This review contains spoilers.
2.19 Back To Normal
There are only four weeks until the second season finale of The Flash, and things aren’t looking promising. Rather than giving us a reason to look forward to what’s to come, the reveal of Jay as Zoom’s real identity has completely deflated the show at a crucial moment in its season. Nothing makes sense, Zoom is no longer threatening and Jay isn’t charismatic enough to be this year’s Wells-equivalent.
My main problem with Back To Normal, predictably, was Caitlin. I’m obviously not thrilled that she’s been kidnapped yet again, but I went over that last week, and the outcome of that cliffhanger not only takes an entire episode to become apparent but also means Zoom is an absolute idiot. We knew he was mad, but isn’t he also supposed to be an evil genius? He has to be both if he’s going to be a formidable big bad.
Why would he take Caitlin back to a world in which her friends can rescue her, if his goal is to keep her with him forever? But then again, neither the characters nor the show seem too concerned about getting her back, if Back To Normal is anything to go by. Heck, we open on Barry waking up, getting dressed, getting coffee and doing paperwork, when the ‘previously on’ just recapped a major development.
They barely even mentioned Caitlin as they work to bring down the metahuman of the week.
It’s like Barry’s in power saving-mode, his heroism and need for action apparently lost along with his speed. We’ve had entire episodes dedicated to this particular trait of season two Barry, but here it just comes across as boredom. I’d rather see him distressed than melancholy, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.
Am I alone in hating Killer Frost? I imagine there are fans of the show actually using the character for something more interesting than delivering exposition and loving terminally-ill men, and I agree with that to an extent, but it’s the execution I can’t get behind. The delivery is just too big and too obvious, and her characterisation doesn’t go much beyond being a more sexualised version of the Caitlin we know.
The Jessie stuff also now feels completely redundant, because we knew all along that Wells is a morally grey character that we all love anyway. Jessie, on the other hand, is someone we barely know and has sadly been handed Iris’ contrarian role from last year.
I enjoy any storyline involving Wells, and I like what we’ve seen from Jessie so far, but the show needs to fast-forward to its endgame with her if they’re going to retain any interest. This is the perfect time for a female speedster to complicate things, preferably before Barry gets his own powers back, but I fear that she’s simply what she appears to be and any easter egg moments are merely to please the comic book fans.
She is useful to the team this week, though, and it’s always good to get some new blood in the lab.
But Wells’ kidnapping by an aggrieved metahuman did bring up a lot of smaller moments to enjoy. I like that Earth-2 Harrison doesn’t really care at all about what his Earth-1 counterpart might have done, and how Iris has seemingly become part of the STAR Labs team while we’re not looking. It’s also fun to see Barry have to do actual CSI work to solve a case without his powers.
And somehow, against all odds, I loved Wally’s storyline a lot this week. He’s becoming a nice, sweet, unassuming presence now that we’ve exhausted the speed racer nonsense, and his bond with Joe has been allowed to become quite established in the background. I’d like for him to have more interaction with Barry, but I guess his admiration of The Flash this week counts as adjacent to that.
So, the man in the iron mask reveal is going to be the biggest disappointment of the television season, yes? There’s no way it can live up to the hype, and the only way I’ll leave a satisfied viewer is if it’s Barry’s father and that’s where he’d been all year. Is it really going to blow our minds, in an internet culture that’s already picked apart the mystery from every conceivable angle?
It’s safe to say that my expectations are low for what we’ve got coming in the remaining four episodes, and that the show’s tactic of repeating the beats of its first season hasn’t worked out so well. Lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice, after all, and the show’s going to have to deliver some pretty significant surprises to renew my faith in its ability to subvert my expectations.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Versus Zoom, here.