Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Flash Season 2, Episode 11: The Reverse Flash Returns

This week's episode sees the return of the Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne, a character I really thought we'd never see again, considering he was erased from the timeline at the end of last season. But hey, this is a comic book show, so it takes more than being wiped out of existence to keep a good villain down!

It seems a bit odd to bring the Reverse Flash back for an encore, especially since the cast already has their hands full dealing with this season's evil speedster Zoom, but hey, what do I know?

The writers do a valiant job trying to explain how Eobard Thawne can still exist after his distant ancestor Eddie Thawne killed himself last year. See, the Flash spent all of last year battling the time-traveling Eobard Thawne. But from Eobard's point of view, this episode was the first time he ever met the Flash. Supposedly when the Reverse Flash was erased, this earlier version of him was "outside the time stream," or something, which somehow preserved him. As with many time travel stories, the explanation doesn't make a lick of sense, but I give them credit for at least trying to deal with it.

The other big revelation in this episode is the identity of Jay Garrick's Earth-1 counterpart, who may or may not have something to do with Zoom. More on that below.


The Plot:
The Flash saves the city from disaster by stopping a runaway chemical track, as the Reverse Flash, who recently arrived in our time period, looks on. Back at STAR Labs, the Gang discovers the Turtle is dead. Jay suspects Harry's responsible. Harry lies and denies any involvement, and that's apparently the end of the matter. Tidy!

The Reverse Flash then goes to Mercury Labs, where he forces Dr. Tina McGee to help him get back to his own time by using her tachyon generator.

Cisco asks Harry for help in controlling his vibe power, figuring it could help them locate Zoom. They determine that Cisco's power is triggered by fear. Harry whips up a pair of high-tech goggles that stimulate Cisco's fear response. He puts them on and immediately begins "vibing." He sees a vision of the Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, killing Tina McGee.

The Gang meets to try and understand how the Reverse Flash can still exist after Eddie Thawne's suicide wiped him from existence. Harry says this version of Eobard is from a point in time before he killed Barry's mother. He says he must have been traveling through the time stream when Eddie died, which protected him, causing him to become a "time remnant." I know, it doesn't make any sense, but let's just go with it or we'll be here all day.

Thanks to Cisco's vision, Barry is able to track down the Reverse Flash and prevent him from killing McGee. He sabotages the tachyon generator to prevent him returning to his own time. He throws Thawne into the STAR Labs Secret Jail. Cisco and Barry both visit Thawne to gloat, telling him they've prevented him from doing all the evil things he did last season (or will do, from his point of view).

Unfortunately Cisco begins having nosebleeds, and eventually collapses. Caitlin examines him and determines he's dying. She says that imprisoning the Reverse Flash is disrupting the timeline, which is somehow killing Cisco. The only way to save him is to free the Reverse Flash, but that also means freeing him to repeat all of last season's actions.

Unfortunately Thawne can't get back to his own time by himself. Barry's forced to help him mortal enemy by adding his speed to Thawne's, running fast enough to open a breach in time and then literally tossing him through it. Cisco's saved!

In other developments, Francine's condition is worsening, so Iris visits and forgives her. Iris also talks Wally into visiting his mother one last time, before it's too late. Meanwhile Caitlin isn't having much luck coming up with a cure for Jay's mysterious condition. She says if they could find his Earth-1 counterpart, she might be able to take some of his "cells" and transfer them to Jay. She searches, but can't seem to find the Earth-1 Jay. Earth-2 Jay tells her he really does have a counterpart, but his name is Hunter Zoloman, a revelation which causes much head exploding throughout fandom. Unfortunately Zoloman's non-mutated cells are unusable.

Things also aren't going well for Barry and Patty. He still refuses to tell her he's the Flash, because he doesn't want to endanger her life, which by this point is one of the oldest superhero cliches in the book. He also tells her he doesn't want to get close to her because everyone he loves ends up leaving him (except for Joe, Iris, Cisco, Caitlin, etc). Eventually Patty uses her detective skills and figures out that Barry's the Flash. Even after she fools him into revealing his identity, he still won't admit it to her. Fed up, she leaves for Midway City.

• Let's see if we can figure out all this Reverse Flash business. At the end of last season, Eddie Thawne discovered he was Eobard Thawne's great-great-great (infinity) grandpa. So he killed himself to prevent Eobard, aka the Reverse Flash, from ever being born. One would think that would have erased everything the Reverse Flash did in our time period. He would never have murdered Barry's mom. Henry Allen would never have been wrongly imprisoned for her death. He would never have killed the real Harrison Wells or built the particle accelerator. And the accelerator would never have exploded and turned Barry into the Flash.

Obviously all of those things somehow still happened. Other than Eobard Thawne fading away, Eddie's sacrifice didn't seem to have any effect at all. 

So what the heck's going on? Harry tries to explain in this episode (complete with diagrams) that Eobard is a "time remnant." Even though Eobard was erased, the events he caused weren't affected because they already happened, and nothing can change that. He even says the death of Barry's mom is a "fixed point in time," which tells me someone on the writing staff is a Doctor Who fan!

As I said before, none of it makes any sense, but it's starting to make my brain hurt, so I'm just going to roll with it.

• So I guess Harry's off the hook for murdering the Turtle last week. The STAR Labs Gang discovers the Turtle dead in his cell, Caitlin says he appears to have died of a brain aneurysm, and that's the last we hear of the matter. Eh, it's just a dead body in your secret illegal jail, guys. I'm sure the authorities wouldn't be interested.

• I'm struggling to understand how the Reverse Flash's yellow costume still exists, and why his secret time room is still inside STAR Labs. I guess they're also "time remnants."

Speaking of the Revere Flash's suit, I'm still puzzled as to why it has veins sculpted into it. Or are those supposed to be Eobard Thawne's distended arteries pushing up from beneath the suit? Ewww!

• This week Cisco takes one step closer to becoming Vibe when he dons his special high-tech goggles. Surely they're not going to have him start wearing Vibe's comic book costume?

• When Cisco vibes and sees the Reverse Flash murdering Dr. McGee, there's a clock behind her that reads 9:52 pm.

That particular time is most likely another 52 reference. The New 52 was a year long event that rebooted DC's comic universe a while back. All the various DC shows are lousy with 52s.

• After the Reverse Flash is captured, Harry warns Barry not to let him find out his secret identity, or he'll try and destroy his life. When Barry's in the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail taunting Eobard, Caitlin pages him on the intercom by saying, "We need you in the cortex." Hmm. Good thing she didn't start that sentence with "Barry" like a normal human would have, or she'd have blown his cover!

• Caitlin believes she can cure Jay's mystery illness by taking "cells" from his Earth-1 counterpart and transplanting them into him. She's very vague about what type of cells she's after though. Blood cells? Brain cells? Stem cells?

It almost sounds like she wants to cut a hunk of tissue out of Earth-1 Jay and stick it into a corresponding hole in the Earth-2 version.

• Caitlin and Barry try to find Jay's Earth-1 doppelganger, but he doesn't show up in any database. Barry says Caitlin should just ask Jay if he knows where his counterpart is.

Um... why would Jay know where to find his doppelganger? Does Barry think counterparts on Earth-1 and Earth-2 all have the same address?

• Jay tells Caitlin he does indeed have an Earth-1 counterpart. The reason they couldn't find him is because he has a different name— Hunter Zoloman.

That name probably sailed far over the head of the general audience, but no doubt caused much squeeing from comic fans. It would take 20,000 words to fully explain Zoloman's backstory, so I'll be as brief as possible.

There have been several Reverse Flashes in the comics, and Hunter Zoloman was one of them. Unfortunately he was paralyzed after an attack by Gorilla Grodd (!). He tried using the Flash's cosmic treadmill to restore his mobility, but it exploded, transforming him into Zoom. As Zoom he wasn't a speedster, but could instead alter the speed in which he moves through time.

The comic version of Zoloman had absolutely no relation to Jay Garrick, so I'm not quite sure where they're going here. I have a feeling his name is more than just a shout out to the fanboys though. Maybe this version of Hunter Zoloman has something to do with the Zoom of Earth-2?

• By the way, Jay tells Caitlin that Zolomon's non-mutated cells would be useless to him. Um… how does Jay know Zoloman doesn't have mutated cells and isn't a speedster like him? If Zolomon did have super speed, he'd most likely be hiding it from the public.

• Jesus Christ, Barry Allen is such an idiot, it's downright painful to watch. Once again he has several chances to tell Patty his secret identity and salvage their relationship, and then stands there like a stammering dolt. He's a dumbass and he doesn't deserve her.

His main reason for not telling her— that he wants to protect her from his enemies— is getting really old at this point, and doesn't even make any sense. Pretty much everyone on the show— heck, everyone in Central City— knows he's the Flash at this point, and they're all still alive.

Last week I said I didn't see why Patty moving to Midway City would be such a big deal. Barry has super speed. He can move faster than the human eye can see. Patty could call him up and invite him to her Midway City apartment, and he dash over there before she hung up the phone. 

He even proves my point in this episode. Patty calls him from a moving train, tells him she's in trouble, and five seconds later he appears. So however far away Midway City may be, it's not a problem for him. There's no such thing as a long distance relationship with the Flash.

And how about those commuters on the train? The Flash appears in the middle of their train car, talks to Patty for a minute or two, then zips away again. None of the other passengers seem to think this is out of the ordinary. Most of them don't even look up from their phones! I guess this kind of thing happens so much in Central City and the surrounding area that no one pays any attention to it anymore.

I'm hopeful we've not seen the last of Patty, and they'll eventually patch things up.

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