Episode Title: The Reverse-Flash Returns
Original Airdate: 1-27-2016
So the Reverse-Flash came back, it wasn’t the very next day but they did think he was a goner. I guess he just couldn’t stay away. Or since I’d gotten used to Tom Cavanagh I kind of like to think of this Reverse-Flash as High School Alf (Hsalf) but that’s neither here nor there. This episode is really more just about tying up some loose ends and giving Cisco a bit more to do. Not only that, but they really set him up to be. But more than that, it’s about saying goodbye. While I had hoped that this would be the episode to tie up the loose ends of the timeline, it really just pulls the string a little farther out so it can be tied up in the near future.
I’ve always been a sucker for time travel stories, especially ones that get a little bit complicated. And the timeline for the Flash is nothing if not complicated. Basically what we have here is what they refer to as a “timeline remnant”. Essentially, since Thawne was erased from the timeline, he technically no longer exists. But since everything that he did up to that point did not get adjusted, then his actions still exist, and so Thawne from the original timeline’s future is the one that showed up in the Flash’s present. But this is only his first appearance since he didn’t have any information about the Flash’s secret identity as Barry Allen. Not only that, but with the inclusion of Earth 2’s Harrison Wells it also allows for the inspiration to take over the body of Harrison Wells in the first place. Gotta love when timelines get wrapped up in a neat little package like that. It’s explained well enough for me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I could dig into it and find plenty of loopholes and plot holes that don’t make sense, but as far as I’m concerned, there isn’t anything on the surface and that’s what really matters for my own enjoyment of a time travel story. Especially when they add those little deeper tidbits.
As for the main theme of the episode, we have several different people who have to cope with saying goodbye. Patty Spivot has her final days in Central City and Barry’s response is to just completely shut her out since he doesn’t see a romantic relationship in their future. But instead of just leaving their relationship to hang out to dry, she goes into detective mode and finds out for herself that Barry is really the Flash. It builds up to a really great moment where she confronts Barry with the information and he still denies it to her face because he knows that’s the only way that she will leave to follow her dream and avoid being the target of metavillains. It’s played amazingly well by the two actors where you can tell that they both know exactly what’s going on and have to accept it without spelling it out. Of course it doesn’t end that way and Spivot gets the last word by essentially calling Barry’s bluff to get him to say a final goodbye on the train, minus the blurry-face. Even though it did bug me just a little that all of the other passengers on the train barely reacted to the Flash just hanging out like it was nothing. We also have the rest of the West family saying goodbye to Francine as she is on her deathbed. Joe gets to say his goodbyes off camera, but we get to see Iris break down and finally forgive her mother for leaving them. But there’s also Wally who has been avoiding her while at the same time doing everything he can to pay for her medical bills. It was always a nice moment of pathos to see how the three of them reacted differently to her illness.
And while I don’t honestly have too much to say about the Reverse-Flash himself, he was a little bit over the top. Especially when he talked about his origin story about wanting to become the Flash, and when he realized he couldn’t, he decided to become the reverse of everything that the Flash stood for. It felt like one of those silly comic book logic ways of thinking where I was glad that they didn’t spend too much time on it. What was more impressive was the amount of power they ended up giving to Cisco as Vibe. He has been given a device that not only controls his power, but amplifies it as well. It gives him something similar to a Cerebro level of control towards his powers. I hope it’s not overused in the future, but I also hope it’s not under-used since it has the potential to be a real game changer for the dynamic of the group. Just so long as it’s not tied to the other comic book cliche where his power ends up draining his life force, or something similar. Where the more he uses it, the less life he has. I can give this episode a pass since it was related to the undoing of the entire timeline, just so long as he doesn’t have to worry about fading out of existence every time he uses those goggles.