesn't really feel like a big enough bad for our second season, so (Earth-2?) Eobard Thawne is more than welcome to step up and augment the villainy with some theatrics of his own.
Coolest moments this week:
There was so much great Team Flash repartee this week, from Cisco's "Do you see what you're doing, Caitlin? Everyone's confused," to Jay's "I'm 6'4," to the chorus of "Seven!" when Barry's making a date with Patty on the phone. And of course: "I think we found the next target for our 30-something, meta-human, not-a-Ninja-Turtle." "How long did it take you to come up with that one?" "It just came out of my mouth! Did you see that?" These guys just get cuter and funnier every week.
The effects in this episode were really killer, particularly when Barry finally powers through to save Patty. If only he were as adept at talking to her, we'd be in business.
That reveal of Reverse-Flash elicited an honest-to-god gasp from me. Welcome back, Eobard Thawne!