The Flash: Potential Energy review

The fastest man alive takes on a guy who makes everyone slow down in an episode that was way more fun than expected.

This The Flash review contains spoilers.

The Flash Season 2 Episode 10

I don’t know if this is a season 2 thing or what, but The Flash is just such a confident show right now, isn’t it? “Potential Energy” should have really just been a middling villain of the week excursion. It wasn’t. I’d resort to some kind of hyperbole about how “this show couldn’t do one of those even if it wanted to” but we’d all know that would be a lie. It’s enough that this one was damn good.

It’s just a case of everything working together so well that it lifts the whole episode higher than expectations. Here’s an example. Stuff like Iris sitting down for coffee with Patty to discuss Barry and Patty’s love life shouldn’t be good. It shouldn’t be charming. It should be all, I dunno, CW-y and now in a good way. Like, in a CW from five years ago way or something.

But it wasn’t like that at all. It was great.

Ad – content continues below

I spent many a season one episode yelling at Barry, specifically regarding Iris, saying things like (actual quotes from my notes) “tell her already you dope!” There was definitely an element of that on display tonight. There’s also an element of relief that Iris is no longer the one being lied to all the time. In a nice bit of reversal playing on how Iris spent all of season one in the dark, she even knew about the Turtle before Barry did.

And Patty has always felt like she’s right on the cusp of putting it all together anyway, right? And Shantel VanSanten’s romantic chemistry with Grant Gustin is so strong that it’s pretty much impossible not to root for the two of them to work, right? So Barry should just frakkin’ tell her already, right?

Well, of course. But when Harry Wells turns out to be the voice of reason, it’s tough. What’s more, I really didn’t see Patty’s departure coming. I’m curious to see if they actually stick with this for a chunk of the rest of the season.

Wrapped around all of this are the ongoing struggles between Joe and Wally West. Wally’s likely superheroic future aside, I’m digging the way they’re doing all of this. Other than Wally’s love of fast cars, they aren’t beating us over the head about his possible future. Instead, we have to give a damn about him first. It’s a little early to say if that’s going to succeed, pairing him with Joe makes perfect sense to not only show where his head is at, but to give Joe a new arc.

Because really, Joe has had it too easy so far this season. Which is fine, because I don’t want to see a character I love so much be tortured all the time or anything like that, but he has needed a little something more to do lately. I can think of no better conflict than Joe West, possibly the coolest dad on TV right now, dealing with a son who wants no part of him. Wally kinda has a point, too, at least in that “teenage logic” way.

Was this Cisco’s best episode since “Out of Time?” Possibly. I’ve really enjoyed watching his confidence grow this season…although he sure got over Kendra pretty quick, didn’t he? Unless this week’s drive is a result of him throwing himself into his work in order to cope with the heartbreak or something.

Ad – content continues below

I’ll talk more about the Turtle down in the Flash Facts section, but for now, a throwaway comic book character who had every right to be a thoroughly lame throwaway villain was used to move at least one important season long story forward in a pretty effective way. And with some neat visuals as a cherry on top.

I can’t quite put my finger on any one thing that made “Potential Energy” work so well, especially when it had so many opportunities to go wrong. I suppose it dragged a little towards the end, and since I haven’t been totally sold by the Garrick/Snow romance, that little revelation felt a little tacked on. But overall there was too much fun to be had for me to get worked up over anything. If you’ve gotta do a disposable villain episode, this is how you do it.

Flash Facts!

Yep. They sure did give us the Turtle (or the Turtle Man) on this show. It happened. There are two characters who sort of fit the bill, but neither quite fits, and neither has the name Russell Glosson that we got on the show tonight.

– So, the Turtle Man is actually the very first villain that Flash ever fought. He appeared in Barry’s first appearance in Showcase #4 in 1955. He had no powers he was…just…really…slow and that confounded Flash’s speed a little. Look, the ’50s were a simpler time, okay? 

There was also an earlier Turtle, who fought Jay Garrick. That Turtle…also didn’t have these kinds of powers. He first appeared in All-Flash #21 in 1945, and he was created by Flash writer extraordinaire Gardner Fox and Martin Naydel. Speaking of which…

– The Naydel Library was clearly a nod to the original Turtle’s co-creator.

Ad – content continues below

– I do this a lot because my mind is going. Is this the first time we’ve had mention of Midway City on one of these shows? Midway City was Hawkman’s home base for awhile, but since the TV universe is going with St. Roch, then we’ll just have to assume that the Doom Patrol we haven’t met yet are living there.

– Speaking of geography, the painting was from Markovia, but there have been so many Markovia references between here and Arrow that it’s hardly worth mentioning, right?

I’m not feeling particularly fast tonight, so if there’s anything I missed, correct me in the comments or give me a shout on Twitter!


3.5 out of 5