“The Flash” is now halfway through its second season and the stakes and drama are rising up for its inevitable conclusion and the second showdown between The Flash and the menacing speedster Zoom. Team Flash needs to find another way of defeating Zoom after a humiliating defeat that almost left Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) for dead. But now in its 11th episode, Team Flash takes a detour to face off against a surprise guest once more in the aptly named “The Reverse-Flash Returns.”
This episode throws a curveball as I never would’ve thought The Reverse Flash would actually return, so it’s nice to know I’m on the same page as Team Flash in terms of shock and confusion — but it’s undoubtedly more confusion than shock. The story of The Reverse-Flash’s return in particular is confusing, and I wondered if they should’ve even returned with the villain at all. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) from Earth-2 draws up a diagram of why The Reverse Flash has returned, stating that the reason for his sudden showing is that he’s from a future moment in time right before he goes back in time to kill Barry’s mother, a pivotal plot point from season one. And then there’s something about a timeline remnant that’s the reason for his return? It’s confusing and I’m still not sure if I got it quite right, but I guess that’s time travel in a nutshell.
But besides that whole confusion, the real Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher) is back as the yellow speedster. The role of The Reverse Flash was primarily given to Wells in the first season even though we learned later on that Thawne was really The Reverse Flash in disguise. It’s nice to see Letscher in this role again as he was given so little time in it last season. He fit fine in the role and offered a different take on The Reverse Flash, one that’s filled with pure hatred and obsession for The Flash. It was interesting to see Allen deal his with dormant hatred for The Reverse Flash because of how much he’s affected his life. So seeing Allen unleash an onslaught of violence when he was face to face with him again felt pretty great to watch. Allen’s eventual talk with Thawne was an even more emotional moment because of this. Thawne truly does hate Allen and hearing him talk of how obsessed and how much he wants to ruin his life was a highlight of the episode.
The episode’s other main development was Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) “vibing” abilities. In previous episodes, we learned Cisco was capable of “vibing,” or having ominous and mysterious visions that he’d use for his or Team Flash’s advantage. Wells has now helped Cisco unleash his true power by creating goggles that allow him to more perfectly trigger his visions with the use of adrenaline. This is the way he finds out about The Reverse Flash’s return. This new development in his powers is actually pretty hopeful and it can certainly mean that perhaps we’ll see a more “metahuman” like Cisco in the future that can aid The Flash. It’s certainly very exciting that we might even see a suited-up Cisco as well.
That’s certainly not all the episode had to show. There are three other storylines involved, totaling five different plot points the episode tries to go through. It’s admittedly a little too much and made it feel claustrophobic and sometimes rushed.
For example, the show once again brought up the West family dilemma. I really feel as if this storyline should’ve been cut out. It undoubtedly was the odd storyline out as it didn’t fit with the rest of the episode, and I actually found myself not caring for it that much. Then again, the show brought in the Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) relationship. It was very brief and brought more insight into Garrick’s character, but it felt like it could’ve been in a different episode as well.
The only other storyline that deserved its place in this episode was Allen and Patty’s (Shantel VanSanten) relationship drama. After last week’s revelation that Patty was moving out of Central City to go to CSI school, their romantic relationship started to fall apart. In turn, this episode was a highlight for both of their characters as we saw Allen deal with this emotional struggle, as well as the inner struggle to tell Patty that he’s The Flash. On the other side, I really liked Patty’s side of this storyline as near the end she figures out on her own through actual “detective” means that Allen is indeed The Flash. Allen struggles to not admit it because he knows if he tells her, she has the possibility to be endangered by his enemies. We find that they end their relationship at the end of the episode when Patty has to move away in a very touching way that I thoroughly enjoyed and in the end, felt satisfied. VanSanten was a joy to have on the show, and if this is truly an end for now, I feel she has done a great job in her role by having amazing chemistry with Gustin’s character.
The episode was fairly interesting for sure, but ultimately felt like many of the side stories could be saved for future episodes. That way the ones that matter in this episode could’ve been fleshed out more. It would have made the episode better, especially if the West family drama was saved for another moment. All in all, the episode had great moments, especially with The Reverse Flash returning, but in hindsight, was hindered by some unnecessary plot points and brief confusion concerning the antagonist.
Rating: 3.5 stars